Frati Minori di Sicilia announced that the Venerable Servant
of God, Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra, ofm, founder of the Studium
Biblicum Franciscanum in Hong Kong, will be beatified on 29th
September, 2012, at the Cathedral of Acireale, Catania in Sicilia.
THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI HAS PROCLAIMED "BLESSED"
VENERABLE THE SERVANT OF GOD FATHER GABRIELE MARIA ALLEGRA.
JOIN THE PAGE DEDICATED TO KNOW ALL INITIATIVES ...
On the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption
of Our Blessed Mother Mary, the Roman Curia announced through
the Sicilian Franciscan Holy Name Province that the Venerable
Servant of God, Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra, ofm, founder of the
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Hong Kong, will be beatified
on 29th September, 2012, at the Cathedral of Arcireale, Catania
Centenary of the birth of Venerable Gabriele
A hundred years ago on Dec. 26th Giovanni Stefano Allegra
was born in San Giovanni La Punta (Catania). He became a
Franciscan friar, priest and missionary, taking the name
"Gabiele Maria". Today he is known as an outstanding
figure in the Catholic Church of China in the 20th century
and even so as a "St. Jerome of China".
After having heard so much of him in our Franciscan circles,
I had the grace of meeting him a few years before he died;
a small man with a great heart and an even greater genius.
In September 1973, while I was still a student, I had taken
part in the Convention of Franciscan Biblists of Italy in
Rieti and I recall even today the impression he made on
me by the way he preached, always modest and serene, an
ardent homily in which he spoke of the Incarnate Word, that
became the Sacred Scriptures; and a vigorous denunciation
of the excesses and divisions existing in the Church at
that time, particularly among the biblical scholars.
As we await the proclamation of his beatification as petitioned
by the Minister General of the Franciscan Order to the Pope,
let us recall briefly his life, especially the work that
rendered him an "apostle of the Word of God" in
Gabriele was the first of eight children from an economically
modest but spiritually rich family. Two sisters and a brother
were consecrated to the religious life like he was. Attracted
by the missionary ideal, he entered the Franciscan Order
while still very young. During the year of his novitiate,
he venerated the arm of St. Francis Xavier that was brought
to Sicily, and received the gift of the missionary vocation
from Our Lady. His superiors quickly recognized the signs
and sent him to Rome for his theological and missionary
studies. Here, thanks to various circumstances and providential
readings, among which was the "Story of a Soul"
by St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the call to go to China
grew in him.
In his autobiography he recounts that during the solemn
commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the great missionary
Blessed John of Monte Corvino, the speech of the then director
of the magazine "Le missione francescane" was
for him like "a lighted match thrown into a powder
keg". On that occasion he heard that the Catholics
of China still did not have a Bible translated from the
original languages. He himself wrote: "It was another
powerful electric shock¡K thus two and a half years
before I departed for China, my decision was made: I am
going, or better, I will go to China to translate the Sacred
Scriptures". It was an inspiration from heaven for
this young aspirant missionary; a vocation that he followed
throughout his life even during those moments when it became
a painful martyrdom.
In 1931 he left for China. Thanks to his acute intelligence
and hardwork, Fr. Gabriele was able to speak Chinese in
only a few months. Faithful to the heavenly inspiration,
he organized this life project: "I want little but
I want it at all cost; not to waste time, to study the Chinese
language and Sinology (history, geography etc.) 5 hours
a day and another 3 hours in biblical studies (Greek, Hebrew,
exegesis). Whatever time is left, I will use it for the
spiritual life: prayer, Divine Office, spiritual reading
etc." Thus on April 11th 1935, the feast of the Sorrowful
Mother whom he had a tender devotion; he began alone the
translation of the Bible from the original languages beginning
with the Book of the Psalms.
The intense rhythm of work and an austere life took a toll
on his health and in 1939 he was forced to return to Italy
where he remained till 1941. He took advantage of this by
resting but above all to deepen his biblical knowledge.
There were many requests and proposals that he remain in
Italy but Fr. Gabriele was resolute: his place was in China
and his mission remains the same; the translation of the
Bible into Chinese. Immediately before the outbreak of the
war, he was able to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holyland
and visit the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum and the biblical
school of the Dominicans in Jerusalem; the two institutes
that inspired him to found the Studium Biblicum in China.
After an adventurous journey of 4 months, he reached Beijing
where he took up again his work. In May 1945 he succeeded
translating the entire Old Testament. These were not easy
years. But Fr. Gabriele was not discouraged by the disturbances
brought about by the 2nd World War and the Sino-Japanese
war. During an internment for 15 days, he translated the
Book of Esther. Still in 1945, having earned the esteem
and support of his superiors and confreres, he founded the
Studium Biblicum where he gathered several collaborators
whose mother-tongue was Chinese. With these friars, they
embarked on revising the Old Testament and a commentary
of it. But even this work underwent enormous difficulties
hence the Studium Biblicum was transferred several times
till it reached Hong Kong. In 1954 the work on the Old Testament
was brought to completion by this team; it consisted of
8 volumes of over 6,000 pages.
