Denver, Colo., Apr 17, 2012 / 14:05 pm
Three Catholic priests, including one hailed by Pope Saint Pius X as a martyr for the faith, were among the victims of the Titanic disaster remembered during its 100th anniversary on April 14-15.
All three of the European-born priests – Father Juozas Montvila of Lithuania, Father Josef Peruschitz, O.S.B. of Bavaria, and English rector Father Thomas Byles – are said to have declined lifeboats in order to offer spiritual aid to travelers who perished in the shipwreck, which claimed 1503 lives.
An eyewitness account of the 1912 sinking, published in the Jesuit journal “America,” described how “all the Catholics on board desired the assistance of priests with the greatest fervor.”
The priests led passengers in recitation of the Rosary, and “aroused those condemned to die to say acts of contrition and prepare themselves to meet the face of God.” According to the eyewitness, they were “engaged continuously giving general absolution to those who were about to die.”