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Ricci Hall Old Boys’ Association

The 80th Anniversary of passing of Rev Father Daniel J. FINN, S.J.
「豈無佳色在、留待後人來」 ——敬悼范達賢神父八十周年忌辰

Nov 1, 2016

By Nixon Leung (BSc 2014; MEd 2015)


Ricci Hall Archives Conservation and Acquisition Project (RHACAP), HKU

On behalf of the Ricci Hall Archives Conservation and Acquisition Project (RHACAP), HKU, it is a great honour and privilege to share the life story and legacy of the late Rev Father Daniel J. Finn, S.J., at the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of his passing.

Father Finn was born in Ireland in 1886. He read literature and archaeology at the Universities of Dublin and Oxford. Joining the Society of Jesus in 1902, Father Finn conducted missionary work and served as an educator in Austria, Hungary, Poland, Australia and China. In 1927, Father Finn arrived in Hong Kong and taught in the Departments of Education and Geography at this University. He was the one of the earliest residents of Ricci Hall, and later served in the South China Regional Seminary.

The archaeological discoveries of Father Finn were closely related to his missionary work in Hong Kong. While visiting a chapel in Aberdeen he saw a ship unloading sand that had been collected from Lamma Island, an outlying island known as Pok Liu Chau back then. Father Finn spotted copper arrows and pieces of clay in the sand, promoting him to visit the beaches of Lamma Island. He saw a local lady picking up a clay vase from the sand as she worked, and then casually tossed it aside before continuing her work. The vase broke, and so did Father Finn’s heart. He immediately knew there was an urgent need for conservation and the preservation of historical artefacts in Hong Kong.

With the support of the colonial government, Father Finn started an excavation project in 1933 and published his finds in a range of journals including The Hong Kong Naturalist. A number of these articles were republished by Ricci Hall in 1958 as Archaeological Findings on Lamma Island near Hong Kong. Although the excavation methods were less than ideal, the project was the first rescue excavation ever conducted in Hong Kong. Father Finn found a number of clay vessels, stone blades, and stone axes from the Neolithic Age (also known as the “New Stone Age”), and copper spears and tools from Shang to Han Dynasties. The finds proved that early human settlement in Hong Kong could be traced back to the Neolithic Age. 

Appointed by the colonial government and the University as a delegate of Hong Kong, Father Finn attended the Second International Congress of Pre-historic & Proto-historic Sciences in Oslo, Norway in 1936 to report his research findings. After the conference, Father Finn travelled to London to conduct library research at the British Museum. Tragically though, Father Finn was afflicted by some kind of blood poisoning and passed away on 1st November 1936 at the mere age of 50. 

Father Finn is a role model for missionary work, education and archaeological research. He carried out his studies in his spare time and recruited students to help. He was more than willing to teach and share with his mentees. His residence resembled a display room full of physical artefacts from different time periods. 

Following in Father Finn’s footsteps and upholding the spirit of truth, RHACAP’s research on hall history kicked off earlier this year, with the support of the Society of Jesus, Ricci Hall Old Boys’ Association (RHOBA), Ricci Hall Students’ Association (RHSA), HKUSU, and the assistance of more than 20 current students. Upon completion of professional training in archiving and oral history provided by our fellow RHACAPers, the team catalogued 20,498 photos, 138 bulletins, 19 The Riccian, and 4 Thus Spake the Riccians items. We have also uncovered 232 flags and 69 boxes of video tapes. A further 41 bulletins and 8,626 photos were digitised. In addition to archiving and record management, we successfully conducted 16 oral history interviews with our alumni. 

Father Finn’s legacy lives on, with his fondly remembered scholarly endeavours and acts of kindness, at Ricci Hall. We believe Father Finn, a kindred soul who walked into the arms of God 80 years ago, looks back and watches over us in this quest for knowledge, understanding, and solidarity. 


「豈無佳色在、留待後人來」 ——敬悼范達賢神父八十周年忌辰


梁迭起  (BSc 2014; MEd 2015)





范神父1886年生於愛爾蘭,學生時代成績優異,頂角崢嶸,脩讀文學及考古,負笈都柏林大學、牛津大學。1902年加入耶穌會, 曾於奧地利、匈牙利、波蘭、澳洲、中國等地進脩宣教。1927年范神父來港,嗣後任教香港大學教育學系和地理學系,以及在華南總修院事奉。




1933年開始,范神父得到香港政府資助,在舶遼洲(南丫島) 一帶進行頗具規模的發掘,成果於不同期刊發表 。儘管這次發掘工作所採用的方法十分簡單 ,它卻是本地首次在考古地點進行的拯救文物行動,可算是香港考古工作一塊里程碑。神父的發現多是新石器晚期的陶器、石刀、石斧及商代至漢代期間的銅鑄戈矛等古物,令學者推斷出早於新石器時代本港早已有人居住。


1935年,香港政府任命神父代表本港參加馬尼拉的科學大會,發表他的考古成果。1936年7月出席挪威奧斯陸的世界古物大會。閉幕後他即取道倫敦,考察博物館中所藏考古書籍,自 晨 至 晚 , 只 吃 些 他 自 己 帶 備 的 兩 片 麵 包 及 一 些 奶 餅 充 飢 ,用 工 之 勤 可 想 一 斑 。可惜神父於倫敦不幸身患惡疾,於36年11月1日息勞歸主,年僅五十歲。


神父行為世範,作育功弘。他兼顧宣教、教學等煩重任務同時,在修院招募同學幫忙考古,藉師友間同心協力,將長年埋藏地底的華南古物重現人間。神父醉心研究,房間如同古物陳列所,放滿泥頭、磚瓦、土石,甚至床上也放滿古物。同 學中凡有難題請教他的,神父無不欣然接納 , 解釋後,必拿起一些古物來向人講述,長夜無倦,歷久不厭 。