At this point and before starting to translate the New
Testament, he and his collaborators spent time to study
at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem between
1954 and 1955. They then returned to Hong Kong and very
soon published in 3 volumes the translations of the Gospels,
the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline Letters, The Catholic
Letters and the Apocalypse. On Christmas 1968 the Bible
in one volume was published, which Fr. Allegra called the
"Christmas Bible" or the "Bethlehem Bible".
Having brought to an end this immense undertaking, Fr Allegra
with his collaborators and indeed the entire Franciscan
Order merited the recognition and appreciation of the Catholic
Church. He then began to compile the Chinese Bible Dictionary
that complemented the Bible. But even the realization of
this work cost him obvious and hidden sacrifices. But Fr.
Allegra never lost sight of his goal and in April the "dream
of [his] youth" was rewarded with the publication of
the Dictionary. Thereafter he spent several months writing
his "Memories" (autobiography) which his superior
had asked him to write under obedience. It is a precious
text for the understanding of the history of the Chinese
Bible, and a source for understanding the soul and personality
of this great yet little Franciscan. On Jan. 26th 1976 he
died a holy death in Hong Kong to the regret of many who
considered him a man of God.
As can be imagined, the work or process for the public
recognition of his sanctity began soon after; and this has
reached its first goal. As of 2002 everything is ready for
the beatification of Fr. Gabriele. It only awaits the decision
of Pope Benedict XVI.
Giovanni Claudio Bottini
Studium Biblicum Francescanum, Gerusalemme
This article first appeared in Squilla dei fratini di S.
Antonio. A bimonthly for vocation animation for the Friars
Minor of Abruzzo, no.6 Nov.-Dec. 2007.
FATHER GABRIELE ALLEGRA AND
THE STUDIUM BIBLICUM FRANCISCANUM OF JERUSALEM
"If I had not felt the urgent need of continuing
to fulfill my work in China, believe me, I would have remained
in Jerusalem, the ideal place for studying the Sacred Scriptures...
I remember always and at times with nostalgia, the Flagellation,
but obedience is the most important". This remark,
written on August 1st 1974 and again on October 20th 1975
to Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti (? 1990), then director of the
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, expresses in itself the affection
Fr. Gabriele Allegra had had for the Holy City and in particular
for the Studium Biblicum.
The first contact that Fr. Allegra had with the Holyland
was in the Spring of 1940, albeit a very short one. It was
a pilgrimage that nevertheless gave him the opportunity
to visit the biblical schools of the city. This fact is
not known in his biography, but Fr. Allegra made many references
to it. In his autobiography he writes: "The most Rev.
Father [Minister General] decided to send me to the Holyland
and after two or three months, to return to Italy in order
to depart for China. In the Holyland I met again my old
companions of the Antonianum¡K and naturally I visited
often the Studium Biblicum of the Flagellation, and even
visited the Ecole Biblique of the Dominican fathers and
the Melchite Seminary (if I'm not wrong) cared for by the
White Fathers. But the threat of war was ever more imminent
and thus led to my early return to Italy".
The kindness of Bro. Cristoforo Alvi allowed me to retrace
in the Archive of the Custody of the Holyland, the dates
in which he celebrated Mass in the principal sanctuaries
and where he signed his name in each sanctuary's register,
adding to his name "missionary in China": on April
20th at the Holy Sepulchre, on April 23rd at Gethsemane,
on May 1st in the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, on
May 8th in Nazareth. On this occasion he would have known
the Custos of the Holyland, and in his autobiography he
writes regarding the Scriptorium, the room where he and
his collaborators studied and worked on the Chinese translation
of the Bible: "The king and inspirer of this room was
the little wooden statue of the Infant Jesus, a gift to
me from Fr. Alberto Gori, Custos of the Holyland in 1941".
In 1940 he had not yet founded the Studium Biblicum of China
for the translation of the Bible, but he already that this
in mind he visited the biblical schools mentioned above.
At the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum he certainly met with
the director Fr. Donato Baldi and Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti
with whom he then kept in contact, as is testified by a
group of letters still conserved and various articles published
in Liber Annuus, the annual publication of the institute,
regarding the life and work of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
in China from 1953 to 1975. Fr. Gabriele had nursed for
all his life, the dream of founding a Chinese Studium Biblicum
as a center of teaching in the models of the Studium and
the Ecole of Jerusalem.
In 1954 Fr. Gabriele and his collaborators having completed
the translation of the Old Testament in Chinese, thought
of spending time to study in the Holyland at the Flagellation.
On April 28th 1954, Fr. Allegra wrote to Fr. Baldi: "They
will live like the other students, and follow the courses
like the rest, and if possible I too will gladly follow
the same courses since in this field, one is always a disciple".
In his autobiography, he recalls fully the stay that covered
the academic year 1954-1955 that forged a strong link between
the two institutes which still exists. His arrival to Jerusalem
was preceded by his fame of having achieved the undertaking
of the translation. He was welcomed with esteem and cordiality
and invited to teach a course on biblical theology. In the
chronicles of the Flagellation from Nov. 29th to Dec. 7th,
Fr. Baldi noted: "This evening began the retreat that
was preached in Latin by Fr. Allegra. He preached fluently
in Latin regarding spiritual matters and excellent ideas
[¡K] The retreat ended with the great satisfaction
of everyone present with the great spirituality of Fr. Allegra".
