This Portuguese Jesuit was a poet, dramatist, and scholar. He also converted more than one million native Brazilians

Joseph de Anchieta is considered the Apostle of Brazil and the father of Brazilian Literature.

St. Joseph of Anchieta                       en.wikipedia.org

Larry Peterson

Joseph de Anchieta was born on March 19, 1534, in San Cristobal de La Laguna in a city called Tenerife which was in the Canary Islands. Joseph’s dad was a wealthy landowner who had escaped to Tenerife after participating in a plot to overthrow King Charles V.

The rebellion had failed but his dad, Juan Lopez de Anchieta , managed to hold on to his wealth and the family was still well off. His mom, Mancia Diaz de Clavijo y Llarena, came from a Jewish family. She was the daughter of Sebastian de Llarena, a Jewish man, who had converted to Christianity and was related to Ignatius Loyola.

Joseph went off to study in Portugal when he was 14 years old. He was accepted into the Royal College of Arts in Coimbra. When he turned 17, he applied to the Jesuit College of the University of Coimbra as a novice. Joseph was an intensely religious young man and while he was a novice, he almost destroyed his health by his excessive sacrifice to please Our Lord.  To make matters worse, he became very ill with a spinal condition that would torment him throughout his life. Even so, besides his regular studies, he managed to learn two new languages, Portuguese and Latin.

At the age of 19, Joseph traveled to Brazil as a missionary. He was among the third group of Jesuits sent to the New World. The journey was fraught with mishaps and even a shipwreck but finally, they arrived in Sao Vicente. This was the first village founded in Brazil 20 years earlier and it was now 1554. They were led by the second governor-general nominated by the Portuguese crown, Duarte da Costa. It was here that Joseph and his companions had their first contact with the native Tapula Indians.

Later in the year, Joseph and twelve of his Jesuits companions were sent to s plateau in the Serra do Mar, where they established a small mission. Joseph and his friends immediately went to work teaching, converting, baptizing, and evangelizing the pagan natives. Joseph began teaching Latin to the natives while simultaneously learning their own language.

He began compiling a dictionary and a grammar book, a custom the Jesuits always maintained after making contact with the locals. Soon the mission was being called the Jesuit College Sao Paulo of Piratininga. The mission was growing faster than expected. It was also beginning to prosper.

However, the Portuguese colonialists were causing considerable trouble. They were killing the natives and destroying the villages of the local tribes. Joseph de Anchieta was wholly opposed to the actions supported by Duarte and started peace negotiations. His knowledge of the language was crucial and he managed to gain the native’s confidence and peace was established. It was a fragile peace and it was broken a number of times before a final peace was established with victory over the French in 1567.

With the permanent peace established, a Jesuit college was founded in Rio De Janeiro and put under the direction of Joseph’s best friend, Manuel da Nobrega. He died in 1570 and Joseph took charge of the college. Besides administering the school, Joseph de Anchieta, in poor health, traveled by foot and by boat for the next ten years from Rio de Janeiro to Bahia and other cities continuing to extend the influence of the Jesuits and the Catholic faith.

Joseph de Anchieta is honored as the founder of Brazilian literature and he and his friend, Manuel da Nobrega, are called the Apostles of Brazil. Many places in Brazil are named after Joseph including roads, hospitals, institutions, and schools. He is the first playwright, the first grammarian, and the first poet to be born in the Canary Islands. He is also a writer of music, a dramatist, and a poet. He is the Brazilian patron of literature and music and, to top it off, was an excellent physician and surgeon. WHEW!

Joseph de Anchieta passed away on June 9, 1597. He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II  on June 22, 1980. He was canonized by Pope Francis on April 3, 2014.

There are many stories that are attributed to St. Joseph de Anchieta. One tells how he was about to be attacked in the jungle by a snarling panther. Joseph looked at the panther and began to preach. The panther relaxed and walked away. To this day, a popular devotion is to pray to St. Joseph de Anchieta for protection against animal attacks.

