Saint of the Day – 23 March – St Turibius of Mogrovejo (1538-1606) ArchBishop, Lawyer, Professor, Missionary, Preacher, Reformer, Professor, – born Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo in 1538 at Mayorga de Campos, Leon, Spain and died on 23 May 1606 at Santa, Peru of natural causes. Patronages – Peru, Lima, Latin American bishops, Native rights, Scouts, Valladolid. St Turibius predicted the exact date and hour he would die, which would come to pass. His reputation for holiness and learning was never forgotten for it led to calls for his canonisation. ,,Pope Innocent XI beatified the late archbishop but Pope Benedict XIII was the one to canonise him as a saint on 10 December 1726.
Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo was born on 16 November 1538 in the Valladolid province in Habsburg Spain to the nobles Luis Alfonso de Mogrovejo (1510–1568) and Ana de Roblès i Morán (1515–???); He was named in honour of Saint Toribio.
He was noted as a pious child with a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin who fasted once a week in her honour and recited rosaries often. He received an education befitting for a noble at the time; he entered the college at Valladolid in 1550 where he studied humanities. He became a professor teaching law to students at the reputed college in Salamanca. His uncle Juan de Mogrovejo served as a professor there as well as at the San Salvador High School in Oviedo before King Juan III invited him to teach at the college in Coimbra. Toribio accompanied his uncle there and studied at the college in Coimbra before returning to Salamanca sometime later. His uncle died not long after he returned to Salamanca for his studies. His learning and virtuous reputation led to King Philip II appointing him as the Grand Inquisitor on the Inquisition Court stationed at Granada in February 1571. He remained in that position until 1576 but not without impressing the king with his work.
During this time Philip II nominated him for the vacant Lima archbishopric despite his strong protests. He used his knowledge of canon law to remind him and the pope that priests alone could be designated with ecclesial dignities but the pope overruled him. Preparations were made for him to be ordained before the formal announcement could be made. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1578 in Granada (after four consecutive weeks of receiving the minor orders) and Pope Gregory XIII named him on 16 May 1579 as the Archbishop of Lima; he received his episcopal consecration in August 1580 from the Archbishop of Seville Cristóbal Rojas Sandoval. In September 1580 he departed for Peru alongside his sister and her husband.
The new archbishop first arrived in Paita on 12 May 1581 which was 600 miles – or 970 kilometers – from Lima. He began his new mission travelling to Lima on foot while he baptised and taught the natives. He was enthroned in his new see a week later. His favourite topic was: “Time is not our own and we must give a strict account of it”. He traversed his entire archdiocese three times on foot and alone; exposed to tempests and torrents as well as the wild beasts and tropical heat. He also had to deal with fevers and often threats from hostile tribes. He countered these all the while baptising and confirming almost one half million people which included the future Saint Rose and Saint Martin de Porres and also Saint Francis Solano (who later became a close friend) and Blessed Juan Masías.
He built roads and schoolhouses as well as chapels and hospitals; he never forgot about the religious and established convents for them to live in. In 1591 founded the first seminary in the western hemisphere and mandated that learning indigenous languages was a prerequisite in their formation. He inaugurated the first part of the third Lima Cathedral on 2 February 1604. He also assembled thirteen diocesan synods and three provincial councils during his tenure. He was seen as a champion of the rights of the natives against the Spanish masters. He learnt the local dialects for better communication with the native people and his own flock and was seen as a champion for rights and liberties despite Peruvian governors voicing opposition to him since he challenged their power and control.
Mogrovejo sought the reformation of diocesan priests and found that some of their behaviour had grown too scandalous to be continued. There were those priests who came to resent him for this though Francisco de Toledo supported his reform efforts and rendered assistance to the archbishop in that regard. He also oversaw the Third Provincial Council from 1582 to 1583 which Philip II had requested he oversee. He served as the council’s president but guided it rather than lead it; he involved himself in drafting important concilliar documents. Mogrovejo also worked to implement the decrees from the Council of Trent and made evangelisation a core theme in his episcopal career. He produced a trilingual catechism in Spanish as well as in the native languages Quechua and Aymara in 1584 while the council mandated confessional manuals to aid confessors while calling for preaching in indigenous languages. The council issued a decree from the council – one he endorsed – that proscribed excommunication to those clerics who engaged in business ventures since it was known that there were some clerics who exploited the natives for work and profit.
The council ended and Pope Sixtus V confirmed its decrees in 1588. He held two more provincial councils in 1591 and in 1601. Mogrovejo made three pastoral visitations that were all extensive in time. He visited each parish and would first inspect all objects for divine worship (he expected them to be in good condition) before talking to the parish priest about the life of the parish. He would then check the parish registers and then checked to see if the priest had the missal that Pope Pius V had mandated over a decade prior.
His prediction of the exact date and hour of his death, would soon come to pass. It was in Pacasmayo during a pastoral visit that he contracted a fever but continued labouring to the last and arrived at Saña in a critical condition. He dragged himself to receive the Viaticum and died not long after this on 23 March 1606 (Holy Thursday) at 3:30pm at the Saint Augustine convent. His final words were those of Jesus Christ on the Cross: “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit”. His remains are interred in the archdiocesan cathedral.
His beatification was celebrated under Pope Innocent XI in 1679 (ratified in the papal bull “Laudeamus”) and Pope Benedict XIII later canonised him as a saint on 10 December 1726 through the papal bull “Quoniam Spiritus”. His liturgical feast was once celebrated on 27 April but is now celebrated on 23 March. His cult was once confined for the most part to South America but is now universal because of his pioneering reforms. He became the patron saint for the Latin American episcopate after Pope John Paul II proclaimed him as such in 1983.
Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne spoke on Mogrovejo as a tireless pastor who never tired “being close to God” whose “love for the poor manifested itself in the innumerable gestures” that marked his episcopal life. Thorne further elaborated that “in Saint Toribio we reinforce our conviction that the time devoted to God is a guarantee of a faithful dedication to the fulfillment of our duties and to the service of our brothers”.