August 9

Bombed Mary, Nagasaki, Kyūshū, Japan

In 1571, the port of Nagasaki was established by Portuguese traders, Jesuit missionaries, and a wealthy convert, Omura Sumitada. Most of its inhabitants were Catholic. But in 1587, Japanese nationalist leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi banned missionaries. For the next three centuries, Nagasaki's Catholic community was repeatedly suppressed and persecuted. After the Japanese government revoked its ban on Christianity in 1873, many exiles returned to Nagasaki and began building a cathedral in the Urakami district under the direction of Father Pierre Fraineau of the Missions Etrangères de Paris. Consecrated in 1914, but not completed until 1925, the handmade brick cathedral was the largest Catholic church in Asia. In 1929, a wooden statue of the Immaculate Conception, carved in Italy after Murillo's painting in the Prado, was placed over the altar. 

On August 9, 1945, the U.S. aircraft Bockscar dropped an atomic bomb that destroyed much of Nagasaki, killing over 70,000 people and leveling the cathedral while priests were hearing confessions. That fall, Trappist monk Kaemon Noguchi, a native of Urakami recently discharged from military service, found the blackened head of Our Lady's statue in the rubble and took it back to his monastery in Hokkaido. In 1975, he returned it to Nagasaki. The Virgin's head was on display at Junshin Women's College, the Urakami Cathedral Hall of the Believers, and the Atomic Bomb Museum before returning to the Cathedral -- rebuilt in 1959 -- where it has resided in its own chapel since 2000. A new chapel in the cathedral was dedicated August 9, 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the bombing.   


bulletThe Madonna of Nagasaki, (picture)
bullet"Urakami Cathedral," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
bulletSr. Luca Maria, Ritsuko Oka, "Virgin Mary in Nagasaki," The Mary Page,
bullet"Nagasaki cathedral chapel enshrines A-bombed statue of the Virgin Mary," The Japan Times Online,

Also commemorated this date:

bulletNotre-Dame de la Motte, Vesoul, Haute-Saône, Franche-Comté, France. Monumental statue blessed, 1857. Procession August 15.
bulletMadonna dell'Ellera, Cortona, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy. First stone of Santa Maria Nuova sanctuary placed, 1550.
bulletMadonna della Lettera, Rome, Italy. Fresco brought to Church of St. Peter in Chains, 1714.
bulletMadonna di Montalto, Messina, Sicily, Italy. French forces repelled by white-veiled lady over city walls, 1282.
bulletNuestra Señora de Guanajuato, Guanajuato Capital, Mexico. Statue arrived, 1557. Fiesta fourth Sunday in November.
bulletVirgen del Castillo, Villa de Vilches, Jaén, Andalucía, Spain. Declared town patron by papal decree, 1784. Fiesta August 14-15.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly