Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has asked Pope Francis to canonize a doctor who tended to the poor in Caracas and is considered a saint already by many Venezuelans.

Maduro gave Francis a statue of Jose Gregorio Hernandez, who lived from 1864-1919, during his 20-minute audience Monday. Maduro told the pope: "We are hoping for his canonization. He's a saint of the people."

A Vatican statement said the issues discussed during Maduro's meeting with Francis and other Vatican officials included the political situation in Venezuela following the death of former President Hugo Chavez, drug trafficking in Venezuela and the peace process in Colombia.

Francis is the first pope from Latin America. Before the meeting, Venezuelan Cardinal Jorge Urosa urged Francis to pressure Maduro to stop verbally attacking his critics.