St. Turibius of Mogrovejo was born in Spain in 1538, into a noble family. As a child, Turibius had a daily habit of praying the Rosary and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and prayed and fasted often.
Turibius studied law at the University of Salamanca, spending five years as a judge in Granada. When his judicial wisdom drew the attention of King Philip II, the king asked that Turibius become a consecrated missionary archbishop for the Spanish colony of Peru.
At the time, Turibius was a layman, and protested the king’s plan. In a series of letters, he told the king he was not personally capable of serving as Archbishop of Lima, and that canon law did not permit a layman to become an archbishop.
His arguments did not change the king’s mind, and in 1581, at the age of 43, he was consecrated as a bishop and sent to Lima, Peru.
Turibius traveled through the rugged, mountain diocese, where he found many of the worst effects of colonialism upon the enslaved and the oppressed natives, and on the colonists who seemed to have lost their souls.
The new archbishop led his people with constant prayer and penance, traveling through the territory to administer sacraments, teach the faith, and establish schools, seminaries, and hospitals.
The Peruvian natives believed the archbishop to be a herald of the Gospel who taught that their lives were more precious than the country’s gold and silver. To the colonists, Turibius was a prophetic scourge, and his preachings earned him rebukes and opposition.
In his 25 years as archbishop, Turibius made three visits to his diocese, under dangerous conditions. He united the Peruvian Church, holding several local councils of the clergy. He was also known to spend days traveling to reach just a single person with the message of the Gospel.
In 1606, Turibius became seriously ill. He sensed his death was imminent, and began giving all his possessions to the poor. Turibius died on March 23, and his body was found to be incorrupt the next year.
In 1726, he was declared a saint. Turibius is the patron of native peoples’ rights and Latin American bishops.