The Catholic Holocaust of Nagasaki

I don’t remember where I saw the link to this beautiful article; but I just had to share it.

It’s the story of a Japanese Catholic doctor, Takashi Nagai, who survived the bombing of Nagasaki and was miraculously cured from a lethal dose of radiation through the intercession of St Maximilan Kolbe, who he had previously met. (Amazingly the news of Kolbe’s death hadn’t yet reached Japan—there was a war on after all—but Nagai felt prompted to pray for his intercession nonetheless.)

Nagai’s story was very moving; but what really floored me was his insight about the Catholics who died in the bombing:

Asked by the bishop to speak at the funeral Mass for the victims held in the courtyard of the bombed cathedral, Nagai prayed for guidance on something meaningful to say. Then he remembered two strange stories, one by a nurse and some others in his radiology department telling of some women singing Latin hymns on the midnight after the blast. The next day they found the twenty-seven nuns from the nearby Josei Convent. The convent was demolished and all were dead, horribly burned to death; and yet they died singing! The other incident concerned girls from Junshin, a school where his wife Midori had taught, run by nuns that he knew well. During the dark days of 1945, when the people worried of being firebombed, the 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.11 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?

  “It was not the American crew, I believe, who chose our suburb. God’s Providence chose Urakami and carried the bomb right above our homes. Is there not a profound relationship between the annihilation of Nagasaki and the end of the war? Was not Nagasaki the chosen victim, the lamb without blemish, slain as a whole burnt offering on the altar of sacrifice, atoning for the sins of all the nations during World War II?”

Read the whole article here: The Catholic Holocaust of Nagasaki “Why, Lord?” .

I’m definitely putting Nagai’s biography, A Song for Nagasaki: The Story of Takashi Nagai: Scientist, Convert, and Survivor of the Atomic Bomb by Fr. Paul Glynn on my wishlist.

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