Junípero Serra, O.F.M., (/dʒuːnɨˈpɛroʊ ˈsɛrə/; Spanish: [xuˈnipeɾo ˈsera]), known as Fra Juníper Serra in Catalan, his mother tongue, (Catalan: [ʒuˈnipər ˈsɛrə]) (November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784) was a Spanish Franciscan friar who founded the mission chain in Alta California of the Las Californias Province in New Spain—present day California, United States. Fr. Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988.
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Serra was born Miquel Joseph Serra in Petra, Majorca, Spain. On November 14, 1730, he entered the Alcantarine Franciscans, a reform movement in the Order, and took the name "Junipero" in honor of Saint Juniper, who had also been a Franciscan and a companion of Saint Francis. For his proficiency in studies he was appointed lector of philosophy before his ordination to the Catholic priesthood. Later he received a doctorate in theology from the Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca, where he also occupied the Duns Scotus chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary College of San Fernando de Mexico in 1749.