Spotlight is On Serra Controversy In New Book by Christian Clifford



Christian Clifford, veteran Catholic school educator, has been on a quest to set the record straight when it comes to the founder of the California missions, Saint Junípero Serra. Serra, canonized by Pope Francis in September 2015, made headlines for many months leading up to the canonization. Some painted him in a disparaging light and Clifford knew that the evidence proved otherwise. 

He shared, “Early in my research of Saint Junípero Serra, first to deepen my devotion and eventually to write two books about him (Saint Junípero Serra: Making Sense of the History and Legacy in 2015 and Who Was Saint Junípero Serra? in 2016), I came across the story of Pablo Tac and was deeply moved. Surprisingly, outside of academia no book has been written about him. His life story has the power to move hearts and minds, as it did mine. It shocked me that those who malign Serra’s reputation never bring Pablo Tac up. To me, it was Serra’s vision that impacted the amazing, yet short life of Pablo Tac. In other words, you would not have one without the other.”

Pablo Tac (1822-1841) was Luiseño Indian. He was born and raised at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, located in present-day Oceanside, California. At the age of ten, he left the Mission with Fr. Peyrí and another young neophyte boy, Agapito Amamix. Their destination was Rome. On September 23, 1834, Pablo and Agapito enrolled at the Urban College. There they learned how to be missionary priests, hoping to one day return home to California to shepherd their Luiseño brothers and sisters in Christ. Meet Pablo Tac is an inspirational story of faith, courage and the universality of the Catholic Church.

Clifford believes that Pablo Tac should be formally recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church. “My intention for writing this book was to weave the story of Pablo Tac back into the narrative of the California missions. It is good news, but bittersweet. My hope is that every Catholic fourth grader will know the name Pablo Tac, the native from what was once considered by the world as the far shores of California. He is a great role model. He accomplished more before he was in his teens than most adults do in their lifetimes!”

From Meet Pablo Tac:

After meeting Pablo Tac, what do you think? Pope John Paul II was aware of the need for examples of holiness in the modern world and proclaimed more saints and blesseds than all his predecessors combined (since the founding of the Sacred Congregation for Rites in 1588). Should the boy from Mission San Luis Rey be considered for sainthood? Is his life a good model of holiness for the twenty-first century person? Should an online petition be started? If he were declared a saint, what do you think he should be patron saint of? Many things associated with Pablo Tac already have patron saints; for example, Saint Juan Diego is patron of indigenous peoples, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint and patroness of the environment and ecology, and Saint Charles Borromeo of seminarians.

For more information on Meet Pablo Tac: Native from the Far Shores of California by Christian Clifford, visit and view the book trailer here:

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Copyright 2017 Christian Clifford

Christian CliffordAbout the author: Christian Clifford loves to visit the California missions with his wife and son. This passion led him to write Saint Junípero Serra: Making Sense of the History and Legacy (CreateSpace, 2015). After its publication, Clifford took his son’s advice that he should write a book for children about Saint Junípero Serra. In addition to writing articles in Catholic San Francisco, California Teacher, Today’s Catholic Teacher and the online publication Crux,Clifford has been a guest speaker to church and service groups and on The Busted Halo Show. Clifford has been a teacher of the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 1997. He and his family live in the San Francisco Bay Area. His website is



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