Unlike many other American saints and beati, Blessed Junipero Serra has received an unprecedented amount of press since his beatification by Saint John Paul II in 1988. Honored as the man credited with founding the Franciscan Missions in California, his reputation and legacy have also been tainted by recent critics who claim that the missionaries (and Serra in particular) used violent tactics against the native population in efforts to force conversions to Christianity and suppress indigenous cultures.
Pope Francis’ decision to canonize Padre Serra during his upcoming visit to the United States has reignited debate over the friar’s mission, particularly in these days when questions of racism and civil rights form so much of our national conversation. However, during a recent Mass celebrated in Serra’s honor at Rome’s North American College, Pope Francis effectively addressed these criticisms when he praised Serra as being among a number of missionaries who “brought the Gospel to the New World, and, at the same time, defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers.”
You can find the full article here.
A prayer in honor of Blessed Junipero Serra +
O God, who by your ineffable mercy,
have been pleased through the labors
of your priest Blessed Junipero Serra
to count many American peoples within your Church,
grant by his intercession
that we may so join our hearts to you in love,
as to carry always and everywhere before all people
the image of your Only Begotten Son.
Who live and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)