The mission is known for its campanario, a 46-foot-high wall of five bells. The bells rang the times for prayers, work, sleep and rising for the mission's friars and neophytes. The largest, seen on the bottom right, is the Mater Dolorosa (Sad Mother) and weighs 1,200 pounds. Religion News Service photo by Kimberly Winston

Occasional Pilgrim: Walking with Junipero Serra

(RNS) During his first visit to the United States, Pope Francis will canonize -- Catholic-speak for bestow sainthood on -- Junipero Serra. The 18th-century Spanish-born Franciscan friar was the founder of California's mission system, a chain of 21 Catholic churches that run from San Diego in the south to San Francisco in the north. Walk with RNS through Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first mission Serra founded in California (in 1769) and a place the church claims as "the birthplace of Christianity on the West Coast of the United States."

Religion News Service photos by Kimberly Winston.

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