“The Urakami District of Nagasaki was the location where hidden Christians (kakure kirishitan) resided between the 17th to 19th centuries in the time of the ban on Christianity during the Tokugawaa bakufu. Today, it is also known as the location above which the second atomic bomb exploded.
“The name ‘Urakami’ first appeared in 15th century history. During the 16th century, it is said that all the villagers were Christians. Although Christianity was banned in the 17th century, residents there secretly maintained their beliefs for over 250 years.
“After the ban was finally lifted in the latter 19th century, the Urakami Church was built – predecessor to the Urakami Cathedral – and the area became the center of Christianity in Nagasaki. The construction of Urakami Cathedral was begun in 1895 and was completed in 1914. The twin bell towers were completed in 1925 making it the largest cathedral in East Asia.
“On August 9, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped. The blast, approximately 1,600-feet above Matsuyama-machi, was confined to the Urakami Valley and a major portion of the city was protected by the intervening hills. But, Urakami Cathedral was located within the 1-mile blast radius. The parish priest, Saburo Nishida, was about to enter the church to receive the sacrament of penance and reconciliation in preparation for the upcoming Assumption of Mary, and curate Fusayoshi Tamaya was in the confession room. These two priests and few dozen Christians inside the church are assumed to have died instantly.
“Although the atomic bomb caused a great deal of damage to Urakami Cathedral, Christians in the area were determined to build a temporary church as the neighborhood had strong attachment to their beliefs. On December 1, 1946, the temporary church was completed, the first public building restored in the area. In 1958, the formal reconstruction of the whole Urakami Cathedral began and was completed in 1959.”
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