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True Account of Survival of Jesuits in Hiroshima

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The Jesuits who survived the Bomb

The priests who survived the atomic bomb

The remarkable survival of the Jesuit Fathers in Hiroshima has echoes in the Bible and in the story of Fatima

By Donal Anthony Foley on Thursday, 5 August 2010

This Friday, August 6, will see the Feast of the Transfiguration celebrated in the Church. It commemorates the occasion when Christ, accompanied by Peter, James, and John, went up a high mountain – traditionally identified with Mount Tabor in Galilee – and was there “transfigured” before them, so that “his face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as light” (Mt 17:2).

The Greek word for transfiguration is metemorphothe, from which we get the word “metamorphosis”. So the Transfiguration was a complete and stunning change in the appearance of Jesus, as his divinity shone through his humanity, in a way which completely overwhelmed the awestricken disciples. Its purpose was to prepare them for the reality of the crucifixion, so that having once seen – in some sense – his divinity, they would be strengthened in their faith.

August 6 is also an important date in world history: the fateful day on which the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan. On that day, a Monday, at 8.15 in the morning, an American B-29 bomber, Enola Gay, dropped its bomb “Little Boy”, which fell to a predetermined detonation height of about 1,900 feet above the city. It exploded with a blinding flash, creating a giant fireball, which vaporised practically everything and everyone within a radius of about a mile of the point of impact. It is estimated that up to 80,000 people were directly killed by the blast, and by the end of the year, that figure had climbed considerably higher, due to injuries and the effects of radiation. Over two thirds of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed.

But in the midst of this terrible carnage, something quite remarkable happened: there was a small community of Jesuit Fathers living in a presbytery near the parish church, which was situated less than a mile away from detonation point, well within the radius of total devastation. And all eight members of this community escaped virtually unscathed from the effects of the bomb. Their presbytery remained standing, while the buildings all around, virtually as far as the eye could see, were flattened.

Fr Hubert Schiffer, a German Jesuit, was one of these survivors, aged 30 at the time of the explosion, and who lived to the age of 63 in good health. In later years he travelled to speak of his experience, and this is his testimony as recorded in 1976, when all eight of the Jesuits were still alive. On August 6 1945, after saying Mass, he had just sat down to breakfast when there was a bright flash of light.

Since Hiroshima had military facilities, he assumed there must have been some sort of explosion at the harbour, but almost immediately he recounted: “A terrific explosion filled the air with one bursting thunderstroke. An invisible force lifted me from the chair, hurled me through the air, shook me, battered me [and] whirled me round and round…” He raised himself from the ground and looked around, but could see nothing in any direction. Everything had been devastated.

He had a few quite minor injuries, but nothing serious, and 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.”

There is actually a biblical precedent for what happened to the eight Jesuits, in the book of Daniel. In Chapter 3, we read of the three young men who were thrown into the fiery furnace at the orders of Nebuchadnezzar, but who survived their ordeal and even walked around in the midst of the flames, accompanied by an angel who looked like “a son of the gods”.

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 on August 9. Nagasaki had actually been the secondary target, but cloud cover over the primary target, Kokura, saved it from obliteration on the day. The supreme irony is that Nagasaki was the city where two-thirds of the Catholics in Japan were concentrated, and so after centuries of persecution they suffered this terrible blow right at the end of the war.

But in 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. St Maximilian, who was well-known for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin, had decided to go against the advice he had been given to build his friary in a certain location. When the bomb was dropped, the friary was protected from the force of the bomb by an intervening mountain. So both at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we can see Mary’s protective hand at work.

The apparitions at Fatima in Portugal took place in 1917, when from May to October three young children, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, saw the Blessed Virgin six times, culminating in the “miracle of the sun” on October 13, when 70,000 people saw the sun spin in the sky and change colour successively, before falling to the earth in a terrifying manner. Many of those present thought it was the end of the world, but the sun reassumed its place in the sky to great cries of relief.

