VICTIMS KNELT AROUND PRIEST AS VESSEL SANK
Father Byles Had Aided Women in Boats
"When the Titanic went to the bottom Father Thomas B. Byles stood on the deck with Catholics, Protestants and Jews kneeling around him. Father Byles was saying the rosary and praying for the repose of the souls of those about to perish. To many he administered the last rites of the Church. In the early stage of the disaster he heard a few confessions."
Miss Agnes McCoy, a patient in St. Vincent's Hospital, suffering from her privations in the Titanic disaster, gives this account of the last minutes of Father Byles, a Catholic priest, who was coming to the United States to officiate at his brother's wedding. A German priest assisted Father Byles, she said. Those remaining on board the Titanic when the last lifeboat had gone seemed to have consolation, she said, in having a clergyman offer up prayers for them.
"I did not see the final minutes of Father Byles," said Miss McCoy. She had seen him hearing confessions and administering the last rites of the Church in the early part of the disaster. She herself had appealed to him. Survivors told her later of what they had seen as they were washed off the deck. One told her that Father Byles stood and the men kneeled in the water as he offered up prayer.
Miss McCoy, her sister, Alice, and her brother were saved. The girls saved him. They were put off in a lifeboat. While the lifeboat was being rowed away a man swam alongside. He was their brother. They tried to pull him in, but a sailor struck him on the head with an oar, saying there was no room. One sister seized the sailor, while the other dragged the brother into the craft.
"I first saw Father Byles in the steerage," said Miss McCoy. "There were many Catholics there, and he eased their minds by praying for them, hearing confessions and giving them his blessing. I later saw him on the upper deck reading from his priest's book of hours. Survivors, especially a young English lad, told me later that he pocketed the book, gathered the men about him and, while they knelt, offered up prayer for their salvation."
NEW YORK TELEGRAM - April 22, 1912
This is the first publication of this
article since April 22, 1912.