Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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73 years ago Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were dropped. And our priest’s still said mass on the next Sunday in the bombed out Cathedral. The atomic bomb named “Fat Man” dropped from a B-29 into the heavily populated city of Nagasaki. The epicenter of the blast was the Urakami district, the heart and soul of Catholicism in Japan since the sixteenth century.

Another interesting fact is that four Jesuit priests stationed in Hiroshima at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, which was only blocks from the epicenter of the Hiroshima explosion, were spared when virtually everyone around them was killed. The miraculous nature of their preservation was widely explained as due to their solid devotion to the Blessed Mother, manifest by faithfulness to praying the Rosary.

During the dark days of 1945, when the people worried of being firebombed, school girls had been taught by the principal nun to sing, “Mary, my Mother, I offer myself to you.” Remarkably, after the bombing, though many of the Junshin girls were instantly killed, Nagai heard several reports of different groups of Junshin girls who had been working in factories, fields and other places, singing, “Mary, my Mother, I offer myself to you.” Many would be dead within days, but they were heard singing. Nagai now knew what he must say to the people:

“At midnight that night, our cathedral suddenly burst into flames and was consumed. At exactly the same time in the Imperial Palace, His Majesty the Emperor made known his sacred decision to end the war. On August 15, the Imperial Rescript, which put an end to the fighting, was formally promulgated, and the whole world saw the light of peace. August 15 is also the great feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is significant, I believe, that the Urakami cathedral was dedicated to her. We must ask: was this convergence of events, the end of the war and the celebration of her feast day, merely coincidental, or was it the mysterious Providence of God?

The difference between the two cities of people is still noticeable today at the annual A-bomb anniversaries in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One of the regular participants in 1985 expressed the difference in this way: “Hiroshima is bitter, noisy, highly political, leftist and anti-American. Its symbol would be a fist clenched in anger. Nagasaki, the Catholic influenced region, is sad, quiet, reflective, nonpolitical and prayerful. It does not blame the United States but rather laments the sinfulness of war, especially of nuclear war. Its symbol: hands joined in peace.”

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