Fat Man

Around this time of year the sky is an acute focus for Catholics, particularly those in Japan. The Feast of the Assumption, when Mary was lifted up to heaven, is August 15th. On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies. A few days earlier an atomic bomb named "Fat Man" came down from the heavens, obliterating Nagasaki, the heart and soul of Catholic Japan. Speaking of descent, the nuclear weapon design of Fat Man was that of "implosion-type." Detonation occurred by a descent of the plutonium fission. This was different than "Little Boy," the Hiroshima bomb that used a "gun-type" that fired a uranium bullet into the core.

I digress. Nagasaki was the first place to be evangelized when St. Francis Xavier arrived on the shores on, you guessed it, the Feast of the Assumption—August 15, 1549. Many saints lived and ministered in this southern port-town, including the martyr St. Paul Miki in the 16th Century and St. Maximilian Kolbe in the 20th. Kolbe had left Nagasaki at the outbreak of WWII. He avoided the fires of Fat Man, only to perish in the fires of Auschwitz on August 15, 1941. Kolbe's labors in Nagasaki, along with the labors of brave Catholic women and men for over 300 years, vanished in a matter of seconds. Fat Man scored a direct hit on the Urakami district—the historic Catholic area. The Cathedral, known as St. Mary's, was destroyed. It was 11:02am and Mass was being celebrated. Parishioners here had a particularly intense devotion to the Virgin Mary, praying the rosary daily near a statue of Mary suffering alongside her crucified son. Japanese Catholics had suffered for centuries for their faith, as Mary had suffered, and now they could relate to Mary of the sky.

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