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


A holy time-saver: This saint recruited his donkey to help him multiply his hours and energy

St. John Macias                                                                           public domain

By Larry Peterson

Juan de Arcas y Sanchez was born on March 2, 1585, in the Palencia Diocese located in the northwest part of Spain. His mom and dad were poor peasant farmers who worked hard to take care of their children. Sadly, both of them died when Juan and his sister were both very young. The two of them were taken in by their uncle whose last name was “Macias.” The children took the name as their own. Juan’s uncle trained him as a shepherd, and the youngster would spend many of the long, tedious hours praying the Rosary.

When Juan was a teenager, he attended Mass in a nearby village. The Mass was offered by a Dominican, and his preaching touched young Juan deeply. He started to think about joining the Order and began praying hard for the wisdom to understand and accept God’s will for his life. He wrote that he was visited often by the Blessed Virgin and his patron, St. John the Evangelist. In one of these visions, he reportedly was commanded to travel to Peru.

At the age of 25, Juan began working for a man who had business interests in South America. Some years later, he was asked if he would like to go there. Remembering his vision, Juan immediately accepted the offer. It was 1619 when he set out for the Americas. He was 34 years old.

Juan traveled with soldiers, missionaries, merchants, adventurers, and those in poverty, hoping to find a second chance. Among those on board, he was considered among those in poverty. The ship sailed for several months before finally stopping in the place of his vision; Lima, Peru. He would remain in here for the rest of his life.

Never losing his desire to be a Dominican, Juan entered the Dominican convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Lima in the year 1622. He began as lay-brother who would not preach but would do the necessary manual labor required in the monastery. He became the doorkeeper, and one of his primary duties was to take care of the poor and needy who came to the door seeking material or spiritual assistance.

It is documented that Juan would greet over two hundred people a day. He was always cheerful and upbeat and tried to encourage all who came. His ability to help so many every day came to be recognized as miraculous. One reason was that he had a donkey that he would send out to collect food. He hung a sign on the donkey, and the animal knew what route to take.

Every day the donkey would walk through the neighboring town collecting food for Friar Juan to give to the poor. In fact, the donkey knew what homes to “Hee-Haw” in front of so the people would know he was there. He always came back with his carry-bags filled, and all the people who had come for food were able to be helped.

While in the monastery, Juan’s life was filled with fervent prayer, frequent penance, and charity. Like St. Dominic, he learned his theology not from books but by continually devoting himself to studying what is known as the “Book of Charity,” the Cross. He prayed the Rosary constantly and it is said that his prayers freed over a million souls from Purgatory.

He became best friends with another great Dominican, St. Martin de Porres. The two men would often meet as they made their daily rounds of Lima and were a steady and constant source of encouragement for each other. They were both beatified on the same day in a single ceremony by Pope GregoryXVI in 1837.

We shall finish with one last miracle from the life of Juan Macias. A little girl was the last one on line. When she reached Friar Juan, he asked what she needed, and she told him a new dress. Juan had nothing like that to give, but he asked the child to walk with him so they might check the storeroom. The entire way there, Juan prayed for a miracle. When they got to the storeroom on the bench near the door was a package neatly wrapped. Juan opened it and inside was a brand new dress in the exact color and size the girl had hoped for.

John (Juan) Macias was canonized a saint by Pope St. Paul VI in 1975.

St John Macias, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019