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Nagasaki cathedral cross returns from US 74 yrs after going missing following A-bomb

From right, Tanya Maus, the director of the Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio; Archbishop of Nagasaki Mitsuaki Takami; and a member of the congregation at Urakami Cathedral, Chitose Fujita, smile with the cross that was returned to the cathedral in the city of Nagasaki on Aug. 7, 2019. (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

NAGASAKI -- A cross that was a witness to the nuclear bombing of this city and had been missing for decades has found its way home.

The cross used to hang in the former Urakami Cathedral, which was destroyed in the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, and was returned from an American university to the current Urakami Cathedral on Aug. 7. It will be put on public display from this year's 74th anniversary of the bombing to call for world peace and the abolition of nuclear arms.

The cross is made of wood and stands around 1 meter high and about 30 centimeters wide. It is said to have the same features as the cross that decorated the highest point of the altar between about 1934 and 1938.

In a photograph that appears to have been taken around a month after the end of the war, the cross can be seen collapsed among the rubble, but after that its location was unknown.

According to sources including Urakami Cathedral, Walter Hooke, a U.S. Marine stationed in Nagasaki after the war, received the cross from Archbishop Paul Aijiro Yamaguchi, who was then a bishop. In 1982, Hooke donated the cross to the Peace Resource Center (PRC) at Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio, in the U.S. It was then put on display at the center. Hooke died aged 97 in 2010, and Yamaguchi passed away in 1976 aged 82.

At the ceremony to return the cross on Aug. 7, PRC Director Tanya Maus handed the relic to Mitsuaki Takami, the Archbishop of Nagasaki, who commented, "I think it will become an unshakeable testifier for the continued teaching on the atomic bombing."

The cross will be dedicated at a Mass commencing from 6 p.m. on Aug. 9, and then will be on display in Urakami Cathedral for between two to three weeks. How it will be exhibited after that time is still under deliberation.

(Japanese original by Noriko Tokuno, Kyushu Photo Department)

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