Group of Franciscan  Friars

SPANISH MISSIONS IN CALIFORNIA. The Spanish occupied new lands in America primarily by establishing missions in the wilderness. In California they established twenty-one missions. The first to be founded was San Diego in 1769, and the last was San Francisco Solano in 1823. The names of many present-day California cities are derived from the Spanish missions.

The story of Father junipero Serra (1713-1784) the founder of Spanish California shows the contributions the missionaries made to the settlement of Spanish America.  After a university education in Spain, Serra joined the Franciscans and came to Mexico in 1749. He served in two mission stations, including one in Texas, before going to California.  From 1769 until his death in 1784 Serra was in charge of the work of the Franciscans in California.  He established nine missions in the area between  San Diego and San Francisco Bay. 

Father Serra was an able manager of the California missions. Although he was lame, he traveled on foot from mission to mission. He was a wise counselor of the missionaries and friend of the Indians. During his life time the California missions made rapid progress in agriculture and in cattle raising. 

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