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Pope to canonize Junipero Serra as saint while in US

Pope Francis, right, accompanied by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, left, archbishop of Manila, waves to Filipinos as he arrives Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Manila, Philippines. Ecstatic crowds greeted Pope Francis as he arrived Thursday in the Philippines, Asia's most populous Catholic nation, for the first papal visit in 20 years. | Aaron Favila/AP Photo

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco says California Catholics are elated with the news that Pope Francis plans to canonize Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said Thursday in a video news release that Serra was “the great apostle here in California.”

Pope Francis announced Thursday he plans to canonize Serra when he visits the United States in September.

Serra established nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions, including Mission Dolores in San Francisco.

Cordileone says he is grateful to Pope Francis for recognizing Serra’s “great sanctity.”

The Franciscan missionary died in 1784 at a mission in Carmel. He is credited with bringing Christianity to the United States’ West.