In my blog post for August 6, I wrote about the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Six days later the Pacific War came to an end -- so since then in this country August 15 has been known as V-J (victory over Japan) Day. Accordingly, August 15 is celebrated as Liberation Day in Korea and some other nations. Here is an image if the front page of the New York Times for August 15, 1945:
Every year in Japan, August 15 is referred to as shusen kinenbi, which literally means "memorial day for the end of the war." The official name for this day is Senbotsusha o Tsuito Shi, Heiwa o Kinen Suru Hi (the day for mourning those who died in war and for praying for peace). I hope that all of us can take some time today to pray that there will be peace in our world, that there will be no more use of atomic weapons and that wars of all kinds will cease.
August 15 has long been celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church, and some other Churches, as the Assumption of Mary (the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken bodily into heaven). In many places it is a "holy day of obligation," meaning that attendance at Mass is mandatory.
On August 15, 1534, Ignatius of Loyola and his followers made a commitment that led to the formation the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), which I wrote about in my blog post on August 11. (August 15 was chosen as the date for that event since it was an auspicious feast day.)
One of those who made that commitment was Francis Xavier, and on August 15, 1549, he was the first Christian missionary to set foot on Japanese soil, arriving in Kagoshima on that date. Here is a painting of Xavier's landing in Japan:
August 15 also has a very personal meaning for me: it is the day on which I was born. And it is also the day on which my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our first child, our son Keith.