Vox Parva: Values beyond borders and nations


Benedict Keith Ip

It was a year ago when I received an English copy of the book “500 years of Italians in Hong Kong and Macau” from one of its authors, Gianni Criveller. However, I am a slow and lazy reader, and so the book remained on my desk and I could only finish a quarter.
Then I had the chance to meet another of the book’s authors, Angelo Paratico, who had accompanied fellow Italians Ciriaco Offeddu and Fr Fedrigotti in filming a documentary on Fr Nicosia. I joined the journey to experience the life and stories of this great missionary, and while I was reading the book, learnt of and bore witness to the places where Fr. Nicosia had stayed. Then I realized that between September and October 2014, a Chinese version of the book had also been published. And thanks to the copy offered by Wo Kee Hong Group, the Chinese version has saved me a lot of reading time.
By reading this book, you will be able to see how history is narrated – not with a contemporary and political sentiment, but with respect to time and space in the context of history. Angelo has made some wonderful presentations to reveal how Italians were involved in Far East affairs. Yes, imperialism is always an important matter, but this book has done great work in presenting how Italian merchants, diplomats, adventurers and missionaries survived, how they made contact with the local communities, and how they contributed to society. Materials such as reports, letters, movies, posters and more give a comprehensive overview of the Italian legacy in Hong Kong and Macau.
opinion-500 years of Italians in Hong Kong and MacauGianni Criveller’s article focuses on the missionary events happening over the course of five centuries, from the 1500s. To be honest, it is not an easy task, given the scope of time covered. Yet his article gives some great insights, supported by many genuine resources. There are many fascinating parts and stories. Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, for instance, refers to the stories of friendships made by Matteo Ricci, S.J., who was one of the greatest missionaries in the world, especially to the land and people of China. To citizens of Macau, the stories of the Canossian Sisters and Salesian Brothers and Sisters are of great historical importance, are essential reading, and should be included in the history of Macau in general. You will notice that many more missionaries and great figures helped to establish the Italian legacy together with the very famous Fr. Nicosia. Allow me to mention just a few Salesians; the sad story of Bishop Luigi Versiglia 雷嗚道主教 and Fr. Callisto Caravario 高惠黎神父, as well as the hard work done by Fr. Carlo Braga 畢少懷神父, and Fr. Mario Acquistapace 陳基慈神父, will surely surprise you on how they practice the “Pastoral Charity”.
The English version includes some testimony of the Italians. Their stories are unique and interesting, and these are not all available in the Chinese version. The black-and-white photography gives another dimension allowing us to meet the people face-to-face. I personally like the eye contact evident in the photos that Margot Errante presents. Last but not the least, the Consul General of Italy, Alessandra Schiavo, has offered a very good platform to let the people speak from the heart. This book is not only for the Italians, but also for Macau and Hong Kong. They are connected by a very profound history.

Categories Opinion