Built in 1928, by merchant, civic leader George Marston as a gift to San Diego, the structure (above) is currently operated by the San Diego History Center in partnership with the University of San Diego.
GUEST BLOG—By Matthew Schiff, San Diego History Center--Pope Francis’ announcement in January 2015 that Father Junípero Serra would be canonized by the Catholic Church in September, sent ripples through the various stakeholder communities in California who have wrestled with the events that transpired after Serra began his missionary duties in Alta California centuries ago.
This Thursday, July 9 at 6 pm at the Junípero Serra Museum in Presidio Park, historians and authors Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz of Santa Clara University will address new perspectives on Serra from their new book: Junipero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary (Amazon.com $31.99).
In July 1769, before the Declaration of Independence was written, a band of exhausted Spanish soldiers and priests, including Father Junípero Serra, planted a cross on a hill overlooking San Diego Bay. Arrival of Spaniards disrupted the eons-long relationship between the native Kumeyaay people and the land. The Spainards continued a northward trend of missionization along California’s coast, and has managed to stir controversy among the various stakeholder groups in the state for the last 246 years; his canonization will add to the debate.
“Junípero Serra was a very controversial figure during his own lifetime, and reactions to the recent decision to canonize him demonstrate very clearly that he continues to be a controversial figure during our times as well,” says Senkewicz. “He elicits a variety of reactions and our presentation will attempt to provide an accurate historical context for these contemporary reactions.”
“Father Serra was a product of his time,” says historian Iris Engstrand, Ph.D., author of several books about Spanish colonization of the southwestern United States. “He believed he had the power to save the Indians' souls and guarantee their place in Heaven. Spanish policy was to make the Indians a part of the community and protect their land, not push them out.”
• WHO: Authors: Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz
• WHAT: Booksigning, lecture, and reception with hosted wine and beer, paella from the House of Spain, and traditional Spanish guitar
• WHEN: Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 6:00pm
• WHERE: Junípero Serra Museum in Presidio Park 2727 Presidio Drive San Diego, CA 92103
• WHY: Topical, timely conversation of Junípero Serra before his canonization in September 2015
ABOUT THE SAN DIEGO HISTORY CENTER
The San Diego History Center, which operates its flagship museum in Balboa Park as well as the Junípero Serra Museum in Presidio Park, tells the diverse story of our region―past, present, and future. The History Center was founded in 1928 and is one of the oldest and largest historical organizations in California. It is one of only a handful of institutions nationwide that is dedicated to celebrating the heritage of a major American city. For more information please visit sandiegohistory.org.
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