Tourist spot in Nagasaki city

Urakami Cathedral [浦上天主堂]

Urakami Cathedral
Urakami Cathedral

Entrance of Urakami Cathedral
Entrance of Urakami Cathedral

Map of Nagasaki city

Urakami Cathedral is the Japan's greatest Roman Catholic church.

In Japanese, it has been called "Urakami Tenshudo", and the formal name is "Catholic Urakami Kyôkai".
In English, "Immaculate Conception Cathedral" or "St. Mary's Cathedral" is the formal name.

It is located about 0.5 km east of Peace Park.

Since the early 17th century, Christianity had been banned in Japan.
But hidden Christians had been alive in Urakami district.

After the the abandonment of an isolation policy in the 1850s, Western merchants came to Nagasaki and foreign settlement was formed in Nagasaki.

And Oura Catholic Church was built for staying Western people in 1864.

In 1865, some hidden Japanese Christians met the Father and confessed that they had been Christians.

But Edo government caught this news, and many people in Urakami were caught, tortured and exiled.

But this suppression provoked harsh protests from many countries, so the government found that banning Christianity made the treaty negotiations difficult.

Stone used to torture Christian in Urakami Cathedral
Stone used to torture Christian

The virgin Mary with Japanese face
The virgin Mary with Japanese face

Modern Meiji government was founded in 1868.
Then, it lifted the ban on Christianity in Japan in 1873.

Christians in Urakami built the first church in 1879.
After that, the construction of great cathedral was started in 1895, and it was completed in 1914.

It was the former Urakami Cathedral.

Damaged statues by A-bomb in Urakami Cathedral
Damaged statues by A-bomb in Urakami Cathedral

Belfry blown by the blast of A-bomb in Urakami Cathedral
Belfry blown by the blast of A-bomb

On August 9, 1945, this great cathedral was destroyed by A-bomb in a moment.

At that time, many Christians were offering prayers for the coming day of Assumption of Mary in the cathedral.
All of them were killed.

After that, new cathedral was rebuilt in 1959.

In 1981, Pope John Paul II visited here, and held a mass.

When new cathedral was rebuilt, the ruins of former cathedral are preserved.

A part of the wall has been moved to Hypocenter Park.
A part of the belfry has been preserved at the place where it was blown and fallen by the blast of A-bomb.

Just after the end of the war, the Father searched the wooden statue of Virgin Mary from the wreckage of the cathedral.
It had been set up on the alter.

He was able to find only the head of the statue.
Some parts of the head were burnt, and the eyes were empty because the heat of A-bomb had melted the glass eyes.

It is known as "Bombed Virgin Mary".

It traveled in Vatican in 1985 and in Belarus in 2000 to encourage the victims of Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident.

In 2005, a chapel was built near the cathedral.
Now, the bombed Virgin Mary has been enshrined.

Chapel enshrining Bombed Virgin Mary in Urakami Cathedral

Bombed Virgin Mary in Urakami Cathedral

In addition, an American soldier had found a wooden cross in the wreckage of the cathedral after the war.
He had brought it to USA and had been kept in a research institution.

In 2019, the bombed cross was returned to the cathedral for the first time in 74 years.

How to get here

By street car with route No. 1 or 3, get off at Heiwa-koen stop.
Then walk for about 600 meters.

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