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Mass on Mount Suribachi (Iwo Jima)

// After the american flag raising in Iwo Jima, a mass occurred in the top of the Mount Suribachi which encouraged the soldiers to proceed with the battle.

As they climbed, he saw the flag waving on top of the mountain. A wave of enthusiasm swept over all the marines, and some even cried with joy when they saw the American flag waving in the wind. "We've all experienced an emotion that none of us will ever be able to describe," said Father Suver.

Unfortunately, Lt. Haynes, who shown readiness to raise the flag on the hill, was shot in the back moments before and was paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Father Suver reached the top and, with the approval of the commander, prepared to celebrate mass. Two empty gas tanks with a board placed on top were all they could find to serve as altar. About twenty soldiers came to attend the mass with their weapons and in alert, because the Japanese resistance was still very fierce.

To protect the priest and the holy vessels, two marines hold a blanket against the fierce wind. Marines protected the priest not only from the wind but also because a possible attack could be imminent.

The nearby caves was still housing Japanese soldiers and were so close that the priest Suver could hear the Japanese talking about that unknown religious ceremony. Providentially, the Japanese did not attack and Father Suver has achieved a historic first mass of the island of Iwo Jima.

Jim Fisk, the assistant of Father Suver, subsequently published an article stating that the mass was celebrated during the raising of the first flag, around 10:30 am. The second flag raising - photographed by Joe Rosenthal - occurred between 12:00 and 12:30.

About the time the mass was celebrated, there is a version of Jerry Chapdelaine, a Jesuit priest who was a friend of Fr. Suver and who lived with him at Bellarmine Jesuit school in Tacoma, Washington. According to him, the priest Suver told him personally that the mass was recited before the raising of the flag and not after. Father Chapdelaine Suver account that the priest told his men: "I will deliver the mass for you and then you raise the flag."

"He was a tough guy," says Fr. Chapdelaine on Father Suver, "he was physically strong and had a lot of courage. But he was a very kind man, too." Father Suver died of cancer in 1993 at age 86 in Easter Sunday. "He wanted to die on Good Friday - as he himself told me," said Father Chapdelaine, who celebrated his funeral at St. Joseph Church in Seattle.

On the role of chaplains Jesuits, photographer Joe Rosenthal - who, before landing, Lt. Haynes boasted that would raise a flag at the summit of Suribachi and that the priest Suver promised that would celebrate a mass underneath it - said that he had good memories of courageous priests who served as chaplains during World War II. "Most chaplains were good (...). Jesuits were admired by all Marines. (...) If they found a Marine dying, they would go there [at the risk of being hit], as a natural thing. They were as heroic as the Marines. "

Father Suver and his men had fulfilled his promise, despite the great danger they found. Many battle was still ahead on Iwo Jima, but raising the flag and the mass encouraged the marines to keep the fight in a sublime combination of bravery patriotic and religious fervor.


Something Else Sublime Happened on Mount SuribachiBlog The America Needs Fatima

Fr. Charles F. Suver, S.J. "The Jesuit of Iwo Jima"Blog Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit

The Forgotten Mass on Iwo Jimasite The Remnant Newspaper

The Mass on Mount Suribachisite The American Catholic



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Text from the Edson Carlos de Oliveira's work.

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