Trappist priest Rev. Nicholas Kao Se-Tsien, Hong Kong’s oldest man, who recited the rosary devotion 15 times a day for world peace every day from 1932, has died at the age of 110.
Father Kao was a member of the Trappist monastic community in Hong Kong, and he was believed to be the oldest Chinese priest in the world. His superior, Dom Anastasius Li, said Father Kao died peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 11 in Hong Kong, having been well prepared for his last day.
The Roman Catholic priest witnessed turbulent changes in China from the day he was born on Jan. 15, 1897, in Fujian province, when the country was ruled by the imperial Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to 1911. He was baptized in 1915, four years after the Republic of China had been founded.
Ordained a priest in 1933 to serve Fuzhou Cathedral in the capital city of Fujian province, Father Kao left mainland China in 1949, after Mao Zedong’s Communist Party founded the People’s Republic of China and religious activities were under threat.
Father Kao then served in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, before he joined the Hong Kong Trappist community in 1972. He took his final vow in 1997, at the age of 100.
The monk shared a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary and built six Marian temples in mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Father Kao embarked on his quest for world peace in 1932, by beginning his recital of the rosary, a traditional Catholic devotion that involves sets of prayers in tens using beads as counters.
When the late Pope John Paul II lengthened the rosary prayers with the “Mysteries of Light” in 2002, the monk increased his rosary recitals to 20 times a day.
The rosary is used sometimes by some adherents of other Christian denominations, particularly in the Anglican Communion, the Old Catholic Church, and some Lutherans, and occasionally by some Methodists. More evangelical Protestants, however, such as Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists and churches such as the Assemblies of God, do not use the rosary and may discourage their members from using this method of prayer.