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Sainthood bid for priest aboard the Titanic


Posted on Monday, 13 April, 2015 | Comment icon 40 comments

The Titanic had nowhere near enough lifeboats to save everyone. Image Credit: Willy Stower - 1912
Father Thomas Byles went down with the doomed vessel after twice refusing to leave on a lifeboat.
When the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg during its fateful maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City in 1912 there was panic among the passengers and crew as people scrambled for access to the small number of lifeboats that were available.

Amidst the chaos however there was one man who was anything but in a hurry to escape the stricken ship. Father Thomas Byles of St Helen's Church in Essex refused to board the lifeboats so that he could stay on the ship and pray with the other passengers.

Sadly Father Byles died that night alongside 1,500 other passengers and crewmen.

Now more than a century after the Titanic's demise efforts are underway to grant the late priest a sainthood for giving his own life to help those who were left behind by the lifeboats.

"We need, in very old parlance, to raise him to the altar which means that the Vatican will recognize him as a martyr of the church," said Father Graham Smith, the current priest at St Helen's Church.

"We are hoping and praying that he will be recognized as one of the saints within our canon."

Source: BBC News | Comments (40)

Tags: Titanic, Saint

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #31 Posted by Stubbly_Dooright on 14 April, 2015, 13:04
yeah but he didnt "kill himself" I think that's a good point. He went down bravely being there for others. A situation like that would certainly be traumatic, I actually find it quite disrespectful that because of one mans religious standing, that he would be credited for giving comfort, when in that kind of situation, you do not need to be religious to be given comfort when it is obvious you are going to die. I imagine many were comforting each other at the time. Yes, those who were religious would have prayed, but the Father would not have had the time to "comfort" them all, others would hav... [More]
Comment icon #32 Posted by freetoroam on 14 April, 2015, 13:37
So because he was a good person and died helping people, he deserves to be a saint? Helping people is not a miracle. If everyone who died helping people became Saints, we'd have a whole lotta saints out there! I think its a catholic thing, which is fine, each to his own, but here we are not talking about one mans "sacrifice" or heroism, we are talking about many, hence why I think they should not be singling out just one, he surely was not the only catholic on board.
Comment icon #33 Posted by White Crane Feather on 14 April, 2015, 14:11
Hmm, sorry to say this, but is this not a prime example that praying to god is useless. i am sure there were a few heroic men on board that ship, but out of respect for all those who died = NO ONE should be singled out as a "saint". ALL were equal! He was probably not praying for deliverance catholic priests focus on the soul.... Usually. There is nothing wrong with his peers singling out his sacrifice for his spiritual faith. I'm sure there were other heros on board the titanic aswell.
Comment icon #34 Posted by Calibeliever on 14 April, 2015, 17:01
He sounds like a remarkable man. Whether or not he's canonized, it's good that his story is remembered and is being told. Sometimes we are at our best when things are at their worst. This man risked his own safety to comfort others and whether you're religious or not, that deserves a nod. Good on him.
Comment icon #35 Posted by Stubbly_Dooright on 14 April, 2015, 18:26
I think its a catholic thing, which is fine, each to his own, but here we are not talking about one mans "sacrifice" or heroism, we are talking about many, hence why I think they should not be singling out just one, he surely was not the only catholic on board. I don't think he is being singled out, but I do feel he was one of the many that survivors remember, because of what he did and what he did not take when given the chance. Like the same thing with the band, and the others who died trying to save others. There were probably more too, but because of the chaos, there was only what was goin... [More]
Comment icon #36 Posted by freetoroam on 14 April, 2015, 19:04
I don't think he is being singled out, but I do feel he was one of the many that survivors remember, because of what he did and what he did not take when given the chance. Like the same thing with the band, and the others who died trying to save others. There were probably more too, but because of the chaos, there was only what was going on at the moment and probably not on so many minds to record other's actions. Because of the chaos i doubt one man stood out above others who did the same thing....really i do not mean to sound disrespectful to the Father, i give him as much credit for his bra... [More]
Comment icon #37 Posted by Stubbly_Dooright on 15 April, 2015, 13:21
Because of the chaos i doubt one man stood out above others who did the same thing....really i do not mean to sound disrespectful to the Father, i give him as much credit for his bravery as I do to the others, I think it the fact that the church do not. i actually wonder if the Father would welcome a sainthood or be humble enough to admit he did no different from his fellow man and that remembering them all would suffice? As pointed out he deserves a "nod", but so do all those who gave comfort. I am agreeing with you. I don't know if I am having trouble communicating what I am trying to say. (... [More]
Comment icon #38 Posted by HollyDolly on 15 April, 2015, 21:29
I thought there had to be at least one miracle while they were alive, but I guess I was wrong after reading up on the process. http://en.wikipedia....ki/Canonization It does seem that regardless of if the person is a Martyr, he/she still needs two miracles after they are dead attributed directly to them to become a Saint. It appears there is a whole Catholic Bureaucracy involved in the several steps in the process. Well there is. It was St.John Paul 2 who did away with the office od Devil's Advocate. This was an investigator who did research into the proposed saints background. It was thier jo... [More]
Comment icon #39 Posted by Stubbly_Dooright on 16 April, 2015, 12:49
Well, I am in the boat thinking that the poor father didn't really perform any miracles, but was a hero nevertheless, being there for others when the ship went down. But if we are thinking of maybe extraordinary circumstances from that event, I have read into many. Like strangers out of nowhere who throw people into life boats, to individuals having 'dreams' and decide to not go on the boat, or those who did and mentioned it to survivors. I think I read in Margaret Brown's biography that someone she knew on the ship mentioned such a dream to her. I even read that there was a rumor that a Egypt... [More]
Comment icon #40 Posted by DieChecker on 17 April, 2015, 5:00
Well there is. It was St.John Paul 2 who did away with the office od Devil's Advocate. This was an investigator who did research into the proposed saints background. It was thier job to say why someone shouldn't be a saint. He didn't remove the office, he softened it's powers. The office was established in 1587 during the reign of Pope Sixtus V. The first formal mention of such an officer is found in the canonization of St. Lawrence Justinian under Leo X (1513-21).[3] Pope John Paul II reduced the power and changed the role of the office in 1983.[4] This reform changed the canonization process... [More]


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