In the autobiography, Fr. Allegra recalled how he was approached
to undertake this retreat, and it is interesting to note
that despite having past 30 years, he still remembered even
the psychological details. "On the day we arrived at
Jerusalem from Cairo [...] a fierce storm enveloped Jerusalem
and during the tempest, the rector Fr. Baldi came to my
room to speak with me. He told me that he wished to make
pleasant and peaceful the stay of the Chinese fathers in
the Holyland, hence they should turn to him directly or
through me, so that he may do his best to satisfy them.
And he told me many other things that appeared to hide what
was truly on his mind. I thought, if I was not mistaken,
that he wanted to tell me something serious; initially I
felt he had wanted to give me perhaps some directives regarding
discipline or finances that was embarrassing¡K Finally
he disclosed his thoughts: "Fr. Gabriele, I know that
you have preached many retreats; and see, we are beginning
to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate and our preacher
is missing¡K.. can you do me the favour of substituting
him ¡K and don't tell me 'no' ".
The little group of 4 chinese friars gathered around Fr.
Allegra could not be passed unobserved in Jerusalem. The
magazine La Terra Santa (May 1954) recounts that the curious
children of Jerusalem called them "khuri giapan"
(Japanese priests) and the director published an ample interview
with Fr. Allegra. Concluding the interview, he said: "I
would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the fraternal
hospitality of the Custody and the Fathers of the Studium
Biblicum Franciscnaum of the Flagellation. I can affirm
that the Custody and the Studium deserve well for preaching
the Gospel to the Chinese".
There are two other instances when Fr. Allegra was in Jerusalem.
In 1960, while returning to Hong Kong after being in Europe
for the Eucharistic Congress in Munich (Bavaria) and when
he was received by Pope John XXIII in an audience where
he gave the pope a copy of the Gospels in Chinese, Fr. Allegra
stopped at the Flagellation from Nov. 9th to 15th. Then
in 1966 he stopped again in the Holyland from Nov. 27th
to Dec. 5th, visiting Jerusalem. Bethlehem, Emmaus and Nazareth.
A new sojourn of Fr. Allegra to the Studium Biblicum, but
this time for several months, was occasioned by Fr. Bagatti.
He knew that in 1973 Fr. Allegra was in Italy without a
precise work, so he invited him "to teach a course
and offer him a rightful continuation of his studies".
Fr. Allegra accepted the invitation and was welcomed as
"a gift from God". The superior of the fraternity
at the Flagellation, Fr. Teofilo Gori (? 2005), noted in
the chronicle dated Feb. 12th 1974: "The keenly awaited
Fr. Gabriele Allegra arrived to teach a course to the students,
but also with the prospect of having him on the permanent
staff. His moral and intellectual personality contrasts
profoundly with his physical appearance. But men should
not be judged by height and appearances are unfortunately
deceiving". From February to May he taught an exegetical
course on the Gospel of John that was much appreciated;
and wrote several entries for the Chinese Bible Dictionary
that was in preparation, an article for Liber Annuus and
collaborated in other activities of the Studium. This period
remained in the heart and mind of Fr. Allegra who recalled
in his autobiography a list of conferences and series of
talks that he held at various religious communities. We
cite one passage: "The last task, or better the last
talk held in the Holyland was a spiritual retreat at the
sisters' "Ephatha" Institute for the deaf-mute
in Bethlehem. This institute is a gift from His Holiness
Paul VI to remember his visit in 1964 to the Holyland. The
institute is in the care of the Sisters of St. Bertilla
Boscardin, the same sisters who take care of the kitchen
of the Studium Biblicum of the Flagellation. I stayed for
8 days in a peace that is truly of Bethlehem, among the
olive trees, the flowers and the joyous, incessant twittering
of the birds. Another sweet memory is of my second sojourn
The correspondance between Fr. Allegra and the Studium
Biblicum Jerusalem ended with two letters written some months
before his death. It is surprising to see how he still remembered
everyone, from superiors to professors, from the students
to the sisters, even the porter! This affection was intensely
reciprocated by all those in Jerusalem who knew him and
esteemed him for his wisdom and goodness. In 1983 the Custody,
the Union of Religious in the Holyland and the Studium Biblicum
wrote postulatory letters to the Pope asking that the holiness
of Fr. Allegra be recognised and officially proclaimed.
In the letter by the Studium Biblicum one can read among
other things : "He left us an image of a religious
truly dedicated to the Lord and a excellent teacher. His
affable and modest attitude, always consistent, always ready
to see the will of God in the decisions of his superiors,
revealed distinctly an extensive training in the spiritual
life. The priestly duties carried out readily and generously
left a deep impression on everyone. He fulfilled his academic
activities; at school, in conferences and scientific publications,
always with modesty in order to give God the glory for the
gifts he had received".
