Today in Catholic History – Junipero Serra establishes the Mission San Antonio de Padua

On 14 July 1771, Fr. Junipero Serra established the Mission San Antonio de Padua in Alta California in a valley at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains known as the “Valley of the Oaks”. Fr. Serra along with two other Franciscans began the mission by the hanging of a large bronze bell on an oak tree. Fr. Serra rang the bell while loudly calling for all “gentiles” to come and receive the faith of Jesus Christ. When the other friars pointed out to Junipero that there were no gentiles in sight, Fr. Serra is reported to have said, “let me give vent to my heart which desires that this bell might be heard around the world.”

One of the Native Americans came to the first Mass celebrated by Fr. Serra a short time later. Fr. Serra offered gifts to the curious visitor who soon returned with others of his tribe. The friendship of the native people was very important for the survival of the young mission.

Junipero Serra would soon leave to establish other missions, leaving behind Frs. Miguel Pieras and Buenaventura Sitjar to begin the actual construction of buildings and farms.

Two years later, the Franciscan friars would move the mission because of problems with the water supply at the original site. The mission continues to be an active parish today.

More on the Mission

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