Rev. LAMASSE,  Henry MEP

* Birth in Strasbourg (聖特拉斯堡), France (法國): [25 April 1869]
* Ordination: [July 1894]
* Arrival in China: [1895]
* Death in Hong Kong: [19 July 1952]

Venerable Missionary Distinguished Chinese Scholar Dies Here

On 19 July 1952, at Bethany Sanatorium in Hong Kong, Rev. Father Henry Lamasse, Priest of the Paris Foreign Society passed away at the age of 83. Missionary in Manchuria, he was also a doctor of law, laureate of “I’Academie des Inscription et Belles Letter,” correspondent of I’Academie Stanislaus.

Born at Strasbourg, 25 April 1869, of a fine Christian family, Father Lamasse entered the Paris Foreign Missions in 1890, was ordained in July 1894, and left for Manchuria 15 August of the same year.

In the course of his long apostolic career, he was known and appreciated both for his eminent sacerdotal virtues and for his absolutely exceptional human qualities.

Architect for the diocese, he built churches at Tiehling, Leaoyang, An-Sin-T’ai and Heichan. But his two masterpieces were the Cathedral of Mukden in 1910 and the Cathedral of Kirin which was built according to his design in 1927.

Amusician, he installed in the Mukden Cathedral the fine organ which was a gift from his family. In 1924, in response to the invitation of H.E. Msgr. Mutel, he went to Korea to oversee the installation of the organ in the Cathedral of Seoul. An excellent pianist his recitals were the joy of his confreres. The young missioners marveled at his playing of sonatas and waltzes.

A notable theologian, he was constantly consulted by Bishops Guillon, Choulet and Blois. From Nazareth Press he published “Vitraille Thomiste” composed of three panels in which the three parts of the “Summa Theologica” of St. Thomas Aquinas are depicted in a coloured graph, giving the impression of a stained-glass window and throwing into relief the scaffolding of the “Summa” by showing the dependence of its treatises and their various points in relation to the principle ideas.

An eminent Sinologue, in 1922 he published “Sin Kuo Wen” “New Manuel on Chinese style” translated and explained in French and romanized in seven principle dialects: classical mandarin, the mandarin of West China, of Peking, of Tcheli, of Manchuria, the Cantonese and shanghai dialects. In 1924 he published “Tch’ou teng Kuo Wen”. These various works gradually brought him to evolve the “Interdialectical Romanisation” popularly called the “R.I.” To him is given the credit of first having thought of it and of having brought it to realization. Confirmed in his ideas and enriched by other work on Chinese phonetic by another scholar, Mr. Bernhard Karlgren, of the University of Goteborg, this new method of “alphabetical writing” of Chinese was scientifically applied by Rev. Fr. Ernest Jasmin of the Foreign Missions of Quebec and popularized by Rev. Fr. Rutten, former Superior General of the Scheut Fathers. (A.I.C.M.). In collaboration with Father Jasmin, Father Lamasse published in 1931-32-33 and 34 in the “Dossiers de la Commission Synodale de Peking”, a very interesting series of studies on the “R.I.” From Nazareth Press he published “Manuel pour I’Etude et I’Enseignement de la R.I.” also a translation of the “Sin Kuo Wen” in R.I. In 1951, at the age of 82 he again published the “Nouveau Repertoire de la Romanization Inter-dialectique”.

A distinguish linguist, he spoke Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German and English.

As a missionary, before the Boxer Rebellion, he founded the mission of Tiehling, 70 kms. North of Mukden and one of the most important stations on the Trans-Manchurian Railway. He was also pastor of Heichan. It is also to him that we owe the Catholic foundation of An-Sin-T’ai, between Mukden and Tiehling. In his diary, Father Lamasse recorded all his journeyings, persecutions, etc. Of note are the extremely touching pages of the rough days and terrible hardships he endured in 1900 when the Boxers forced him to flee from Tiehling after the massacre of Bishop Guillon, nine foreign priests, some Chinese Fathers and thousands of Christians. He left with Father P. Vuillemot and two Religious of Portieux, Sister Gerardine and Sister Marie, to make their way to Siberia. With a bodyguard of only a hundred Cossacks, they were continually harried along the way by thousands of Boxers and regular soldiers sent by the government of Mukden and Kirin. Three months after the Boxer days, Father Lamasse was back in Manchuria. Since all the churches except that at Ing-se were in ruins he began immediately to rebuild, being at once architect, foreman, mason and bricklayer.

Pro-Vicar of H.E. Msgr. Choulet from 1905 to 1915 he acquitted himself with competence and devotion.

A preacher and retreat master of parts, he always knew how to captivate his audience while at once giving them substantial nourishment. While in France in 1923, he preached a series of highly appreciated conferences throughout France but especially in his own diocese of Nancy.

In 1926 he preached the retreat to his confreres in the Kirin mission, in 1930 and 1931 he gave the retreats to his fellow priests of Mukden and Seoul. “His instructions”, wrote a witness, “Where pure theology was the foundation for eminently practical instructions, were very highly appreciated”.

