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Timeline of key events in life and ministry of Blessed Junipero Serra

September 17, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) – Here is a timeline of key points in the life, ministry and sainthood cause of Blessed Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Spanish missionary to California. Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize the Franciscan friar Sept. 23 during his visit to Washington.

1713: Born and baptized Miquel Joseph Nov. 24 in Petra on Mallorca Island in the Mediterranean Sea.

1731: Joins the Franciscans, taking the name Junipero, after a companion of St. Francis of Assisi admired by young Serra as the “greatest exemplar of holy simplicity.”

1740: Appointed professor of theology at the Convento de San Francisco in Palma.

1744: At age 33, assumes the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy at Lullian University, Palma.

1749: Receives call to report for missionary duty in the New World. Arrives in Veracruz, Mexico, Dec. 6. He and another Franciscan walk to Mexico City, a 240-mile journey.

1750: Is appointed to the Sierra Gorda missions. Works there for nearly eight years. Oversees the construction of new churches.

1752: Becomes commissioner for the office of the Inquisition, with authority to investigate witchcraft, sorcery and heresy.

1758: Assigned to San Saba in region now known as Texas, but his transfer is retracted and he heads back to Mexico City. Works at the College of San Fernando teaching novices and travels the countryside preaching and holding popular missions.

1767: King Charles III abruptly expelled the Jesuits from Spain and its colonies. Serra assumes responsibility of the former Jesuit missions of Baja California.

1768: Is instructed to leave Baja and move north to establish missions in Alta (Upper) California.

1769: Arrives in San Diego, erects the first in a string of missions that would stretch north to Sonoma.

1770: Establishes Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, the headquarters for Franciscan efforts in California.

1773: Journeys to Mexico City and successfully appeals to the Spanish viceroy for more autonomy in California mission affairs, hoping to curtail problems he had with Spanish forces about mission development and operations and treatment of the Indians. He lays out a Bill of Rights for Native Americans to the viceroy.

1778: Secures permission to administer sacrament of confirmation among mission Indians. Confirms 1,716 people at five southern missions.

1782: Mission San Buenaventura is established 70 miles north of present-day Los Angeles. It’s the ninth and last Alta California mission founded under Serra’s leadership.

1784: Dies Aug. 28 at age 70 at San Carlos in Carmel.

Sources: New Catholic Encyclopedia; “Junipero Serra: California’s Founding Father,” by Steven W. Hackle; “Guide to Serrano,” Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. Information from stjunipero.org also included.

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