Before the war

Construction of Urakami Cathedral began in 1895 on ground where picture trampling ceremonies had taken place in an attempt to root out Christianity during the era when the religion was prohibited, according to Japan Guide. In those ceremonies, people were coerced into trampling on biblical images in order to expose secret Christians.

Utter destruction

A view of Nagasaki right after the atomic bombing of the city shows only parts of the Catholic cathedral standing.

Near Ground Zero

The atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, and almost completely destroyed the cathedral, which stood some 1,600 feet from the hypocenter. The people inside were killed immediately.

Left standing

The bomb dropped on Nagasaki was stronger than that dropped on Hiroshima just a few days earlier. It's a surprise that any part of the cathedral was left standing.

First memorial

A memorial service was held at the site of the Urakami Cathedral on November 23, 1945. Some estimate that a total of 80,000 residents had lost their lives from the initial impact or burns and radiation sickness.


A new cathedral, as built in 1959, is seen from the Nagasaki Peace Park, 10 minutes away by foot. The reinforced concrete structure was later covered by brick tiles during a 1980 remodeling.


A group of charred stone saints were left in place and still stand before a decimated wall in front of the cathedral. There are also other relics inside, including the surviving head of a Blessed Virgin Mary statue recovered after the blast, and one of the church's original bells.

A reminder for the world

A statue of St. Agnes that was originally located in the cathedral was found in the ruins after the atomic bombing. The statue is now located in the United Nations headquarters in New York.