The essence of the Fatima message concerns conversion from sin and a return to God, and involves reparation for one’s own sins and the sins of others, as well as the offering up of one’s daily sufferings and trials. There was also a focus on prayer and the Eucharist at Fatima, and particularly the rosary, as well as the Five First Saturdays devotion, which involves Confession, Holy Communion, the rosary and meditation, for five consecutive months with the intention of making reparation to Our Lady (for more details visit

It’s interesting to reflect, then, on the theme of “transfiguration” which links these various events. Christ’s face shone like the sun on Mount Tabor, and at Fatima, Our Lady worked the great miracle of the sun to convince the huge crowd which had gathered there that the message she was giving to mankind was authentic. Consider, too, that the poor people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered as man-made “suns” exploded in their midst causing horrific devastation. But at Hiroshima the eight Jesuits, who were living the message of Fatima, and particularly the daily rosary, were somehow “transfigured,” protected by God’s divine power, from the terrible effects of the bomb.

Surely there is a message here for all of us, that living the message of Fatima, in a world which grows ever more dangerous, and which is still threatened by nuclear war, is as profound a necessity for us as it was for Fr Schiffer and his companions
Posted by Social Studies Singapore at 6:58 PM

How Fables Become "Facts"

Photo courtesy of Hiroshima institute for Peace Education

A while back, I visited a webpage called WORLD ENSLAVEMENT OR PEACE: It's Up to the Pope With a title like that, one has to wonder about the folks who set up and maintain the place. It turns out that this is a Catholic site and the title article was written by “Father Nicholas Gruner and other Fatima experts."

Given that the article was put together by a group of “Fatima experts,” it seems logical to expect that the product of their expertise will be factual and accurate – well, at least as much as a fable can be. Should any reader visit the site, he will discover that the claims, prophecies and threats mentioned have been challenged by Catholics and former Catholics. Reading Gruner's responses is enlightening and entertaining.

I came upon the site while researching the August 6, 1945 bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which was the first-ever use of a nuclear weapon in war. The site deals with the fanciful apparitions of Catholicism's principal deity, the Blessed Virgin Mary, at Fatima. The apocalyptic article, written in 1988, opens with dire warnings of terrible things that will happen unless people stop ignoring the message of Fatima. A short list of the causes of millions of violent deaths precedes prophecies of what will occur should Russian Communism spread across the globe. But there is a way to change what is to come, and that is by obeying “our Lady of Fatima.” And then follows a lengthy list of rules and procedures for this obedience.

“What is the point in doing all that Our Lady of Fatima asks if everyone else isn't doing it?” one might ask. “I mean if the terrible prophecies are going to happen anyway, why should I make the effort?”

Not to worry. Catholicism is, after all, a religion of compromises, adjustments and conveniences. It should be expected that Rome's supreme deity would look after her faithful followers.

For those who are concerned that the Collegial Act of Consecration will not take place in time, and nuclear war will occur, we wish to assure them that for those who have consecrated themselves to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart and have lived the Message of Fatima, Our Lady will protect them even though other people around them have not done their part to fulfill Our Lady's requests to bring peace to the world. This was strikingly demonstrated when the atomic blast struck Hiroshima in August 1945.

The power of the Fatima Message was underscored for the whole world during the atomic explosion at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. A German Jesuit and seven of his colleagues were living only eight blocks from the blinding center of the nuclear flash, yet all escaped while flaming death screamed all around them. To this day, all eight occupants of that building are alive and well while others living some distance away continue to die from the radiation effects of that frightful holocaust. Over the years some two hundred scientists have examined these eight survivors, trying to discover what could have spared them from incineration or the lethal storm of radiation. Speaking on TV in the United States, the German Jesuit, Father Hubert Shiffner, gave the startling answer. 'In that house the Rosary was prayed every day. In that house, we were living the Message of Fatima.' His words seemed to underline Sister Lucia's statement in 1977: Our Lady will protect all Her dear ones'. -- Nicholas Gruner and other Fatima experts, Op. cit.

Wow! Eight Jesuits living just eight blocks from the hypocenter of the nuclear blast at Hiroshima were spared from fiery destruction by their custom of praying the rosary every day. Rather makes one want to rush right out and buy a set of rosary beads, doesn't it? Not Really. I just had to find out more about this phenomenon.

