Blessed Gabriele Allegra

Saint of MonthGA

The December Conquest saint of the month is Blessed Gabriele Allegra.

Blessed Gabriele Allegra was a Franciscan Friar. He is best known for being the man who translated the Catholic Bible into the Chinese language. He was born in 1907 in  Italy. He entered the Franciscan  seminary and studied to become a priest. At the age of 21, he was inspired to translate the Bible into Chinese. This became a task that took the next 40 years of his life. He was ordained a priest in 1930 and soon thereafter sailed for mainland China where he  started to learn Chinese. With the help of his Chinese teacher he prepared a first draft of the translation of the Bible around 1937. He had to return to Italy for three years where he continued his studies in biblical languages. In 1940, he left Italy again and sailed from San Francisco for Japan on his way to China. He attempted to return to China again, but the Second Sino-Japanese War had already started and he was forced to go further north instead. This had an unfortunate side-effect in that during his trip through the Japanese-occupied territories, he lost his only copy of the draft of the translation of the Bible that had taken him seven years to complete. So he had to start the translation effort from scratch. Because Allegra was an Italian citizen, the Japanese occupiers of China did not hold him for long, and he could continue his translation work. In 1942, he became actively involved in assisting other missionaries to survive in the Japanese internment camp in northern China, and managed to obtain the release of several prisoners. Allegra organized a team of Chinese Franciscan friars to work with him on the translation of the Bible. But as the Chinese Civil War ended, the Chinese Communist Party took over China and Allegra and his team had to leave for Hong Kong .Over the next 12 years he released pieces of the translated bible and on Christmas day in 1968 witnessed the culmination of his 40 year effort with the first publication of the one-volume Chinese Bible. He chose to work in the Orient to the end of his life. He was known for working too hard, often resulting in the deterioration of his health. He took time to help the poor and the sick, particularly the lepers. He used to spend many of his holidays (often also Christmas and Easter) with them. He was beatified in 2012.