Sept. 30 Event to Feature Presentation of Replica Cross
A delegation from Nagasaki, Japan, engaged in a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Wilmington College will present a symbolic cross to the Peace Resource Center during a ceremony and concert on Sept. 30, at 7 p.m., at the Murphy Theatre.
The public is invited to attend the event free of charge. Musical performers will include the Wilmington College Chorale, directed by Gina Beck; pianist Dr. Brianna Matzke, assistant professor of music; and a local children’s choir.
PICTURED: Campus Minister Nancy McCormick carries the atomic-bombed cross in the 2019 ceremony in Nagasaki that repatriated the artifact with the Urakami Cathedral. (BELOW) The cross is pictured on display in the Peace Resource Center before it was returned to Japan.
The event highlights the “gift of friendship through reflection and music,” according to Dr. Tanya Maus, director of WC’s Peace Resource and Quaker Heritage centers. In 2019, she led a contingent from the College to Nagasaki, where they repatriated a wooden cross salvaged from Nagasaki’s atomic-bombed Urakami Cathedral in 1945.
Maus shared her knowledge of what was a 74-year journey for the meter-long wooden cross with gold-colored trim culminating with a trip halfway around the world in a guitar case — and its presentation at the rebuilt Urakami Cathedral.
U.S. Marine Walter Hooke, who was stationed in Nagasaki shortly after the bombing, retrieved the cross from the rubble of the Catholic cathedral and, with permission from the bishop of Nagasaki, sent it to his mother in the United States. He was stationed in Nagasaki shortly following the atomic bombing.
Eventually, Hooke learned of the Peace Resource Center’s close connection to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, after displaying the cross in his home for three decades, gave it to the PRC in 1982. The Center featured the artifact as part of its collection until it decided the artifact should revert back to the church.
Maus noted how visitors to the PRC from Nagasaki in recent years were especially “moved” when hearing about the origins of the cross. “I thought it would be better to have it returned to Nagasaki — the College agreed this is the right thing to do,” she added.
“The Urakami congregation was overjoyed that the Peace Resource Center recognized the sense of loss and pain that resulted from the atomic bombings and destruction of the cathedral,” she said. “The people there appreciated that one small piece of what was lost was returned.”
Archbishop Emeritus of Nagasaki Mitsuaki Takami is leading the Japanese delegation to a conference in Canada and wished to personally express the Urakami Diocese’s appreciation for the atomic-bombed cross. As the centerpiece of their visit to Wilmington, he will present the College with a replica of the cross.
Ground zero for the A-bomb was a densely populated valley in Nagasaki that held a concentration of the city’s 11,000 Catholics, 8,500 of whom perished. Several months after the bombings, as many as 226,000 mostly civilians in the two Japanese cities succumbed either from the initial blast or radiation poisoning.
“The return of the cross has created a new sense of global interconnectedness amidst the threat of nuclear war,” Maus added.