Pope Francis Shares a Devastating Photo for His New Year Message

Nagasaki 1945
Nagasaki 1945 | © Joe O'Donnell / Courtesy of Vatican Press Office
Lucy Dayman

As part of his New Year’s address, Pope Francis shared the most important image you’ll see all day.

Pope Francis has printed a card calling for peace and empathy in this New Year as a bleak warning of what the face of global conflict looks like. Featuring one of the most devastating photos to come out of World War II, the card simply reads in Italian “il frutto della guerra,” which translates into English to “the fruit of war.”

127-GW-1643-137017: Nagasaki, Japan

At the bottom of the card, a short text explains the origin and story behind this incredibly moving image, saying: “The young boy’s sadness is expressed only in his gesture of biting his lips which are oozing blood.”

The Vatican is set to distribute these cards in order to make clear Pope Francis’ stance on nuclear weapons and the impacts of conflict on children. It’s the first time the pontiff has specifically requested that an image be shared during the holiday season, suggesting it’s a message he believes to be of upmost importance coming into 2018.

Nagasaki 1945

During his time in Japan, photographer O’Donnell spent four years documenting the devastating aftermath of the nuclear bombing, which he later went on to compile and publish in a book titled Japan 1945: A US. Marine’s Photographs from Ground Zero.

Pope Francis’ New Year’s address was a stark warning of what the future possibly holds for those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past. He said in his New Year’s address about 2017: “We humans in so many ways ruined and hurt it with works of death, with lies and injustices.”

80-G-264910: Nagasaki, Japan

On August 6, 1945 an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, which obliterated around 90% of the city and killed approximately 80,000 people instantly. Many more died from radiation exposure not long after. Then three days later, another B-29 bomber went on to drop a second bomb on Nagasaki, wiping out an estimated 40,000 more people.

Described as like being dropped into the center of the sun, the power of these bombs was something the world had never seen before, and their devastating power forced Japan’s Emperor Hirohito to concede absolute surrender. During a radio address on August 15, the Emperor described America’s latest weapon “a new and most cruel bomb.” By sharing this image, Pope Francis hopes that this cruel tool of war and its tragic consequences will not be forgotten.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article