Imagine someone who had never been a priest, let alone a bishop, stepping out of layman’s shoes into those of archbishop of an episcopate 6,000 miles from home. If you can come up with a name, it would be Turibius of Mogrovejo.
As a young man, Turibius was a brilliant scholar of the law and became a judge and professor at the University of Salamanca. King Philip II of Spain, who was also the head of the Church in that country, tapped Turibius to become the Archbishop of Peru over all the legal and professional objections of the good professor. In no time Turibius was ordained a priest and a bishop, and he soon set sail for his new land.
When he arrived in Lima, he was shocked at what he found. Priests were not caring for their people. The poor were being neglected. Rich Spanish landowners had enslaved many of the native people of Peru and treated them cruelly. Turibius saw that there was much work to be done.
Traveling by mule or on foot, Turibius managed to visit every parish in his diocese over a period of seven years. He learned the local languages. He celebrated Mass with the faithful and shared their homes, no matter how humble. He ate what they ate and often slept on dirt floors.
Turibius supervised the building of many churches, schools, and hospitals. A catechism was written in different Peruvian languages so that adults and children could grow in their faith and also learn how to read and write. The first seminary in the New World was opened in Lima in 1591 so that new priests could be trained.
Everywhere he went, Turibius spoke out against the unjust treatment of the poor. The people in power listened to Turibius because he always spoke with love and he encouraged everyone to act with love.
Turibius died in 1606 while visiting one of his parishes in a small mountain village. He was canonized in 1726.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: Turibius of Mogrovejo | Saints Resource. (n.d.). Saints Resource. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from http://saintsresource.com/turibius-of-mogrovejo/