St. Turibius of Mogrovejo (+1606), as a Spanish layman and lawyer, served with such integrity, prudence, and virtue, that in spite of his protests the Pope conse-crated him bishop and sent him to the needy infant church in Peru. What he found was that the Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. The decadent clergy’s abuses were flagrant; he reformed them. The laity he educated in the Faith. He traversed the 170,000 square miles of his diocese three times, on foot, and often alone, exposed to tempests, torrents, deserts, wild beasts, tropical heat, fevers, and sometimes threats from hostile tribes. He baptized and confirmed nearly one-half million souls. He founded schools, churches, hospitals, and the first seminary in the New World. The Catechism of the Catholic Church cites him as responsible for leading the way for the modern day catechism. He is the first known saint of the New World.

Even as a child, Turibius frequently prayed, fasted, and gave to the poor. As a youth, his great devotion to the Most Holy Virgin was evident. He developed the daily habit of praying the rosary, along with the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and fasted on Saturdays in her honor. As bishop of Peru, his sufferings were many, but his trust in the help of Our Lady was rewarded with success as she guided and directed him in his tremendous mission.

Turibius’ famous quote to those who tried to explain God’s law in such a way as to sanction abusive but accustomed ways of life: “Christ said: ‘I am the Truth;’ He did not say: ‘I am the custom!’”

Feast Day: March 23