On March 20, 2019, during a General Audience at the Vatican, the Earth Caravan, led by Buddhist priest Ryokyu Endo, along with Mrs. Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor who received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN in 2017, presented the Hiroshima Flame to His Holiness Pope Francis. The flame was taken from the ashes of the atomic bomb and has been burning continuously as a symbol for peace since August 6, 1945.
To symbolize a future free from all weapons, including nuclear arms, Pope Francis blew out the Hiroshima Flame. He is expected to visit Nagasaki, Japan later in the year to solidify his commitment to a nuclear weapons-free world. The Vatican was one of the first countries to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2017.
Mrs. Thurlow was 13 years old when the atomic bomb exploded, and she lost her entire family. Joining Mrs. Thurlow was a delegation of four 13-year-old girls from different countries and cultural backgrounds, including Ms. Yusa Okada, a third-generation atomic bomb survivor from Nagasaki. Also accompanying the delegation will be second-generation Nagasaki bomb survivor Ms. Chiyumi Shinkai. Lawrence Lefcort and Alex Pereklita of Tao Sangha represented the Earth Caravan delegation from Canada.
The Hiroshima Flame has been burning constantly since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August of 1945. It is to be extinguished only when the threat of nuclear war and nuclear weapons is gone. By symbolically blowing out the flame at the Vatican, we hope to usher in the bright future of a nuclear-free world.
Since 2015, Earth Caravan has traveled from Nagasaki to Hiroshima, from Auschwitz to Srebrenica, and from the First Nations of Canada to Israel and Palestine. Every year, Earth Caravan’s prayers and activities inspire thousands of people all around the globe to work for the bright future that we all share.