The Unsinkable Fr. Browne, SJ

Fr Browne SJ Collection—UIG/The Bridgeman Art Library

An image of Fr. Browne later in life from the Fr Browne SJ Collection—UIG/The Bridgeman Art Library

Today in history, the RMS Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. More than 1,500 lives were lost in the tragic shipwreck.

A little-known fact about the ship’s fateful 1912 voyage was that an Irish Jesuit by the name of Francis Browne – who had been a photographer for more than ten years prior to sailing – had been aboard before it sank. Fr. Browne sailed aboard the Titanic for the first leg of the ship’s journey, from Southampton, England to Cobh, Ireland.

He took a series of black-and-white photographs of the ship’s passengers and various parts of the ship. He befriended an American family, who insisted he join them on the rest of the voyage to America, offering to pay for his ticket. But when Fr. Browne asked his Jesuit provincial for permission, the provincial sent a message back that read, “Get off that ship.” That message may have saved Fr. Browne’s life – he disembarked in Ireland and returned home to England.

Fr. Browne would go on to be known as the most notable Irish photographer for the first half of the 20th century, documenting many facets of Irish life.  His photos were – and continue to be – displayed around the world and were published in Messenger Publication’s book “Father Browne’s Titanic Album: Centenary Edition,” which was released to mark 100 years since the Titanic’s sinking. 

Click here to view photos from his collection.

One thought on “The Unsinkable Fr. Browne, SJ

  1. Outstanding story…My daughter, Beth Malone…is starring at the Denver Center Theater , starting Sept. 12th..through October…as the “UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN”…so, I was glad your fellow Jesuit.. Fr. Mike Smith of Sacred Heart Fruita, Colorado, shared this information with me!! Wow!!!!

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