11/20/2019, 15.39
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Hiroshima: "I await Pope Francis’ blessing for the Hibakushi"

by Yurie Miyawaki

The story of Setsuko Hattori, a 92-year-old lady who survived the atomic bomb. Due to a bone marrow disease, Setsuko will not be able to attend Mass with Pope Francis on November 24th. "Through my poor life many people have come to know the Catholic Church".

Hiroshima (AsiaNews) - "I await the Pope's blessing more than the words he will say in Hiroshima. I am happy that he comes to Hiroshima. And I will certainly follow him with prayer ”. This is the hope expressed by Setsuko Hattori, a 92-year-old lady, hibakusha (survivor of the atomic bomb). Due to late illnesses, Ms. Hattori is bedbound and will not be present at the mass that Pope Francis will celebrate in Hiroshima on November 24th. After the explosion of the bomb, on 6 August 1945, the lady became a Catholic. "Through my poor life - she says - several people have come to know the Catholic Church". Here is her testimony.

I was born in Hiroshima in the Hakushima district, 2 km north of the center of the explosion. I've always lived here, before and after the war, and even after my marriage.

In 1945 I was in the third year class of girls' school, but instead of going to school we had to go to the factory to produce cannon bullets. On the day of the atomic bomb, it was August 6th Monday, I was at home because of the shift system, so I had breakfast peacefully. But as I ate, the atomic explosion occurred. In our house there were so many big windows, they were all broken and the house collapsed completely.

My mother and I walked out safely from under a lot of wooden poles even though so many shards of glass got stuck in the right side of my body. The biggest shard of glass that struck me, was the size of a square of 15-20 cm, which left its mark for my whole life.

My father, on the other hand, had a general store. But, because there were no goods during the war, he also went to work in the factory. That morning he had to go and get some wood still intact from the destroyed houses, to use them for the kitchen and to heat the water for the bathroom. Someone told us that he was taking the cart to the city center. We heard nothing more about him. We didn't even see his body.

Around 1950-51, after work, I started attending the Catholic music school (which was the origin for Elisabeth music university). Here I met a friend and we sang with joy: it was a way to erase all of our bad memories. One day, before the lesson, I entered a church that had been attracting my interest for some time. There was Father Hubert Cieslik, and I told him: "I came to see someone." And he, with a big smile, told me "Come, come". So I started going more and more. In July, on the day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, I received baptism with 9 other girls.

In 1953, I fell ill and was so afraid. But, Father Toyota always brought me the Eucharist, on his motorcycle. How the Eucharist encouraged me! In this way, every time I received it, I felt that my faith grew.

Later I met the brother of a friend of mine who became my husband. We had a daughter and three sons.

I remember when I received my first communion very well. The next morning, I realized that everything had changed - the color of the sky, the green of the leaves, just everything.

To date there have never been days without mistakes or errors. But I learned to pray: "I want to try again, tomorrow I will be better". I think prayer is always the first thing, as priests have taught me. Now I have a serious bone marrow disease and spend my day almost always in bed. But I still have one precious thing and that is prayer.

As the Pope always asks, I pray so much for peace and for the end of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, I cannot forget to pray also for the human dignity of every person.

After my baptism many people told me: "You have become more cheerful", and I always answered: "Certainly, this is what happens when you are embraced by God! ". In this way, through my poor life, different people have been able to get to know the Catholic Church.

I await both the Pope's blessing and the words he will tell us in Hiroshima. I am also happy that he comes to Hiroshima. And I will certainly follow him with prayer.

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