Sainthood campaign for Titanic priest, Fr Thomas Byles

Staff reporter

A Catholic priest who decided to stay on the Titanic to pray with passengers rather than flee should be made a saint, campaigners have said.

Fr Thomas Byles boarded the ship at Southampton to attend his younger brother’s wedding in New York. However, when it sank in 1912 he twice refused to join a lifeboat and instead remained with passengers to pray.

Fr Graham Smith of St Helen’s Church, Chipping Ongar in Essex (Fr Byles’ former parish) said he was “an extraordinary man who gave his life for others”.

“We need, in very old parlance, to raise him to the altar which means that the Vatican will recognise him as a martyr of the Church.

“We hope people around the world will pray to him if they are in need and, if a miracle occurs, then beatification and then canonisation can go forward,” he said.