Venezuela’s beloved “poor doctor” beatified

Venezuela, Caracas (AP) — With austerity of monks, vocations for the good of others, and a bright scientific spirit, José Gregorio Hernandez has won the affection of those who called him the “doctor of the poor.” He became a religious symbol after his death in 1919, and since then millions of Venezuelans have eagerly sought him to be universally worshiped.

Now, doctors, scientists, university professors, and pioneers of bacteriology are beatified and stepped into the saints of the Roman Catholic Church. The beatification ceremony on Friday will be the culmination of 72 years of effort by Venezuelan Catholics.

The original plan required a ceremony at the stadium, but a coronavirus pandemic changed the venue, limiting attendance to less than 300 (mainly priests and nuns) and televisioning the rest of the Venezuelans. I left it to see the event at. The simplified event takes place in the small chapel of the Catholic School on the edge of the Mountain National Park north of Caracas.

Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin was to lead the beatification of Hernandez directly. However, on Wednesday the former ambassador of the Venezuelan throne canceled his trip to a South American country because of a pandemic.

Hernandez died at the age of 54 when he was attacked by one of the few cars in Venezuela in the early 20th century. His climb to the saint has been plagued by obstacles, but in the minds of many Venezuelans he is already a saint.

Beatification “doesn’t change things at all … he was always a saint to me,” fame by giving free treatment and medicine to the poor, like millions of other Venezuelans. Odalys Josefina Vargas, who worships the doctors who got it, said.

Vargas has an image of a doctor on the altar of her house, which is always illuminated by a green light bulb, except during the power outages that plague the country.

When Pope John Paul II visited Venezuela in February 1996, he received a petition signed by 5 million people (almost one in four Venezuelans), proclaiming Hernandez a saint and worshiping. I asked for it to be official.

Born October 26, 1864, Hernandez was convinced that science was one of the main ways to get the country out of misery. He established two research institutes and several classes at the Central University of Venezuela. Venezuela is the oldest and largest university in the country.

“He believed that medicine was the priesthood of human pain,” once said Luis Razzetti, a prominent Venezuelan doctor and friend of Hernandez.

Never married, Hernandez graduated as a doctor in Caracas in 1888. He studied abroad in Europe and became a Catholic monk, but his health was vulnerable and he could not withstand the cold and humid weather in Italy. He returned to Venezuela to recover and stayed forever.

On June 29, 1919, he was killed while crossing the street shortly after picking up the drug at a pharmacy and taking him to a very poor old woman. An estimated 20,000 people attended his funeral. This is about a quarter of the population of Caracas at that time.

In 1986, the Vatican declared Hernandez “historic.” This means that he lived an exemplary Christian life. But to achieve holiness, a team of doctors, theologians, and cardinals need to approve two miracles caused by him.

The beatification was caused by the case of the girl Yaxley Solorusano, who was seriously injured after being shot in the head and was completely recovered by a miracle caused by Hernandez, the Archdiocese of Caracas reported at the time.

Pope Francis signed the beatification decree last June.

Pope John Paul II, now a saint, has visited Venezuela twice. However, the relationship between Venezuelan Catholic leaders and the country’s socialist government is tense, especially during the term of the late President Hugo Chavez. During the 1999-2013 government, he accused Catholic leaders of turning their backs on the poor and previewing them “oligarchy.”

During his tenure as Pope of Francisco, relations improved dramatically. Some observers said the planned trip to Venezuela in Palolyn laid the groundwork for new negotiations after a series of unsuccessful dialogues over the past five years aimed at reaching an agreement between the government and opposition. He said he could help build.

Beatification occurs, among other factors, when many Venezuelans struggle to support their families as a result of soaring food prices during hyperinflation. According to the 2020 report of the United Nations World Food Program, a total of 9.3 million people, about one-third of the population, suffer from moderate or severe food insecurity.

Hernandez worship has spread to Spain, Portugal and other South American countries.

“It’s impressive. The escape of the Venezuelans and the return of the people who lived in our country to their hometowns expanded their knowledge and dedication,” said Cardinal Balthazar Paula.

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