Turibius of Mogroveio


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archbishop of Lima. Born at Mayorga (Spain), Turibius was a lay professor of Law at Salamanca University, from which Philip II appointed him principal judge in the court of the Inquisition at Granada. Very unexpectedly he was chosen as archbishop of Lima (Peru). Both these appointments were most unusual ones for a layman to hold; Turibius in vain pleaded his own incapacity and the enactments of canon law which forbade such promotions. All was in vain: he received orders and was consecrated bishop; he arrived in Lima in 1581. The vast diocese comprised some thousands of square miles, including coastline, mountains, and jungle: his first visitation took seven years. Abuses and scandals were notorious; lack of roads in Peru and the great distance from Spain made redress often impossible when officials were involved; there were immense numbers of baptized Indians who knew nothing of the Christian religion, partly because of the shortage of suitable clergy. Above all, the Spanish conquerors often gave appalling examples of tyranny, oppression, and cynical disregard for Christian moral teaching, as they were there to make their fortunes by any means in their power. Notorious offenders amongst the clergy were disciplined and the worst abuses were corrected.

Turibius also improved matters by building churches and founding institutions such as hospitals and religious houses. In 1591 he set up the first seminary or training college for priests in the New World, at Lima. He himself learnt the Indian dialects so that he could communicate directly with as many of the faithful as possible. His championship of their rights earned opposition and even persecution from the civil authorities, but by patient persistence he eventually overcame. He managed to visit every part of his diocese in spite of the dangers and the poor roads. His charity to the poor included not only the Indians but also those impoverished Spaniards who were too proud to ask for help: these he assisted without their knowing who had done so. He remained in harness right up to his death: he fell ill on a visitation at Pacasmayo, but died at Santa on 23 March. This is now his feast in the universal calendar. His cult has long been strong in the Americas with the feast formerly on 27 April; but he was recently selected for a world-wide cult both as a type of a pioneering missionary and reforming bishop and as a representative of South America, whose immense Christian population is often forgotten. He was canonized in 1726.

C. G. Irigoyen, Nuevos estudios sobre la vida y gobierno de S. Toribio (1906, 3 vols.): R. Levillier, La organizacion de la Iglesia, y Ordenes Religiosas en el Virrienato del Peru en el siglo xvi (1919); B.L.S., iii. 224–8; Bibl. SS., xxi. 712–15.

Subjects: Christianity.

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