When the atom bomb “Fat Boy” devastated on the 9th of August 1945, one of the buildings reduced to rubble was the city’s Urakami cathedral — then among the largest churches in Asia.
The blinding nuclear flash that would claim more than 70,000 lives in the city also, in an instant, blew out the stained glass windows of the church, toppled its walls, burnt its altar and melted its iron bell.
But, in what local Christian followers have likened to a miracle, the head of a wooden Virgin Mary statue survived amid the collapsed columns and scorched debris of the Romanesque church flattened on August 9, 1945.
The appearance of the war-ravaged religious icon is haunting. The Madonna’s eyes have become scorched, black hollows, the right cheek is charred, and a crack runs like a streaking tear down her face.
The remains of the statue of the Virgin Mary have found a new home inside a rebuilt church, also called St Mary’s, built on the same site, only 500 metres from the bomb’s ground zero.