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Photographer explores sacred places touched by St. Junipero

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Artwork and architecture are brought out beautifully by this black and white compilation
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

     Photo by Craig Alan Huber

A photographer has captured the spirit of St. Junipero Serra's zeal for evangelism in a new coffee table book.

California-born Craig Alan Huber, a shutterbug with a passion for landscapes and architecture, has recently released THE SPIRIT WITHIN SAINT JUNIPERO.

The volume features 101 photos shot on 37 locations from Majorca to Mexico to Alta California. It tracks the journey of St. Serra as he grew up, established missions, and won souls for Christ.

For the project, Huber visited many of the hallowed sites St. Serra walked and founded, including all of his 21 Alta California missions. The book, ideal for coffee tables and other displays, took him seven years to complete.

Clearly a talented architecture photographer, Huber has captured the domed ceilings, the well-worn stone floors, the baptismal fonts, tabernacles, statues (some all too lifelike), and bells of mission churches established by St. Serra.

He brings out beautiful artwork and places of worship most might otherwise never see.

The book is meant to elicit feelings of reflection, meditation, and awe. Published in black and white, it often has this effect. Other times, the lack of colour gives an eerie glow to run-down church walls and pious paintings that must have looked remarkable in colour.

Most photos are devoid of people. Images that do have worshippers in them were clearly taken with a slow shutter speed, making them appear as blurred figures. This gives the unfortunate effect of making it look as though there are pious grey ghosts hovering over the pews.

Huber created THE SPIRIT WITHIN SAINT JUNIPERO, his second work, with the help of Robert M. Senkewicz, a professor of history at Santa Clara University in California.

Senkewicz contributed three essays about the life of St. Serra in Majorca, Mexico, and California. The pieces are a helpful contribution to understanding the historical and spiritual significance of Huber's images.

St. Serra was born in 1713 on the Mediterranean island of Majorca, Spain. He attended a primary school run by Franciscans and later became one. He chose the name Junipero in memory of a companion of St. Francis.

The Franciscan wanted to be a missionary and preach the Gospel to the unbaptized. Senkewicz wrote that he never really got to pursue that goal until he reached Alta California at age 55. He founded 21 missions in that area. Before that, he had preached repentance to peoples who had already been baptized.

St. Serra died in 1784 and was canonized in the fall of 2015. THE SPIRIT WITHIN SAINT JUNIPERO was published just in time for that occasion.

St. Serra is known as the Apostle of California. Serra International, a lay organization that promotes vocations to the priesthood and religious life, was founded in his honour.

Senkewicz writes: "The missions that visitors can see today are generally late 19th and early 20th century reconstructions of the original structures, but they all stand as impressive testimony to the vision and determination of Junipero Serra."



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Last Updated on Friday, 25 November 2016 13:00  

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