Going Down With the Ship

By Anne Tschanz. Filed in News  |  
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Here is another Titanic story on LifeSiteNews emerging from the 100th anniversary (April 15th) of the sinking of the unsinkable ship.

On April 12, 1914, a 42-year-old Catholic convert by the name of Fr. Thomas Byles was on his way to New York via the Titanic to officiate at his brother’s wedding. He had spent the day saying Mass for the second and third class passengers and was reportedly praying the Divine Office when the ship struck the iceberg.

According to eyewitnesses, Father Byles helped women and children get into the lifeboats, then heard confessions, gave absolution, and led passengers in reciting the Rosary. Agnes McCoy said that Father “stood on the deck with Catholics, Protestants and Jews kneeling around him” praying for the repose of the souls about to perish. His friend Fr. Patrick McKenna said, “He twice refused the offer of a place in a boat, saying his duty was to stay on the ship while one soul wanted his ministrations.”

After the shipwreck, a newspaper said of him: “Among those who safely reached the land again no one seems to have been aware of his presence on the ship, but we may hope that many who meet him in a blissful eternity will praise God that Father Thomas Byles was there to administer absolution unto them.”

His body was never identified. May this priest among priests rest in the peace of Christ.

 


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One Comment

  1. Comment by Barb Finnegan:

    Reminds me of the World War II account of ‘The Four Chaplains’ on the Dorchester, which was sunk by a Nazi U-boat. Two Protestant ministers, one Catholic priest and one Jewish rabbi. They helped and encouraged the crewmen as they abandoned ship, assisting them into lifeboats, then giving up their lifejackets when the supply of them ran out. Then, as the ship slipped beneath the waves, the four linked arms together and prayed aloud the Our Father as the waters covered them up.

    What courage that Father Byles showed on the Titanic, and the Four Chaplains on the Dorchester. May these brave shepherds rest in peace!

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