23 March: Saint Toribio, orTuribius Alfonso de Mogrovejo, was born in 1538 in Spain. His father was mayor of the city. At age twelve, he was sent to be educated in the humanities. He then studied law at the University of Salamanca. He was so brilliant a scholar that even though he was a layman, King Philip II appointed him chief judge of the Inquisitorial Court of Granada. As he prosecuted his duties so well, the king proposed him to the pope as the Archbishop of Lima. Gregory XIII named Toribio to this office in 1579, despite the fact that the shocked Toribio pleaded his incapacity for the office and argued that the canons prevented a layman from being appointed. Toribio eventually agreed and was consecrated a bishop. He then set out for the New World. After arriving in Lima in 1581, Toribio wasted no time in getting to work. His archdiocese was huge, encompassing about 400 miles. One of Toribio’s greatest accomplishments was overseeing the Third Provincial Council of Lima (1582-1583), one of the most important and far-ranging councils held in the Americas. Among other things, Toribio worked to implement the decrees of the Council of Trent in the Americas. He focused on the reformation of the clergy and the evangelization of the Indians. Toribio established the first seminary in the New World at Lima in 1590. Toribio also conducted pastoral visitations of his diocese, travelling across the entirety of the territory by foot. His visits took seventeen years to accomplish, covering 18,000 miles. Moving from parish to parish, he made an effort to know and instruct his flock, whether Spanish or Indian. For the salvation of souls, he made nocturnal journeys during torrential downpours of rain or on rugged paths covered in snow. Even on these long journeys, Toribio always said mass each morning and made a daily confession to his chaplain. In order to reach all of his flock, Toribio traversed steep and rugged mountains, sometimes by himself, to bring the Gospel to the natives in outlying areas. Oftentimes, he would dwell in the hut of the Incas for a few days with no food or bedding, preaching to the whole tribe, baptizing and confirming them. Toribio saw himself as a missionary and “Protector of the Indians.” St. Toribio also personally knew some of the great saints of South America. He gave the Sacrament of Confirmation to St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres and St. John Macias. He was also a good friend to St. Francis Solano, “the Wonderworker of the New World.” On one of his many journeys, Toribio was taken ill. He died on March 23, 1606, repeating the very words of Christ, “Into thy hands, I commend my spirit.” Toribio was beatified by Innocent XI in 1697 and canonized by Benedict XIII in 1726. Together with Rose of Lima, St. Toribio is the first known saint of the New World. He is the patron saint of indigenous/Native rights, Latin American bishops, and Peru.

Ideas for celebrating in your home:

·         For a feast day dinner, try making a traditional Peruvian food recipe: Aji de Gallina (chicken in pepper sauce) – serve with rice or potatoes. For dessert, make Arroz con Leche (rice pudding).

·         OR, order dinner from the Golden Llama, a local restaurant serving authentic Peruvian dishes.

·         Read more about Saint Toribio: click here and here.

·         Look up the stories of other Central or South American saints, such as Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Martin de Porres, and Saint Peter Claver.

  • St. Toribio started the first seminary in the Americas and was named the first male saint of the New World. Offer a rosary today for an increase in vocations and for those studying for the priesthood.
  • St. Toribio fought for social justice, championing the rights of the natives against the Spanish masters. Make a contribution to your local food pantry, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, cut out pictures of children from third world countries and make a display in your home to encourage your children to make sacrifices or to contribute money to those less fortunate.


(sources: catholicculture.org; usccb.org; franciscanmedia.org)