SAINT TURIBIUS de MOGROVEJO (1538-1606), bishop – Patron saint of Peru, Latin American bishops and the native peoples’ rights
Today, the Church honors the life and ministry of Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo, who is held in high esteem by Catholics in Latin America and throughout the world. This 16th century bishop upheld the rights of Peru’s indigenous peoples, and became one of the first canonized saints of the Americas.
Turibius was born in Leon, Spain in 1538, to a noble family. He frequently prayed, fasted and gave to the poor even as a child, and eventually developed the daily habit of praying the Rosary along with the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He went on to study civil law at the University of Salamanca, and eventually served as a judge for five years in the territory of Granada, Spain. His judicial wisdom and diligence drew the attention of King Philip II, who wanted Turibius – who was still a layman – to be consecrated as a missionary archbishop for the Spanish colony of Peru.
Turibius cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. Through the local bishop, he was ordained a priest and bishop in 1581, and, at the age of forty-three, was sent to Lima, Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. He also noted that abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies and sufferings to resolving these problems first.
Despite the rugged and dangerous conditions of travel, Archbishop Turibius responded with constant prayer and penance as he journeyed throughout his diocese, administering the Sacraments, teaching the Catholic faith, and establishing schools, seminaries and hospitals.
To the indigenous Peruvians, the archbishop was a herald of the Gospel who held their lives as more precious than their country’s supplies of gold and silver. But to the many colonists whose behavior showed no sign of their Catholic origins, he was a prophetic scourge – whose efforts to awaken the public conscience within them earned him rebukes and opposition.
He eventually united the Peruvian Church at an administrative level by holding several local councils of its clergy, but was also known to spend days traveling to reach a single individual with the message of Christ, living out his calling as chief shepherd of his flock.
Becoming seriously ill in 1606 and sensing that his death was imminent, Turibius decreed that his possessions should be distributed to the poor. He died on March 23rd of the same year, and his body was found to be incorrupt the following year as it was moved to a new resting place.
Turibius was canonized a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.
We commemorate the feastday of Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo on March 23.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and ewtn.com/saintsholy)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo)
“Lord, though the apostolic work of Saint Turibius and his unwavering love of truth, You helped Your Church to grow. May Your chosen people continue to grow in faith and holiness.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”