St. Turibius de Mongrovejo, Bishop

March 20, 2020

The Pastor's Page

St. Turibius was born Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo in Mayorga, Spain, in 1538. He is also known as St. Turibius of Lima. His memorial is celebrated on March 23 on the General Roman Calendar, and in a few localities he is remembered on April 27.

St. Turibius

St. Turibius

St. Turibius entered law school, excelled as a student, became a lawyer, and then took a position as a professor of both civil and canon law at the University of Salamanca, one of the leading theological universities of Spain. He was so proficient at law that King Philip II appointed him as the chief judge of the Inquisition at Grenada.

St. Turibius performed his duties as Grand Inquisitor so admirably that he was chosen as the archbishop of Lima, Peru, in 1580, despite the fact that he was a layman. As a jurist he objected because this was contrary to Church law, but he eventually acquiesced, and with a dispensation issued by Pope Pius V from minor orders and the usual prerequisites, was hurriedly ordained a priest, consecrated a bishop, and sent to Lima.

St. Turibius arrived in Peru in 1581 at the age of 43. He would serve as bishop for twenty-five difficult years. Peru had been colonized by Spain, and the Spanish perpetrated many injustices and abuses against the residents. Greedy Spanish landlords had taken land from the peasants and the soldiers brutally mistreated them. He stood up for the rights of the native population, challenged the oppression of Spanish colonists, and did his best to improve the plight of the poor.

His diocese was huge, eighteen thousand square miles, ranging from Panama to the north to Argentina to the south. Travel was difficult because so much of the terrain was jungle or mountains and there were almost no roads. He learned the local dialects, had a deep love for the people, and was firmly committed to visiting them as often as possible. He traversed the vast countryside with incredible missionary zeal to preach and teach. It is reported that he may have baptized as many as five hundred thousand people.

It was also the time immediately after the Council of Trent (1545-1563), and it was his duty to implement the reforms of the council and restore order to the local Church. He convened a number of councils and synods, most notably the Third Council of Lima in 1583, upheld Church law, vigorously challenged laxity and misconduct within the clergy, particularly their absence from their parishes and participation in the slave trade, and fostered a spiritual renewal.

The Church made tremendous progress under his leadership. Many parishes were established. Churches, schools, hospitals, and convents were built. He founded the first seminary in the New World in 1591. Construction of a Cathedral in Lima began in 1604. He is also remembered because he baptized St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Pores.

St. Turibius died on March 23, 1606, at the age of 68, in Sana, Peru. He was canonized a saint in 1726 because he gave such increase to the Church through his apostolic labors and zeal for the truth. In religious art, he is often depicted kneeling at an altar surrounded by angels. He is the patron saint of Peru and the Latin American bishops.

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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