History, Truth, and Politics | Catholic World Report
Researcher and archaeology professor Reuben Mendoza seeks to clear the record on Father Junipero Serra
Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 29, 2015 / 04:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- California missionary Father Junipero Serra’s canonization is “long overdue,” says a university professor concerned that the priest’s history has been politicized and misrepresented.
“When he died, many native peoples came to the mission for his burial. They openly wept. Others of his colleagues and even colonists, believed that he would be made a saint, because of the way he had lived his life, a self-effacing life of a martyr,” said archaeology professor Reuben Mendoza of California State University, Monterrey Bay.
“Because of what he had achieved in his life, even then they had talked about his impending canonization,” Mendoza told CNA March 26.
Fr. Serra was born in 1713 on the Spanish island of Majorca in the Mediterranean. He left his position as a university professor to become a missionary to the New World, helping to convert many native Californians to Christianity and teaching them new and vital technologies. The Franciscan priest founded several of the missions that would go on to become the centers of major California cities.
The priest’s mission work often took place despite a painful ulcerated leg Mendoza said was caused by a spider bite soon after his arrival in Mexico. He died in 1784 at Mission San Carlos Borroméo del Carmelo in what is now the state of California.
St. John Paul II beatified Fr. Serra in 1988. In January, Pope Francis praised the missionary as “the evangelizer of the West” and announced his intention to canonize the Franciscan missionary during his scheduled 2015 visit to the U.S.
Mendoza learned from other researchers that Serra was “a very humble man and a man who had a great sense of humor.”
He said the “self-effacing” priest would sometimes insist on doing the work of young Indian boys who cleaned the Convent of San Fernando in Mexico City.