The priest who had two opportunities to board lifeboats off the sinking Titanic could be on the path to sainthood, according to reports from CNA/EWTN.
A priest at Father Thomas Byles former Church is asking that the cause of his beatification be opened. Father Byles was on the Titanic to head to New York to preside over his brother’s wedding.
Miss Agnes McCoy, a third class passenger and survivor of the Titanic, said Fr. Byles had been on the ship, hearing confessions, praying with passengers and giving his blessing as the vessel sank.
McCoy’s testimony, and that of other passengers onboard, has been collected at www.fatherbyles.com.
Helen Mary Mocklare, another third class passenger, offered more details about the final hours of the priest’s life.
“When the crash came we were thrown from our berths … We saw before us, coming down the passageway, with his hand uplifted, Father Byles,” she recalled. “We knew him because he had visited us several times on board and celebrated Mass for us that very morning.”
“’Be calm, my good people,’ he said, and then he went about the steerage giving absolution and blessings…”
Mocklare continued: “A few around us became very excited and then it was that the priest again raised his hand and instantly they were calm once more. The passengers were immediately impressed by the absolute self-control of the priest.”
She recounted that a sailor “warned the priest of his danger and begged him to board a boat.” Although the sailor was anxious to help him, the priest twice refused to leave.
“Fr. Byles could have been saved, but he would not leave while one (passenger) was left and the sailor’s entreaties were not heeded,” Mocklare recounted. “After I got in the boat, which was the last one to leave, and we were slowly going further away from the ship, I could hear distinctly the voice of the priest and the responses to his prayers.”
Pretty amazing act of courage. Kinda’ interesting that Father Byles’ story hasn’t been featured more prominently in the histories of the Titanic.