Over 300 years ago on November 24th, 1713, Miguel Joseph Serra was born in Petra on the island of Majorca, Spain to common farmers who had no formal schooling. At 16, Miguel went into the seminary and was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1738, taking the name of Junipero. Saint Junipero Serra was not only a priest but also a scholarly man who was a Professor of Philosophy and held a Doctorate in Theology. In 1768 after his missionary successes in Lower California Serra was chosen to head the missionary effort in Upper California and at the age of 55, Serra set out by mule on the arduous and famous 3 month overland Portola expedition. On July 16, 1769, Father Serra raised the cross and founded the first of twenty-one missions in California, San Diego de Acala, and over the next fifteen years founded another nine missions where than 6,000 Indians were baptized into the Christian faith. Saint Junipero Serra died at his beloved San Carlos Borromeo Mission de Carmelo on August 28, 1784. Twelve more missions were built after Serra’s death, the last mission was founded in 1823 in Sonoma, California.
Kimberleigh Gavin is a San Juan Capistrano resident and Mission San Juan Capistrano Docent who created the annual Mission SJC “Return of the Swallows” design image from 1993-2013. Her love of Mission history is reflected in this beautiful 14-color design dedicated to the accomplishments of St. Serra. Each of the 21 Missions and their cattle brand is represented in the order of their founding and the decorative map shows their placement along the Historic “El Camino Real”. This Limited Edition image is available on T-shirts and Sweatshirts.
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