Beatification of Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra OFM
“St. Jerome of China “
A holy biblical scholar, Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra OFM (1907-1976), referred as “St. Jerome of China”, steps closer to sainthood and is beatified on 29 September 2012, Feast of the Holy Archangels. The Vatican approved a miracle attributed to Fr. Allegra’s intercession in 2002, and that the cure of a Hong Kong-Chinese priest’s father who suffered from terminal liver cancer was miraculous.
The favourite text of Blessed Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra: “I belong to you Lord God Almighty, and so your words filled my heart with joy and happiness.” (Jer 15:16)
Fr. Allegra’s beatification, in honour of his masterful translation of the first complete Chinese Catholic Bible offered as a holy gift to God’s Chinese Church in 1968 after the promulgation of DEI VERBUM, is celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in the holy priest’s hometown in Acireale, Sicily at the Cathedral Basilica of Mary Most Holy Annunciation. It is very meaningful for this joyous event to take place in commemoration with 50 years of opening the Second Vatican Council, prior to the upcoming Bishops’ Synod on New Evangelisation in October to mark the Year of Faith. In his exhortation VERBUM DOMINI, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted: “Every saint is like a ray of light streaming forth from the word of God.” The most profound interpretation of Scripture comes precisely from those who let themselves be shaped by the word of God through listening, reading and assiduous meditation.
The life of Fr. Allegra is an eloquent testimony of the primacy of love of Christ and faithful service to the Church, after the manner of Saint Francis. He was an authentic picture of a Friar Minor, a humble disciple of Wisdom, and a zealous apostle of the Word of God in the land of the East. The new Blessed indicates eloquently through his heroic witness of life the “great graces which are like the known characteristics with which the Lord wanted to mark the little poor Family through Holiness, the Apostolate, the Wisdom, the Martyrdom, and a love for the Heavenly Father experienced through Jesus’ love for the Immaculate Mother and the Church” (Memoirs, book V, ch. XI)
The II Vatican Council states: In the lives of the saints “God vividly manifests his presence and his face. He speaks to us in them, and gives us a sign of his kingdom, to which we are strongly drawn, having so great a cloud of witnesses over us and such a witness to the truth of the gospel. Nor is it by the title only of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven, but still more in order that the union of the whole Church may be strengthened in the Spirit by the practice of fraternal charity (cf. Eph 4:1-6). For just as Christian communion among wayfarers brings us closer to Christ, so our companionship with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head, issues every grace and the very life of the people of God.”
Holiness inspired by the word of God thus belongs in a way of the prophetic tradition, wherein the word of God sets the prophet’s very life at its service. The Holy Spirit who inspires the sacred authors is the same Spirit who impels the saints to offer their lives for the Gospel. In striving to learn from their example, we set out on the sure way towards a living and effective hermeneutic of the word of God.
As co-servants of the Word, through the intercession of Blessed Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra (who spent almost 30 years of his life in Hong Kong) and other saints and blesseds, let us ask the Lord that our own lives may be that “good soil” in which the divine sower plants the word, so that it may bear within us fruits of holiness, “thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundred fold” (Mk 4:20). [Verbum Domini 49]