Satoko Kitahara

Satoko Kitahara. Life becomes pointless for people undergoing sorrow and hardship that can overwhelm their sense of order. But there is always a person caught up in such social disorder who can lead others to hope and not despair. Satoko was just such a person.



After Satoko Kitahara celebrated her first Christmas in Ants’ Town, she wrote to a close acquaintance, Shizue who was expecting her first child. Satoko knew she would stay single and not experience giving birth, and thus promised Shizue

Satoko in Ants’ Town

to pray for a safe delivery. But, she also wrote of “her own children”, saying, “It has become a real joy spending time with these little disadvantaged ones. My heart swells with special joy for your child because I too have come to know the joys of motherhood — thanks to my children in Ants Town. By devoting her life to the children Satoko became known as Ari no Machi no Maria – Mary of Ants’ Town.

Elizabeth Maria…

Elizabeth Maria Satoko KitaharaImage

Satoko took the baptismal name of Elizabeth, a heroic and courageous queen of Hungary who burned herself out in 1231 by looking after destitute lepers and establishing a hospital for the poor. When Satoko explained to her bemused parents the Un-Japanese custom of choosing a baptismal name, her father, an economics professor, quipped,: “Were she my pupil I would have to fail her on the way she wasted her family’s money!”


Satoko at Ants’ Town

How commanding is the event of Lourdes? One hundred years after the apparitions and on the opposite side of the world in Japan, Satoko Kitahara became a captive of the simple but powerful image of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Satoko was so much influenced by the power of the statue that she studied the event and converted from Shinto/Buddhism to the Catholic faith. Later she was to set up a replicate Shrine at Ants’ Town, a village of poverty stricken war victims.