José Gregorio Hernández

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Venerable José Gregorio Hernández, OFS
Pintura Dr Jose Gregorio Hernandez2.jpg
Physician, Venerable
BornOctober 26, 1864
Isnotú, Trujillo State, Venezuela
DiedJune 29, 1919(1919-06-29) (aged 54)
Caracas, Venezuela
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast June 29
Patronage Medical students, diagnosticians, doctors, medical patients

Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, MD, OFS (Spanish:  [xoˈse ɣɾeˈɣoɾjo eɾˈnandes] ) (October 26, 1864 June 29, 1919) was a Venezuelan physician. Born in Isnotú, Trujillo State, he became a highly renowned doctor, more so after his death. [1]

Secular Franciscan Order organization

The Secular Franciscan Order is a world-wide community of Catholic men and women who seek to pattern their lives after Jesus in the spirit of Francis of Assisi. Secular Franciscans are tertiaries, or members of the Third Order of Saint Francis founded by Francis of Assisi 800 years ago.

Venezuela Republic in northern South America

Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas. It has a territorial extension of 916,445 km2. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. The Venezuelan government maintains a claim against Guyana to Guayana Esequiba, an area of 159,542 km2. For its maritime areas, Venezuela exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km2 of territorial waters, 22,224 km2 in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km2 of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, and 99,889 km2 of continental shelf. This marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has extremely high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species. There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.

Physician professional who practices medicine

A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.



In 1888 Hernández graduated as a medical doctor at Universidad Central de Venezuela, in Caracas. The Venezuelan government awarded him a grant to continue his studies in Europe. Hernández traveled to Paris, where he studied other fields of medicine such as: bacteriology, pathology, microbiology, histology, and physiology. Following his return to Venezuela, he became a leading doctor at the Hospital José María Vargas.

Medicine The science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of physical and mental illnesses

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Central University of Venezuela university in Venezuela

The Central University of Venezuela is a premier public university of Venezuela located in Caracas. It is widely held to be the highest ranking institution in the country, and it also ranks 18th in Latin America. Founded in 1721, it is the oldest university in Venezuela and one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

Caracas Capital City in Capital District, Venezuela

Caracas, officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and centre of the Greater Caracas Area. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 1,140 m above sea level, although there is some settlement above this range. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high (7,200 ft) mountain range, Cerro El Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains. The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 4.923.201.

Between 1891 and 1916, Hernández dedicated himself to teaching, medicine, and religious practice. He sought priesthood in two occasions, but his fragile physical conditions would ultimately prevent him from achieving that status. He studied at the Monastery of Lucca in Italy for ten months in 1908. In 1913, he enrolled at the Latin American Pío School of Rome to continue the priestly career, but had to return to Venezuela for health reasons. Among his scientific publications are The Elements of Bacteriology (1906), About the Angina Pectoris of Malaric Origin (1909) and The Elements of Philosophy (1912).

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

Hernández treated the poor for free and even bought them medicines with his own money. One day in 1919, while bringing medicine to the home of one of his patients in Caracas, Hernández was struck by a car and killed.


After his death, Hernández' stature began to reach mythic proportions. People around the country started claiming to have been granted miracles after praying for his intercession to God. [1] [2] At present, Hernández is commonly invoked as "José Gregorio" by both doctors and patients for healing purposes. He is also called upon for protection during overland journeys. Eventually, his name became known all over Latin America and Spain.

Latin America Region of the Americas where Romance languages are primarily spoken

Latin America is a group of countries and dependencies in the Western Hemisphere where Romance languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French are predominantly spoken; it is broader than the terms Ibero-America or Hispanic America. The term "Latin America" was first used in an 1856 conference with the title "Initiative of the America. Idea for a Federal Congress of the Republics", by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao. The term was used also by Napoleon III's French government in the 1860s as Amérique latine to consider French-speaking territories in the Americas, along with the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed, including the Spanish-speaking portions of the United States Today, areas of Canada and the United States where Spanish, Portuguese and French are predominant are typically not included in definitions of Latin America.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Statue of Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernandez in Guacara, Venezuela Jose gregorio Hernandez Statue-Guacatra.jpg
Statue of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández in Guacara, Venezuela

