Pope Francis makes highlights of the life and service of Venezuelan, blessed the crowd.

Pope Francis makes highlights of the life and service of Venezuelan, blessed the crowd.

Birth and Faith: The Early Life of Hernández

Luis Manuel Hernández came into the world on October 26, 1864, in Trujillo state, Venezuela. His childhood dream was to embrace the path of priesthood, but his frail health rendered this aspiration unattainable. However, his unwavering faith remained the cornerstone of his existence. Hernández was a devout Catholic, a daily participant in the sacraments, and a devoted lay member of the Third Order of Franciscans.

A Scholarly Pursuit and Compassion for the Vulnerable

Upon completing his education in Caracas, Hernández embarked on an educational journey to Paris, where he pursued advanced studies in bacteriology. According to the Holy Father, Hernández became known as “a physician who cared for the vulnerable.” He frequently extended medical aid to the underprivileged and those in need, often doing so without expecting any form of compensation. Instead of pursuing material wealth, Pope Francis noted, Hernández chose the “riches of the Gospel” as his guiding principle. This life of service was firmly rooted in principles of charity, mercy, and a profound willingness to heed the call of God.

A Life Fueled by Certainty and Grace

Pope Francis highlighted that Hernández’s apostolic zeal emanated from a profound sense of certainty and strength, firmly grounded in the grace of God. Tragically, Hernández’s life was cut short in 1919 at the age of 54 when he was struck by a car while on a mission to deliver medicine to an ailing patient. His passing occurred “while carrying out a work of mercy,” as emphasized by Pope Francis. In the wake of his departure, Hernández’s influence continued to grow, touching the hearts of many in Venezuela and across Latin America.

A Pioneer of Holiness Recognized

Hernández earned the distinction of becoming the first Venezuelan layperson to be beatified. In the lead-up to his beatification in 2021, Pope Francis, in a video released by the Vatican, hailed him as a “model of holiness dedicated to defending life amidst the challenges of history.” Hernández served as a paradigm of selfless service to his fellow human beings, akin to the parable of the Good Samaritan, leaving no one excluded. He was a man known for his universal dedication to the welfare of others.

A Lesson from Hernández: Prayer and the Abandonment of Gossip

The Holy Father connected Hernández’s life to the broader theme found in St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy (1 Tim 2:1-4). This theme not only underscores the significance of prayer but also draws a contrast with the perils of gossip. Christians, Pope Francis emphasized, are called upon “to pray” and to avoid engaging in harmful chatter—described as a “plague.” Instead, they are encouraged to foster goodness and actively contribute to the pursuit of peace and justice through truth. The pope reiterated that the critique of idle gossip has been a recurring message in his teachings, one that opposes the ideals of promoting “good” and building “peace and justice in truth.”

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