Hopefully you caught my last article on Junipero Serra, a Saint for our Times! It was a brief introduction on him and his mission, and the thorn in his flesh he carried for most of his adult life and time in the new world. This saint is very special to me. I first began learning about him as a prepared to execute a Boy Scout retreat to earn both the Indian Lore merit badge and the St Junipero Serra patch awarded by the National Committee on Scouting. As I learned more and more about him, I fell in love. He was such an extraordinary, courageous and honorable man. As I find with most of the saints, once you get to know them, you can't help but fall in love with them all! They are all so awesome in their own unique and special ways!
What I would like to talk about today is a few very special, impressive and miraculous events surrounding this wonderful saint! They are true stories and very amazing!
The first story regards St. Junipero's leg malady. As a recap from my last article. When St. Serra arrived in this New World, particularly Mexico, to accompany the Spanish military expeditions and establish Catholic Missions throughout the west, he was bitten by some sort of bug. This bite became infected and it lingered with him for the rest of his life. At times, the malady become so severe that it threatened his ability to travel and move with the expedition. The commander had forbidden him on the eve of their departure to California from travel with them, because the leg infection had become so bad. That evening, St, Serra summoned a animal caretaker. The caretaker was able to concoct a remedy of hot tar and pitch and he applied this to St. Serra's leg. By the next morning he was well enough to travel, and so he did! I cannot help to ponder on the pain and despair he must of suffered through this experience. To have his dream almost end after so much sacrifice must have been very trying. Our saint though was a man of faith, and he evidently was very bull headed as well. Both traits God given for this adventure which would be so demanding in so many ways!
The second story is even more miraculous. At one point in his travels to California St. Serra and another friar become lost in the wilderness. There was a storm and they were separated from the convey. They were in pretty dire circumstances, this was after all uncharted territory and rife with wild native people and animals. As they wandered they came across a small house in the middle of nowhere. This was heaven sent, because they needed rest, food and water. The family - a father, mother and baby boy- was very hospitable and offered them a meal, drink, and a place to stay for the evening. St. Serra and his companion were able to meet up with their convoy the following day. When they told their story they were informed there was no such house anywhere near the location they had been, much less a small family living in the area! St. Serra concluded that it was the Holy Family themselves who offered them food and lodging that evening.
And thirdly, during the first several months of the expedition and the establishment of the mission in San Diego there was an issue with supplies. The mission camp had expected and were anticipating the arrival of the San Antonio supply ship, which did not arrive when it should have. They waiting day after day for the ship, to no avail. They got to a point of desperation with food and water becoming scarce, and no sign of the arrival of the supply ship. Soon March was upon them, and the scarcity of supplies was so bad that the whole expedition was in danger of being scrapped. The military commander told St. Serra that if the ship did not arrive soon, they would be forced to return to Mexico City. This distressed St. Serra, he know another expedition, if this one failed, would not be likely, and he so yearned to convert, evangelize and save the souls of the native peoples. St. Serra was determined and he convinced the commander to stay until the 19th of March, St. Joseph Day. On the 10th, St. Serra began the Novena to Saint Joseph. On the morning of March 19th, the ship had still failed to arrive and so the tear down and packing of the camp was begun. St. Serra must have been devastated, and his faith shaken for sure. Noon came, and still there was no sign of the San Antonio. As the camp was preparing their departure, our Saint stood scanning the horizon of the ocean, hoping and praying for the arrival of the ship. At 3pm that afternoon, his prayers were answered as a ship was spotted far off on the horizon! It was the San Antonio! The ship had everything they needed; and the rest, as they say, is history! How amazing! After months and months of waiting, the ship arrived at the holy hour of 3 o'clock on St. Joseph day, after the imploring of intercession on behave of the great St. Joseph! How good is it that we are Catholic!!!!
There are many other miracles associated with St. Serra. These are the ones I find most compelling! St. Joseph was the patron saint of the California Mission Expedition, and he certainly took that role seriously and was an integral part of it's success. A saint's intercession relies on faithful men and women to call upon them though, and St. Serra was certainly that! Anyone who questions the holiness of this man, is very mistaken. God's fingerprints are all over what this man accomplished, because this Saint accomplished it for and through Christ himself. He gave everything he was and had to the effort, and God rewarded him for it!
"Let those who are to come here as missionaries not imagine that they are coming for any other purpose but to endure hardships for the love of God and for the salvation of souls." St. Junipero Serra
Saint Junipero Serra, pray for us!!!!
St. Joseph, pray for us!!!