St. Turibius de Mogrovejo
Let’s start this one off Jeopardy style.
The category: Obscure Spanish American Saints.
The Clue: He founded the first seminary in the Western Hemisphere in the 1591 and Confirmed St. Rose of Lima.
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If you answered, “Who is St. Turibius de Mogrovejo?”, then I hope you bet it all, because you’re right.
So how is it that most of us have never heard of him? Seriously. The lack of teaching on the saints these days (and for the past 50 years) is most vexing. This man was awesome.
Born in 1538 in Majorca, Spain, he was well educated and became a lawyer. He was appointed to president of the Inquisition at Grenada, and did an excellent job there. Such an excellent job, in fact, that, although he was not even a priest, let alone a bishop, when the need arose for a new head for the See at Lima, he was chosen. He begged not to be sent, citing every canon he could think of barring laymen from being given ecclesiastical duties and privileges, but to not avail. I mean, don’t get me wrong. They didn’t break any of the canons. Not at all. They just decided that Turibius needed to become a bishop, but quick, so they ordained him a priest and then made him a bishop, and sent him on his merry way — to South America. Okay, okay, so it took him like two years to go from priest to bishop, but that’s still fast, like, Flash Gordon on speed fast.
At the time, Lima, Peru was in serious need of direction. Because it was so far removed from the rest of the Church, it needed a particularly strong head to keep the body moving right. In Turibius, they found just the man. He believed that, as he used to say, “Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it.” Every day, Turibius used to the absolute utmost to fulfill God’s plan for him, and to serve God in his vocation as spiritual leader to so many faithful. He traversed the entire 170,000 square miles of his diocese three times before his death. Usually, he did this on foot, often times alone and barefoot, travelling through dangerous jungles and among strangers. He learned the native languages so that he could, yes, convert others to Christ, but also so that they would have a voice with their Spanish masters and therefore be treated more fairly. He personally Baptized and Confirmed close to a million people, including St. Rose of Lima, and he even founded the first seminary over here. From the moment he arrived in Peru in 1581, to the day of his death in 1606, he used every breath he took to bring Christ to the people he served.
Looking at all he was able to accomplish in a relatively short time (less than thirty years in Peru), one can easily see that it is true: Nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37