Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo

Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo

Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo is the patron saint of Peru. He was the archbishop of Lima from 1579 to 1606, and it is because of his missionary work and commitment to social justice as archbishop that he has been a popular saint in Latin America for over three centuries. He had a favorite stewardship message which he used often in his teaching and preaching: Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it.

St. Turibius was born in 1538 to an affluent family of the Spanish nobility. He was well-educated; a professor of law at the renowned University of Salamanca in Spain. He was ordained a priest in 1578 at age 40 and sent to Peru to become the archbishop of Lima in May 1579. Reportedly, St. Turibius baptized a half million people; among them were St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres. He is also responsible for building many roads, schools, churches and hospitals in Peru. In 1591, he established the first seminary in the Western hemisphere in Lima. He was responsible for a new catechism in Spanish and two local native dialects.

Promoting social justice was a major concern of St. Turibius. He devoted himself to serving the poor and championing the rights of indigenous peoples against the oppressive rule of civil authorities. The governors of Peru mounted continued opposition to the archbishop because of his challenges to their injustices.

The Archdiocese of Lima consisted of 180,000 square miles, (by comparison, the state of California is 164,000 square miles). He traveled the length and breadth of the archdiocese three times, mostly on foot and often alone, exposed to the tropical elements and without protection against hostile tribes and animals of prey. On one of his missionary journeys, he contracted a fever that would end his life. He died on March 23, 1606. He was canonized in 1726.

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