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Cardinal Francis Spellman, The Military Vicar of the United States First Hawaii Visit

by Nov 10, 2019

As World War II formally concluded aboard Battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, there were other places, other gatherings, other moments of reflection, as peace was finally restored.

Among those, were gatherings inspired by the visit of Cardinal Francis Spellman, the Archbishop of New York, the Military Vicar of the United States.

Cardinal Spellman had been appointed the Military Vicar for the United States in 1939, overseeing all 3270 military chaplains assigned to every military service stationed throughout the war zones.

He traveled widely during the war, spending as much time as possible in overseas areas, presenting mass multiple times a day, and visiting hospitals, spending time with individuals wherever he went.

According to his personal journal, he was with President Truman when the Japanese acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration was confirmed, and soon after was given permission to begin an extensive tour of the Pacific war zones.

He first visited Hawaii, celebrating mass at Pearl Harbor on August 15, 1945, offering a prayer for peace:

“In God’s Providence we pray that the wounds of war will one day be healed, the tears of men and nature dried…”

He traveled on to Iwo Jima, climbing to the top of Mt. Suribachi, standing where the American flag had been raised. He traveled to the Philippines where he met with General MacArthur in Manila, and then continued on to Okinawa and finally to mainland Japan where he was deeply affected by war’s devastation.

Cardinal Spellman’s service as Military Vicar for the United States continued on during the Korean War and the war in Vietnam.

September 2, 1945: Cpl. Louis Donatelli (left) and Sgt Denis Neuberger (right), kneel in prayer during a V-J Day mass conducted by Cardinal Francis Spellman, Military Vicar of the United States, at the Mandaluyong Hospital Center in the Philippines.