G. Claudio Bottini ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, Gerusalemme
Published in Terrasanta. Periodical of CTS, Nov.-Dec. 2007,
|Jan. l7, 2006
LA SPIRITUALITA' DEL VENERABILE GABRIELE ALLEGRA
Eucaristia il dono piu grande che Gesu poteva darci
Dagli scritti e soprattutto dall'esempio e dalla pratica
religiosa si puo comprendere quanto intenso fosse l'anelito
del ven. Gabriele M. Allegra verso il Verbo incarnato e
l'Eucaristia. Quando ne parlava s'intuiva subito che tutta
la sua vita era orientata verso Gesu che si dona a noi alla
Del Verbo incarnato desiderava avere una conoscenza intima,
amorosa, soprannaturale, e non puramente storica, intellettuale,
che lascia il cuore arido e da del Cristo una immagine alterata
Egli afferma: "Se la teologia diventa sapienza umana,
cioe una serie di sillogismi dedotti, essa logicamente respinge
il miracolo, il mistero, l'azione soprannaturale di Dio,
il suo intervento; ma allora che altro e essa, se non una
sapienza terrestre, carnale, diabolica".
Essendo pienamente convinto che la conoscenza soprannaturale
del Cristo si ottiene con la preghiera, la chiedeva intensamente
e ardentemente al Signore. Negli esercizi spirituali del
13-21 luglio 1944, fatti a Pechino, egli rivolgeva al Signore
"Sto alla porta e picchio. Vorrei l'intelligenza del
mistero di Cristo, vorrei comprendere, per quanto e possibile
ad un povero peccatore pentito, le ininvestigabili ricchezze
del Cuore di Gesu, l'eminete scienza della sua carita, la
sua regalita assoluta. Giacche Tu lo volesti come glorificatore
e adoratore perfetto della SS. Trinita, Rex universitatis,
come dice il tuo servo, il beato Francesco, vorrei che egli
mi parlasse di Te, e della gloria che ebbe presso di Te,
prima che il mondo fosse, e della grandezza insondabile
della Madre sua, la piena di grazia. Vorrei comprendere
la storia, la filosofia e le scienze, come una propedeutica
a Cristo, come un'aspirazione a lui, giacche egli e il Re
dei secoli, il primum volitum inter omnia creata volita,
e quindi il superamento, la spiegazione delle antitesi del
tempo e dello spazio, dell'essere e del divenire, del passato
e del futuro, del relativo e dell'assoluto, del contingente
e del necessario.
Dammi pure, o Padre, di leggere nel gran libro della natura
la tua divina virtu, e nella storia la tua adorabile Provvidenza.
Vorrei soprattutto coordinare tutte le cognizioni in un
solo principio teologico: in principio era il Verbo, e il
Verbo era presso Dio e il Verbo era Dio e il Verbo si e
fatto carne. Dammi te ne supplico, o Padre, l'intelligenza
della Scrittura. Fammi comprendere per essa la pedagogia
divina, con la quale tu conduci non solo un popolo, ma l'umanita
intera a te e al tuo Cristo. Dammi qualche lume sul mistero
dei misteri, quello dell'unita della tua natura nella trinita
delle Persone; dammi l'umilta e la purezza di cuore, giacche
tu hai detto: i puri di cuore vedranno Dio!
Fa che io, come san Bonaventura e il mio caro fratello,
il beato Giovanni Duns Scoto, sappia mutare lo studio in
continua preghiera, e studi soltanto per diventare un discepolo
della divina Sapienza, cioe per conoscerti meglio e per
amarti di piu!"
L'intenso amore, che il p. Allegra aveva per il Verbo incarnato,
appare evidente nei suoi scritti e nelle sue pratiche devozionali
che attingevano ai singoli misteri cristologici.
Al centro dei suoi affetti e dei suoi pensieri vi era anzitutto
l'Eucaristia. Con quanto ardore ne parlava: "Nessuna
grazia - egli scrive - nessun dono poteva farci il Signore
piu grande di questo¡K Quando egli era su questa terra,
come figlio di Dio fatto uomo, viveva sostanto in una determinata
regione della terra, in un determinato luogo di questa regione,
ma ora mediante l'Eucaristia vive in tutti I tavernacoli
del mondo ed e per tutti gli uomini fonte infinita di grazie,
di tutte le grazie: e l'Eucaristia la buona grazia. Pertanto
la terra e divenuta il Tabernacolo dell'Altissimo. Siano
piu grandi, piu tremendamente grandi e tra le magnifiche
altre stelle, che illuminano il nostro firmamento, il nostro
umile pianeta, la terra, essa sola e divenuta il Tabernacolo
dell'Altissimo, perche in essa si fece carne, in essa il
Verbo continuo ad abitare in mezzo agli uomini sotto gli
umili veli eucaristici."
"Gesu assommo, completo nell'Eucaristia tutte le meraviglie:
l'onnipotente liberalita della creazione, la sublime sapienza
dell'Incarnazione, l'infinita tenerezza, l'immensa misericordia
della Redenzione¡K Quanti prodigi non opera Gesu,
pur di rimanere sotto le umili specie sacramentali. Pronunciate
le parole della consacrazione, la sostanza del pane e del
vino non c'e piu, quantunque il tatto, il gusto, l'odore
siano quelli del pane e del vino. C'e realmente Gesu".
P. Allegra ribadisce la grandiosita del mistero eucaristico
con quest'altra considerazione teologica: "La SS. Eucaristia
e un mistero forse ancora piu misterioso di quello dell'Incarnazione
e della Redenzione: In Cruce latevat sola Deitas, at hic
latet simul et humanitas (sulla Croce nascondeva solo la
Divinita, ma qui nasconde insieme l'umanita). Nell'Eucaristia
Gesu si dona in cibo, egli perpetua misticamente il suo
sacrificio della Croce, rinnova continuamente, offre continuamente
al Padre il suo amore per Lui e per noi. Chi crede fermamente
nell'Eucaristia, crede perfettamente in Dio, crede che Lui
e Amore, e che ha chiamato tutti nel Figlio dilett a un'ineffabile
unione di amore".
