The Worst Things Missionary Junipero Serra Ever Did

By | July 3, 2020

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The statue of the Roman Catholic Spanish priest Junipero Serra is pictured in Palma de Mallorca on June 22, 2020, after it was daubed with graffiti reading "Racist." (Jaime Reina/AFP via Getty Images)

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that have erupted across the United States, angry protesters have attacked and torn down statues and monuments that were erected to honor historical figures who played a role in the suppression of others, such as Confederate military figures, former slave owners, and Europeans who colonized lands in the Americas. In California, some of the statues that have been targeted by protesters depict the founder of the state, Father Junipero Serra. While schoolchildren are taught that Serra was a benevolent figure who helped the Native Americans fend off the Spanish, the reality is that Father Junipero Serra was more than deserving of his present-day vilification.

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A Franciscan priest, Father Serra was a founder of California. (

Who Was Father Serra?

Junipero Serra was born on the Spanish island of Mallorca in 1713. Raised in a poor family, his father sent him to be educated at the local Franciscan school, where Serra proved to be a bright student who excelled in his studies. As a teen, he joined the Franciscan order and later became a priest. He taught at Lullian University as a professor of theology but longed for missionary field work. In 1749, he joined a group of Franciscans on a trip to Mexico City to convert the native people to Christianity.