.- When Pope Francis offers Mass during international trips, an image of the Marian devotion of the country he is visiting is usually placed near the altar. On Nov. 24 the image used at a papal Mass in Nagasaki had an additional significance: It is a sculpture of Mary that survived the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.

They call her the Virgin of Nagasaki or the Burnt Virgin. On Aug. 9, 1945, it was at the altar of the former Urakami cathedral, just a few blocks from the epicenter of the explosion of an atomic bomb dropped by American forces during the Second World War.

Originally the bust was part of a wood carving sculpted abroad and given to the cathedral in 1920. It was inspired by the painting of the Immaculate Conception by Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.

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