By Vatican News staff reporter
On the eve of the beatification of Venezuelan physician Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernández Cisneros, Pope Francis issued a video message to the Bishops and people of Venezuela describing him as “a model of personal goodness and civic and religious virtues.”
“Doctor of the Poor”
Dr. Hernández was known as "the doctor of the poor," and through his studies in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and New York, he became a renowned bacteriologist. He died in 1919 in Caracas following a car accident.
In his video message, Pope Francis said the Church was only confirming something that the people of Venezuela already believed: “that the people's doctor stands by God and that together with Our Lady of Coromoto he intercedes for his compatriots and for all of us.”
The Pope also confessed that he hadn’t met a Venezuelan in the Vatican, who, in the middle of the conversation hadn’t asked ‘when is Gregorio's beatification?’.
Man of universal service
Pope Francis described Dr. José Gregorio as an example of a believing disciple of Christ, who made the Gospel the criterion of his life, and was a model of modesty and humility.
“He is a model of holiness committed to the defense of life, to the challenges of history and, in particular, as a paradigm of service to others, like a Good Samaritan, excluding no one,” said the Pope. “He is a man of universal service.”
One of the most relevant and fascinating aspects of his personality, remarked Pope Francis, was his “service to citizens.” It was a service, he said, “understood from the example Christ left us during the Last Supper, when he set out to wash the feet of his disciples... because he loved everyone.”
Challenges in Venezuela
The Pope noted that the Beatification of Dr. José Gregorio takes place at a particular and difficult time for people in Venezuela.
He highlighted the suffering aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and said he was especially mindful of the many dead who have paid with their lives, to perform their duties in precarious conditions.
Acknowledging that there would be restrictions in place that would affect “this great feast of faith of beatification,” the Pope underlined that nonetheless it would be a celebration all the same.
In his message, Pope Francis called to mind “all those who have left the country in search of better living conditions, and also those who are deprived of their freedom and those who lack the necessities of life. You are all fellow citizens of the Blessed One, all of you. And you all have the same rights. I accompany you with love,” he said.
“The beatification of Dr. Hernández is a special blessing from God for Venezuela,” the Pope underlined, “and it invites us to conversion toward greater solidarity with one another, to produce all together the response of common good so necessary for the country to recover, to be reborn after the pandemic in a spirit of reconciliation.”
The example of Dr. José Gregorio
In the midst of all these current difficulties, Pope Francis invited the people of Venezuela to follow this physician’s “admirable example of selfless service to others.”
“I sincerely believe that this moment of national unity, around the figure of the people's doctor, constitutes a special moment for Venezuela and demands of you that you go further, that you take concrete steps in favour of unity, without letting yourselves be overcome by discouragement,” he said.
Unity and reconciliation
Concluding his video message, Pope Francis prayed to God for reconciliation and peace among Venezuelans, and said he would like to visit the country.
The Pope also prayed that God would inspire everyone, including religious, political and business leaders to make a serious commitment to achieving unity, and work for a better future for all.
On the occasion of the beatification of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros on April 30 in Caracas, he will be inscribed as co-patron of the cycle of studies in Peace Sciences at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University.