The Franciscan Curia and Vatican figures have confirmed the reports to AsiaNews that Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra will be beatified Sept. 29 in Acireale by Card. Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
An Italian Franciscan, Fr. Allegra (1907-1976) was a missionary to China and Hong Kong and is still famous for his masteful translation of sacred texts.
"But in addition to his relationship with China - said postulator, the Franciscan Fr. Giovangiuseppe Califano - his beatification takes into account his religious virtues."
"The Vatican - said the monk - are emphasizing his commitment as much as a biblical scholar and teacher of many young people, but they also recall his fidelity to the Franciscan rule, his charity to the poor, his devotion to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Virgin ".
For now, the program of the ceremony is in its draft stages. The master of ceremonies Fr. Joseph Noto, Franciscan Provincial of Sicily, tells AsiaNews that "the beatification Mass, presided over by Card. Amato will be held at 10 am in the Cathedral of Acireale. During the liturgy, the Gospel will be read in Chinese, as well as some the intercessions. There will also be many pilgrims from Hong Kong, where Fr. Allegra lived for almost 30 years. "
The news of the beatification of Fr. Allegra has surprised the same experts. Fr. Califano says that it "was expected, but it was sudden."
In fact, the miracle attributed to Fr. Allegra - a requirement in the path toward beatification - was recognized in 2002. The most likely hypothesis is that the proclamation of the blessed was delayed because the still fresh wound from the violent campaign staged by the Patriotic Association and the government against the canonization of the Chinese martyrs in 2000.
Fr. Allegra's work is still the basis of biblical studies in mainland China, but also in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao and Singapore. In 2008, Card. Joseph Zen, then Bishop of Hong Kong, pleaded the cause of beatification during the Synod on the Word of God, holding up Fr. Allegra as a holy biblical scholar, deserving the name of "St. Jerome of China." St. Jerome is the Father of the Church who first translated biblical texts into Latin.
Fr. Gabriele Allegra was born December 26, 1907 in St. Giovanni La Punta (Catania). In 1930 he became a Franciscan priest, in 1931, he left as a missionary to China and one of his aims was to translate the Bible into Chinese.
After studying in Shanghai, in 1944 - together with some collaborators - he complete the translation of the Old Testament. One year later he founded the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Beijing dedicated to Duns Scotus.
Because of the upheaval and war, he had to move to Hong Kong in 1949. In 1968 his dream came true and he published the entire Bible in Chinese. In 1971 he published a dictionary of the Bible in Chinese. He died in Hong Kong in 1976, appreciated by all as a man of great charity and wisdom.
The cause for the beatification of Fr. Allegra began in 1984. In 1994 he was declared "venerable".