In 1949, Venezuelan Catholic Church officials began the process of determining whether or not Hernández was eligible for sainthood. The Vatican granted him the title of Venerable in 1985. The next step in the process for Hernández is that of beatification; [3] Pope Francis accepted a visit to Venezuela by President Nicolás Maduro and intended to beatify Hernández. [4] His remains are housed in La Candelaria Catholic Church in Caracas, Venezuela. [5]

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Pope and based in Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

Holy See episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy

The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, is the apostolic episcopal see of the bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, ex cathedra the universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, and a sovereign entity of international law. Founded in the 1st century by Saints Peter and Paul, by virtue of Petrine and Papal primacy according to Catholic tradition, it is the focal point of full communion for Catholic bishops and Catholics around the world organised in polities of the Latin Church, the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, and their dioceses and religious institutes.

Pope Francis 266th and current pope

Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, the first to visit the Arabian Peninsula, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century.

He is, also, revered by Venezuela's alternative and syncretic religion the Cult of Maria Lionza. [2] [6] Historian Steven Palmer also has drawn parallels between the Hernández cult and that of the assassinated Costa Rican physician and politician Ricardo Moreno Cañas. [7]

María Lionza cult in Venezuela

María Lionza is the central figure in one of the most widespread indigenous religions in Venezuela. Her religion is a blend of African, indigenous, and Catholic beliefs. She is revered as a goddess of nature, love, peace, and harmony. She has followers in many layers of Venezuelan society from small rural villages to the modern capital of Caracas, where a statue stands in her honor. Both the salsa singer Rubén Blades and the New Weird America musician Devendra Banhart have composed songs in her honor.

Costa Rica Country in Central America

Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a sovereign state in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 5 million in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers. An estimated 333,980 people live in the capital and largest city, San José with around 2 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.

Ricardo Moreno Cañas was a Costa Rican politician. He was assassinated by Beltrán Cortés.

A private university in Maracaibo, Universidad Dr. José Gregorio Hernández (launched in 2003), is named for him. [8] In 2008 he was honoured with the naming of a Bolivarian Mission, Misión Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, dedicated to the health of Venezuelans with disabilities. [9] In 2011, Hernández' birthday, October 26, was declared a "day of national celebration". [10] On August 26, 2014, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Venezuela called on all Catholics to attend Mass and thank God "for the life and example of this great Venezuelan, with great hope and implore the grace of his speedy beatification" on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Hernández' birth (Sunday, October 26, 2014). [11]

Hernández is also an important folk figure and is commonly portrayed in naïve art. [12]


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  1. 1 2 Fernández Juárez, Gerardo (2004). Salud e interculturalidad en América Latina: perspectivas antropológicas. Editorial Abya Yala. ISBN   9978-22-463-7 ‹See Tfd› (in Spanish)
  2. 1 2 Dinneen, Mark (2001). Culture and customs of Venezuela, Greenwood Publishing Group, pp. 32-34. ISBN   0-313-30639-7
  3. Neuman, William (1 October 2014). "Venezuelans Seek Sainthood For Beloved Folk Hero, José Gregorio Hernández". Huffington Post. Huffington Post Online. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  4. "El Papa Francisco visitará Venezuela el próximo año para Beatificación de José Gregorio Hernández". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  5. "Places of Worship in Caracas". City Walk. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  6. Cahana, Kitra. "The Cult of Maria Lionza". Reportage by Getty Images. Getty Images Inc. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  7. Palmer, Steven Paul (2003). From popular medicine to medical populism: doctors, healers, and public power in Costa Rica, 1800-1940. Duke University Press, p. 217. ISBN   0-8223-3047-4
  8. ‹See Tfd› (in Spanish), Universidad Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, Historia, accessed 30 May 2012
  9. , 17 March 2008, Venezuela Launches New Mission for Health of the Disabled
  10. ‹See Tfd› (in Spanish) El Nacional , 25 October 2011, Chávez decretó 26 de octubre Día de Júbilo Nacional por natalicio de José Gregorio Hernández
  11. Savino, Jorge Uros. "Message from the President of the CEV with the 150th birthday of the venerable Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernandez Cisneros". Bishops Conference of Venezuela. Servicios Educativos C.A. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  12. "La UCAB albergará exposición artística sobre José Gregorio Hernández". (in Spanish). 2017-03-24. Retrieved 2017-09-25.

See also