Ambassador, Foreign Minister, Premier, Benedictine Priest and Abbot, China’s Catholic Prime Minister Lu Zhengxiang

He had a vision for his country, inspired within him by a Catholic friend, that for China to be a great country it must find its greatness in the Christian religion. Lu (Lou) Zhengxiang was born to Protestant parents in 1871. He converted after meeting his future wife, Berthe Bovy, who was a Catholic Belgian. He represented China in 1919 at Versailles, the only representative who refused to sign the Treaty because it left Japan in control of certain territory in China that it had seized  during the World War.  I came across this story by way of a link on the New Advent website. It was written by Frank Weathers and posted on his blog Why I am Catholic. Like Mr. Weathers, I was floored when I read about this man who died as an abbot in 1949 just before the Communists took over China. It was in 1926, after the death of his wife, that Lu entered the Abbey of Saint-André in Belgium, taking the name Dom Pierre Célestin. For several years previous to this he had been tending to his sick wife in her home country. For those who may take issue when they read in the linked article that Dom Pierre wanted to gain permission for the Mass to be said in Chinese in order to facilitate conversions among his people, it was not the vernacular that he was requesting for liturgical use but the ancient literary Chinese. This is a clip Weather’s provides from an article by Roy Peachey in London’s Catholic Herald:

“Impelled by a deep sense of humility and a profound spirituality, the man who had once refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles therefore ended his life as a titular abbot in Belgium, praying, in the words which ended Ways of Confucius and of Christ, that God might “in all the nations of the earth, be honored and glorified.”  Read more about the achievements and writings of this astonishing man here with other links.