La passione eucaristica del p. Allegra non era soltanto
dottrinale, la viveva con amorosa sollecitudine. Era ammirevole,
eccezionale la sua devozione. Non solo quando passava davanti
ad una chiesa, ma anche quando scorgeva da lontano un campanile,
gli dava l'occasione di pensare a Gesu vivente nei nostri
tabernacoli e adorarlo.
Soleva recitare il divino Ufficio e fare la lettura spirituale
davanti al Tavernacolo. Nei momenti di maggiore stanchezza
si recava "in chiesa a visitare il Sacramento".
"In mezzo a mille preoccupazioni e mormorii interni",
trovava la forza, la pace davanti a Gesu eucaristico. Scriveva
ai genitori: "Quando sono stanco, vado in chiesa a
visitare il SS.mo Sacramento, a a leggere qualche libro
sulla Madonna: mi passa subito la stanchezza".
Voleva che la cappella dello Studium fosse sempre pulita:
era il primo a spazzarla, a spolverarla. "Sull'altare
non mancavano mai i fiori freschi. Ordinariamente era il
p. Allegra a procurarli".
Piu di un teste dichiara che, durante il giorno, frequentemente
visitava il SS.mo Sacramento. "Appena aveva un momento
di tempo attesta sr. Bernadetta Ng si recava in chiesa per
venerare il Santissimo, per stare vicino a Gesu, per riparare
alle offese commesse contro la presenza del Santissimo".
"Quando veniva alla Procura di Kowloon asserisce p.
Pieraccini la prima visita era sempre al SS.mo Sacramento".
Egli si era proposto: "Ora che la S. Scrittura nella
sua edizione manuale mi lascia un po' di respiro, sto pensando
di darmi di piu alla preghiera e di passare piu tempo davanti
al SS.mo Sacramento". "Celebrava, poi, la S. Messa
con quella riverenza, a cui san Francesco esortava i suoi
"Nella celebrazione del S. Sacrificio - ribadisce sr.
Bernadetta - teneva un tale portamento da impressionare.
Si vedeva che egli credeva profondamente nel mistero espresso
dalla preghira eucaristica. Egli sapeva che nella Chiesa
vi erano alcuni sacerdoti e teologi, i quali ritengono che,
finita la S. Messa, Gesu non e sacramentalmente presente
sotto le sacre specie, e che certi cristiani non venerano
piu il SS. Sacramento, e simili cose: e ne soffriva grandemente".
Raccomandava la comunione frequente e la devozione all'Eucaristia,
come mezzo efficacissimo di santificazione e di rifiorimento
"Un'anima eucaristica diceva e un'anima votata alla
santita, anzi ad una specie di santita, che si rassomiglia
tanto a quella della Madre celeste, nostra Madre. Al bellezza,
la santita di Maria, e tutta interiore, cosi e dell'anima
eucaristica. Le virtu della Madonna, che piu mi commuovono,
sono: l'umilta, il silenzio, la modestia, in una parola,
la vita nascosta con Gesu Cristo in Dio".
A un suo confratello scriveva: "Se non torna a fiorire
la devozione alla Madonna e alla Santissima Eucaristia,
non so come tanti sacerdoti e tanti vescovi, per riflesso,
potranno superare la tremenda crisi di oggi, che e piu grave
del modernismo al principio del secolo" e affermava
"che la rinnovazione della Chiesa, auspicata dal Concilio,
cosi come avvenne nel secolo XVI, non si fara, se non mediante
una vigorosa ripresa della pieta eucaristica e della devozione
alla Madonna" (cfr. "Il Cuore Immacolato di Maria,
via a Dio", pp. 23-24). Il S. Padre auspica che "l'Anno
dell'Eucaristia sia per tutti occasione preziosa per una
rinnovata consapevolezza del tesoro incomparabile che Cristo
ha affidato alla sua Chiesa" (Mane nobiscum Domine
- resta con noi, Signore).
|April 29, 2005
Meeting on Fr Allegra OFM, Founder of the Studium Biblicum
On April 29th 2005, a talk was organized at the Franciscan
Friary of Monza (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Graces) by the
local Missionary Group on the topic - Fr Allegra, His work
on the Chinese translation of the Bible and his great missionary
work in China. The two speakers were Brother Luigino, for
some years now a missionary in China and great admirer of
Fr Allegra, and Brother Lorenzo Iacono, who spent some time
at the Studium Biblicum Hong Kong.
Bro. Lorenzo is from the Sicilian Province of Franciscans
of which Fr Allegra belonged. The Franciscan Minister Provincial
of Lombardy was present for this event with some 60 other
During the talk, a exhibit displaying the life and works
of Fr Allegra was presented. Of note was the latest revised
publication of the autobiography of Fr Allegra edited by
Fr Oppes, and the CD of sacred Chinese music commissioned
by Fr Allegra and produced by the Studium Biblicum Hong
Bro. Luigino presented a talk on the life and work of Fr
Allegra, taking note of the most important events and contributions
the Venerable Founder made. Bro. Lorenzo then recounted
the celebration of January 28th - 29th in Sicily when the
remains of Fr Allegra were transferred to a new chapel dedicated
to him in Acireale (Sicily).
