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Loyola Marymount University
Decision to canonize Father Junipero Serra draws divided reaction
Decision to canonize Father Junipero Serra draws divided reaction

He wandered beyond the edge of Christendom into a rugged land of "infidels" he sought to convert. When Father Junipero Serra and his cavalcade arrived at la bahia de San Diego in 1769, between 225,000 and 310,000 natives inhabited the territory that would become the state of California. The string of missions he and his Franciscan order established would become an origin story for the state, a folkloric tale of vineyards and benevolent friars, taught to students from Modoc to San Ysidro. Reality was much harsher. The Spanish flogged natives who disobeyed, banned their beliefs and customs, captured those who tried to escape. In the end, they converted less than a quarter of...

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