Saturday, March 28, 2015

The irradiated Virgin of Nagasaki

Une Minute avec Marie

The irradiated Virgin of Nagasaki

When the American atomic bomb "Fat Boy" destroyed Nagasaki 65 years ago, one of the destroyed buildings was the Urakami Cathedral, one of the largest churches in Asia.

The blast that devastated that city on August 9, 1945, leaving more than 70,000 dead, smashed the windows and walls of the cathedral, burned its altar and melted its bell, but in a strange turn of events that Japanese Catholics consider to be a miracle, the head of a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary survived the inferno!

The image has kept the scars of war—its eyes are burnt, leaving two black orbits, the right cheek is blackened and a crack runs the length of the face like a tear. "When I first saw her, I thought that the Virgin was crying," said Shigemi Fukahori, a 79 year-old parishioner who had seen the statue before the explosion. "It was as if she were warning us against the horrors of war by sacrificing herself," he added.

The mutilated statue is now on display in the new church rebuilt on the same location, only 500 meters from the hypocenter where the plutonium bomb exploded.

Published by the French newspaper La Dépêche du Midi of August 9, 2010.