“Siempre Adelante!” Keep Moving Forward!


The life and works of Junípero Serra, 
the saint who founded the California missions.

Guided Tours:
Friday: 8:15pm
Saturday: 10:00am / 11:30am / 1:00am / 2:30pm / 4:45pm / 6:15pm / 7:15pm / 8:15pm
Sunday: 10:15am / 12:30 pm / 2:00pm / 3:30pm / 5:00pm / 6:30pm / 7:45 pm

Presentation on Saturday, January 16, at 3:15pm, 4th floor conference room, with Rose Marie BEEBE, Prof. of Spanish, Santa Clara University and Robert SENKEWICZ, Prof. of History, Santa Clara University. To download the invitation, click here: “Siempre Adelante!” Keep Moving Forward!

The exhibit aims to underline that the missions that Saint Serra established were focal points designed for the integral Christian education of the Native American inhabitants. In the center was the church, around which revolved the life of the entire community. Christian education, moreover, was not limited to learning doctrine. The church was surrounded by classrooms, stables, liveries, grain mills, warehouses and workshops carrying out the different functions of the time, such as blacksmithing, tile making, tanning, and olive oil and wine production. Seeds were brought from the Mediterranean world and readily adapted to California, in many cases with notable advantages, when admirable fruit orchards were developed. The missions were a wholly self-sustaining enterprise, around which a new civilization developed. 

The main protagonists of this civilizing work were the Indians themselves. They, together with thousands of colonists, brought from Baja California and Sonora, were the ones who built the roads, the presidios, the ports, and the missions. The beautiful cathedrals of adobe that gave the “California Mission Style” so much fame in the world were the fruit of the work of an entire people. In their building, the natives learned the most advanced architecture of those times, improving it with their innate artistic sensibility. And more than that, the experience of the temple, “sign of the nearness of God to man,” opened to the California native a new horizon in his relationship with God. The native peoples that inhabited the missions also learned from the friars to play instruments, read music, and sing, creating original compositions that combined European melodies with their own ancestral musical tradition. 

Late in his life, in conversation with his lifelong friend Francisco Palou, Junípero Serra would have this to say about the enthusiasm that overtook him during his years as a professor in Mallorca, an enthusiasm which would be the impetus for the establishment of the great mission system in California: “It has been for no other reason than to rekindle in my heart those great desires that I had since the novitiate reading the lives of the saints… but let us give many thanks to God who is beginning to fulfill my desires and let us ask Him that it be for His greater glory and the conversion of souls.”