Hernández studied medicine in Caracas and received government funding to continue his studies in Paris in 1889 for two years.
After returning to Venezuela, he became a professor at the Central University of Caracas, where he started each lesson with the sign of the cross.
Hernández attended daily Mass, brought medicine and care to the poor, and made a profession as a Third Order Franciscan.
He eventually discerned a monastic religious vocation and gave up his professorship to enter a cloistered Carthusian monastery in Farneta, Italy, in 1908, with the name of Brother Marcelo.
After nine months, he fell ill, and his superior ordered him to return to Venezuela to recover. In Caracas, he received permission to enter the Santa Rosa de Lima Seminary.
He moved to Rome for three years to study theology at the Pius Latin American College, but again became ill and was forced to return to Venezuela in 1914.
Hernández concluded that it was God’s will for him to remain a layman. He decided then to promote sanctification as an exemplary Catholic by being a doctor and giving glory to God by serving the sick.
He devoted himself to academic research and deepened his dedication to serving the poor, particularly during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
One day, as the doctor went to pick up medicine for an elderly poor woman, he was hit by a car. He died in hospital on June 29, 1919, after receiving the last rites.
Catholics in Venezuela have welcomed Hernández’s beatification as an inspiration for other lay people.
The National Council of Laity of Venezuela sent a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency, expressing joy over “the first Venezuelan layman to be raised to the altars.”
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“In this Year of the Venezuelan Laity, we hope that the heart of each person is animated by such an exemplary figure and that we live as authentic disciples giving daily witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,” it said.
The lay Catholic association emphasized that Hernández “faced many difficulties during his life, including the pandemic of the so-called Spanish flu of 1918, which caused the death of many Venezuelans. However, he never tired in his eagerness to serve the Lord by giving himself to others.”
“[God], help us to renew the faith of this nation consecrated to the Blessed Sacrament and to understand the dignity of baptism that has purified us and committed us to our neighbor. Inspire us so that we often entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit, who has renewed us, so that we can be aware that through the blood of Christ we are redeemed,” it said.