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Pope, at general audience, pays tribute to Blessed José Gregorio Hernández

September 13, 2023

Continuing his series of Wednesday catecheses on the theme of “the passion for evangelization: the apostolic zeal of the believer,” Pope Francis devoted his September 13 general audience to Blessed José Gregorio Hernández (1864-1919), a Venezuelan physician and Third Order Franciscan described in the audience’s subtitle as “doctor of the poor and apostle of peace.”

“In our continuing catechesis on apostolic zeal, we have been reflecting on the spread of the Gospel through the witness of men and women of every time and place,” Pope Francis said, in the words of the Vatican summary of his remarks. “Today we turn to Latin America and the example of Blessed José Gregorio Hernández.”

The summary continued:

Born in Venezuela in 1864, José Gregorio was unable to pursue studies for the priesthood for reasons of health. Accepting this as God’s will, he studied medicine and devoted his life to the care of those in need.

Because of his deep devotion to Christ, expressed in charitable service to the least of our brothers and sisters, he became known as the “doctor of the poor.” His apostolic zeal was born of a personal experience of God’s mercy and daily union with the Lord in Holy Mass and personal prayer. At the outbreak of the First World War, he offered himself as a sacrificial victim in union with Christ, interceding for the dawn of peace, and died shortly after learning of the end of the war.

The life of Blessed José Gregorio Hernández can inspire us, in the concrete circumstances of our own lives, to draw closer to the Lord in prayer, to serve him in the poor, and to work for the spread of his Gospel and the growth of his Kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.


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