Jan 18, 2023 1639 Shalom Tidings

Amazing Story of Hiroshima Survivors

On August 6, 1945 during World War II, an atomic bomb was dropped on the town of Hiroshima, Japan. 140,000 people were killed or injured. In the midst of the devastation, near the hypocenter of the attack, eight Jesuit missionaries who were in their rectory survived.

None suffered hearing loss from the explosion. Their church, Our Lady of the Assumption, suffered the destruction of its stained glass windows but did not fall; it was one of only a few buildings left standing in the midst of widespread destruction.

Not only were the clerics kept safe from the initial blast — they suffered no ill effects from the harmful radiation. Doctors who cared for them after the blast warned that radiation poisoning to which they had been exposed would cause serious lesions, illness and even death. But 200 medical exams in the ensuing years showed no ill effects, confounding the doctors who had predicted dire consequences.

Father Schiffer, who was only 30 years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, told his story 31 years later, at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976. At the time, all eight members of the Jesuit community who had lived through the bombing were still alive. Before the gathered faithful, he reminisced about celebrating Mass in the early morning, then sitting down in the rectory kitchen for breakfast. He had just sliced and dug his spoon into a grapefruit when there was a bright flash of light. At first, he thought it might be an explosion in the nearby harbour. Then he described the experience:

“Suddenly, a terrific explosion filled the air with one bursting thunder stroke. An invisible force lifted me from the chair, hurled me through the air, shook me, battered me, whirled me round and round like a leaf in a gust of autumn wind.”

Next thing he remembered was that he opened his eyes and found himself on the ground. He looked around, and saw there was nothing left in any direction: the railroad station and buildings in all directions were gone.

Not only did they all survive with (at most) relatively minor injuries, but they all lived well past that awful day with no radiation sickness, no loss of hearing, or any other visible long term defects or maladies. Asked why they believe they were spared, when so many others died either from the explosion or from the subsequent radiation, Father Schiffer spoke for himself and for his companions:

“We believe that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the Rosary daily in that home.”








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