Junípero Serra

Pioneer, Missionary, Saint

By Agnes Repplier | Edited by Jeremy Beer

Cluny, 2020

Man has only the present in which to live his life, and he must make what use of it he can. Junípero Serra, pioneer and missionary, loaded every rift with ore, witnessed the rich reward of his labor, and left the development—necessarily—to fate.“—Agnes Repplier

Junípero Serra, “the Apostle of California,” possessed an intrepid, pioneering nature, a missionary spirit, and—as evidenced by his 2015 canonization—a saintly heart. Originally published in 1933, this life of Serra is, in the words of editor Jeremy Beer, “one of the best non-academic biographies of a saint ever to be written in the English language.” Detailing the legacy of the saint’s “troubled and triumphant career,” Repplier charts Serra’s course from professor of philosophy to president of the California missions, providing great insight into the character of the saint, the missionary and native cultures, and the vast tableau of historical figures and events of the period.

To tell the life of a saint is a work of history as much as it is a project of evangelical zeal. Junípero Serra: Pioneer, Missionary, Saint unifies these endeavors. As Beer writes in closing his Introduction: “May this book serve to reintroduce both St. Serra and Agnes Repplier, two extraordinary children of the Church, to a world that unjustly impugns the one, and has unjustly forgotten the other.”

Agnes Repplier (1855–1950) was a prolific author and essayist, publishing more than two dozen books and thousands of essays in her sixty-five-year writing career. In addition to her popular recognition, she was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Notre Dame, Yale University, and Columbia University.