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The Rosary is Stronger than the Atom Bomb

Oct 11, 2016 By Gretchen Filz

“Prayer is more powerful than the atom bomb.”

— Fr. Hubert Schiffer, Hiroshima survivor

August 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropping on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, initiating the end of World War II. You may have heard the miraculous story of Fr. Hubert Schiffer and three of his fellow Jesuit missionary priests who survived the atomic blast by faithfully praying the rosary. The bomb exploded just 8 blocks from the Jesuit Church of Our Lady’s Assumption in Hiroshima.

Here is what happened:

"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."

The four priests lived in a rectory within the radius of complete atomic destruction. After the shock of the blast they looked around and saw NOTHING; for miles in every direction, thousands of people were dead and every building was destroyed ... except for the four priests and their rectory. Although wounded, they survived, and afterwards suffered no radiation sickness.

Hiroshima after the bombing - 4 Catholic missionary priests stand outside their church Hiroshima after the bombing - 4 Catholic priests stand outside their church

“It took only a second: a flash—fearfully frightening—and Hiroshima, home of half a million people, was wiped off the earth. What was left was only darkness, blood, burns, moans, fire and spreading terror.”

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 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.”

How 4 Catholic priests survived at Hiroshima

Our Lady appeared at Fatima during the first World War, prophesying its soon approaching end, but also warning of another even greater war to come if humanity did not heed her warnings for prayer and repentance. Have we learned our lesson? With all the fighting and tension that is happening all over the world today, are we making an intentional effort to live the message of Fatima?

Read next How to Live the Message of Our Lady of Fatima

Can we pray for world peace? Can we make a difference by praying the Rosary every day? Can we save lives through this powerful devotion?

The answer to all these questions is, YES! At Hiroshima we can see Mary's protective hand at work. And she continues to beg us to pray for her intercession.


Not only are we called to pray, but also to spread this beautiful and saving devotion to those around us. Hand someone a rosary and ask them to join you in prayer for Mary's protection during these dark and evil times.

Copied below is a portion of Fr. Hubert Schiffer's call to live out Our Lady's requests at Fatima. Read the full PDF text by clicking the image below.

Link to PDF of "The Rosary of Hiroshima" by bomb survivor Fr. Hubert Schiffer Link to a PDF download of "The Rosary of Hiroshima" by bomb survivor Fr. Hubert Schiffer

“What we need today is a Crusade of Prayer, the spirit of prayer everywhere, a renewal of our deepest trust and confidence in God’s providence. Our Blessed Mother promised that when we heeded her plea for prayer and Christian action, the world would have peace.

"We may feel that our humble efforts cannot have such a tremendous effect upon the world, but let us think for a moment about the power of a river, sweeping everything before it. That river is made up of tiny drops of water, and because numberless tiny drops of rain have fallen into it, the river has become a force that carries heavy ships and changes deserts into fruitful farms and gardens.

"So, too, will the Perpetual Rosary Crusade—the recitation of the rosary for peace by countless persons all over the world become an immense and irresistible spiritual force for peace. In this universe there is nothing else that forms a common ground for the peoples of the world except the love of God, charity, and the spirit of prayer. Our Blessed Mother’s rosary is a bond which unites the heart strings of the world.”

“This is the Message of Hiroshima: Prayer in every heart, prayer on every lip, prayer moving the work of every hand throughout the world. It is this spirit of prayer that will bring us peace in this world. Will this come true?—The answer is up to you.”    — Fr. Robert Schiffer, 1953

 When the Rosary was Stronger than the Atomic Bomb

This article has been updated and was first published in August 2014. © The Catholic Company. All rights reserved.


Maria says
May 11 2017 7:24PM
Even with signs such as the four priests and the Catholic Church still standing, there are many who do not believe.

I believe, I adore, I hope and I love. Thank you for your motherly concern, dearest Blessed Mother.
Ryan says
Apr 15 2017 2:50PM
north korea
Michael says
Nov 28 2015 10:30PM
"At Hiroshima we can see Mary’s protective hand at work..."

I have a hard time with this statement. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians (including babies, women and old people) were victims of some of the most horrific and indiscriminate violence the world has ever seen. Where was Mary in that? Was she was indifferent to the plight of those not "living the life of Fatima"? This story, to me, cheapens the lives of those who died and seems to suggest that the survivors were "rewarded". Try as I might, I can't square that up with my Catholic understanding of a just and merciful God.
Hi Michael, the World Wars were troubling times, indeed, and there are no easy answers to the problem of a just and loving God permitting horrible evils. With the eyes of faith, though, we can see a bigger picture unfold. Our Lady of Fatima appeared during World War I and predicted World War II if mankind did not repent and turn back to God. War and violence is always a result of sin and rebellion against God, we cannot put blame on God or on the Blessed Virgin for this, or expect them to always prevent the necessary consequences of mankind's actions. Think of a parent who warns their child and protects them up to a point, after which they must be allowed to suffer the consequences of their sin and rebellion for their child's own ultimate good. Our Lady warns, admonishes, and protects us in many ways according to the will of God. But the goal is always our eternal salvation - this is our ultimate good. We will all die, and our days on this earth are marked by pain and suffering after the manner of Our Lord, and our lives are in the hands of God who sustains our very existence from moment to moment. In God's providence we may die in a war, in a car accident, or from a heart attack. If in God's will he permits one to die at a certain moment and one to live, or one to suffer an evil act and one not, it is the eternal salvation of each that is the determining factor. Also keep in mind that a just and merciful God also sends souls to hell for all eternity and permits "holy souls" to suffer torments in purgatory temporarily to expiate for their sins. It is only the Catholic Church that provides this bigger picture of heaven, hell, and purgatory, angels and demons, sin and redemption, as the lens through which we must view every calamity. It is not the case that we are meant to live in happiness and peace in this life; we live in a fallen and sinful world, and we are in a raging spiritual battle for the salvation of souls which spills over into violence among men, the truth of which we cannot avoid. Please consider this account of the atrocities of the atom bomb considered in light of the Catholic missionaries working in Japan: I hope this helps with your struggle somewhat!
emmanuel musonda says
Sep 3 2014 9:26AM
Amen Sister. Give God the first fruits of one's time to prayer, especially the Rosary and Mass (if possible). My dad did so, and had a 48 year marriage to my mom, and they raised 5 sons and 2 daughters.
Marianela says
Aug 20 2014 6:12PM
Praying for world peace and my family Health Unity

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Gretchen Filz Gretchen Filz

Gretchen is a Lay Dominican with a passion for fostering an increase in Catholic faith and devotion through content writing and journalism. She works as a digital content writer, creator, and marketer for The Catholic Company. In addition to blogging at, she is also editor of the daily devotional email and author at She holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics and converted to the Catholic Church in 2011. She is also active in R.C.I.A., pro-life work, and various faith-based web projects.

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