Japanese Christians lined up before dawn on Sunday to get seats at a Mass being said by Pope Francis in Nagasaki, where 27,000 people were killed instantly when the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan, effectively ending World War Two.
Francis is the first pope to visit Nagasaki in 38 years and the second in history. Nagasaki is also known for its "Hidden Christians", people who went underground to blend their religion with elements of Buddhism and Japan's native Shinto rather than give up their religion or be martyred for their faith. Pope John Paul II also visited Nagasaki during his trip to Japan 38 years ago.
The city "makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we humans are capable of inflicting upon one another," Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis arrived in Japan on Saturday as part of a week long trip to Asia — the second-ever papal visit to the country and the first in 38 years.
He came with an anti-nuclear message and offered prayers for Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the only cities in the world to have suffered an atomic bombing. Pope Francis is a determined anti-nuclear campaigner and has called for a total ban on nuclear weapons.
On this trip, he will also meet survivors of the nuclear accident in Fukushima (March 11, 2011), the worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl.