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