Bro. Lorenzo then reported on the progress of the beatification
of Fr Allegra which was abruptly stopped several years ago.
The talk ended with a prayer to Fr Allegra after a question-answer
session. Everyone was grateful for this event which a very
important but little known person in the history of the
Franciscan Order and the Universal Church.
This event was also an important occasion for the Studium
Biblicum whose work in the past and present was explained
to the participants. Everyone was interested in the development
of the online course which the Studium is creating.
Bro. Luigino and Bro Lorenzo presenting their talk
Participants learn more about Fr Allegra and his work
Some of the works of Fr Allegra on display
|February 28-29, 2005
Commemoration of Fr Gabriele Allegra
The Franciscan Province of Sicily commemorated the anniversary
of Venerable Gabriele Allegra, founder of the Studium Biblicum
Hong Kong with a two day celebration.
The highlight of the event was the transfer of the remains of
Fr Allegra to a new chapel dedicated to him. Sr Paola fmm, sister
of Fr Allegra and his nephew Fr Leone Murabito were among those
present to honour the event.
of the commemoration
|January 26, 2003
27th Commemoration of Fr Gabriele Allegra
A solemn commemoration of the 27th anniversary of the death of
Fr Allegra was graced by the Minister General of the Franciscan
Order, Fr Giacomo Bini, in Acireale, Sicily. Fr Allegra is buried
in the Franciscan Church of San Biagio in Acireale where he once
lived and studied as a seminarian.
The full day programme included a visit to the tomb of Fr Allegra
in the Church of San Biagio, Holy Mass presided by the Minister
General, a meeting of the Sicilian Franciscan family and ended
with a concert by the Franciscan friars in the evening.
Joining this solemn occasion were the members of the Allegra
family including the only living sister of Fr Allegra, Sister
Paola, and a thousand Franciscan friars and sisters. Visits by
Monsignor Pio Vigo, Bishop of Acireale and Monsignor Salvatore
Gristina, Bishop of Catania, highlighted the importance of Fr
Allegra in the history of the Sicilian Church.
Speeches by Fr Carmelo Finocchiaro, Provincial Minister
of Sicily and various other speakers drew attention to aspects
of the life, work and spirituality of Fr Allegra.
|April 24, 2002
CONGREGATION FOR THE CASES OF THE SAINTS
Promulgation of the Decrees
On April 23, 2002, in the presence of the Holy Father, the following
Decrees have been promulgated:
[...] a miracle, attributed to the intercession of GABRIELE MARIA
ALLEGRA, the Venerable Servant of God, professed priest of the
Order of the Friar Minors, born on December 25, 1907 at San Giovanni
La Punta (Italy) and died on January 26, 1976 in Hong Kong; [...]
The Cardinals present were: Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of
Dicastero, Undersecretary, Mons. Michele Di Ruberto, and Promoter
of Faith, Mons. Sandro Corrandini[...]Mons. Salvatore Pristina,
Bishop of Acireale.
The Postulators of the Cases: Rev. Nuncio D'Elia, Fr. Romualdo
Rodrigo, O.A.R.; Fr. Luca De Rosa, O.F.M.; [...];
Others present were: Fr. Carmelo Finocchiaro, O.F.M., Provincial
Minister of Sicily, Fr. Leonardo Anastasi, O.F.M., Fr. Leone Murabito
Allegra, O.F.M. and Fr. Pino Noto, O.F.M. [...].
|April 23 2002
The canonic process of the missionary from
La Punta concluded FR. GABRIELE ALLEGRA WILL BECOME BLESSED SOON
in Vatican this morning
Acireale - the process of beatification of Fr. Gabriele Allegra
has come to conclusion. Dr. Francesco Tomasello from Messina will
proclaimed the miracle obtained through his intercession as authentic
in Vatican this morning. The celebration is great at San Giovanni
La Punta, his birthplace, and at Acireale, where his remains are
received in the Convent of St. Biagio.
Fr. Allegra was indeed an exceptional figure that brought honor
to Sicily and to the Franciscan Order. He was fragrant with God
and his love for God. As teacher of doctrine and of holiness,
he uses God's measure to measure everything. His interior pureness
makes each gesture, each word of his a lesson of humility. His
readiness without reservation, his vast culture and his innocent
smile of a child, which is surprising and edifying, speaks and
reflects for itself the perennial smile of his soul.
"His holiness - as the decree says, is recognized by - the greatness
of his virtues which is extraordinarily ordinary like all others,
but he lived them in an extraordinary way like few".
Mons. Luca Capozi, Archbishop of Taiwan, however, had anticipated
it. In fact, he spoke of him in 1954: Fr. Allegra is the most
gifted and the most holy missionary of the Far East. His work
is admired and envied even by the Protestants". His "masterpiece"
was the translation of the Bible into Chinese, a fundamental work
for the fate of Christianity in that big country, an enterprise
that was considered "impossible".
