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Pope lauds example of doctor-scientist to be beatified

José Gregorio

Public Domain

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/29/21

In a video message, Francis welcomes the beatification of Jose Gregorio Hernandez.

He was a man who “loved knowledge, research, science, at the service of health and teaching.” And he was a man who “made the Gospel the criterion of his life, sought his vocation, kept the commandments, participated daily in the Eucharist, devoted time to prayer and believed in eternal life.”

Now, Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernandez Cisneros is being beatified in Caracas, finally the fulfillment of the desire of his countrymen, who have always known he was a saint.

With these descriptions, the pope has recognized “how eagerly you [Venezuelans] have been awaiting for so many years the moment when the Church would confirm something in which you firmly believed: that the people’s doctor stands close to God, and that together with Nuestra Señora del Coromoto, he intercedes for his compatriots and for all of us.”

Dr. Hernandez was a highly respected doctor. After finishing studies in Caracas, he went on to further specialize in Paris. He was known as a doctor who would care for all. He would not turn anyone away and would often spend his own money to purchase the necessary medicine.

What is even more remarkable is how he did this during the Spanish-flu pandemic in 1918-1919.

The doctor died at 54, in 1919, after being struck by a car.

To pave the way for his beatification, his intercession was recognized in the 2017 healing of a 1o-year-old girl who was injured when her father was assaulted.

Universal service

In a video message of some 12 minutes, Pope Francis speaks of the example of the new Blessed, urging Venezuelans and all of us to follow his example and Christ’s command to “do for one another” what He did for us, namely to wash each other’s feet, to pardon, to reach out, to help.

The pope’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who served for years as the nuncio in Venezuela, hoped to be able to celebrate the beatification. His plans had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

The pope spoke of Dr. Jose Gregorio as a “model of holiness committed to the defense of life, with the challenges of history and, in particular, as a paradigm of service to his neighbor, like a Good Samaritan, without excluding anyone. He is a man of universal service.”

Pope Francis called on the blessed’s example as a path to unification and healing.

It is serving one another, being willing to serve, but also letting others help us, serve us. Helping and letting ourselves be helped. Another example is to forgive one another, because we must forgive and allow ourselves to be forgiven. To feel forgiven. Ultimately, to wash one another’s feet is to love one another.

Sometimes we think that no one needs help, that we are autonomous, that we do not need anything, not even forgiveness. Don’t we? We all need help, everyone. We all need forgiveness. 

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