One of the first stops on my virtual journey of exploration was a site operated by the Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate, where I came upon a brief Newsletter article which informs that:

…the bomb exploded eight city blocks from the Jesuit Church of Our Lady's Assumption in Hiroshima. Half a million people were annihilated. However, the church and four Jesuit fathers stationed there survived: Fathers Hugo Lassalle, Kleinsorge, Cieslik and Schiffer. - Fr. Paul Ruge, Fr. Schiffer of Hiroshima, © These Last Days Ministries, Inc. 1996 - 2006

“Half a million people were annihilated…” If what Ruge wrote is true, that would be another miracle. Why? Because, on August 6, 1945, when the bomb detonated 1800 feet above the center of Hiroshima, there were a lot less than half a million folks living there.

The population of Hiroshima had reached a peak of over 380,000 earlier in the war but prior to the atomic bombing the population had steadily decreased because of a systematic evacuation ordered by the Japanese government. At the time of the attack the population was approximately 255,000. This figure is based on the registered population, used by the Japanese in computing ration quantities, and the estimates of additional workers and troops who were brought into the city may not be highly accurate. – The Manhattan Engineer District, The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, June 29, 1946

The folks at Hiroshima's A-Bomb WWW Museum provide a figure for the total number of people who died due the nuclear event from the moment of the detonation until the end of the year. That figure is just 28% of Father Ruge's fantasy number. Surely this priest was not embellishing the facts.

It is believed that more than 140,000 people died by the end of the year. They were citizens including students, soldiers and Koreans who worked in factories within the city. The total number of people who have died due to the bomb is estimated to be 200,000. -- Mitsuru Ohba and John Benson, Welcome to A-Bomb WWW Museum, (c) 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 by A-Bomb WWW Project

Did you notice the discrepancy between the number of survivors named in Ruge's article (4) and the number provided in Gruner's account (8)? Maybe the difference is due to a typographical error in one of the articles. No doubt the confusion will be cleared up by visiting a few other sites.

When the atom bomb destroyed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, it somehow spared a building only eight blocks away from ground zero. In it were living eight Jesuits who were unharmed by the blast, heat, and radiation. – Author not identified, Jesuit Priests Survive Atomic Bomb from Ground-Zero,

In 1945 when the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a small community of eight Jesuit Fathers, only eight blocks from ground zero remained unharmed (the people and the building itself) while everyone else in a radius of 1.5 Km from the centre was killed. - Dr. Stephen A. Rinehart & Dr. Richard F. Hubbell, Rosary Miracle - Safe in the Midst of Hiroshima Nuclear Blast !! (C) Feb 2000 [Hint: Look in the text box at the top of the page]

An extraordinary thing happened at Hiroshima. A small community of Jesuit Fathers lived in a church house near the parish church, situated only eight blocks from the center of the bomb blast.

This notwithstanding, when Hiroshima was destroyed by the atomic bomb, all eight members of the small Jesuit community escaped unscathed, while every other person who was within a radius of roughly one and a half kilometers from the center of the explosion died. The church house where the Jesuits lived was still standing, while the nearby church was completely destroyed. -- Mike Coppi, Power of the Rosary,

Well, there you have it. Three different Catholic sources agree (regurgitate?) that there were eight Jesuit priests at a church just eight blocks from the hypocenter of the explosion survived the blast, unharmed or only slightly injured, while everyone else within 1.5 km of the hypocenter were killed. Given that these surviving priests are at the very heart of what is claimed as a great Marian miracle, I should think the number actually spared must be significant.

One of the most amazing miracles in history occurred at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, in Hiroshima, Japan. At that time the Americans dropped the first atomic bomb, and it landed just eight city blocks from the Jesuit church of Our Lady of the Assumption. A half million people were killed instantly when the bomb hit, and homes and buildings for miles around were instantly leveled. Yet the Jesuit church and rectory as well as the four Jesuit priests inside it were undamaged and unhurt. Why? Because the priests prayed the Rosary daily. – OPUS SANCTORUM ANGELORUM, The Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary
O, dear! Yet another Marian site informs that 500,000 were killed when the Hiroshima bomb detonated, though FOUR Jesuit priests, as well as their church and rectory, were “undamaged and unhurt,” or the church was destroyed and the adjoining building (rectory?) survived. Seems the goddess who protected the Jesuits also spared the at least one of the parish buildings.