Caution should be taken, however, that Fr. Allegra would be beatified
not because he translated the Bible. On the contrary, he translated
the Bible because he perceived the need and the urgency of offering
to the thousand million of persons the essential instrument for
approaching the Holy Scriptures. He came forth as a saint and
a man of faith rather than a Bible scholar, although the two aspects
joins together and fully compliment each other.
Fr. Agostino Gemelli suddenly appeared on October 6, 1939 at
San Giovanni la Punta. He came personally to offer him a teaching
post at the Catholic University. He considered it an honor to
have him among his university professors. Fr. Allegra felt flattered
by the offer but he refused it with courtesy. His mind was somewhere
else: in China. Nothing could dissuade him from this mission.
This episode reminds us of his cultural richness: he knows eleven
languages. He was an expert in theology, philosophy, sacred music
and painting. However, when he returned to his country, out of
humility and just to hide his talents, he used Sicilian dialect
when he gave a speech in Acireale.
Graduated with an honorary degree in Theology (the first conferred
by the Pontificio Ateneo Antoniano di Roma), he was repeatedly
invited to Oxford and New York for cycles of conferences, spoken
highly by famous friends, such as the great and controversial
French Jesuit Theilard de Chardin, but his considerable amount
of culture did not superimpose nor obscure the well-defined profile
of a Franciscan. In him, science has become wisdom and holiness,
the way of living his mission.
Small in stature, slim, almost fragile, he was gifted with an
incredible determination. In a China that was disturbed by the
Communist Revolution of Mao Tse Tung and the Japanese War, the
Sicilian missionary knew how to win the esteem of everyone, since
he treated everybody as brother and he has a word of peace and
hope for everyone. They call him "the saint of Hong Kong". The
lepers of Coloane (Macao) even toll the bells when he went to
spend Easter and Christmas with them.
His name juxtaposed that of Matteo Ricci (1552-1601), who was
considered to be a great teacher of Chinese culture for translating
some of the Western literary works, starting with "De amicizia"
by Cicerone. In his 45 years of missionary service, Fr. Allegra,
has done far more, and much better. Other than the eleven volumes
of the Bible, he has in fact published a Bible Dictionary and
founded an Institute of Sociology in Singapore and a Center of
Bible Studies in Beijing. China is truly much nearer to Catholicism
that what one can think of. This is not something small.
The date of beatification has not yet been fixed. They say it
will be held on October 20, in the Word Missionary Day. On June
16, Fr. Pio will be proclaimed as "Blessed". The Franciscan tree
is greener than ever.
Passing Acireale where the Franciscan students in Theology have
finished spending their weekend of fraternity with a performance
of songs and dances in Piazza Duomo, Fr. Carnelo Finocchiaro,
the Provincial, said, "Today the Province of Friar Minors of Sicily
lives a moment of ineffable joy: one of his best sons is recognized
and raised to the honor of the altar 26 years after returning
to the [Heavenly] Father. The Blessed Allegra will become a great
example for all those who dedicate themselves to the great cause
of Ecumenism". (Giuseppe Contarino)
|April 24 2002
THE UNIVERAL "BLESSED" FR. ALLEGRA
the ceremony day by day
Gabriele Allegra is heading towards the glory of the altar. Yesterday,
the miracle has been solemnly proclaimed as obtained through his
intercession. By now, the canonical process has been completed.
What lies ahead of us is only the ceremony of beatification, scheduled
for the month of October. Fr. Allegra, has known how to decode
and join together the fascination of the Far East with the intense
perfumes of the orange blossom of Etna. He will be a universal
"Blessed": being a Sicilian and Chinese at the same time, because
he spent at least 45 years [of his life] in China. His holiness
has been defined as "extraordinarily ordinary", that is, without
glamour or exaggeration. Nothing would have been more welcomed,
because the judgment reflects the essentiality, the sobriety and
the authenticity that he clung to all throughout his life, hiding
even from himself each and every charisma that he received.
His simplicity is accompanied by the truth, as well as the modesty
of his knowledge. Living in simplicity and think great is the
distinctive code of the privileged. Fr. Allegra scrupulously clung
to this lifestyle, one that belongs to the perfect Franciscan.
Around the Pope was Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of
the Congregation for the Case of the Saints, others were: Mons
Salvatore Pristin, Bishop of Acireale, Fr. Carmelo Finocchiaro,
Provincial of the Friars Minors of Sicily, the Postulator General
Luca de Rosa and the brothers, Bernardino and Leonardo Inastasi.
Everyone was obviously moved.
He, in fact, being the vice postulator, is undertaking the great
work of compiling witnesses all over the world, publishing different
volumes and editing a precious Bulletin, which he investigate
at length and in depth the complex and in certain directions,
the mysterious personality of the Venerable.
Fr. Leonardo Inastasi has turned 86. "But I am happy and excited
like a young boy - precisely - especially today when the dream
of my life has come true. I can assure that the Convent of S.
Biago will become one of the most important Franciscan Centers
of Southern Italy, because this fellow countryman of ours is a
giant". Brother Bernardino kept his tears with difficulty and
agreed. "We really need to do things well - he added - because
Fr. Allegra deserves it".
