Note: This is a very similar question to this:

Did eight Jesuit priests survive the nuking of Hiroshima in a scientifically inexplicable manner?

However, since in spite of their parallelism these are actually two different events, I've finally decided to ask two questions instead of one.

It is being frequently claimed by Catholic sources (e.g. Catholic Herald) and even Wikipedia that Franciscan friars survived the nuking of Nagasaki because of the friary being protected from the blast by a mountain. It is also claimed that st. Maximilian Kolbe had built the friary in this place contrary to what he had been advised. It is claimed that Maximillian Kolbe must have had some prior knowledge about the exact location of the nuclear blast.

Did the Franciscans really survive the blast?

Was the peculiar location of the friary the primary cause of their survival according to contemporary science?

Was Kolbe's decision to erect the friary in this peculiar location odd? I mean, can it be maintained that in all probability anyone in Kolbe's position would likely erect the friary elsewhere?

  • 6
    Stipulating all the facts; Does making a non-obvious choice really count as a miracle without an apparition, dream, prayer or anything?
    – user36688
    Jul 12 '17 at 22:25
  • 11
    Questions of this nature always bothered me for 2 reasons: 1) Why isn't the survival rate for members of $religion caught up in such events never 100% or anywhere near it? Surely the god in question should protect all of their subjects in the same manner as they protected those who survived? 2) I thought death was supposed to be a release from Earthly obligations and you would then exist in a state of eternal bliss from then on? If that's so why is avoiding death such a good thing?
    – GordonM
    Jul 13 '17 at 8:53
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    I believe that in order to get a reasonable answer one will have to read the biography of St. Maximilian Kolbe by Antonio Ricciardi, the postulator for his cause of beatification and canonization (separate books) at Rome. I read it years ago and this very question is alluded to. St. Maximilian Kolbe made some statements about the friary and actually went against the opinions of ours on this matter. However, when he was asked by his confreres as to whether or not something was reveled to him, he remained silent. Riccardi himself believed that Maximilian Kolbe did have an apparition.
    – Ken Graham
    Jul 13 '17 at 17:36
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    @Ken Graham: Maybe he just liked the view from that location?
    – jamesqf
    Jul 13 '17 at 18:31
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    If we're going to attribute their survival to a miracle, don't we also have to attribute the deaths of other priests and friars to miraculous intervention - in which people were directed to build or be in places where God knew that death would result? This is clearly cherry-picking at its finest!
    – Mark
    Jul 14 '17 at 14:20

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