Devotees visit Mission San Juan Capistrano on day of Serra’s canonization

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. – Over 200 hundred years ago, at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Spanish priest Junipero Serra did his missionary work.

Pope Francis declared Serra a saint today and for his faithful followers, it was a day of excitement and pride.

Masses and a live viewing were on today’s agenda at Mission San Juan Capistrano to witness the canonization of Serra by Pope Francis a the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Concepcion in Washington DC.  Many students and pilgrims used this day as an educational experience.

California Catholics took pride in the first saint canonized on American soil. They consider Serra as the state’s patron saint.

Built in 1782, the chapel at San Juan Capistrano is believed to be the oldest standing building in California. It’s also believed that this is the last remaining church that Serra physically celebrated mass at.

Serra, considered the architect of the California Mission system, converted 81,000 Native Americans to Christianity.

But Serra’s canonization has faced some opposition.  Many Native Americans are reportedly upset about Serra’s role in the enslavement and capture of their ancestors, which included beatings.

For three decades, the Franciscan priest founded a total of nine missions.

In all, Serra is said to have traveled some 24,000 miles in his life and throughout the day, devotees traveled here to South Orange County to honor the Vatican’s newest saint…the man credited with bringing Christianity to the West Coast.

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