I wanted to learn more about these alleged miracles, so I wrote to several folks who had mentioned the claims on their web sites. Of the few who responded, none had any first-hand information; they had merely parroted what they had read at some other web site. One priest did suggest that, since those involved were Jesuits, and one of the survivors eventually became the Superior General of the order, I might obtain authenticated information from Jesuit sources. Accordingly, I wrote to two Jesuit provinces here in the USA (New Orleans and California); neither responded. I also wrote to the Bishop of Hiroshima, who did not respond and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, which did respond.

In my email to the Hiroshima people, I inquired about the Jesuit church and rectory located about eight blocks from the hypocenter of the bomb detonation and the people who had been in it. I added that I was curious, after looking at dozens of U.S. Army photographs taken at ground level, as to how the church and neighboring house had been able to survive the bomb without any damage at all. Following is their reply:

Dear Mr. Loeffler:

Thank you for your mail. We suppose the church you inquired may be the Methodist church of Hiroshima. The church was exposed by the atomic bombing at 900 meters from the hypocenter. And then the church received severe damage; the roof was destroyed and fired, only reinforced concrete walls remained. If you want to know more detailed information, please refer the book: “HIROSHIMA,” written by John Hersey (Alfred P. Knopf, New York, 1985). Hersey, an American journalist, was sent to Japan as a special correspondent in May, 1946. His report became the first English documentary on the atomic bombing. There was the pastor of the church, Kiyoshi Tanimoto's testimony in the report.

With best regards,

Shiobu Kikuraku (Ms.) Information Division Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum\1-2 nakajima-cho, Naka-ku Hiroshima 730-0811, JAPAN

However many Jesuits were involved, and whatever buildings were spared/destroyed, every article I came upon was quite clear as to why they were spared:

Some 200 scientists have examined the priests, trying to determine why they were unhurt. Speaking on American TV, the German Jesuit Father Hubert Shiffner gave the startling answer:

"In that house, the Rosary was prayed every day. In that house we were living the Message of Fatima," he said. – Author not identified, Op. cit.

If the allegations concerning the Jesuits and the church and/or rectory at Nobori-cho (in 1945, that was the location of the Jesuit Church of the Assumption of Our Lady) are true, that certainly would be a powerful argument for accepting Marianist claims about Fatima. Let's find out just how credible they are.

Father Schiffer, a German-born Jesuit missionary, earlier had said Mass, and now was in the rectory of the Church of Our Lady. He had recently been ordained a Catholic priest and had been sent to this quiet town because of the bombings in other cities nearby. His companions rushed down from upstairs to find him on the floor dazed and bleeding…These eight men were living only eight blocks from the blast center of the nuclear explosion! Fifty years later, scientists, doctors, and researchers are still lost for words as to why they and their rectory survived the blast with no side effects. They have been examined by over two-hundred scientists. Yet others, further from the blast, are still dying and suffering from its effects. -- Kathryn King, Living The Message,

Dr. King reports that the priest, Hubert Schiffer, was found on the floor, dazed and bleeding. That certainly suggests something other than that the priests, however many, were unharmed by the nuclear detonation. In the same article, she claims that the priests and their rectory “survived the blast with no side effects.” Am I the only person who sees the inconsistency in this claim? Let's look around a bit more. In the "documentary" book recommended by my Hiroshima correspondent, we learn that one of the priests who actually was in Hiroshima when the bomb detonated was afflicted with severe radiation sickness, appart from other injuries.

Immediately before the bomb was dropped, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge went out onto the deck of his missionary home in his underwear and began to read a magazine. A few minutes later, the bomb was dropped, and his life was changed forever...After the bomb was dropped, he offered help to any who needed it, when he was strong enough to move… Once he was given some penicillin for his numerous ailments, but promptly gave that away also…Once, when giving a sermon, Father Kleinsorge fainted, and was thereby bedridden for three months...Father Kleinsorge loved Japan and its people. After the bomb, {he became a Japanese citizen}…A little while after he became a Japanese citizen, he became very ill, and went into the Red Cross Hospital for a year, where he was diagnosed with radiation sickness. When he was released, he took up resident in Mukaihara…One day he found he could not move and lived the rest of his life as a vegetable, with Yoshiki-san {his housekeeper} changing his diapers and bathing him. He died November 17, 1977, 32 years after the bomb dropped at the age of 70. -- Dorothy Van Duyne, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, A Character Sketch from the Novel Hiroshima

