By Martin Gleeson


Julia Canny was born to a farming family in Upper Kilbeg, outside Clonbur, Co. Galway, in November 1894. She left school after reaching Fifth Class. When Julia was 27, she decided to emigrate to the USA.

Twelve years later she had a late vocation and joined the Society of the Helpers of the Holy Souls (often called the Sisters of the Holy Souls.) This order was set up to relieve the suffering of the souls in purgatory.

She made her first vows in September, 1934. In 1939, she took on the religious name of Sister Mary of Saint Isaac Jogues.

In 1939, Julia boarded the last ship out of San Francisco and sailed across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, disembarking in the port of Hiroshima. There she entered a convent. Luckily for her she brought her Irish citizen papers with her.

When war broke out in December 1941, all foreign missionaries were arrested. Julia was presumed to be an American enemy and was interned in a concentration camp.

It was seven months later before she was released when the Swiss Ambassador was able to prove that she was an Irish citizen.

While in Hiroshima, Julia made her perpetual vows in 1940.
On the 6th of August 1945, the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing over 70,000 Japanese civilians.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own