January 19, 2015 / 8:15 PM / 4 years ago

Pope says Serra canonization in Washington; no California visit

Pope Francis gestures as he speaks with journalists on his flight back from Manila to Rome, January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, an 19 (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Monday his U.S. trip in September will be limited to Washington, New York and Philadelphia and he will not go to California to canonize Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Spanish Franciscan priest who founded missions there.

Francis listed those cities in answer to a question during an hour-long, freewheeling news conference with reporters on the plane returning to Rome at the end of a trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

In a surprise announcement last Thursday while flying between the two countries, Francis said he would canonize Serra during the U.S. trip, stoking speculation the tour might include California.

“I would like to go to California for the canonization of Junipero, but I think there is the problem of time. It requires two more days,” he said.

Francis said the sainthood ceremony would take place in Washington at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Serra was born on the Spanish island of Majorca in 1713, went to the Americas in the middle of the 18th century and led one of the first Franciscan missions in California.

He arrived in San Diego in 1769 and spent most of the rest of his life there before dying at a mission in Carmel near Monterey in 1784.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Larry King

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