Journey of Fr. Serra

By Louisa S. Cooper and Richard Heimann


The following images of watercolor studies, accompanied with supporting texts, show the journey of Fr. Serra from his hometown in Mallorca, Spain to California. They are digitized versions of the original studies made to produce tile panels in the Serra Plaza, San Juan Capistrano, California. The text for each panel was written by Louisa S. Cooper, an artist member of the California Art Club. The watercolor illustrations were painted by the Studio of Barbara Beale, Torrance, CA, The tile panels in Serra Plaza were completed under a commission from the developer of Serra Plaza.

The illustrations were designed as a graphic historic depiction of the life of Saint Junipero Serra, depicting his childhood in Mallorca, Spain and his emigration to California. Louisa Cooper researched the history of J. Serra both locally and in Mallorca to reveal a rich story of the little-known part of his life prior to the founding of the California Missions. The narrative history accompanying the watercolor illustrations was written by Ms. Cooper in 1981 and is based on her research studies.

Hand-painted tiles, created by an unknown ceramicist, were derived from the illustrations. They have been displayed at both the Mission San Juan Capistrano and Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

Birth at Home of Junipero Serra

Baptism of the Infant Serra

Early Schooling in Petra

Learning the Fundamentals of Farming

Serra Leaves His Home For The City Of Palma

Serra's Novitiate In The Franciscan Order

Taking The Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience,Taking The Name "Junipero"

Six Years Of Intensive University Study

The Ordination Of Serra And His Friends

Serra Delivers The Ramon Llull Day Address

Farewell to Family And Friends In Petra

The Voyage To New Spain (Mexico)

The Walk From Vera Cruz to Mexico City

Labors And Successes At The Mission Of Jalpan

Training In Mexico City And The First Mission Assignment

 Nine Years Preaching In Mexico City And Southern Mexico

A Year In Baja California

Mission Plans For Nueva California / The Expedition To San Diego


Editor's note:

The studies contain undated watercolors from the Studio of Barbara Beale, Torrance, CA, with accompanying texts by Louisa Cooper. The studies are affixed to original poster boards. The studies were donated to The Alliance For San Juan Art (TASJA) in 2021. The studies are owned by TASJA. They were digitized in 2021 by Mission San Juan Capistrano, Landmark, Chapel, Museum and Gardens, San Juan Capistrano, California, and are currently stored by the Mission. The texts and images in this article, published by Resource Library in September 2021, are reproduced with permission of TASJA.

Readers may view a biography of Ms. Cooper at the AskArt website. Mr. Heimann is the founder and CEO of TASJA.

This article is published with permission of TASJA. If you have comments or questions about the contents of this article, please contact TASJA directly by either phoning 949 510 2817 or writing to The Alliance For San Juan Art at PO Box 154, San Juan Capistrano, CA  92693.


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