07/08/2008, 00.00
HONG KONG – CHINA – VATICAN

Father Allegra, translator of Bible in Chinese, to be beatified in October synod, Card Zen suggests

by Kevin Wang
Beatification would be a good way to conclude the synod dedicated to the Word of God. Fr Gabriele Allegra, a Franciscan missionary to China and Hong Kong, is known as the “Saint Jerome of China” for translating the Holy Scriptures into Chinese. The Vatican knows of one miracle attributed to him, but the cause of beatification is still waiting.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The Bishop of Hong Kong, Card Joseph Zen, has suggested that the next Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to the Word of God, should end with the beatification of Fr Gabriele Maria Allegra, a Franciscan missionary who dedicated his life to the translation of the Bible in Chinese.

“The World Synod of Bishops, to be held this October, comes with a theme on the Word of God,” Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen told the diocesan weekly. “Beatifying Fr. Gabriele Allegra will be a meaningful event.”

The Synod, which will be held in Rome on 5-26 October, will focus on ‘The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.’

On his Ad Limina visits to Rome on 25-27 June, Cardinal Joseph Zen, with the Coadjutor Bishop John Tong, visited officials of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, and reiterated their support to the canonisation of Fr. Gabriele Allegra.

Even though the Holy See has recognised a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Allegra, the Vatican Secretariat of State postponed its approval to a more opportune date, demanding new studies and further research before the beatification.

Fr Gabriele Allegra  was born on 26 December 1907 in S. Giovanni La Punta (Sicily, Italy). In 1930 he became a Franciscan priest and a year later left for China as a missionary with the goal, among others, of translating the Bible in Chinese.

After studying in Shanghai he completed the translation the entire Old Testament in 1944, and set up the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Beijing, dedicated to John Duns Scotus, a year later.

With the civil war raging in China in the late 1940s, he moved to Hong Kong in 1949. Under the efforts of the Studium, his dream came true in 1968 with the Chinese Bibles were published.

In 1971 he published the Chinese Bible Dictionary.

He died in Hong Kong in 1976.

Known by all as a man of great charity and knowledge, he was nicknamed the “Saint Jerome of China” in remembrance of the Father of the Church who authored the first Latin translation of the Holy Scriptures.

The cause for the beatification of Father Allegra began in 1984. He was declared venerable in 1994.

Father Allegra’s work remains the basis for Biblical studies in mainland China as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Singapore.

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