Saint of the Day – 6 January – Saint Juan de Ribera (1532-1611) Archbishop and Viceroy of Valencia, Latin Patriarchate of Antioch, Commander in Chief, President of the Audiencia and Chancellor of the University of Valencia.
Juan de Ribera’s father was Pedro Afán de Ribera, Viceroy of Naples and Duke of Alcala. His mother died when he was very young.
He studied at the University of Salamanca and was ordained as Priest in 1557, Pope Pius IV appointed him Bishop of Badajoz on 27 May 1562 at the age of 30. There he dedicated himself to teaching the Catechism to Roman Catholics and counteracting Protestantism.
He was appointed as the Archbishop of Valencia on 3 December 1568. In 1599 he consecrated Alfonso Coloma as Bishop of Barcelona. King Philip III of Spain later appointed him Viceroy of Valencia in 1602 and thus he became both the religious and the civil authority. In this role he founded the Museum of the Patriarch, known among Valencians as the College of Saint John, entrusted to the formation of Priests according to the spirit and the dispositions of the Council of Trent.
As Archbishop, Ribera dealt with the issue of Valencia’s large Morisco population, descendants of Muslims who converted to Christianity at threat of exile. The Moriscos had been kept separate from the main population by a variety of decrees that prohibited them from holding public office, entering the Priesthood, or taking certain other positions; as a result, the Moriscos had maintained their own culture rather than assimilated. Some of them did, in fact, still practice forms of crypto-Islam. He finally ordered the deportation of all Moors from his See in 1609.
Efforts to Canonise Ribera, who himself had been active in attempting the cause of St Ignatius of Loyola and his testimony was used in the cause of St Nicholas Factor, began shortly after his death. Various admiring biographies of Ribera were published. He was Beatified on 18 September in 1796 by Pope Pius VII and Canonised on 12 June 1960, by Pope John XXIII.