In reality, the superior of the Acese Convent, Fr. Cataldo Migliazzo,
in agreement with Fr. Provincial Finocchiaro, have started the
work of transforming the monastery into a reception center. "On
January 1993," he told us, "the decision of turning the convent
of S. Biagio into a House of Spiritual Formation dedicated to
Fr. Allegra has been undertaken. It was there that he has received
his first Franciscan formation and finished his high school studies.
For him, the years that he spent at Acireale had been unforgettable.
His last visit happened just a year before he passed away. He
returned to our Convent at a span of eleven years in order to
remain here forever. We have set up a library that collects everything
concerning Fr. Allegra. We have already forwarded to the Superintendent
the project of coming up with a Chapel next to the church. In
the following weeks, in agreement with the bishop, an organizing
committee for the festivities will be set up, in which S. Giovanni
La Punta will be
well-represented. We will try out best so that the celebration
of this event would have its proper grandiosity". (Giuseppe
|April 23, 2002
Feast for "Blessed" Allegra
San Giovanni La Punta. (afi) While waiting for Pope John Paul
II to sign within these days the decree that will sanction the
definitive beatification of Fr. Gabriele Allegra - the Missionary
from S. Giovanni La Punta who dedicated his life for the diffusion
of Christianity in China, San Giovanni La Punta was living these
moments in profound reflection and prayer. In fact, from today
onwards, it is foreseen that a series of appointments, organized
by the parish citizens and the communal administration in close
collaboration with the Friars Minors of Sicily will be held, culminating
in "the Seventh Franciscan Youth Chapter of Sicily", that was
to be held on April 25, the Feast of Liberation. The Franciscan
Friars will have numerous meetings today and tomorrow with the
families in La Punta and with the students. On Thursday, instead,
it is foreseen that 4,000 youths coming from different parts of
Sicily will arrive. They will pleasantly "invade" the center of
the town and they will have their meeting in the Sanctuary of
Our Lady of Ravanusa. Amidst songs and prayers, the joyous procession
will then make for the communal amphitheatre where they will listen
to the authentic witness of the life of the Missionary. The day
will end with tbe Eucharistic celebration. The concelebtaion will
be presided by Fr. Carmelo Finocchiaro, the Provincial Minister
of the Friar Minors of Sicily.
|April 24, 2002
Rome. Six Italians, three communist Bulgarian
martyrs and two Jesuits Catechist among the new figures shown
TOWARDS THE ALTARS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
Decrees on miracles and heroic virtues of twenty-two servants
of God promulgated
Decrees on miracles and heroic virtues of twenty-two servants
of God promulgated
Rome. If Auditel would tell a story on holiness of our times
with the mini-series about Blessed Pope John XXIII even if it
would bankrupt, Vatican would not stop the activity of highlighting
the figures, especially those contemporary ones, who knew how
to live Christianity in a totalitarian way. Yesterday, in fact,
in the Pope's presence, decrees have been promulgated, regarding
the miracles, the martyrdom and the heroic virtues of 22 servants
of God (faithfuls who are in the course of the process of beatification
are so-called) - cases of some are decisive - who fulfilled such
an important step, towards the glory of the altars. [...]
Among the rest, particularly interesting was the human and spiritual
adventure of Fr. Allegra, born on Christmas 1907 at San Giovanni
La Punta, in Sicily. He entered the Franciscan Order and at an
early age he left his country to stay in China where he remained
until his death in 1976. "He has great merit," as Cardinal Jose
Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the cases of
the Saints, has emphasized, "in translating the Bible into the
Chinese language and in giving witness to charity for the sick,
the poor and the lepers in that country". [..] (Mimmo Muolo)
|April 24, 2002
GABRIELE ALLEGRA WILL BE BEATIFIED
CITTA' DEL VATICANO - A friend of Matteo Ricci of the twentieth
Centuary, but even greater, in a certain aspect, is Gabriele Allegra,
the Sicilian Franciscan, the first Catholic translator of the
whole Bible in Chinese, finished within forty years of hard work,
from 1935 to 1975, back and forth from Beijing to Hong Kong after
the coming of the communist. He will be beatified on October 20,
on Missionary Day, two years from the canonization of 120 martyrs
in China that was held on October 1, the anniversary of the Peoples
Republic of China, creating a strong tension between Beijing and
Vatican. The case of Fr. Allegra will be different. It will give
to John Paul II the way to knock at the door of the "Forbidden
City" in China. The premises were posted up yesterday. In fact,
the decrees of 22 cases of the new "blessed" and Saints were read
in the presence of the Pope, among which was the recognition of
a miracle obtained through the intercession of Fr. Allegra, born
on 1907 at S. Giovanni La Punta (Catania) and died in 1976 in
Hong Kong. He lived in China for 45years as scholar, missionary
and saint. From China to Russia, from a gesture of openness to
another: yesterday, the Pope received the editors of the Russian
Catholic Encyclopedia, headed by Kondrusiewicz, the archbishop
of Moscow. Regarding the difficulties with the Orthodox and the
expulsion of Mazur, the Catholic Bishop, the Pontiff has reaffirmed
the "will" of the Church, "present on Russian grounds for many
centuries", of "remaining right next to the great Russian culture"
and hoped for the deepening of "the reciprocal recognition and
esteem" among all the Russian Christians. (Orazio Petrosillo)
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