The Incredible Story of the Miracle at Hiroshima

By Father Paul Ruge, OFMI

AP Photo

On August 6, 1945, the B-29 aircraft Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. The bomb exploded half a mile from the Jesuit Church of Our Lady’s Assumption.  More than 100,000 people were killed instantly and thousands more died months later from the effects of radiation.  However, the church building and eight Jesuit priests stationed there survived. Nine days later on August 15, the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, U.S. forces were ordered to cease fire. Father Paul Ruge, spiritual director at the National Blue Army Shrine, wrote this account of his conversations with one of the Jesuit survivors, Father Hubert Schiffer.

I met Father Schiffer in the late 1970s at the Tri-City Airport in Saginaw, Mich., as he was going to give a talk for the Blue Army Novena/Triduum.  As I chauffeured him around he told me stories of his life, especially of the atomic explosion at Hiroshima.  On the morning of August 6, 1945, he had just finished Mass, went into the rectory and sat down at the breakfast table. He had just sliced a grapefruit and put his spoon into the grapefruit when there was a bright flash of light.  His first thought was that it was an explosion in the harbor (this was a major port where the Japanese refueled their submarines.)

Then, in the words of Father Schiffer: “Suddenly, a terrific explosion filled the air with one bursting thunderstroke.  An invisible force lifted me from the chair, hurled me through the air, shook me, battered me, whirled me ’round and ’round like a leaf in a gust of autumn wind.”

The next thing he remembered, he opened his eyes and he was lying on the ground.  He looked around and there was NOTHING in any direction: the railroad station and buildings in all directions were leveled to the ground.

Father Hubert Schiffer with the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, Robert Lewis. (The American Legion Magazine, 1951)

The only harm to him was that he could feel a few pieces of glass in the back of his neck.  As far as he could tell, there was nothing else physically wrong with him.  Hundreds of thousands were killed or maimed by the explosion.  After the conquest of the Americans, their army doctors and scientists explained to him that his body would begin to deteriorate because of the radiation.  Many of the Japanese people had blisters and sores from the radiation.  To the doctors’ amazement, Father Schiffer and the other priests had no radiation or ill-effects from the bomb.  When asked to account for this incredible situation, in which he and his companions were spared, he said: “We believe that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the Rosary daily in that home.”

He feels that they received a protective shield from the Blessed Mother, which protected them from all radiation and ill-effects.  (This coincides with the bombing of Nagasaki, where St. Maximilian Kolbe had established a Franciscan Friary which was also unharmed because of special protection from the Blessed Mother, as the brothers, too, prayed the daily Rosary and also had no effects from the bomb).

Father Hubert Schiffer died on March 27, 1982, 37 years after that fateful day. He gave his account of the Hiroshima bombing at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976. At the time, all eight members of the Jesuit community from Hiroshima were still alive.

Share this article: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
  1. God’s wonders never cease to amaze. No weapon formed against God’s children will succeed.

  2. No weapon formed against God’s children will prosper.
    God’s love never cease to amaze me.

    • Just like a mother protects her children, so will our Blessed Mother protect all those who believe in her. Faith and prayer is all she asks of us.

  3. hey good paper

  4. Great writing

  5. The Lord is my shepard Francis amen

  6. This “miracle” has been thoroughly debunked years ago and yet is still heralded as a perfect example of a “modern” miracle. Here are some of the inexactitudes (lies?) of the miracle premise;
    – The mission was a reinforced building in an area near the edge of the blast zone where 48% of inhabitants survived the initial blast. Almost all of them Japanese. Most of them non-christians.
    – According to father John Siemes in an interview given to the NewYorker in 1946 ” Father Schiffer was buried beneath a portion of a wall and suffered a severe head injury”. OOps, so much for a “few” shards of glass. Father Siems gos on to say “Father LaSalle told Father Cieslik to take Father Schiffer to a doctor before he bled to death”.

    THis article is interesting because it is a great study on how legends are made. Anyone who has the normal reaction to an extra-ordinary event, like a miracle, will want to fact-check this event to ensure that there is indeed a basis for the extraordinary claim.
    In this particular case this article depicts the life of five survivors of the blat of which only one is caucasian. Miracle? I think not.
    Those interested in first account facts as opposed to third hand fables can read the actual article here… https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1946/08/31/hiroshima

    • We stand by that it was a grace of God that they survived this blast as they themselves saw it as a miracle.

    • For the believers no explanation is necessary. For not n believers no explanation is possible..
      Were you there??

    • Just look around us, everything is miracle. Everything in this universe constructed in an order and existing for a purpose, running by accurate laws from minute particles to huge objects, living things and non living things, But human is the only thing in this universe want to break the law and order and trying, hardworking to say there is no God. We are not yet reached a conclusion in each and every phenomenons in this vast and mysterious universe. What is the construction material of this universe? Its already around us and within us that material. But we are not yet identified, what is it? What is the construction material of our mind, thoughts, past and present etc..etc..

    • How many of the survivors came away unscathed by the effects of the radiation poisoning. I have not been able to find information on this.

      • We know there were about 8 priests in this order who survived.

    • I read the newyorker article. There is nothing in there about a wall falling on Father Schiffer. It goes on quite a bit about how much bleeding he had, but that doesn’t really contradict his statement about a few shards of glass. My guess is he was trying to minimize the extent of his injury as compared to the far worse ones of others in the city. It was a miracle that he and his companions didn’t suffer the radiation sickness many others did.

