There are many conflicting and sometimes exaggerated stories on the Internet about this miracle but the core elements seem to hold true; i.e. that a number of Jesuit priests survived the atomic blast at Hiroshima with only flesh wounds and no long term health issues that could be attributed to the blast. They put it down to living the message of Fátima: daily Rosary, reparations to the Immaculate Heart and so on. The information in this post has been gleaned from various sources. One is the information provided with the YouTube video below, another is here, and another here.
The aforementioned priests were split between two buildings. There was a Parish House next to the church of Our Lady’s Assumption, in the city of Hiroshima, about eight blocks (less than a mile) from where the bomb detonated. At the time of the blast this house contained at least: Father Schiffer, Father Superior LaSalle, Father Kleinsorge, Father Cieslik, and Fukai, the secretary of the Mission.
Here is an old interview of Father Siemes, who was in the second building, in Nagatsuke, about four miles from the centre of the blast:
The Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian at 2:45 a.m. on August 6th, 1945. The atomic bomb on board was dropped over Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. Here is some of the analysis of the blast by Dr. Stephen Rinehart of the US Department of Defense:
At 1 kilometer the bulk temperature was in excess of 20,000 to 30,000 degrees F (transients in microseconds greater than 100,000F perhaps as high as 1,000,000 F within 1 kilometer – depends on construction details and you are inside the fireball) and the blast wave would have hit at sonic velocity with pressures on building (at one kiolmeter) greater than 600 psi. and buildings were demolished over a mile from epicenter. The “fireball diameter” is probably on the order of two to four kilometers (depends on certain definitions). No way any human could have survived nor should anything have left been standing at one kilometer. Yet, at about ten to fifteen kilometers I saw the brick walls standing from an elementary school (some phasing due to bomb’s pineapple construction) and I think there were a few badly burned survivors at ten to fifteen kilometers (all – except the Jesuits – died within fifteen years of some form of cancer [my emphasis]). Also, I think they were Jesuits that were near epicenter and a panorama view from epicenter at Shima Hospital did show some kind of two story house totally intact (at least from what I could make out and it look to me the windows were in place!?). Also there was a church with walls still standing but roof gone a few hundred yards away!? DOD never commented officially on this and I suspect it was classified and never discussed in open literature.
In reviewing the damage patterns and blast characteristics of the Hiroshima blast, it appears this weapon was detonated at a height of 0.6 to 1.0 kilometers [Highest probable fireball diameter is about 1.4 kilometers]. This weapon was detonated at this height to produce the maximum damage area from the fireball (maximum sustained fire/airblast damage from the propagating temperatures and airblast pressures in the shock wave front). However, the epicenter was not the area with the greatest damage since the weapon was designed to “spread the fireball effects” over a wide area. The strongest building [steel reinforced frame] was the Hiroshima Bank building which was gutted inside by fire 250 meters from hypocenter of bomb but its walls remained standing but the window frames were blown away.
Depending on the actual height of detonation, the Jesuits must have had the edge of the fireball literally outside their window. Assuming they were just outside of the plasma, their residence should still have been utterly destroyed (temp > 2000 F and airblast pressures > 100 psi). In contrast, unreinforced masonry or brick walls (representative of commercial construction) are destroyed at 3 psi, which will also cause ear damage and burst windows. At ten psi, a human will experience severe lung and heart damage, burst eardrums and at 20 psi your limbs can be blown off. Your head will be blown off by 40 psi and no residential or unreinforced commercial construction would be left standing. At 80 psi even reinforced concrete is heavily damaged and no human would be alive because your skull would be crushed All the cotton clothes would be on fire at 350 F (probably at 275F) and your lungs would be inoperative within a minute breathing air (even for a few seconds) at these temperatures.
Conclusion: There are no physical laws to explain why the Jesuits were untouched in the Hiroshima airblast. There is no other actual or test data where a structure such as this was not totally destroyed at this standoff distance by an atomic weapon. All who were at this range from the epicenter should have received enough radiation to be dead within at most a matter of minutes if nothing else happened to them. There is no known way to design a uranium-235 atomic bomb, which could leave such a large discrete area intact while destroying everything around it immediately outside the fireball (by shaping the plasma).
From a scientific viewpoint, what happened to those Jesuits at Hiroshima still defies all human logic from the laws of physics as understood today (or at any time in the future). It must be concluded that some other (external) force was present whose power and/or capability to transform energy and matter as it relates to humans is beyond current comprehension.
Father Siemes and his companions in the second house were soon told that the whole city had been destroyed and was on fire but they could not believe it. They were unaware of the fate of the Parish House until a group of young people from that area brought the news to them late in the afternoon. They reported that Father Superior LaSalle and Father Schiffer had been seriously injured so the others went out to meet them.
At the far corner of the park, on the river bank itself, we at last come upon our colleagues. Father Schiffer is on the ground pale as a ghost. He has a deep incised wound behind the ear and has lost so much blood that we are concerned about his chances for survival. The Father Superior has suffered a deep wound of the lower leg. Father Cieslik and Father Kleinsorge have minor injuries but are completely exhausted. Fukai, the secretary of the Mission, is completely unhurt.
While they are eating the food that we have brought along, they tell us of their experiences. They were in their rooms at the Parish House–it was a quarter after eight, exactly the time when we had heard the explosion in Nagatsuke–when came the intense light and immediately thereafter the sound of breaking windows, walls and furniture. They were showered with glass splinters and fragments of wreckage. Father Schiffer was buried beneath a portion of a wall and suffered a severe head injury. The Father Superior received most of the splinters in his back and lower extremity from which he bled copiously. Everything was thrown about in the rooms themselves, but the wooden framework of the house remained intact. The solidity of the structure which was the work of Brother Gropper again shone forth.
They had the same impression that we had in Nagatsuke: that the bomb had burst in their immediate vicinity. The Church, school, and all buildings in the immediate vicinity collapsed at once. Beneath the ruins of the school, the children cried for help. They were freed with great effort. Several others were also rescued from the ruins of nearby dwellings. Even the Father Superior and Father Schiffer despite their wounds, rendered aid to others and lost a great deal of blood in the process.
Father Ruge met Father Schiffer in the late 70s and was told the following:
On the morning of August 6, 1945, he had just finished Mass, went into the rectory and sat down at the breakfast table, and had just sliced a grapefruit, and had just 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 Fr. 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 laying 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.
The only physical harm to himself 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 himself. Many 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, Fr. Schiffer’s body contained no radiation or ill-effects from the bomb. Fr. Schiffer attributes this to devotion to the Blessed Mother, and his daily Fatima Rosary. He feels that he received a protective shield from the Blessed Mother which protected him 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.)
Pray the Rosary, people!!