This is the season for shipwrecks. A short while ago I wrote about our local bishop who was on the Andrea Doria. Now as we approach April 15th (remember to send in your taxes), the world is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. On her maiden (and only) voyage was a Jesuit novice by the name of Frank Browne. He set sail from Southhampton, England, and journeyed with the ship to France and Ireland. A benefactor was willing to pay the Jesuit’s way to America but his superior nixed the plan with the stern telegraph message: “Get off that ship.” He kept that telegram in his wallet for the rest of his life.
What makes this young man’s experience most interesting is the fact that he was a photographer. His photos of the life aboard the ship are classics. He took the last photo of the captain. He captured images of everyday life of the ship from first class down to steerage. James Cameron recreated his image of a 6 year old boy spinning a top in his blockbuster movie.
Frank Browne’s life could be a movie in itself. He was a highly decorated chaplain in World War I and was a classmate of James Joyce who featured him in his novel, “Finnegan’s Wake.”
If you are interested in seeing his photos, a book of his pictures has been recently issued called, “Father Browne’s Titanic Album.”