    • but none of them has had any radiation or symptions after. They were of perfect health

    • I read your link and there was nothing to contradict or confirm the story told here. More of a parallel account.

    • Merci, Paul! I went to Jesuit school, and am now an atheist, so I knew that there must be some explanation. Yet I still find these photos uncanny!

      • You are an atheist in mind but your heart says different things?

    • The photo speaks a thousand words despite the extra fortifications.
      The “injuries” were minor in comparison to the rest and didn’t kill the priests like the nuclear radiation poisoning and burns that killed the other thousands.
      Did they come out of it untouched? No.
      Is concrete stronger than wood? Yes. Would concrete/ steel have made a difference in that atomic nuclear blast which was so close to ground zero? No.
      You are a liar and of bad will.
      You hate truth and all that is related to the truth. The Holy Trinity and the Queen of Heaven is a most powerful Duo. You should benefit, you were wise., but you are not. You are a doubting Thomas, but only worse: You hate God and all of his works.

    • Your account sounds made up more like a fable

    • Father Schiff was there. This was his account. We are just passing on what he experienced and his story.

  7. hmm


  9. In these days of the Corona virus pandemic, we should, like the 8 Jesuit priests in Hiroshima follow the message of Fatima.and say the Rosary!!☘️

  10. Yes indeed back to rosary..the family that prays together stays forever amen…

  11. 0.8 miles separate the dome of Our Lady of the Assumption Church from ground zero in Hiroshima.

  12. 75 years ago today, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. I just wanted to share a prayer for the victims, their families, and for humanity. Our lives on earth are relatively short. Please seek peace, love, understanding, and forgiveness. Seek long-term joy and not short-term pleasure. Seek respect and not abuse. Seek construction and not destruction. Please support each other. Personally, I’m too selfish too often. I wish I could be more disciplined and focused. Please pray for me and for all. Thank you.

    Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death. Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

  13. Amen
    The Rosary📿 can indeed defend the world from all of Satan’s Dark deeds 🙏

  14. Paul, 1/2 a km from ground zero doesn’t sound like the “edge of the zone” of impact.
    The “little boy” was dropped so as to explode when it fell to 3k ft above the ground in order to maximise the radius of deadly effect. This was stated by Capt. Tibbets, commander of the Enola Gay B52.

    OK, the building was reinforced. What about the 200 tests all 8 Jesuits were subjected to over the years by Docs and scientists to explain their total absence of the radiation effects ? Scientists have been left baffled.

    All lived into the 1970s and 1980s. Yes we also know how negative legends are engineered.

    Greetings and no offence taken nor meant. Just a polite focus on points you may have missed.
    All the best.

  15. Nobody has survived in the dome:
    “The atomic bomb exploded at a height of 600 meters, 160 meters to the southeast of the Atomic Bomb Dome. At the time, the building was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. At the moment of detonation, the blast exerted 35 tons of pressure per square meter and created a fierce wind speed of 440 meters per second. The building absorbed the powerful explosion and heat and burst into flames. Because the impact of the blast came almost directly overhead, curiously the thick outer walls and the steel dome escaped complete destruction. However, the people who were inside at the time died instantly and the interior of the building was completely gutted by fire. ”

    The fact the priests have first seen the flash and then the shockwave came suggests, that they were few km away from the hypocenter. That would give them a pretty good chance of survival and avoiding the fallout if they evacuated or stayed indoors.

  16. I,am 70 years old and was brought up Chatolic and in my life never heard about Fatima until it was sent to me on line and I watch the movie. To make it short , I now say the rosary every morning and every night , and has given so much peace and love in my life and soul . Amen

  17. I guess it was worth nuking Hiroshima just so we could see how blessed these eight priests were.

    • The eight priests who survived are not responsible for Hiroshima’s destruction. Others in the city also survived and they, too, have an amazing story to tell. The bombing was due to war, which is never God’s will, but because of sinful mankind.

  18. There are some other possible interpretations of this story:

    1. The Divine Service of the Jesuits was not sufficient intercession to save the city of Hiroshima and its 100,000 nuclear attack victims.

    2. These Jesuits were left alive to carry around a burden of survivors guilt for the rest of their lives.

    3. A Catholic cathedral was used as the target site in the bombing of Nagasaki. How many Catholic clergy survived that Holocaust?

    4. What is the point of boasting of the survival of eight religious when over 100,000 totally innocent civilian victims perished in a flash?

    Humbly submitted in the Holy Name of Jesus!!!

    • As for the story, it was simply told by one of the Jesuits who were there and it deserves attention, because they, like everyone else, were amazed that they survived. It is not boasting to retell the amazing story, and it does not discount the many innocent victims who did not survive. In all tragedies, whether it is natural calamities or man-made events, many people live to tell their story of they somehow miraculously survived. It is for them to ponder why God would have blessed them in this way, while others perished. But they want to share the amazing story. The same would be for the Jesuits who somehow survived what should have been an annihilating event. Thank you for your comments.

  19. Amazing story!

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Soul

Subscribe to Soul Magazine and learn more about the message of Fatima and how to live it today. Subscribe to Soul

Prayer Requests

prayer-requestsPresent your prayer requests for remembrance during Masses offered at the Blue Army Shrine. Request a Prayer