Excerpt from Catholic Herald, April 7, 2016:
Fr Thomas Byles, I am convinced, was a holy man. And miracles are already being attributed to his intercession.
When I heard the priest’s story, and was shown his picture and the stained-glass window dedicated to him in the small church, I thought more people should know about him. I asked whether anyone had taken his Cause to Rome to start the canonisation process. I was surprised to hear no one had.
His younger brother William had also converted to Catholicism and had moved to America to run a rubber business. He asked Fr Byles to officiate at his wedding. So arrangements were made for the priest to travel to New York. He was initially supposed to travel on another White Star liner, but changed at the last minute to travel on the Titanic. His second-class ticket (number 244310) cost £13. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton on April 10, 1912.
On the morning of Sunday April 14, Fr Byles celebrated Mass and preached a homily which, according to the Evening World, was on the need to have a “lifeboat in the shape of religious consolation at hand in case of spiritual shipwreck”. The following night, the Titanic struck the iceberg.
After the collision, Fr Byles helped the third-class passengers up the stairs and into the boats. He also heard confessions, and prayed and sang with those who couldn’t find a place on the lifeboats. (He had been offered a seat but refused.) Eyewitness Bertha Moran later recalled: “Continuing the prayers, he led us to where the boats were being lowered. Helping the women and children in, he whispered to them words of comfort and encouragement.” Read More