Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo
The saint of the day for March 23 is Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo also known as St. Toribio de Mogrovejo, the great figure in the history of the Church in Latin America, the second archbishop of Lima. Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius of Mongrovejo is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.
Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.
In 1580 the archbishopric of Lima, capital of Spain’s colony in Peru, became vacant. He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal those who had infected that area. He protested the assignment, but was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.
He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither sleep nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor.
His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.
Years before he died, he predicted the day and hour of his death. He contracted fever, but continued working up to the last moment, arriving at his destination in a dying condition. Dragging himself to the sanctuary he received the Viaticum, expiring shortly after. He died in 1606, was beatified by Pope Innocent XI in 1697, and canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.
Patronage: Native rights, Latin American bishops, and Peru.
Saint Quote: “Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it.”