A Jesuit on the Titanic

Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and it turns out that there’s a Jesuit angle to the tragic story.  An Irish novice named Francis Browne was aboard the ship on the first leg of its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to Cobh, Ireland.  He wanted to continue on to New York, but his superior ordered him to leave the ship and come home.  He dutifully complied, and he had a long career as a Jesuit.

In 1985 another Irish Jesuit discovered a trove of Fr. Browne’s photos, including some taken on board the Titanic.  They are the last images of life aboard the doomed ship, and were used for reference by the producers of the movie Titanic.  You can view some of them here.

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Jim Manney
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. Thank you, Jim, and those photos are absolutely telling of that era. Likely I will be bashed mightily here but as a writer I find it almost a violation of privacy that moviemakers would take a massive devastation and use actual photos just to produce a fictional romance. The question there is do we learn about the Titanic because of one piece of fiction or do we see it as one more movie evening?
    Fr. Browne truly was a great photographer and I think the black and white somehow brings the photos to foreshadow.


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