He was born November 24, 1713, on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca (a.k.a., Majorca), 360 miles east of Spain. Some 60 years later, he would be travelling several times that distance — on land and sea, on foot and muleback — as a Franciscan missionary priest establishing a Catholic presence on the opposite side of the world in the region called “New Spain.”This year, California mission parishioners and devotees alike are celebrating the 300th birthday of the man born Miguel Joseph Serre, known to the world today as Blessed Junípero Serra. Between 1769 and 1782, Father Serra founded the first nine of the 21 missions established by Spanish priests in Alta California, all but two of which today function as active Catholic parishes, and are designated as state historic sites.In the missionary tradition, his was not an easy accomplishment. The missions Father Serra (and his successors) founded were done in the face of ongoing challenges from weather and his own health, varying degrees of receptivity from the native populace, varying degrees of support from the Spanish government (and the military deployed to protect the missionaries), and were beset even after their establishment by those same elements. Had Serra not been a man of not only supreme faith but of boundless determination and confidence — as suggested by his motto, “Siempre Adelante!” (“Always forward!”) — the mission project may well have been scuttled before it began.Some four decades after Serra’s death on August 28, 1784, at age 70, the transfer of governance from Spain to Mexico — followed a quarter century later by Mexico losing control of California to the United States — combined to place the future of the missions in doubt. Many, in fact, became all but deserted and fell into disrepair. Yet their roots were firm enough that, in one way or another, with support both monetary and spiritual, they not only survive but continue to serve, as their founding father envisioned, as visible signs of the work and presence of the Catholic Church in the Golden State — and of the man who, more than any other, made them happen, and who on Sept. 25, 1988 was beatified by Pope John Paul II.This week, the Tidings presents a brief look at the missions — the nine founded by Father Serra and the 12 founded after his death — and the saints for whom they were named. The nine missions founded by Blessed Junípero Serra:—San Diego de Alcalá, San Diego: founded July 16, 1769; named for St. Didacus of Alcalá, Spanish Franciscan who lived in the 15th century and was canonized in 1588 by Pope Sixtus V; feast day Nov. 13.—San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Carmel: June 3, 1770; named for Saint Charles of Borromeo, 16th century Italian cardinal who served as cardinal archbishop of Milan; canonized in 1610 by Pope Paul V; feast day Nov. 4.—San Antonio de Padua, Jolón: July 14, 1771; named for St. Anthony of Padua, 13th century Franciscan and the finder of lost possessions; canonized in 1232 by Pope Gregory IX; feast day June 13.—San Gabriel Arcángel, San Gabriel: Sept. 8, 1771; named for Gabriel, Holy Prince of Archangels; feast day Sept. 29. —San Luis, Obispo de Tolosa, San Luis Obispo: Sept. 1, 1772; named for St. Louis, bishop of Toulouse, France, who lived in the late 13th century and was canonized in 1317 by Pope John XXII; he was made a bishop at age 22, died at age 23; feast day Aug. 19.—San Francisco de Asís, San Francisco: Oct. 9, 1776; named for Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order; patron saint of animals and environment; canonized in 1228 by Pope Gregory IX; feast day Oct. 4.—San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano: Nov. 1, 1776; named for St. John of Capistrano, 14th century theologian; canonized in 1724 by Pope Benedict XIII; feast day March 28 from 1890-1969, moved to October 23 in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.—Santa Clara de Asís, Santa Clara: Jan. 12, 1777; named for Saint Claire of Assisi, a 13th century Italian nun, co-foundress (with St. Francis) of the Order of Poor Clares; canonized in 1255 by Pope Alexander IV; feast day Aug. 11.—San Buenaventura, Ventura: March 31, 1782 (Easter Sunday); named for St. Bonaventure, 13th century cardinal and bishop of Albano, Italy; doctor of the Church; canonized in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV; feast day July 15.The nine missions founded by Franciscan Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuén:—Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara: Dec. 4, 1786; named for Saint Barbara, a legendary martyred church figure of the 3rd century; feast day Dec. 4.—La Purísima Concepción, Lompoc: Dec. 8, 1787; named for Mary, mother of Jesus, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception; feast day Dec. 8.—Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz: Aug. 28, 1791; named for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Christianity; feast day Sept. 14.—Nuestra Se√±ora de la Soledad, Soledad: Oct. 9, 1791; named for Our Lady of Solitude; feast day Dec. 18 in Spanish speaking countries, Holy Saturday in English-speaking countries.—San José de Guadalupe, Fremont: June 11, 1797; named for St. Joseph, husband of Mary; feast day March 19.—San Juan Bautista, San Juan Bautista: June 24, 1797; named for St. John the Baptist; feast day June 24.—San Miguel Arcángel, San Miguel: July 25, 1797; named for St. Michael the Archangel; feast day Sept. 29.—San Fernando, Rey de Espana, Mission Hills: Sept. 8, 1797; named for St. Ferdinand, 13th century king of Spain; feast day May 30.—San Luis, Rey de Francía, Oceanside: June 13, 1798; named for King Louis IX of France, who led crusades to the Holy Land in the 13th century; feast day Aug. 25.The remaining Missions:—Santa Inés, Solvang: Sept. 17, 1804, founded by Franciscan Father Estévan Tápis; named for St. Agnes of Rome, a 13-year-old martyred in the early 4th century; feast day Jan. 21.—San Rafael Arcángel, San Rafael: Dec. 14, 1817, founded by Fr. Vicente de Sarría; named for St. Raphael, patron of good health and travelers; feast day Sept. 29.—San Francisco de Solano, Sonoma: July 4, 1823, founded by Fr. José Altimira; named for St. Francis Solano, a Spanish Franciscan known as “the Apostle of Peru,” who served for 20 years in the late 16th and early 17th centuries as a missionary in Peru and Paraguay (and was one of Father Serra’s personal heroes); feast day July 14.For more information, visit http://www.missionscalifornia.com.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/1108/serramissions/{/gallery}