Sunday, December 18, 2011

Item From the Past: Urakami Cathedral

We happened to be in Nagasaki around Christmastime in 1993, and visited St. Mary's Cathedral, better known as Urakami Cathedral, after the district in the city in which it's located. We were there during the day and then in the evening on Christmas Eve, to attend church.

The place has a melancholy history. Begun in the late 19th century after the legalization of Christianity in Japan, the cathedral was finished in the early 20th century. On August 9, 1945, it was only about a third of a mile away from the atomic bomb blast, and so destroyed. The current structure dates from 1959, with a renovation in 1980 to make it more closely resemble its original French Romanesque style.

Not far away is the Nagasaki Peace Park, where you can encounter this 30-foot fellow, created by Sculptor Seibou Kitamura, a Nagasaki native.

I'm not versed on Buddhist iconography, but I'd guess that the sculptor took inspiration from it. In any case, the Nagasaki Tourism Guide says that "the raised right hand points to the heavens to signify the threat of atomic weapons while the left arm is raised horizontally to represent the wish for peace."

Labels: , ,


At 6:15 PM, Blogger Dave Hall said...

Yes Nagasaki has quite a history of violence against its Christian believers. Whether it was the massacre of some it's first missionaries such as Saint Philip of early Mexican priest who went to japan while shipwrecked and was killed. Or the thousands of Catholics who dies due to the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945-many have suffered in nagasaki. Yes their faith is still strong. Thanks for the beautiful picture.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Dees Stribling said...

I appreciate your comment, Dave. As the scene of martyrdoms, the site of the cathedral had special significance to the Nagasaki faithful. That's one reason they insisted on re-building on the same site after 1945.


Post a Comment

<< Home