Pope to Canonize Junipero Serra

Father Junipero Serra will become a saint this year.

Pope Francis promises he'll canonize Junipero Serra, the missionary who first arrived in San Diego and brought Christianity to the western United States in the 1700s.

The pope said he'll honor Serra during his visit to the United States in September.

"He was the evangelizer of the Western United States," Francis told reporters on the papal plane as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines as part of his Asia tour.

Signs of Serra's influence in San Diego range from the Serra Museum atop the hill along Interstate 8 to the mascot for the city's baseball team.

Most San Diegans learn of the significance of Father Junipero Serra in fourth grade during the missions projects.

In 1769, he was among those who established the first mission in the region. He would go on to establish eight other missions in California.

Serra was 71 when he died at the Mission of Carmel, near Monterey.

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