WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Pope Francis elevates Calif. missionary Junipero Serra to sainthood in first US canonization.
Born in 1713 in Spain, Serra was a Franciscan friar who marched north from Baja California with Spanish conquistadors, establishing nine of the 21 missions in what is now California.
The canonization was polarizing. Serra is revered by Catholics for his missionary work, and many Latinos in the U.S. view his canonization as a badly needed acknowledgment of Hispanics’ role in the American church. But many Native Americans say Serra enslaved converts and contributed to the spread of disease that wiped out indigenous populations.
In July, Francis issued a broad apology for the church’s sins against indigenous peoples.
Numerous landmarks in the Bay Area and California are named in Serra’s honor, including Interstate 280 (the Junipero Serra Freeway) and Serra High School in San Mateo.
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