Francisco Palou: "Abominable vice will be eliminated," 1777

Francisco Palou's biography of Junipero Serra, and of the nine Franciscan missions he founded in California, was published in Mexico, where Palou was a missionary.

In a chapter on the "Founding of the Santa Clara Mission" (in 1777), Palou relates a discovery that took place in the mission at St. Antonio, California.

Two laymen arrived at the house of a convert, one of them in the usual clothing, but the other dressed like a woman and called by them a Joya [Jewel] (since that is the name they are given in their native tongue). Once the priests had been alerted, the head of the Mission [Junipero Serra] went to the house with a sentry and a soldier. The couple was caught in the act of committing the nefarious sin. They were duly punished for this crime, but not with the severity it properly deserved.

When they were rebuked for such an enormous crime, the layman answered that the Joya was his wife! They were not seen again in the Mission or its surroundings after this reprimand. Nor did these disreputable people appear in the other missions, although many Joyas can be seen in the area of Canal de Santa Barbara; around there, almost every village has two or three [Joyas]. But we place our trust in God and expect that these accursed people will disappear with the growth of the missions. The abominable vice will be eliminated to the extent that the Catholic faith and all the other virtues are firmly implanted there, for the glory of God and the benefit of those poor ignorants.[1]

Pope Francis proclaimed Junipero Serra a saint in Washington, DC, on September 23, 2015.[2] 


Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976) p. 292.

  1. Francisco Palau, Relaci6n historica de la vida y apostolicas tareas del venerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra...(Mexico: Don Felipe de Zuniga y Ontiveros, 1787), p. 222. I wish to thank Roberto Echavarren-Welker for translating this text.
  2. Fernanda Santos, "25,000 Fill Washington for Canonization," New York Times, September 24, 2015, p.A33.