Travel Saint Junipero Serra’s Camino Real in California with a pilgrim’s heart—and this book in hand— and prepare to continue, in your own way, the forward journey that he began in the 1700s. You’ll make your way to 21 missions, stretching from San Diego to Sonoma north of San Francisco Bay. The more you seek, the more you will find. The more you ask, the more you will receive. Such is the nature of a pilgrimage.
Each of the missions is a unique jewel and a spiritual oasis. Some are found wedged into cities; others are surrounded by mountains and valleys. They range from simple to ornate. The grounds are filled with bells, statues, fountains, and gardens, all symbols of life and feasts of color. Old Spanish mission art can be found next to Indian wall paintings. Symbols of piety from two centuries form a wonderful holy mix.
But author Stephen J. Binz does not gloss over the sometimes-painful historical aspects of the missions. The mission histories are difficult reading, documenting mistreatment and uprisings. But despite the many flaws of the Spanish mission system, the gospel still found ways in these missions to break through to hurting communities—and it continues to break through today.
For each of the 21 missions, this guide offers you the street address for your GPS, the mission’s website, a brief history of the place, the story of the mission’s patron or namesake, and information about the mission bells. You’ll be given a tour of the mission church, as well as a prayer service for your visit.
But this book is much more than a simple travel guide. You’ll learn more about the life of Saint Junípero Serra, whose vision is responsible for this holy Camino. You’ll be enriched by two interwoven traditions: the Spanish Franciscan and the American Indian. You’ll find yourself becoming more committed to being a missionary disciple, always desiring to communicate the reason for the joy and hope that is within you.
Let the journey begin.