The Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki was completed in 1925. The altar piece contained a wooden statue of Mary. When the atomic bomb was dropped, August 9, 1945, everything was destroyed. Distraught, a Trappist monk returned to the ruins to pray. After praying, he looked down and saw the remaining image of Mary looking up at him from the ruins, the only part of the statue that survived. He picked up the image and took it back to his monastery and kept it in his room with him.
Years later, when he heard of a search for artifacts from the bombing, he returned the image in 1975, the 30th anniversary of the bombing. It was stored in a museum until the cathedral was rebuilt and then returned to the church, where it now rests in a specially dedicated side chapel.
I am quite moved by this image. It seems that Mary as Mother is clearly telling us that she is with her suffering children. She hears and answers our needs, especially those who suffered so much that day and in the years following. Is it any wonder that in all the Marian messages over the past 100+ years she has begged for prayers to avert war, to end war, to make reparation for all the pain and suffering caused by war? Mary clearly calls us, her children, to work and pray for peace.
I offered a rosary in this chapel before this image this morning as we prepare to depart Nagasaki. I offered prayers of thanksgiving for the intercession of Our Mother during this Pilgrimage of Peace. I offered Prayers for those suffering from the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and all those suffering from wars today. I offered prayers in thanksgiving for all who labor on behalf of peace. Through the intercession of Mary, may the Lord bless those efforts and help us build a better world for the one human family, the one family of God.11