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Mar 23 – St Turibius (1538-1606)

23 March, 2012

Summary: St Turibius of Mogrovejo, Spain died on this day in 1606 at Santa (Peru). A professor of law and a judge of the Inquisition in Spain, he was still a layman when appointed archbishop of Lima, Peru. he became an outstanding missionary reformer, building churches, hospitals, and the first seminary in the Americas. Remembered for his determined opposition to ecclesiastical abuses and to colonial exploitation, for his pastoral care and evangelisation of the indigenous peoples in their own languages, and for his visitation of the vast diocese.

tURIBIUSTuribius was a native of Mogrovejo in Spain. Until he was 43, he was a layman working as a judge in the Inquisition in Granada in Spain.  

Patrick Duffy tells his story.

A layman appointed archbishop
Turibius was born at Mogrovejo in northern Spain, and from his infancy was a pious child and generous to the poor. He studied at Valladolid and Salamanca. King Philip II of Spain made him a judge of the Inquisition at Granada and he discharged his duties with such integrity and prudence that at the age of 43, though still a layman, he appointed him as archbishop of Lima, Peru. He had to be rushed through the four minor orders and the three major orders of deacon, priest and bishop in a matter of weeks.

An intrepid Missionary
Arriving in Lima in May 1581, Turibius directed the Church’s apostolate to the native population. He learned the local language, Quechua, and did most of his apostolic journeys on foot. His aim was to instruct the people and hold synods to settle and maintain discipline. Many of the Spanish generals in Peru were men of avarice and cruelty. Turibius fearlessly denounced injustice and vice. His concern for the native population was not shared by the Spanish civil authorities or even by many in the Church. They often thwarted him in the discharge of his duty.

Training Clergy
Turibius founded schools and hospitals, as well as churches. As a missionary he had enormous success mainly because he took the trouble to learn native dialects. In 1591 he founded the first seminary for training clergy in the Americas. This had a salutary influence in other South American countries. His charity extended to the Spanish as well as the indigenous population.

mARTIN DE PORRESROSETuribius personally baptised and confirmed about half a million people, including two of South America’s best known saints, St Rose of Lima and St Martin de Porres!(shown here)

He died on Holy Thursday 1606 and was canonised in 1672. He is the patron saint of Peru.