José Gregorio Hernández

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Venerable José Gregorio Hernández, SFO
Pintura Dr José Gregorio Hernández2.jpg
Born October 26, 1864
Isnotú, Trujillo State, Venezuela
Died June 29, 1919(1919-06-29) (aged 54)
Caracas, Venezuela
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Feast June 29

José Gregorio Hernández, SFO [er-NAHN-des] (October 26, 1864 - June 29, 1919) was a Venezuelan physician. Born in Isnotú, Trujillo State, Venezuela, he went on to reach legendary status, more so after his death.[1]


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, France, 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.

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 the scientific publications of this famous Venezuelan are The Elements of Bacteriology (1906), About the Angina Pectoris of Malaric Origin (1909) and The Elements of Philosophy (1912).

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


After his life, the legend of Dr. Hernández began to grow in Venezuela. People around the country started claiming to have been granted miracles after praying to him.[1][2] At present, Dr. Hernandez 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.

Statue of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández in Guacara, Venezuela

In 1949, Venezuelan Catholic Church officials began the process of the beatification of Dr. Hernández. The Vatican granted him the title of «Venerable» in 1985. His remains are housed in the Holy Church of La Candelaria in Caracas, Venezuela.

He is revered by the María Lionza religion of Venezuela.[2] Historian Steven Palmer also has drawn parallels between the Hernández cult and that of the assassinated Costa Rican physician and politician Ricardo Moreno Cañas.[3]

A private university in Maracaibo, Universidad Dr. José Gregorio Hernández (launched in 2003), is named for him.[4] 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.[5] In 2011 the day of Hernández' birth, 26 October, was declared a "day of national celebration".[6]


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