California’s Immaculate Conception

At roughly the same time that the Founding Fathers were ringing the bells of revolution on the East Coast, California was nearly empty. It had no cities and only a modest fur-trading economy. It was a land crying out for a story — an empty soundstage, if you will. The role into which Serra grew, according to Steven W. Hackel in Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father, was that of “a pioneer, a religious icon, and as a colonial imperialist.”