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Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo

Born on November 16th, 1538 in Habsburg Spain, Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo was the son of two nobles, Luis Alfonso de Mogrovejo and Ana de Robles i Moran. His parents named him after Saint Turibius of Astorga, defender of Nicene Christianity against the Galician heresy of Priscillianism. As a child, Saint Turibius was very devout, especially with a devotion to our Blessed Mother. He was educated much like other high class nobles of the time as a child and entered the Valladolid college in 1550 to study the humanities.

After graduation, he took a job teaching law to students at a very prestigious college in Salamanca alongside his uncle Juan de Mogrovejo. Soon his reputation as an excellent teacher spread as far as the King's court and King Philip II appointed him as the Gran Inquisitor on the Inquisition Court at Granada in 1571. He worked in those post for the next five years, impressing both the clergy and King Philip with his work and piety. In 1576 King Philip nominated Saint Turibius to the now vacant archbishopric of Lima. This nomination was strongly opposed by Saint Turibius - so strongly in fact that he argued against the king using canon law that only a priest could be designated with ecclesial dignities. Pope Gregory XIII intervened in the argument, siding with the king and declaring that the post should be filled by Saint Turibius. Saint Turibius reluctantly obeyed.

In 1578, after four weeks of receiving the minor orders, Saint Turibius was ordained to the priesthood at Granada. On May 16th, 1579, Pope Gregory XIII named him Archbishop of Lima and he received his consecration in August the following year from the Archbishop of Seville. He gathered his belongings, completed his formal training and departed for Peru in September of 1580 with his sister and brother in law.

He chose intentionally to arrive in Paita on May 12th, 1581, a town nearly 600 miles away from Lima. On foot, he began his journey to Lima stopping only to teach and baptize natives along the path. He arrived a week later in Lima. At Lima he walked the entirety of his archdiocese three times alone dealing with the humidity, heat and unpredictable weather of the land. Because he took the time to learn and master the local languages, the natives he would visit were greatly impressed by the respect given. This allowed him to baptize and confirm almost 500,000 people. He built schools, roads, hospitals and chapels throughout his archdiocese for the people. In his travels to parishes he preached in the native tongues and took careful explicit time to sit with the local natives, to hear their concerns and answer any questions they have. He always treated them with the upmost respect and dignity as fellow humans. He founded the very first seminary in the entire Western Hemisphere in 1590 at Lima.

One of his greatest accomplishments was overseeing the Third Provincial Council of Lima in 1582. Thie council worked diligently to implement the decrees of the Council of Trent in the Americas while working with great discipline to reform the clergy. Unlike the prior two councils, this Council did not make distinctions between the Spaniards and native Indians - it instead dictated that they should be treated equally, including allowing the natives to receive both the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. To carry out this new decree, Saint Toribio produced a trilingual catechism (in Spanish, Quechua and Aymara) named the Doctrina Christiana, y Catecismo para Instruccion de los Indios. This catechism also has the distinction of being the first book every published in South America.

As part of their efforts to reform the clergy, clerics were now threatened with excommunication if they did not stop selling European goods to the natives for profit. To help support the clergy now that they were unable to continue with their private business, Saint Toribio instituted the tithe. Furthermore, he now required clergy to dress appropriately, ordered gambling illegal among the clergy and required all clergy to stop committing vices such as simony, concubinage and incontinence in the secular clergy. As he travelled in parishes he inspected all objects used in Divine Worship, requiring them to be in pristine condition.

Famously, Saint Turibius among the half a million he confirmed three who would become canonized in the future - Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Martin de Porres and Francis Solano.

Saint Turibius predicted the date of his death early in his bishopric, a prediction that came true on March 23, 1606, Holy Thursday. A day before, at Pacasmao he contracted a terrible fever that was so intense he barely made it to Zana by nightfall. He received the Viaticum and died at 330 PM at the convent of Saint Augustine. His final words were

Into Thy hands I commend my spirit

Saint Turibius was beatified in 1679 by Pope Innocent XI and canonized a Saint by Pope Benedict XIII on December 10th, 1726. His feast day is celebrated on March 23rd in the Roman Catholic Church and among other patronages, Saint Turibius is the Patron Saint of Peru, Lima, Latin American Bishops and Native Rights.

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