During our rosary a man loudly claimed that Fr. Serra had killed scores of indigenous women and children. Is that even remotely true? What is the historical record? I recommend this 35 minute podcast on the historical context and life of Junipero Serra: https://youtu.be/GwhvNZ_XEgw. This interview explains a curious fact I’ve always wondered about: why are the Spanish presidios (military garrisons) situated far from the missions? In San Francisco, for example, the Presidio is nine miles from the Mission. The presidios were set up to protect these first settlements. The answer is that Fr. Serra wanted to protect the Indians from the soldiers. He exposed his friars and laypeople to violence in favor of the indigenous people, and in fact one of the friars was killed by renegade Indians at San Diego Mission in 1775. If Fr. Serra were the man the mob says he was, he would have demanded swift justice for the brutal murder of his friend, Brother Luis Jayme. In fact, he begged the Spanish government not to punish the killers. He even stipulated that if he or any other friar were killed by Indians, that the government could not retaliate. Far from killing Indians, as the mob claims, Serra offered his life for them. That is the historical record.
Back to the gentleman protesting our rosary in Golden Gate Park. “Serra murdered hundreds of Indians” he angrily asserted. “The three biographies I’ve read didn’t mention that,” I said. “Of course,” he replied, “your books wouldn’t say that.” All points of view are equal, according to relativism, but some points of view are more equal than others. That recalls a line from Animal Farm by George Orwell, a book that used to be required reading in public schools (“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”). In fact, not all assertions are equal. Some are false, as in the assertion that Fr. Serra brutalized Indians, when historical fact demonstrates the opposite. As our primary schools have largely failed to teach grammar, logic, and rhetoric, we are now a republic whose citizens cannot think for themselves. It cannot remain a democracy for very long. The stronger will inevitably force “their truth” on the weaker. But rather than cursing the darkness, I’m lighting a candle. I’m starting a classical school at Star of the Sea, a school that will teach children to think for themselves rather than parrot propaganda. This school may be shut down by the powerful commercial interests that control our digital world, but we will give it the old college try! Meanwhile, let us celebrate the life of St. Junipero Serra and thank God for his luminous achievement in developing the first agrarian communities in California that led it to become the peacefully ordered society it once was.