St. Joseph de Anchieta, pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Saint Turibius Alphonso de Mogrovejo—He fiercely objected to being appointed a Bishop especially when he was not even an ordained priest—

This Archbishop is the Patron Saint of Latin American Bishops and native people’s “rights.”

St. Turubius de Mongovejo                     en. wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Turibius Alfonso de Mongovejo was born in the Vallodolid province in Hapsburg, Spain, on November 16, 1538. His parents were nobles, Luis Alfonso de Mogrovejo and Ana de Robles Moran. Turibius had a sister who was named Grimanese.

Even as a pre-schooler, Turibius demonstrated pronounced piety. As he grew older, his devotion to the Blessed Mother increased, and before long, he was fasting once a week in her honor while also praying the Rosary daily. Since he had been born into nobility, he was able to enter the college at Vallodolid. He did this at the age of twelve, and he immediately began studying the Humanities.

After finishing his studies, Turibius was given a position as a professor of law at the upscale College in Salamanca. His uncle, Juan de Mogovejo, was a professor at the college and highly regarded. Soon after, King Juan III asked Turibius’s uncle to teach at the College of Coimbra. Uncle Juan accepted and took his nephew with him, where Turibius simultaneously continued his studies while also teaching. Not long after, Uncle Juan died suddenly. The ordered life of Turibius of Mogrovejo was about to change dramatically.

King Philip II of Spain had been monitoring the abilities and character of Turibius. He decided to appoint the young man as the Grand Inquisitor on the Inquisition Court, which was stationed in Grenada. The year was 1571 and Turibius was only 33 years old. Many complained and raised concerns about the young man’s experience, but King Philip would not change his mind. He wanted Turibius.

Lima, Peru, was the second most important city in Spain’s Latin American empire. The most important was Mexico City. When the Archbishop of Lima died, the King immediately looked at his replacement options. He wanted someone he could count on. At the time, the arrangement had been that the King could appoint a bishop, and the Pope would give his approval. King Philip appointed Turibius to replace him.

There was one problem; Turibius was not an ordained priest. He was a layperson and was shocked to hear that he had been appointed. He argued fiercely to be taken from consideration. The King refused to change his mind.

Turibius argued canon law explaining that  the King did not having the power to name a bishop. His points were valid but the pope overruled him. In 1578, they fast-tracked his ordination and, after four weeks of intense study, he received Holy Orders. He said his first Mass when he was 41 years old. On May 16, 1579, Pope Gregory XIII named him Archbishop of Lima. He received his episcopal consecration in August 1580 and, along with his sister and her husband, arrived in Lima in May of 1581.

King Philip II had chosen well. Archbishop Turibius was extraordinarily dedicated and plunged into his mission filled with zeal and enthusiasm. He literally exhausted himself on year-long missions within the vast territory visiting the priests and people in his care. He standardized sacramental, pastoral and liturgical practices using synods he convened just for that purpose. He even produced a trilingual catechism in Spanish and native dialects and actually learned to preach and speak in these different tongues allowing him to hear confessions and converse with the natives.

Saint Turibius became ill on the way home from one of his extended journeys. He died far from home at the age of 67. Ironically, he had predicted the exact date and hour he would die and, indeed, that came to pass. He died on March 23, 1606. It was Holy Thursday, and the time, as predicted, was 3:30 p.m.

In his twenty-four years as archbishop, he baptized and confirmed half a million people. Among them were Martin de Porres, Francisco Solano, and, of course, Isabel Flores de Oliva, who all became saints. Isabel is more commonly known as Saint Rose of Lima.

The archbishop had traveled thousands of miles through the most challenging jungle wilderness.  He never missed offering Mass and he never accepted any gifts. He was canonized in 1726 and named the Patron Saint of Latin American Bishops by Pope St. John Paul II in 1983. He is also Patron to Lima, Peru and to “native rights.”

He was what some might call a “late bloomer” but when he did finally bloom, he was a thing of beauty. He is compared to the great Italian, St. Charles Borromeo.

St. Turibius de Mogovejo, pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020