Junipero Serra living legacy

Junipero Serra, a pastor from Spain was born in November 24, 1713 and lived until August 28, 1784. He is credited for founding the first nine of the twenty one missions in California and one mission in Baja.

This depiction of Father Serra is located off of I-280S and is a monument in his image to me it conveys a noble sense of discovery

The collective memory we share of someone or something is based on the experiences, oral history, facts, depictions and accounts of what they did and how they did it. The merry we have of Father Serra isn't much different, some honor him for his contributions to the catholic church while others shame him for how he treated the indigenous people he came into contact with on his religious conquest. Whatever our memory of him is good or bad, his impact on California cannot be denied we can examine the narrative he left by the many historic pieces of evidence left in his wake.

Mission Dolores in San Francisco one of the nine missions Father Serra founded in California

For the indigenous people that helped build the missions not everything about day to day life was focused on religion, in some cases they were forbidden to leave the premises at their own free will. There are two side to every story and while Father Serra had the indigenous peoples best interests at heart it didn't always seem that way. The inconsistencies between his narrative of his time with the natives is not similar to how the natives felt about his time in their land.

This letter form Junipero Serras diary is a prime example of his relationship with the Native Americans

This passage of Junipero Serras diary is a prime example of his relationship with the native American people and his attitude towards them. Father Serra loved the natives and wished the best for them, in his eyes he was helping them by converting them to catholicism.

Pope Francis's attempt to award Father Serra with sainthood, the highest award the catholic church offers was met with resistance by many sympathetic to the native Americans he affected.

When Pope francis canonized Father Serra on september 23rd of 2015 naturally the process was met with mixed feelings. For some father Serras narrative of helping the native americans leave their "savage" life was hailed as a good thing but for many others this was not the case. The indigenous people Serra encountered weren't treated as people but merely savages form the Spanish point of view. friars would be assigned to the natives as legal guardians. After they were baptized they were discouraged from leaving the missions for fear of them being subjected to their former society. Does this sound like something a saint would do? it seems there are inconsistencies in the opinions people share of Father Serra, not all of them being positive.

"Oh god who by your ineffable mercy have been pleased through the labors of your priest saint Junipero Serra to count many american people within your church" -Pope Francis

Referring to the many Native Americans that Serra converted to catholicism, in the eyes of the church Serra was merely doing his job as a conquistador. However this is not the opinion that is shared by the people that father Serra affected with his forceful evangelism.

A letter from commander Fernando de Rivera y Moncada

This letter from a spanish commander relays the quest for the native americans responsible for vandalizing mission San Diego. The mission along with all the other missions constructed for the same purpose was a monument to christ and a place for people to come to worship and be converted. For it to be destroyed by the same people that were supposed to be receiving the benefits of it tells us a lot about what the natives felt about the missionaries presence in their homeland.

Account of Serra's relationship with the natives

Although this account may seem incomplete it does provide insight into the relationship Father Serra had with the native Americans and how they perceived him. originally approaching him in a violent manner with murder on their minds the natives were then coerced into accompanying father Serra to one of his missions to be converted!

Account of Naive Americans primary interactions with father Serra in Monterey

During the beginnings of the spanish conquest into California Monterey was setup as sort of a headquarters for the church. initially the Natives kept their distance from the newcomers but eventually they approached them and even offered them welcoming gifts. This first introduction to one another could have been perceived as a weakness in the eyes of the spanish who would later take advantage of the Native Americans exploiting them for their own gains.

The narrative we have of Junipero Serra and the legacy he left behind it seems are two very different things. While some hail him as an exalted saint who carried out gods work, others recognize him as the initial factor in the slow and thorough desolation of the indigenous people of California. Whatever your opinion of him it cannot be denied that whatever acts he committed that we choose to ignore did happen and there is a public memory of it. Personally I believe its a matter of perspective, in the popes eyes he was a saint carrying out gods work and brining faith into the lives of thousands of people. Whereas from the point of view of the people that were against his canonization he was a horrible conquistador hell bent on evangelism.

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