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St. Turibius (1538-1606), St. Rose of Lima (1586-1617), and St. Martin de Porres (1570-1639) were the first saints of the New World.
Turibius was a lay person who acted as judge of the ecclesiastical court. He was appointed as Archbishop of Lima while still a layman. He received all the orders and Episcopal consecration and arrived in Lima in 1581.
The conversion of Peru was hindered by the lay and clerical scandals of the time. Turibius at once undertook a visitation of his diocese and he was inflexible in regard to scandals among the clergy. After two years in office, Turibius convoked the Third Council of Lima and promulgated decrees on catechetcis, the sacraments, and church discipline.
Those in power opposed to the reform of Turibius, but his resolution and patience won out in the end. To those who opposed him, Turibius said, “Christ said, ‘I am truth’. He did not say, ‘I am custom’.”
During his twenty-five years as bishop, Turibius completed three pastoral visitations of his large diocese. He baptized and confirmed an estimated million people, and one of the confirmands was St. Rose of Lima. He was also shepherd of the Dominicans, St. Martin de Porres and St. John Massias.
St. Rose of Lima
Rose of Lima was the first canonized saint in America. She took St. Catherine of Siena as model. Like Catherine she vowed virginity, became a Dominican tertiary, lived at home, and received mystical graces.
Rose practiced extraordinary penance and willingly accepted sufferings. For fifteen years she suffered persecution from her friends and others; she also suffered the trial of interior desolation and anguish of soul.
One day Rose had a vision. She saw Christ distributed sufferings, trials and tribulations to the faithful, and then he distributed graces in the same proportion as sufferings. Then Christ said, “Affliction is always accompanied by grace; grace is proportionate to suffering. The measure of my gifts is increased with the measure of trials. The Cross is the true and only road that leads souls to Heaven.”
During her last illness, Rose prayed, “Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase your love in my heart”.
St. Martin de Porres
Martin de Porres was a humble lay brother with great charity for the poor. A fellow lay brother, Brother Fernando de Aragones, gave a description of the life of Martin in the Dominican priory: “Many were the offices to which the servant of God, Brother Martin de Porres, attended, being barber, surgeon, wardrobe-keeper and infirmaries. Each of these jobs was enough for any one man, but alone he filled them all with great liberality, promptness and carefulness, without being weighed down by any of them. It was most striking, and it made me realize that, in that he clung to God in his soul, all these things were effects of divine grace.”
Martin clung to God through prayers. At the canonization of Martin de Porres, Pope John XXIII said, “Whenever [Martin] would contemplate Christ’s terrible torture he would be reduced to tears. He had an exceptional love for the great Sacrament of the Eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. His desire was to receive the Sacrament in Communion as often as he could.” Martin also had great devotion to Our Lady and prayed many decades of the rosary daily.
Martin was a close friend of St. Rose of Lima and St. John Massias. Like Martin, John was also a Dominican lay brother with great love for the holy rosary and for the poor. John trained the priory donkey to make the rounds alone and receive food and clothing for the poor.