The Franciscans’ work in Manila and California
Regarding Ambeth R. Ocampo’s “Traces of Philippine history in SFO” (Looking Back, 3/22/23), the city of Los Angeles is not named in honor of the guardian angels or the Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles. Rather it was named after the Mother Church of the Franciscan family, Santa Maria de los Angeles (Santa Maria degli Angeli) in Assisi, where the movement was born and where St. Francis of Assisi died in 1226. It is a much-loved church that wherever Franciscans go and have the opportunity to build churches, one of them would surely be given that name.
Incidentally, when the Alcantarine group of Franciscans came to the Philippines in 1578, the first chapel they built in Intramuros that same year was named Santa Maria de los Angeles, the first shrine to be dedicated to the Blessed Mother in the Philippines. The chapel was eventually destroyed in the bombing of Intramuros in 1945. In 1962, the Franciscan seminary in Bagbag, Novaliches, was named Our Lady of the Angels.
The Franciscans evangelized most of what is now California under the leadership of Fray Junipero Serra (1713-1784). The Franciscans founded seven missions that included the city of San Francisco in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as those named after other Franciscan saints: Santa Clara, San Diego (de Alcala), San Luis Obispo, San Buenaventura, San Juan Capistrano, and the already mentioned Santa Maria de los Angeles.
Fray Junipero Serra was canonized by Pope Francis on Sept. 23, 2015, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to the United States. St. Junipero Serra’s statue represents California in the US Capitol in Washington.Antonio Ma. Rosales, OFM,
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