Father Basil Maturin, Hero and Martyr of the Lusitania sinking

Father Basil W. Maturin was born on February 15,1847 in Dublin, Ireland to William Maturin and Jane Cook, who were members of the Church of Ireland. He was also the grandson of Charles Maturin, a writer. As a young man, he went on a retreat with the Cowley Fathers (the Society of St. John the Evangelist) and was ordained an Anglican priest. In 1876, he was sent to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be the rector of Saint Clement’s Church. In 1879, he was assigned a controversial mission at Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore, Maryland. It resulted in the publication of a pamphlet that protested the mission’s “Romish practices”. In 1897, he entered the Roman Catholic Church and in 1898, he was ordained as a Catholic priest by his friend Archbishop Herbert Cardinal Vaughan. Among being a successful Catholic priest, he was also a gifted writer. Among his works are Self-Knowledge and Self-Discipline (1905), Laws of the Spiritual Life (1908), Christian Self-Mastery, and The Price of Unity (1912). In 1913, he was appointed the Catholic chaplain for the University of Oxford. In 1915, he went to the United States to conduct a successful preaching tour. He also conducted a Lenten series at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in New York. On May 1,1915, he booked passage as a 1st Class passenger on the RMS Lusitania of the Cunard Line. On May 7,1915, as the RMS Lusitania was nearing its final phase of its voyage. Father Maturin was having lunch with Father Charles Cowley, a fellow Catholic priest. At 2:10 pm, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German u-boat, U-20. When the liner was sinking, Father Maturin was seen “pale but calm” and administered absolution to several people. He helped many people and was offered a place in a lifeboat, in which he refused to board it. He perished in the sinking. His body was later recovered. He was mourned in both England and Ireland.

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