Named director of the Printing Press of Mukden in 1935, he spent himself without counting the cost to give the vicariate a perfectly equipped and well organized plant.

He was the first to acclimatize grape vines to the rigors of Manchuria. Thanks to him, mass wine was constantly assured to the missions. He complied a treatise on the culture, pruning, preservation against the cold, etc. This study was published in the “Bulletin Catholique de Peking” of 1914. Anxious to improve the health of certain confreres he brought goats from Switzerland and himself made cheese. He was also an able apiculturist.

Movie Maker
Photographer, always ahead of his time, he took the first moving pictures in Manchuria. An extremely charitable confrere, he was always anxious to be of service. He liked frequently to have a table full of guests, not only his fellow priests but foreign and Chinese laymen.

Scholar and artist, he was genial and entertaining; his pranks had become legendary and their recital would fill a volume.

An extremely cultivated mind, he had the candour and simplicity of a child.

As a venerable patriarch with white hair; worn by labour, he kept a youthful mind and a joyous spirit - till the end he enjoyed the company of youth.

Man of God
Fundamentally pious and supernatural he gave, during his whole life, the perfect example of the missionary “man of God.”

On 6 July 1952, after having received Extreme Unction from Rev. Fr. Destombes, Vicar Genera of the Paris Foreign Mission, Fr. Lamasse insisted on thanking him with that ever present thoughtfulness and delicacy so characteristic of his whole life. 19 July at 11:30 hours, he quietly passed away while his confreres of Bethany recited the prayers for the dying.

In him, the Paris Foreign Mission Society loses one of its best sons while the Church in China loses one of its most colourful figures.
8 August 1952



曾 傳 教 滿 洲 的 法 國 人 巴 黎 外 方 傳 教 會 傳 教 士 梁 亨 利 神 父 Fr. Lamasse  突 於 一 九 五 二 年 七 月 十 九 日 , 妥 領 終 傅 聖 事 後 , 安 逝 於 薄 扶 林 道 伯 達 尼 療 養 院 , 享 年 八 十 三 歲 。

按 神 父 一 八 六 九 年 四 月 廿 五 日 生 於   (Strasburg) , 一 八 九 0 年 入 巴 黎 外 方 傳 教 會 作 會 員 , 一 八 九 四 年 晉 鐸 , 一 八 九 五 年 啟 程 來 中 國 滿 洲 地 區 。

他 既 是 一 位 模 範 傳 教 士 , 又 是 一 位 建 築 師 , 吉 林 同 奉 天 兩 個 大 教 堂 就 是 他 的 代 表 傑 作 。 奉 天 大 堂 於 一 九 一 0 年 完 成 , 吉 林 於 一 九 二 七 年 完 成 。 音 樂 更 是 他 的 特 長 。

生 平 著 作 殊 多 , 一 九 二 二 年 著 有 新 國 文 , 中 國 新 體 文 學 , 更 精 於 國 語 及 各 地 方 言 。 一 九 二 四 年 又 出 版 初 等 國 文 。 他 的 生 平 結 作 晶 品 當 屬 於 羅 馬 註 音 國 語 Romanization Interdialectique 。 他 得 助 於 瑞 典 的 音 韻 家 Mr. Karlgren 先 生 , 又 獲 得 關 神 父 Fr. Jasmin 的 合 作 , 同 聖 母 聖 大 會 先 會 長 Fr. Rutten 神 父 的 普 及 推 行 , 在 傳 教 士 圈 內 極 盛 一 時 , 曾 以 註 音 方 式 , 譯 出 新 國 文 , 新 小 說 , 並 編 有 註 音 字 典 。

一 九 二 三 年 返 國 , 曾 在 Nancy 教 區 作 過 一 連 串 的 避 靜 講 道 。 一 九 二 六 年 又 在 吉 林 向 會 員 講 道 。 一 九 三 0 年 更 在 奉 天 向 會 員 講 道 , 甚 得 其 同 會 之 好 評 。

一 九 三 五 年 他 不 但 盡 力 奉 天 印 刷 廠 , 更 移 植 又 改 良 葡 萄 的 種 子 , 使 之 適 宜 東 北 , 結 果 用 註 文 發 表 。 對 牧 畜 也 有 相 當 的 研 究 同 貢 獻 。

他 性 情 爽 直 愉 快 , 喜 言 笑 , 老 而 不 減 當 年 , 可 稱 是 「天 主 之 人」 。 在 今 年 七 月 十 六 日 妥 領 臨 終 聖 事 , 在 十 九 日 下 午 五 時 半 安 然 逝 世 , 然 而 巴 黎 外 方 傳 教 會 少 了 一 位 有 創 造 性 的 標 準 傳 教 士 , 可 是 相 信 他 在 天 之 靈 , 是 永 不 止 息 的 為 傳 教 事 業 , 為 傳 教 會 團 作 著 在 天 之 主 保 。
1952 年 7 月 27 日

先賢錄--香港天主教神職及男女修會會士 (1841-2010), 天主教香港教區檔案處, 2010.
先賢錄--香港天主教神職及男女修會會士 (1841-2016), 天主教香港教區檔案處, 2016.