Today’s saint of the day is Juan de Ribera. He was born in Seville, Spain, in 1532, and his mother died when he was very young. He was a very studious young man, and he became ordained as a priest upon reaching adulthood. By 1562, he was appointed Bishop of Badajoz. He became Archbishop of Valencia in 1568 and Viceroy of Valencia in 1602. Wielding both spiritual and civil power, he was then able to found the Museum of the Patriarch.
Juan de Ribera’s life and career were in many ways defined by the Morisco issue. The Moriscos had been Muslims living in Spain until, in the early 16th century, the government of Spain declared the practice of Islam illegal and ordered all of the Moriscos to convert to Catholicism or be exiled. Conversion did not really put the issue to rest, though. They were still widely regarded with distrust and suspicion. And few were more distrustful or suspicious than Juan de Ribera.
He considered them to be traitors because he felt that they would never be true Catholics, no matter what they claimed. He claimed that the Moriscos were non-convertible and that they could spark a new invasion from the Ottoman Empire and so needed to be dealt with severely. His lobbying on the subject prompted the Spanish government to exile all Moriscos beginning in 1609. No region expelled more of them than Valencia.
Supporters of the Morisco exile were very grateful to Juan de Ribera for his leadership in the matter. So grateful, in fact, that he was revered after his death, beatified by Pope Pius VI in 1796, and canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1960.