Junipero Serra Establishes First Missions in California
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Alarmed by the growing presence of British and Russians along the Pacific Coast, the Spanish sent Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan priest, to establish Mission San Diego de Alcala on July 16, 1769. This was the first of nine missions that Serra founded, extending Spanish control into Alta (Upper California). Some of these missions became the prominent California cities, like San Francisco (June 1776), Santa Clara (January 1777), and of course, San Diego.

The Spanish perceived these missions as political, religious, and cultural successes. Besides extending Spanish colonization, Serra's missions led to an estimated 6,736 baptisms of Native Americans, and 4,646 Native American Christians lived at the missions. Native Americans also learned agricultural and cultural customs from the Europeans. However, the missions also helped bring death and disease to Native populations, leading to a mixed legacy of these California missions.
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Mission San Diego de Alcala- Internet Archive- from San Diego Mission by Zephyrin Engelhardt

Junipero Serra portrait- Internet Archive- from Life of Ven. Padre Junipero Serra by Francis Palou

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo- Library of Congress, HABS CAL,27-CARM,1--20

Junipero Serra preaching- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-132753
Book/Journal Source(s)
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Reid, Daniel, Robert Linder, Bruce Shelley, and Harry Stout, 1990. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Downers Grove, IL.
Glazier, Michael, and Thomas Shelley, 1997. The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press..
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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