Part of the architecture on a building in Balboa Park, San Diego California.
Junípero Serra (1713-1784)
Founder of California
Junípero Serra, the founder of the Missions, which were the first settlements of civilized man in California, was born on the island of Majorca, part of the kingdom of Spain, on the 24th of November, 1713. At the age of sixteen, he became a Monk of the order of St. Francis, and the new name of Junípero was then substituted for his baptismal name of Miguel José. After entering the convent, he went through a collegiate course of study, and before he had received the degree of Doctor, was appointed lecturer upon philosophy. He became a noted preacher, and was frequently invited to visit the larger towns of his native island in that capacity.
Junípero was thirty-six years of age when he determined to become a missionary in the New World. In 1749 he crossed the ocean in company with a number of Franciscan Monks, among them several who afterward came with him to California. He remained but a short time in the City of Mexico, and was soon sent a missionary to the Indians in the Sierra Madre, in the district now known as the State of San Luis Potosi. He spent nine years there, and then returned to the City of Mexico where he stayed for seven years, in the Convent of San Fernando.