Born in Mayorga de Campos near Valladolid of a noble Spanish family, and named for the fifth-century saint, Turibius of Astorga, Toribio did not intend to be a priest though his family was notably religious. For his professional career he chose the law in the practice of which he shone. As professor of law at the University of Salamanca, he attracted the attention of King Phillip II who appointed him General Inquisitor.
the seat for the Archbishopric of Lima in Peru, became vacant, the king
turned to Judge Toribio de Mogrovejo as the only man with enough
strength of character to rein in the scandals in the colony. Shocked at
the prospect, he prayed, and in writing to the king pleaded his own
incapacity and other canonical impediments, among them the canon
forbidding laymen from being promoted to such dignities. Finally,
compelled by obedience, Toribio accepted the charge. After a suitable
time of preparation, he was ordained to the priesthood, consecrated
bishop, and immediately nominated for the Archdiocese of Lima. He was
forty-three years of age.
Arriving in the Peruvian capital in
1581, he soon took in the arduous nature of the task thrust upon him by
Divine Providence. The attitude of the Spanish conquerors toward the
natives was abusive, and the clergy were often the most notorious
His first initiative was to restore ecclesiastical
discipline, proving himself inflexible in regard to clerical scandals.
Without respect to persons or rank, Toribio reproved vice and injustice
and championed the cause of the natives. He succeeded in eradicating
some of the worst abuses, and founded many churches, convents and
hospitals as well as the first seminary in the New World.
the local dialects, he traveled throughout his enormous diocese
(170,000 sq. miles), often on foot and alone, traversing the difficult
Andes, facing all sorts of obstacles from nature and men. He baptized
and confirmed half a million souls including St. Rose of Lima, St.
Martin de Porres and St. John Massias.
From 1590 onwards he had the great help of another zealous missionary, St. Francis Solano.
before he died, he had predicted his own death. In Pacasmayo he
contracted fever but labored to the very end. Dragging himself to the
sanctuary in Sana, he received Holy Viaticum and died soon after on
March 23, as those around him sang the psalm, “I rejoiced at the things
that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord".