The Last of the Conquistadors, Junipero Serra, 1713-1784

The Last of the Conquistadors, Junipero Serra, 1713-1784

The Last of the Conquistadors, Junipero Serra, 1713-1784

The Last of the Conquistadors, Junipero Serra, 1713-1784

Excerpt

At the period when Junípero Serra spent the first half of his life there, the Island of Majorca (in the Balearic Islands, a part of Spain) counted no less than 317 churches and about 500 secular priests in an area of 1,352 square miles and 140,000 people. The city of Palma alone possessed some twenty communities of women and eleven large convents for men. Every locality, however unimportant, had its hospital, its orphan asylum, and its old people's home. The most widely disseminated of all the religious organizations, the Franciscan Order maintained some fifteen flourishing houses of religion, and supplied the Lullian University with its best professors.

The Mallorcans had been refined and matured by the Greco- Latin civilization more than twenty centuries before. They were already trading with the Greeks under Pericles, and were winning victories in the Olympic Games; as masters of the sling, especially, they had no rivals. They had passed successively under the domination of Carthage, of Rome, of the Barbarians, and of the Moors; in 1229 they had set up their country as an independent kingdom; in 1334 they had surrendered to the power of the King of Aragon; and in 1479 they had been united to the crown of Spain.

Christianized as early as the first century after Christ, the inhabitants of Majorca in the eighteenth century were all still practicing Catholics. They greeted one another with the words Amar a Dios! (Let us love God!), a salutation which, thanks to Junípero, was the first to be used in Upper California. They were almost all people of natural ability. Corrupt and evil men were rare among them, as is shown by the fact that hangings numbered . . .

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