Spanish Found First Mission in California 

Spanish Found First Mission in California 

U.S. #1373 was issued on the 200th anniversary of this event.

On July 16, 1769, Franciscan friar Junipero Serra founded California’s first Catholic mission.

In 1749, Father Serra left a prestigious teaching position in Spain to work at a missionary in Mexico City. The Spanish emperor selected Serra to head a series of missions that stretched into present-day California. The missions were founded to establish permanent settlements, prevent Russians from encroaching in the region, and spread Christianity to the native Indians.

On July 16, 1769, Serra’s expedition reached the site of present-day San Diego, California. While the rest of the party continued on in search of Monterrey harbor, Serra and a few followers remained behind. Serra then blessed the new outpost of Christianity, raised the Spanish flag, and named the new mission San Diego de Alcala. Serra’s companions failed to find Monterrey, but he later did find it and established his second mission there – San Carlos Barromeo.

U.S. #1373 FDC – California Settlement Plate Block First Day Cover.

Under Father Serra’s leadership, a total of 21 missions were built along California’s coast. In 1771, Serra relocated to Carmel. His headquarters became known as “Mission Carmel.” Communities eventually grew around the missions. These missions formed a base for the settlement of California. Today, more than 60% of Californians live in areas that once surrounded the Franciscan missions.

U.S. #C116 pictures Father Serra and one of his missions.

Father Serra’s work included the conversions of nearly all of the Native Americans living along the Pacific coast. During the last three years of his life, Serra walked more than 600 miles to visit the Franciscan missions and confirm 5,309 people who had been baptized during the previous 14 years. Father Serra was declared a Saint in 2015.

U.S. #4650 – Serra founded the Carmel Mission in 1770.

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8 responses to "Spanish Found First Mission in California "

8 thoughts on “Spanish Found First Mission in California ”

  1. Before sugar coating the California Mission system, read “Eye of the Bear” by Naida West. It gives the Native American viewpoint of the Spanish invasion by the missionaries and military. It is not a pretty picture.

  2. I wonder how many of the baptisms were forced on the Native Americans? That would make an embarrassing statistic for the Vatican to swallow.

  3. Graff, I wonder why you continue to keep tuning in to this station when you continuously and predictably weigh in with your negativity. History is just what it is and can not be changed. The stamps ,which by the way, commemorate these events are what this is all about. Personally I rated the article 5 stars because the text accurately reproduces a history lesson from 6th grade. Sorry my response is a day late. I hope you get the message.

  4. Saramak, no we can’t change history, but we can acknowledge it by recounting what actually happened. It has been said that the winners write the history, but those who lost, and the native people of California lost a lot, also have a story to tell. My comment is three days late, but I have been out of town.

    • I think the reason some folks react negatively to Conrad’s rebuttals – no matter how sincere – is because they’re so singular in their contrarian scope. But, I’m pretty sure Conrad knows war, slavery, genocide and forced conversions existed well before Europeans came to the New World.

  5. Mr. Gaunt, there are at least two sides to every story but, the only one I’ve heard is the one told by Mystic and the fact that our own personal version of “Debbie Downer” doesn’t like it. What a surprise. I’d like to hear the other side of the story but because I didn’t check back on this article I’ll just go with what I read last year and learned 57 years ago.

  6. I live in Carmel and am a firm believer in keeping this a stamp blog but some of you continuously use it to spout your own agenda. Having said that and since the door is already open I’m here to tell you that religion, especially catholicism, was commiting atrocities long before they came to the New World and they just kept on doing it. The local tribe, and many others, tried to block Serra from sainthood to no avail. the catholic church made this butcher a saint and to add insult to injury the USPS made a stamp (remember the subject) honoring him. It disgusts me about as much as a stamp honoring hitler would. Remain ignorant if you choose but the truth is what really matters. It’s a stamp blog but every now and then something truly ugly makes an appearance. Not Mystics fault, blame is squarly on the catholic church and the USPS. These articles contain tidbits of history as entertainment. For knowledge you go to the library either physically or online with Wikipedia, Library of Congress or your local library, etc., etc., etc. Go learn something.


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