In memoriam: the three Titanic priests

In the morning of 14 April 1912, Low Sunday, three Catholic priests, the English convert priest Father Thomas Byles, the German Benedictine priest-monk Father Josef Peruschitz, and the Lithuanian Byzantine-rite priest Father Juozas Montvila, said Mass for second- and third-class passengers of the RMS Titanic. That night, as Father Byles was walking in the upper deck while praying the Office, the ship struck an iceberg, from which collision she would later sink. Twice he refused to board a lifeboat, electing instead to remain with the rest, praying the Rosary until the very end, hearing confessions, and giving absolution. With him perished his two brother priests, who, having likewise declined to board a lifeboat, ministered to the passengers until the ship sank to the icy abyss.

Titanic Priests

Father Byles sailed for America in order to officiate the marriage of his brother in New York; Father Peruschitz, to take up his position as principal in a Benedictine high school in Minnesota; Father Montvila, to serve a Lithuanian parish in Massachusetts, after having been having been punished for ministering to Uniates and eventually pressured by the Russian authorities who outlawed Catholicism in his native Lithuania.

Ut Dominus Deus noster concedat nobis sacerdotes sanctos.

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