These statues at Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki stand as a poignant reminder of real perseverance. They're fragmented and scarred but they still stand strong.
First let's back up to 1865: Japan has recently opened its doors to foreign trade but the 250+ year ban on religion remains. The underground Catholic church has continued in secret for centuries, and this year a small group of the underground church sought out a visiting French priest. This is one of the moments I wish I had a time machine for. I wish I could have seen the look on the priest's face when he found out their faith had not actually been wiped out centuries ago.
Fast forward a few years: After the ban on religion was lifted, this cathedral was built and dedicated in 1914. It was used for about 30 years, but during WW2 it was only 500 meters from the center of the atomic bomb dropped in Nagasaki in 1945. The majority of the members of Urakami Cathedral died but the remaining members started to rebuild the church the same year it was destroyed.
Now back to present day: Though I painted statues, these remind me of the perseverance of the real people who continued traditions for hundreds of years despite the life-threatening risk over their families and communities. These few broken statues remind me of the resilience of those who chose to rebuild the cathedral soon after the bombing. There were thousands who persevered in circumstances far more difficult than I will likely ever face. I'm grateful to see these statue remains to remember what true hope looks like.