Journey to the Sun: Junipero Serra’s Dream and the Founding of California

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The life of Father Junipero Serra – born Miguel Serre in 1712 on the small Spanish island of Mallorca, died 1784 in Carmel, California – is the essential story of the eighteenth century: a tale of exploration, imperialism, and the growing importance of the New World. Serra left his mark everywhere in California, when at the age of 34 he left a successful career as a priest in Spain to travel the isolated Spanish colonies of the Americas. Serra traveled throughout what is now Mexico and the US Southwest, founding missions from Baja California to Mission Dolores in San Francisco. The mission system profoundly impacted the native population, separating families and forcing workers to labor at the missions and leave behind their traditions – all with the goal to save souls, and convert the heathen nations. In this book, Orfalea manages to capture the viewpoints of both the native Californians and of Serra, a devout and dedicated priest who nonetheless lived a complex and not always praise-worthy life. Orfalea, who writes fiction as well as non-fiction, brings an elegant turn of phrase to his retelling of Serra’s life, the missions he founded, and the world of early California.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 480 pages
Publisher Scribner
Publish Date 2014-Jan-14
ISBN 9781451642728 Buy this Book
Issue July 2014
Category History


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