the 8000 Catholic Victims of the Atomic Bomb
pronounced on November 23, 1945,
in front of the destroyed Cathedral of the Assumption,
In Urakami, Nagasaki
August 9, 1945, at 10:30 A.M. a meeting of the Supreme Council
of War was held at the Imperial Headquarters to decide whether
Japan should capitulate or continue to wage war. At that moment
the world was at a crossroads. A decision was being made
that would either bring about a new and lasting peace or throw
the human family into further cruel bloodshed and carnage.
just at that same time, at two minutes past eleven in the morning,
an atomic bomb exploded over our district of Urakami in Nagasaki.
In an instant, eight thousand Christians were called into the
hands of God, while in a few hours the fierce flames reduced
to ashes this sacred territory of the East. At midnight of that
same night the cathedral suddenly burst into flames and was
burned to the ground. And exactly at that time in the Imperial
Palace, His Majesty the Emperor made known his sacred decision
to bring the war to an end.
August 15, the Imperial Rescript which put an end to the fighting
was formally promulgated, and the whole world welcomed a day
of peace. This day was also the great feast of the Assumption
of the Virgin Mary. It is significant to reflect that Urakami
Cathedral was dedicated to her. And we must ask if this convergence
of events—the ending of the war and the celebration of her feast—was
merely coincidental or if there was here some mysterious providence
have heard that the second atomic bomb, calculated to deal a
deadly blow to the war potential of Japan, was originally destined
for another city. But since the sky over that city was covered
with clouds, the American pilots found it impossible to aim
at their target. Consequently, they suddenly changed their plans
and decided to drop the bomb on Nagasaki, the secondary target.
However, yet another hitch occurred. As the bomb fell, cloud
and wind carried it slightly north of the munitions factories
over which it was supposed to explode and it exploded above
is what I have heard. If it is true, the American pilots did
not aim at Urakami. It was the providence of God that carried
the bomb to that destination.
there not a profound relationship between the destruction of
Nagasaki and the end of the war? Nagasaki, the only holy place
in all Japan—was it not chosen as a victim, a pure lamb, to
be slaughtered and burned on the altar of sacrifice to expiate
the sins committed by humanity in the Second World War?
human family has inherited the sin of Adam who ate the fruit
of the forbidden tree; we have inherited the sin of Cain who
killed his younger brother; we have forgotten that we are children
of God; we have believed in idols; we have disobeyed the law
of love. Joyfully we have hated one another; joyfully we have
killed one another. And now at last we have brought this great
and evil war to an end. But in order to restore peace to the
world it was not sufficient to repent. We had to obtain God’s
pardon through the offering of a great sacrifice.
this moment there were many opportunities to end the war. Not
a few cities were totally destroyed. But these were not suitable
sacrifices; nor did God accept them. Only when Nagasaki was
destroyed did God accept the sacrifice. Hearing the cry of the
human family, He inspired the emperor to issue the sacred decree
by which the war was brought to an end.
church of Nagasaki kept the faith during four hundred years
of persecution when religion was proscribed and the blood of
martyrs flowed freely. During the war this same church never
ceased to pray day and night for a lasting peace. Was it not,
then, the one unblemished lamb that had to be offered on the
altar of God? Thanks to the sacrifice of this lamb many millions
who would otherwise have fallen victim to the ravages of war
have been saved.
noble, how splendid was that holocaust of August 9, when flames
soared up from the cathedral, dispelling the darkness of war
and bringing the light of peace! In the very depth of our grief
we reverently saw here something beautiful, something pure,
something sublime. Eight thousand people, together with their
priests, burning with pure smoke, entered into eternal life.
All without exception were good people whom we deeply mourn.
happy are those people who left this world without knowing the
defeat of their country! How happy are the pure lambs who rest
in the bosom of God! Compared with them how miserable is the
fate of us who have survived! Japan is conquered. Urakami is
totally destroyed. A waste of ash and rubble lies before our
eyes. We have no houses, no food, no clothes. Our fields are
devastated. Only a remnant has survived. In the midst of the
ruins we stand in groups of two or three looking blankly at
did we not die with them on that day, at that time, in this
house of God? Why must we alone continue this miserable existence?
is because we are sinners. Ah! Now indeed we are forced to see
the enormity of our sins! It is because I have not made expiation
for my sins that I am left behind. Those are left who were so
deeply rooted in sin that they were not worthy to be offered
Japanese, a vanquished people, must now walk along a path that
is full of pain and suffering. The reparations imposed by the
Potsdam Declaration are a heavy burden. But this painful path
along which we walk carrying our burden, is it not also the
path of hope, which gives to us sinners an opportunity to expiate
are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.” We must walk
this way of expiation faithfully and sincerely. And as we walk
in hunger and thirst, ridiculed, penalized, scourged, pouring
with sweat and covered with blood, let us remember how Jesus
Christ carried His cross to the hill of Calvary. He will give
Lord has given: the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name
of the Lord!”
us give thanks that Nagasaki was chosen for the sacrifice. Let
us give thanks that through this sacrifice peace was given to
the world and freedom of religion to Japan.
the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God,
rest in peace. Amen.
The Bells of Nagasaki by Takashi Nagai, Kodansha International,
people attended Dr. Takashi Nagai's funeral on June 5, 1951