Bishop dies at 104 after long illness

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2007, 12:00am

China's oldest prelate, Bishop Joseph Meng Ziwen of the Nanning Catholic diocese, has died at the age of 104.

Meng, who was secretly ordained a bishop in 1984, died on Sunday night at a church in Guigang , 135km east of Nanning, the capital of Guangxi .

Nanning's Coadjutor Bishop, John Tan Yanchuan , 45, has succeeded Meng and will preside at a requiem Mass today.

According to Bishop Tan, Meng died of liver cancer and passed away peacefully.

'Bishop Meng was fully conscious on his death bed and encouraged visitors to continue to serve God,' Bishop Tan said.

He said Meng was diagnosed with liver cancer more than a year ago, but had continued to conduct Mass when his health allowed.

'Bishop Meng was venerable and enjoyed high prestige,' he said. 'Several hundred people have attended requiem Masses for the late bishop every day.'

Meng was clandestinely ordained a bishop in 1984, but was only recognised by the central government as a priest. He was born in Guigang in 1903 and was ordained a priest in 1935.