Spanish Franciscan priest Miguel Serra y Abram (1713-1784) was born in Petra, Majorca (i.e., Mallorca), a farming village. In 1730, at the age of 16, Miguel entered the Franciscan order and took the name Junípero, the name of Saint Francis’s close, extroverted friend. He founded nine missions in California (including San Diego and San Francisco) and was responsible for the baptism of over 6,000 Native Americans. Pope John Paul II beatified him in September of 1988. Serra is honored on a 44-cent airmail stamp issued August 22, 1985.
In 1769, Gaspar de Portola, who was accompanied by Father Junipero Serra, led a Spanish expedition to settle California. At what is now San Diego, the first of 21 missions and presidios (forts) began the Spanish colonization. A 6-cent stamp was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the settlement of California on July 16, 1969.