Writer John R. Hersey, well-known for his historical novels, wrote the book Van Duyne based her sketch on. Hiroshima is a collection of segments dealing with the lives of six people who were in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Van Duyne mentions that Father Kleinsorge was on the deck of his “missionary home” (the rectory of the Jesuit Church of the Assumption of Our Lady), in his underwear, when the bomb went off. This suggests that Kleinsorge was out in the open, with nothing between him and the bomb. Compare this image with Hersey's words:

When the atomic bomb was detonated, Father Kleinsorge was fortunate to be in a protected location -- John R. Hersey, Hiroshima, © 1985 reprint, Vintage Press, p. 100 (Note: Hiroshima appeared in full in the August 31, 1946 issue of New Yorker magazine.:

The priest may have been in his underwear when the bomb detonated, but apparently he was sheltered.

The Daughters of St. Paul, in Japan, maintain on which they introduced the World Peace Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Hiroshima. The Cathedral story is now a dead link, but a few years ago I read the following there:

A Jesuit missionary, the Reverend Hugo Lassalle, was pastor of the parish at Nobori-cho located less than 1500 meters from the hypocenter of the bomb. Although wounded critically, he survived. As he turned to the task of rebuilding his church he thought of it as a monument to world peace thrusting its tower to heaven from the charred heart of Hiroshima. It would be a cathedral dedicated to the memory of the atomic bomb victims, a symbol of love and peace for all nations. – Author not named, Amor—What's Happening Today,

According to this Japanese source, the Jesuit Hugo Lassalle was “wounded critically,” which certainly does not agree with Dr. King's version. Not to worry, there is support for part of Dr. King's claims at another site:

Less than one kilometer from ground zero (point of impact) was a two story home attached to a church. The home remained intact. The church remained except for the roof which was blown away. Inside the home were eight Jesuit priests. Except for a few minor cuts and bruises these eight priests were not harmed. -- Tom Smikoski (adapted from an article by Richard Hubbell), Miracle of Hiroshima,

Smikoski informs that there were eight Jesuits in the building and that they suffered only minor cuts and bruises. The rectory “remained intact.” He writes that the church survived also, though the roof was blown away.

Richard Hubbell, another Catholic writer, writes that there were eight Jesuits at the rectory, and bemoans the fact that only four have been identified. He makes his point in a note (Shown here in red) appended to a comment made by Father Ruge:


At 2:45 a.m. on August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber took off from the island of Tinian to drop the first atomic bomb on Japan. At 8:15 a.m. the bomb exploded eight city blocks from the Jesuit Church of Our Lady's Assumption in Hiroshima. Half a million people were annihilated. However, the church and four Jesuit fathers stationed there survived: Fathers Hugo Lassalle, Kleinsorge, Cieslik and Schiffer. (RH note - all other accounts state clearly that there were eight Jesuits stationed in this home not four - and it is well known that all eight survived - the author of this present article apparently only had the names of four of them, for instance Fr. Arrupe is left out of the list - and at this writing, I have not been able to find the names of the other three Jesuits. end of note.) According to the experts they "ought to be dead," being within a one-mile radius of the explosion. Nine days later on August 15, Feast of Our Lady's Assumption, U.S. forces were ordered to cease fire. – Richard Hubbell, Rosary Miracle at Hiroshima - August 6th, 1945 (Emphasis not in original)

NOTE: The untruths in Hubbell's words are self-evident. I believe it necessary to call attention to an innuendo at the close of his squib. Look at his words again: Nine days later on August 15, Feast of Our Lady's Assumption, U.S. forces were ordered to cease fire.. From these words, one might be led to believe that the end of World War II fighting on the date of the "Feast of Our Lady's Assumption" was something more than mere coincidence. There is also an obscure inference that "our Lady" had something to do with cease-fire order sent to our troops. The facts suggest something different. Three days after the Hiroshima blast, Nagasaki became the second Japanese city to be destroyed by nuclear detonation. On August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito went on the radio to inform his people of Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies: Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and the United States. The Empire of Japan had surrendered. There was no need for our troops to continue fighting. Catholic Mary had nothing to do with our troops being ordered to cease fire. On September 2, 1945, the formal articles of surrender were signed aboard the Battleship Missouri.

