Palou, Francisco (1723–1789)

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Palou, Francisco (1723–1789)

Francisco Palou (b. 22 January 1723; d. 6 April 1789), Franciscan missionary in Baja and Alta California. Born in Palma, Mallorca, Palou was a student and lifelong friend of Junipero Serra, the Franciscan architect of the Alta California mission system. Palou went to New Spain in 1749 with Serra, then worked in the California missions under Serra's direction between 1768 and 1784.

Palou, stationed in the Baja California establishments between 1768 and 1773, became the superior of the missions when Serra joined a 1769 expedition that occupied Alta California. When the Franciscans transferred the Baja California missions to the jurisdiction of the Dominicans in 1773, Palou went to Alta California and served in the missions until 1786. During this period, he temporarily served as superior of the Alta California missions in 1784 and 1785, following which he returned to the apostolic college of San Fernando in Mexico City to serve as its superior from 1787 until his death. While there Palou wrote a hagiography of Serra and an important account of the early Franciscan years in Baja California (1768–1773) and Alta California (1769–1786) (Palou's Historical Memoirs of New California, trans. and ed. by H. E. Bolton, 4 vols. [1926]).

See alsoFranciscans; Missions: Spanish America; Serra, Junipero.


Zephyrin Engelhardt, O.F.M., Missions and Missionaries of California, 4 vols. (1929–1930).

Maynard J. Geiger, O.F.M., Franciscan Missionaries in Hispanic California, 1769–1848: A Biographical Dictionary (1969).

Additional Bibliography

Lightfoot, Kent G. Indians, Missionaries, and Merchants: The Legacy of Colonial Encounters on the California Frontiers. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

                               Robert H. Jackson