A story about conquest, religion and the Americas, central to a founding myth of California, will end this year with the pope bestowing sainthood on a man many see as guilty of “slavery” and “violent evangelism”.
Pope Francis announced last week that he plans to canonize Junípero Serra, “the evangelizer of west in the United States”, in a ceremony in Washington this fall. The 18th-century missionary would officially become a saint.
Yet many of the people descended from those who first encountered Serra have a starkly different view of the Spanish friar. Sainthood for the friar would honor the actions of a brutal colonizer, many Native Americans protest.