In 1924, after the First Bishops Conference of China, the bishops decided to build the South China Regional Seminary in Hong Kong. Archbishop Celso Costantini invited Fr Dom Adalbert Gresnigt, who was a Belgian Benedictine monk and a professor at Peking’s Fu Jen Catholic University to handle design and construction matters.
After researching and understanding Chinese architectural forms, Fr. Gresnigt designed a magnificent Chinese “Siheyan-style” building with steps up from the beach. Later, he changed his plan to bring the entire grand structure toward the bustling road nearby, instead of heading to the sea.
However, construction started in 1930 at the time of the Great Depression. Due to a case of insufficient funds, only the originally planned South Building was completed. In the late 1960s, the newly built school of philosophy and theology (a four-storey classroom building) was attached to the east end of the South Building. The wall of the west end was painted with a mural that was a blend of Catholic faith and Chinese Taoist thought. At the end of 2016, this mural was repainted into its current pattern depicting an image of Pentecost, which reflects the mission and life of the seminary today.
After the Communist Party of China came to power in 1949, many seminarians from mainland China transferred to the South China Regional Seminary, bringing the number of seminarians to nearly seventy. Therefore, a spacious new church was needed. Bishop Lorenzo Bianchi consecrated the new church building after it was completed in 1956.
To complement the main building of the seminary, the design of the sanctuary of the new church also adopted the Chinese style. As soon as you enter the church and look up at the sanctuary, a huge Chinese-style canopy solemnly reminds those who enter the church that Christ the King is present in the tabernacle above the altar.
The priests and seminarians pray Lauds and offer holy Mass there every morning.
The Chapel is located on the second floor of the Classroom Building. Every morning, the priests and the seminarians spend half an hour in silence there for adoration and meditation on the great love of Jesus Christ. At dusk, united with the Holy Catholic Church throughout the world, they pray Vespers together, offering the needs of all the faithful to our Lord.
The grotto and the small altar next to the football field are in honor Our Lady of Lourdes. Inside the grotto, Saint Bernardette is kneeling facing the Blessed Virgin, holding a rosary in her hands, and praying to her.
During the month of the Holy Rosary and the month of Mary, the priests and seminarians gather at the grotto of Our Lady after supper to recite the Rosary, praying for the needs of the church and society. Father Yang Jingwen, who passed away last year at the age of 100, used to like to place his own potted plants inside the Cave to venerate our Lady.
According to legend, the Grotto of the Virgin was built by bare hands. The stones were dug up during the construction of the new Classroom Building. The decorative shells inside the grotto were picked up by the seminarians on the beach below the hillside.
In the beginning, the seminarians of the South China Regional Seminary mainly came from Guangdong and Fujian provinces. After the Communist Party took over China in 1949, even seminarians from the north were trained here. At that time, the seminarians would chat in groups after dinner (this tradition is still preserved). Since the breeze blowing through the arches, the seminarians from Guangdong often gathered there to enjoy the cool breezes. Therefore, the arch came to be called "The Canton Gate."