A new claim: Father Pedro Arrupe, who one day would become the Jesuit Superior General, was one of the “Mystery Four” unnamed Jesuits who were with Schiffer, Kleisorge, Lasalle and Cieslik when the bomb went off. It is interesting that Hubbell should place Arrupe at the Jesuit church/rectory when the bomb went off. It is fact that Arrupe was stationed in Hiroshima, but as Master of Novitiates at the Seminary, which was located about six kilometers from the hypocenter of the detonation.

This is an excerpt from A Priest Forever by Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Father Arrupe was Superior General of the Society from May 22, 1965, until August 7, 1981. Before that, and during the time of World War II, Father was Rector of the Novitiate and Director of Novices in Japan, and was in Hiroshima during the explosion of the first atomic bomb on that city on August 6, 1945…

The atomic bomb had exploded at 8:10 AM on August 6, destroying the whole of Hiroshima, reducing it to ashes and killing at one blow 80,000 people. Our Jesuit house, even though it was badly damaged, was one of the few that remained standing. There were no windows left; all had been torn away by the violent wind caused by the explosion. We turned our house into a hospital and assembled about 200 people who were injured, in order to nurse and care for them… -- (c) New York Province, Society of Jesus[Another now dead link)

Father Arrupe was at Hiroshima when the bomb went off, at the seminary in the hills outside the city. He and his fellow Jesuits turned their seminary into a makeshift hospital where they cared for a great number of those injured by the blast and its sequelae. If the bomb had killed everyone in Hiroshima, as other writers have claimed, who were the people the Jesuits cared for and where did they come from? Also, please note that Father Arrupe, who was an eye-witness to the destruction, reports that the blast killed 80,000, not half a million as did some others. For those who may be confusing the house Arrupe mentions with the rectory at the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, be assured these are two different buildings, as will be made quite clear below.

Let's see what we have learned so far:

* The 4 or 8 Jesuit priests in the church or rectory were unharmed or suffered a few minor cuts and bruises or, some at least, were more seriously injured – at least one critically

* The church and rectory were undamaged or the church was destroyed and the rectory unharmed or the church was damaged but the rectory was not damaged.

* According to Gruner and his Fatima experts, all eight of the Jesuit priests were alive when they wrote their article, Op. cit., in 1988. However, other articles inform that Schiffer died 33 years after the detonation (1978), Kleinsorge died in 1977, Lassalle did not die until 1990. I was unable to learn when the fourth named priest died.

So far, the events at Hiroshima involving Jesuits and their church/rectory indeed do seem to be miraculous: It's a miracle that anyone can believe this stuff.

What follows is an excerpt from the eyewitness report of Jesuit priest John A. Seimes, who was in the Jesuit Seminary on the outskirts of Hiroshima when the bomb went off. It is a bit long, but makes for fascinating reading. Seimes' account should clear up the confusion concerning the names and number of Jesuits in town at the church/rectory and the damage done to both the church and the rectory:

Soon comes news that the entire city has been destroyed by the explosion and that it is on fire. What became of Father Superior and the three other Fathers who were at the center of the city at the Central Mission and Parish House? We had up to this time not given them a thought because we did not believe that the effects of the bomb encompassed the entire city. Also, we did not want to go into town except under pressure of dire necessity, because we thought that the population was greatly perturbed and that it might take revenge on any foreigners which they might consider spiteful onlookers of their misfortune, or even spies.

At about four o'clock in the afternoon, a theology student and two kindergarten children, who lived at the Parish House and adjoining buildings which had burned down, came in and said that Father Superior LaSalle and Father Schiffer had been seriously injured and that they had taken refuge in Asano Park on the river bank. It is obvious that we must bring them in since they are too weak to come here on foot.

At the far corner of the park, on the river bank itself, we at last come upon our colleagues. Father Schiffer is on the ground pale as a ghost. He has a deep incised wound behind the ear and has lost so much blood that we are concerned about his chances for survival. The Father Superior has suffered a deep wound of the lower leg. Father Cieslik and Father Kleinsorge have minor injuries but are completely exhausted.

