A remarkable biography of the brilliant and intrepid priest who led the Catholic Church into California in the eighteenth century—a fascinating and largely unknown story set in the pre-civilized American West.
Junipero Serra’s establishment of the missions of the Catholic Church in California is one of this country’s great untold stories, for those early settlements led to the development of civilization at the edge of the American continent. While 2013 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Franciscan priest who ventured into the New World and became a pivotal figure in an often overlooked foundational story of this continent, there has not been a major biographical treatment of Serra in more than fifty years. Yet Serra is a ripe subject for a new biography, for he was passionate about bringing Christianity to the native people of California, even as he tried to protect them from the soldiers of the Spanish Crown.
Gregory Orfalea conducted research on two continents and in at least four languages, making numerous original discoveries along the way. With both historical and religious grasp of his subject matter, Orfalea combines biography, geography, and anthropology to create this powerful and epic narrative of one of America’s unsung heroes.