What St. Don Bosco and Hiroshima can teach us about COVID-19

Just a quick post today, because I really felt the need to share this with you. Many of us are feeling a lot of fear nowadays. As the coronavirus continues to spread, we worry about the physically vunerable members of our families, we worry about having enough supplies to last through a quarantine, we worry about being deprived of the sacraments.

As governments and institutions implement desperate plans to slow the pandemic, and as we isolate ourselves to do our small part in protecting the vulnerable, please keep in mind two very important lessons from history:

We need to have recourse to Our Lady, Help of all Christians.

In 1854, cholera took a lethal grip on Italy. In Turin alone in a span of 3 months, 2500 people contracted the deadly disease; of those, 1400 perished. St. Don Bosco and his priests took it upon themselves to care for the sick, despite the highly contagious nature of the outbreak. When he realized he needed more help, he asked his boys if they would volunteer. But he did so with great faith:

He told his boys that the best protection was to make a good Confession and then receive Holy Communion worthily, and he went on to say that if they put themselves in a state of grace, and did not commit mortal sin, he promised that not one of them would be stricken by the disease.  — Donal Foley

Trusting in the care of Divine Providence and Our Lady, Help of Christians, he and his boys went into the streets to care for the sick and dying. Not one of them fell ill.


And then there’s Hiroshima.

We all know about the devastation that occured after an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The bomb created a huge fireball which, at 2000 degrees farenheit, obliterated everything around it for miles. Anyone who lived within a 1.5 mile radius of where the bomb was detonated was instantly killed or died within three days, about 80,000 people.

Everyone, that is, except a handful of Jesuits who lived only 8 blocks from where the bomb went off. None of the eight Jesuits living there were even slightly effected by the radiation. And their house remained mostly intact.. The survival of the Jesuits is something that has baffled many scientists, including those at the U.S. Department of Defense. But we know the reason: Survivor Fr. Hubert Schiffer testified that they were spared because they prayed the rosary every day in their house in response to Our Lady of Fatima’s request.

When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, the Franciscan mission there founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe was also left standing with all the friars inside unharmed. They, too, prayed the rosary daily. (Source: The Miraculous Story of Hiroshima )

Surviving Jesuits stand in front of their church, Aug. 1945

In light of this and all that is going on today, let us not underestimate the protective power of the rosary. In his book Champions of the Rosary, Fr. Donald Calloway cites story after story of how Our Lady protected those who were faithful to praying the rosary. Battles were won, dangers averted, lives were saved because of Our Lady’s protection over those who prayed the rosary.

Now is the time to start praying the rosary daily as a family, if you haven’t already started to do so. My husband, the scientist-engineer, marvels at how such a tiny, microscopic thing as a virus can cripple nations and put the world on a stand-still. But even more powerful is that which we cannot see even with a microscope but only through the eyes of faith: the loving and abundant graces of God obtained through the intercession of our Blessed Mother.

Let us call on Our Lady, Help of all Christians and obtain her aid through the powerful prayer of the rosary.

Here’s an example of what we can add to the beginning of each decade:

1st Decade: For the protection of the first responders, doctors, and nurses who care for those made critically ill by coronavirus. For wisdom and guidance on those scientists and researchers seeking vaccines and rapid testing platforms. Our Lady, Help of Christians, intercede for us!

2nd Decade: For a full and speedy recovery for those suffering from the coronavirus. For protection of their family members and all those who are at risk of getting or transmittingthe virus. Our Lady, Help of Christians, intercede for us!

3rd Decade: For God’s abundant mercy on the souls of those who have died from coronavirus. For strength and consolation for their grieving families. Our Lady, Help of Christians, intercede for us!

4th Decade: For protection on those who are most vulnerable to coronavirus: the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, those who have been travelling abroad, those who are in quarantine. Our Lady, Help of Christians, intercede for us!

5th Decade: For an expedient halt to the spread of the virus. For churches and schools to be reopened, and for people to be able to return to their normal daily activities with a deepened faith and love for God. Our Lady, Help of Christians, intercede for us!

Then, let us unite ourselves with Catholics around the world and pray Pope Francis’ prayer to Our Lady to end the pandemic:

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!



2 thoughts on “What St. Don Bosco and Hiroshima can teach us about COVID-19

  1. My intentions:
    1 – For better data for scientists to know exactIy how deadIy this thing is or isn’t
    2 – For decisions to be made based on data, not November eIections, power grabs, or profits
    3 – For aII the vuInerabIe to be protected from death & permanent harm by this coronavirus
    4 – For those made hungry or homeIess as an effect of the isoIation measures, those standing on the brink of suicide brought cIoser to the edge by isoIation, those made more iII by Iack of supportive visitors, those whose anxiety wiII dampen their immune systems Ieading to infections they wouIdn’t otherwise have caught, those brought to bankruptcy due to famiIy businesses shut down, and aII others who wiII die as a resuIt of “sociaI distancing”
    5 – For heaIthy peopIe to stop hoarding suppIies desperateIy needed by the vuInerabIe


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