Feast Day : April 27 (Peru), March 23 (elsewhere)
Patronage: Latin American bishops; native rights; Peru
Also known as: Toribio or Turibius of Lima, Turibius of Mongrovejo, Toribio de Mongrovejo
Turibius Mogroveio was born in Mayorga, León, Spain, on November 16, 1538, the son of Luis Alfonso de Mogroveio (or Mongrovejo) and Ana de Robles y Moran. Although he was religious from an early age, he did not enter the Church, but instead studied law and was a professor of law at the University of Salamanca when King Philip II appointed him chief judge of the Court of the Inquisition at Granada in 1571. In 1580, the king called on him again, this time to become the new archbishop of Lima. Although the Vatican supported the nomination, Turibius protested, presenting canons forbidding the promotion of laymen to high Church offices. He continued to resist for three months before finally assenting. He was duly ordained a priest, consecrated bishop, named to the office by Pope Gregory XIII (r. 1572–85) and sailed for Peru. He was 42 years old. Turibius landed in Piura in March 1581, and walked the 285 miles from there to Lima, arriving at the end of May. This was the first of many long walks he was to take over the remaining 25 years of his life. His archdiocese covered some 18,000 square miles, encompassing the present countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia and a portion of Argentina. Turibius traveled through this vast territory three times, the first time spending seven years in the process. He found a region much in need of aid, not only because of the many unsaved souls but also because of the cruelties of the colonial regime. This was less than a half-century after the subjugation of the Inca Empire, and many of the scars were still bare. Turibius came into immediate conflict with secular authorities over the treatment of the Andean Quechua, whose rights he defended and whose dialects he learned to speak. He fought injustice and vice, among the clergy as well as laymen, and succeeded in eliminating many of the worst abuses. At the end of his life he sent a message to the king saying that he had administered the sacrament to and confirmed more than 800,000 persons. His legacy is larger than this, however. He put considerable effort into organizing the Church in Peru, building churches and hospitals and almost doubling the number of parishes in the archdiocese—when he arrived there were 150 and when he died there were 250. He also founded the first seminary in the Americas (1591) and established a biannual diocesan synod. He convened and presided over the Third Council of Lima (1582–83), attended by prelates from throughout Hispanic America. This historic assembly established important pastoral norms relating to the evangelization of the Indians and produced texts of the catechism in Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, the first books published in South America. Turibius confirmed three others who have become saints—Rose of Lima, Martin de Porres and Francis Solanus—and worked with a fourth, John Massias. In his 78th year, Toribius was taken ill in the town of Pacasmayo, on the northern coast of present-day Peru. He continued traveling and working, however, and died a short while later, on May 23, 1606, in Saña (Zaña). It took almost a year for his body to be carried back to Lima, but it arrived there in a remarkable state of preservation, as if he had only recently died. After his death many miracles were received at his intercession. In 1983 Pope John Paul II (r. 1978– ) proclaimed him Patron of Latin American bishops and set his feast day on the universal calendar as March 23. In Peru, however, it is still celebrated on its former date of April 27.