An important feature of the organization of the book is the author’s defense of Serra’s legacy. The author guides the reader through the process by explaining the valid historical method experts use to look honestly at Serra’s life and accomplishments, and his motivations.
Greg Schwietz
Serra International

. . . must-read for high school students in California’s Catholic schools.
Kathleen H. Aikenhead
President, William H. Hannon Foundation, Santa Monica, CA

. . . a deeply personal and moving account of his search for the real Serra.
Jeffrey Burns
Retired Archivist, Archdiocese of San Francisco

. . . easy to read and has good points about the political storm swirling around Fr Serra’s historical impact.
Sr. Teresa Christe
MSSR Theology Dept./Campus Ministry
Cardinal Newman High School, Santa Rosa, CA

. . . [it] will serve Catholic students well in courses like California History, American History as well as in Church History.
Rev. Thomas J. Elewaut
Pastor, San Buenaventura Mission, Ventura, CA

. . . destined to be a hit!
Maureen Huntington
Former Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of San Francisco and Diocese of Orlando

. . . a helpful resource for people of faith of all ages to see the blessings of Serra’s witness to the Gospel life and what he can teach us today about effective evangelization.
Fr. Tommy King, O.F.M.
Former Pastor, Saint Boniface Church, San Francisco, CA (excerpt from foreword)

. . . most enjoyable and could very easily be used in the school setting.
Msgr. Sal Pilato
Superintendent of High Schools, Archdiocese of Los Angeles

“. . . a further confirmation of the friar’s dictum that ‘in California is my life and here I hope to die.’”
Msgr. Francis J. Weber
Archivist, Archdiocese of Los Angeles and author of Life and Times of Saint Junipero Serra and The California Missions


This book was very informative with cute illustrations. It was written in first-person narrative, so that it sounds like an autobiography, and follows the life of the saint and those whom he influenced. The language was easy to understand. I enjoyed this simple explanatory book that detailed the history and relationships of this canonized saint.

Catholic Media Association Book Awards 2022, 3rd place in the category of Newly Canonized Saints

When Pope Francis canonized Junípero Serra in 2015, he sought to point the Church’s eyes to a series of intersecting issues in the life of the Church – the centrality of evangelization at the heart of ecclesial life; the immense contribution which the Hispanic community in the United States has made to the life of the Church and the nation; and how Catholics understand their own history as a combination of apostolic zeal at times flawed by the distorted perspectives of every age. Christian Clifford has contributed to each of these themes in a readily understandable way in his book Who Was Saint Junípero Serra? Using narrative presentations to illustrate the perspectives of those who were influenced by Serra in his richly diverse contributions to the life of the Church in Spain, Mexico and modern day California, this book affectionately speaks to the many dimensions of the Serra experience as it continues to the present day.

Foreword by
Cardinal Robert McElroy, Bishop of San Diego

Christian Clifford has made the story of Franciscan Saint Junípero Serra, OFM, come alive for a new generation of young people. With original illustrations that accompany the creative vignettes from the various vantage points of those Serra would have encountered during his life, this book captures the imagination and informs the mind. This is an excellent companion for students learning about Saint Junípero and the California Missions!               

Daniel P. Horan, OFM
Catholic Theological Union (Chicago), and author, Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith.

In his new book, Who Was Saint Junipero Serra?, author Christian Clifford provides readers with a thoughtful and very accessible look at not only the life of the Saint, but also the world in which he grew up and eventually came to evangelize.  Through his excellent researching, the author allows the voices of others who were with the Mallorcan missionary to contribute to the fabric of the story, and helps the reader gain insight into the multiple sides of some of the controversies surrounding St. Junípero’s work. The structure of the book lends itself well to classroom study, but even readers who are not in school should appreciate this addition to the Saint Junipero Serra library.  With nicely rendered illustrations by Kelsey Lansang.

Maureen Pratt, author of Don’t Panic!: How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough (Franciscan Media)


The canonization of Junipero Serra in 2016 was no surprise. Its promoters expected it. Its detractors rejected it. Pablo Tac takes both groups by surprise. Mr. Clifford thinks he is a saint. Meet Pablo Tac invites thinking about the possibilities for the future. Give it a read.

Karl A. Kottman, Jr.
Temecula, CA

An empathetic and wise telling about one of those people we wish we knew so much more about. Christian Clifford does a good job telling this ultimately tragic story in a way accessible to a broad range of people from young adults to geezers like me.

Rick Kennedy, Ph.D.
San Diego, CA

A comprehensive and easy-to-read biography of Pablo Tac (1822-1841), a remarkable Luiseño Indian from California who lived a stellar life during the Mexican era. Tac’s childhood began at Mission San Luis Rey, and because of his intellectual abilities and religious inclinations, he graduated to higher education. He studied at San Fernando College, Mexico City, and then at Urban College, Rome, where he focused on becoming a missionary priest and met his untimely death as well.

The narrative clearly constructs his life and times with maps, charts, illustrations, a timeline, and study questions useful for general readers and students. It culminates with a discussion on saintliness, the canonization or declaration of holy people as saints by the Catholic Church and asks whether Tac is so worthy. This well-researched book draws extensively on writings by and about Tac and those church leaders who shaped his life, and it is supplemented with contextual details from noted scholars.

Mark G. Thiel, Archivist
Marquette University


Note from Judges: This nicely designed account of the author’s 800-mile foot journey on the California Missions Trail includes renditions of period maps, photographs of key people involved in the establishment and operations of the missions, and the author’s reflections. Each chapter also includes information about the experiences of the founding friars and the Native peoples as well as the author-pilgrim’s experience.

Catholic Media Association Book Awards 2022, 2nd place in the category of Pilgrimages/Catholic travel


I am honored that Christian asked me to write the Foreword and enjoyed his book immensely. He has done a fantastic job of sharing his story of walking the California Missions Trail in the footsteps of the Indigenous, Spanish, and mestizo Catholics who blazed the Trail before him. We are all fellow Pilgrims following in the footsteps of Saint Junipero Serra; our journeys being unique and deeply personal, as all Pilgrimages are. We both experienced, in some capacity, the arduous journey undertaken by the padres. I am a firm believer that walking is a metaphor for life. Christian gives the reader a lot to think about where they are on their life’s journey. Wherever you are on the path and at whatever pace you are walking it, Christian does inspire one to carry on.

Edie Littlefield Sundby
“The Mission Walker”
San Diego, California

Clifford shares of himself in his writings of his pilgrimage journey in hiking to the different California missions. He shares his personal story, the story of the original California missionaries, and the stories of many different people connected to the different California missions. What I like about Pilgrimage is that the pilgrimage journey meets us front and center in the midst of our lived reality.

Excerpt of review by Father Lincoln, Pearl, Mississippi

Pilgrimage: In Search of the REAL California Missions is the story of author Christian Clifford’s 800-mile journey on foot of the California Missions Trail where he learned many lessons from those who blazed the Trail before him—indigenous, Spanish, and mestizo. Not a guidebook, but an inspirational story of one man immersing himself in California mission history on the mission walk.

California Mission Walkers online store