St Junipero Serra – Memorial: July 1
Born at Petra, Island of Majorca, St Junipero entered the Franciscan Order in 1730. He was appointed lector of philosophy before his ordination to the priesthood. Later he joined the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico (1749). While travelling on foot from Vera Cruz to the capital, he injured his leg in such a way that he suffered from it throughout his life, though he continued to make his journeys on foot whenever possible.
He was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Missions some thirty leagues north of Queretaro. He served there for nine years, part of the time as superior, and learned the language of the local native Americans (Pame).
Recalled to Mexico, he became famous as a most fervent and effective preacher of missions. His zeal frequently led him to employ extraordinary means in order to move the people. He would pound his breast with a stone while in the pulpit, scourge himself, or apply a lighted torch to his bare chest. Early in 1769, he founded the first of the twenty-one California missions.
He suffered intensely from his crippled leg, yet he would use no remedies. Besides extraordinary fortitude, his most conspicuous virtues were insatiable zeal, love of mortification, self-denial, and absolute confidence in God.
St Junipero died at Monterey, California, 28 August, 1784. (Excerpts from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913)