While they are eating the food that we have brought along, they tell us of their experiences. They were in their rooms at the Parish House--it was a quarter after eight, exactly the time when we had heard the explosion in Nagatsuke--when came the intense light and immediately thereafter the sound of breaking windows, walls and furniture. They were showered with glass splinters and fragments of wreckage. Father Schiffer was buried beneath a portion of a wall and suffered a severe head injury. The Father Superior received most of the splinters in his back and lower extremity from which he bled copiously. Everything was thrown about in the rooms themselves, but the wooden framework of the house remained intact. The solidity of the structure which was the work of Brother Gropper again shone forth.

They had the same impression that we had in Nagatsuke: that the bomb had burst in their immediate vicinity. The Church, school, and all buildings in the immediate vicinity collapsed at once. Beneath the ruins of the school, the children cried for help. They were freed with great effort. Several others were also rescued from the ruins of nearby dwellings. Even the Father Superior and Father Schiffer despite their wounds, rendered aid to others and lost a great deal of blood in the process.

In the meantime, fires which had begun some distance away are raging even closer, so that it becomes obvious that everything would soon burn down. Several objects are rescued from the Parish House and were buried in a clearing in front of the Church, but certain valuables and necessities which had been kept ready in case of fire could not be found on account of the confusion which had been wrought. It is high time to flee, since the oncoming flames leave almost no way open. Fukai, the secretary of the Mission, is completely out of his mind. He does not want to leave the house and explains that he does not want to survive the destruction of his fatherland. He is completely uninjured. Father Kleinsorge drags him out of the house on his back and he is forcefully carried away.

We must proceed to our goal in the park and are forced to leave the wounded to their fate. We make our way to the place where our church stood to dig up those few belongings that we had buried yesterday. We find them intact. Everything else has been completely burned. In the ruins, we find a few molten remnants of holy vessels.

The magnitude of the disaster that befell Hiroshima on August 6th was only slowly pieced together in my mind. I lived through the catastrophe and saw it only in flashes, which only gradually were merged to give me a total picture. What actually happened simultaneously in the city as a whole is as follows: As a result of the explosion of the bomb at 8:15, almost the entire city was destroyed at a single blow. Only small outlying districts in the southern and eastern parts of the town escaped complete destruction. The bomb exploded over the center of the city. As a result of the blast, the small Japanese houses in a diameter of five kilometers, which compressed 99% of the city, collapsed or were blown up. Those who were in the houses were buried in the ruins.

Only several cases are known to me personally where individuals who did not have external burns later died. Father Kleinsorge and Father Cieslik, who were near the center of the explosion, but who did not suffer burns became quite weak some fourteen days after the explosion. Up to this time small incised wounds had healed normally, but thereafter the wounds which were still unhealed became worse and are to date (in September) still incompletely healed. The attending physician diagnosed it as leucopania. There thus seems to be some truth in the statement that the radiation had some effect on the blood. I am of the opinion, however, that their generally undernourished and weakened condition was partly responsible for these findings. It was noised about that the ruins of the city emitted deadly rays and that workers who went there to aid in the clearing died, and that the central district would be uninhabitable for some time to come. I have my doubts as to whether such talk is true and myself and others who worked in the ruined area for some hours shortly after the explosion suffered no such ill effects. -- From APPENDIX: Father John Siemes' eyewitness account, THE ATOMIC BOMBINGS OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI, by The Manhattan Engineer District, June 29, 1946. Project Gutenberg

I believe that what Seimes said above is an accurate description of actual conditions and events in Hiroshima, particularly as concerns the Jesuit church and rectory of the church of the Assumption of Our Lady and the priests present, during and shortly after the bomb detonated. As presented, it is a fascinating account of events and of the heroic humanitarianism of the Jesuit priests and novitiates. Sadly, the plain truth often is not considered sufficiently interesting for some folks. Some people choose to embellish factual accounts of historical events by adding enhancements to make them more impressive, or to provide support for some pet idea or personal agenda. In the case of the Jesuit church and priests at Hiroshima, truth has been sacrificed to enhance the claims and authority of the Catholic goddess known as Our Lady of Fatima. And that is how fables become facts.


Mary is not a goddess. She is the Mother of God. Just this one statement in this article makes it untrustworthy.
Mary is not a goddess. She is the Mother of God. Just this one statement in this article makes it untrustworthy.

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