Priests who Survived the Atomic Bombs.

On Friday 6th August 1945 an Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima

In the midst of the carnage lived a small community of Jesuit Priests. Their presbytery was less than a mile from the detonation point and within the area of total devastation.

Fr Hubert Schiffer, a German Jesuit, was one of those who survived Aged 30 at the time of the explosion he lived in good health to the age of sixty-three. In later years he travelled to speak of his experience when all eight of the Jesuits of the Community were still alive. This is his testimony:-

On August 6 1945, after saying Mass, I had just sat down to breakfast when there was a bright flash of light. Since Hiroshima had military facilities, I assumed there must have been some sort of explosion at the harbour, but almost immediately a terrific explosion filled the air with one bursting thunderstruck. An invisible force lifted me from the chair, hurled me through the air, shook me, battered me and whirled me round and round. I raised myself from the ground and looked around, but could see nothing in any direction. Everything had been devastated. I had a few quite minor injuries, but nothing serious

Indeed later examinations at the hands of American army doctors and scientists showed that neither he nor his companions had suffered ill-effects from radiation damage or the bomb. Along with his fellow Jesuits, Fr Schiffer believed “that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home.”

After this first bombing, the Japanese government refused to surrender unconditionally, and so a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki three days later. Nagasaki had actually been the secondary target, but cloud cover over the primary target, Kokura, saved it from obliteration on the day.

By a strange parallel to what happened at Hiroshima, the Franciscan Friary established by St. Maximilian Kolbe in Nagasaki before the war was likewise unaffected by the bomb which  fell there on the 9th August.

Father Schiffer put his survival down to praying the Rosary and St Maximilian Kolbe was active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. It is certain that Our Lady had them under her care. We cannot adequately express Our Lady’s love for us and the power of her Holy Rosary.