Dr. José Gregorio Hernández Day in Venezuela Date in the current year: October 26, 2024

Dr. José Gregorio Hernández Day in Venezuela Dr. José Gregorio Hernández Day is a Venezuelan holiday celebrated annually on October 26 to commemorate the birthday of a renowned Venezuelan physician who was beatified by the Catholic Church.

José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros was born on October 26, 1864. He spent his childhood in his hometown of Isnotú, where his father sold livestock and pharmaceuticals and his mother worked as a housekeeper. Hernández initially wanted to become a lawyer, but his father persuaded him to study medicine instead.

At age 14, Hernández traveled to Caracas and enrolled in Colegio Villegas, which was one of the most prestigious schools in Venezuela at the time. Upon graduating in 1882, he enrolled in the Central University of Venezuela, where he studied medicine for six years.

After getting his medical degree, Hernández returned to his hometown to practice medicine. He toured the states of Trujillo, Mérida and Táchira, offering help to anyone who needed it. In 1889, Venezuelan president Juan Pablo Rojas Paúl offered Hernández a grant to study in Europe, upon the condition that he would return to Venezuela and help to modernize the country’s healthcare system.

Upon completing his studies in Paris and Berlin, Hernández returned to Venezuela in 1891. He began teaching medicine at his alma mater, as well as worked on acquiring medical literature and equipment; among other things, Hernández is credited with introducing the microscope to Venezuela. He is also considered the pioneer of pedagogical and scientific teaching in Venezuela. Among Hernández’s disciples was Rafael Rangel, who is widely regarded as the father of Venezuelan parasitology.

In addition to teaching, conducting scientific research and writing medical treatises, Hernández continued to practice medicine in Caracas. He often treated the poor for free and even bought them medicines with his own money. During the 1918 influenza pandemic in Venezuela, Hernández attended to the sick in Caracas, endangering his own life.

Hernández was struck by a car and died on June 29, 1919; he was 54 years old. After his death, people around the country stated claiming that Hernández had miraculously healed them. Over the next few decades, Hernández’s name became known throughout Latin America and Spain, and the Catholic Church in Venezuela even began considering him for sainthood. The Vatican declared Hernández venerable in 1985 and beatified him in 2021. As of 2022, his canonization as a saint was still underway.

In 2011, the government of Venezuela declared Hernández’s birthday a day of national celebration to highlight his contribution to the development of Venezuelan medicine. Dr. José Gregorio Hernández Day is a bank holiday, which means that it is a non-working public holiday for the banking sector and financial institutions only. Like all bank holidays in Venezuela, it is moved to the Monday nearest to its actual date to create a three-day weekend. When Dr. José Gregorio Hernández Day falls on a Sunday, however, the observance is not moved.

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