El Camino Real — variously translated as “The Royal Road” and “The King’s Highway” or “The Way of the King” — are words found on small signs seen along the Hollywood Freeway (101), especially as one heads north. The signs appear on metal shafts on the side of the road, made to resemble shepherds’ staves, with a bell hanging within each crook.

These signposts mark a pilgrim’s path — a camino — for those wishing to find the missions and pay homage to God at these beautiful, holy and historic places of worship.

These missions were the dream of a Franciscan priest, Junípero Serra. Born in 1713 and ordained in 1737, he gave up a relatively easy life teaching theology at the university in Mallorca, Spain, voyaging to the New World in 1749 to “take the Gospel to all nations.”

A new handbook — “Saint Junipero Serra’s Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions” by author Stephen J. Binz — will be of immense importance to those traveling along the Camino. Its historical background of each mission, stimulating quotes from and about St. Junípero, discussion of native spirituality and mention of neighboring places of interest will render this book dog-eared in the hands of the pilgrim, history buff or even casual readers.

One of the compelling features of “Saint Junípero Serra’s Camino” is a selection of scriptural pericopes reflecting the saint and patronage of each mission. Joined to them, Binz has chosen antiphonals and litanies, taking advantage of forms of prayer often overlooked by Catholics today.

“These prayers are my original composition, except where noted,” explained Binz. “I have chosen a combination of Scripture, litany and prayer because this devotional genre is the most traditional and helpful form of communal prayer for pilgrimage in the way of the saints. This variety of prayer types is also engaging and participatory for pilgrims traveling and praying together along the Camino. Of course, I would hope that pilgrims would also be able to participate in the Mass at some of the missions, which is the perfect form of prayer for pilgrims.”

If, therefore, you have not yet formed vacation plans this summer, by all means consider Binz’ advice and follow the Camino of St. Junípero Serra. Unite yourself and your family to millions of Catholics within the communion of saints, who found solace, peace and spiritual refreshment on pilgrimage

Full story at Angelus.