Bombed Images of Mary to Be Exhibited

Nagasaki and Guernica Join in Call for Peace

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By Patricia Navas

GUERNICA, Spain, MARCH 1, 2010 ( On April 26, 1937, an aerial bombing on the Basque town of Guernica killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed many buildings, including part of St. Mary’s Church.

The Basque government reported that some 1,650 people were killed by the German and Italian planes under the command of the nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.

After the attack, a figure of the Virgin Mary was uncovered in the Church, destroyed except for her head, the current pastor, Father Inaki Jauregui, explained to ZENIT.
Eight years after that attack, on August 9, 1945, an atomic bomb destroyed the Urakami Cathedral, in the Japanese city of Nagasaki.
A wooden carving inspired by Bartolomé Murillo’s painting of the Immaculate Conception, which stood in the center of the altar of the cathedral, suffered a similar fate as that of the Virgin of Guernica.
Among the ashes of the church, the head of the Immaculate Virgin figure was found with the eye sockets empty, the cheeks and hair charred and a crack next to the left eye that many interpret as a tear. At present she is known there as the «bombed Mary.»
Next month, the two «bombed Marys» will meet and be exhibited together for a time in the Museum of Peace in Guernica.
The meeting is part of a «pilgrimage of peace» of the Virgin of Urakami to the Basque city, on the occasion of this year’s 65th anniversary of the bombing of Japan.
Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki will lead the pilgrimage. He will preside over a Mass for the deceased in the Guernica parish on April 26, the anniversary of the bombing of the Basque city, Luis Iriondo, who is organizing the ceremonies, reported to ZENIT.

From the group of Japanese pilgrims, some musicians will perform in Guernica’s theater, during a ceremony in the cemetery, and also at an exhibition in the Museum of Peace about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Iriondo, who lived through the bombing of his city, and event immortalized in one of Pablo Picasso’s paintings, expressed his hope for a better future.

Now, he said, both attackers and victims «can understand one another and walk together in peace.»
Archbishop Takami, whose closest relatives died as a result of the atomic bomb, said that «peace can never be created with violence.»
He affirmed: «The elimination of nuclear arms has not progressed much. I hope that the pilgrimage will not only allow more people to know the suffering caused by the atomic bombing, but that it will also be turned into an appeal for peace in the use of non-violent methods.»
In reference to the head of the Virgin damaged in the bombing of Guernica, the archbishop exclaimed: «We also have one here: It’s incredible!»
The Virgin of Urakami left Japan twice before, visiting the Vatican in 1985 and traveling to Belarus in 2000.
Although the program is not yet finalized, the group of Japanese faithful accompanying the figure of the Immaculate Virgin plan to also visit other places in Spain, such as the Basilica of Pilar in Zaragoza and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
The pilgrimage may also include visits to Lourdes and Rome, as well as participation in an audience with Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

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