Roll Back the Clouds, my new novel about the Lusitania, releases on March 17. Many of the passengers aboard the ill-fated, final voyage appear alongside main characters, Geoff and Rosaleen Bonnard. I’ll be profiling several of them here. This week, meet Father Basil Maturin.
Basil Maturin was born in 1847 in Ireland. After receiving an education at Trinity College in Dublin, he was sent to Philadelphia to be the rector at St. Clement’s Episcopalian Church. He became a Catholic in 1897.
In 1913, he became Catholic chaplain at Oxford University. He embarked on a preaching tour in the United States in 1915, and was returning to England on the Lusitania. While in New York, he spoke to several Irish-Americans and was surprised, but relieved, to discover they were not pro-German.
As the Lusitania sank, he administered absolutions to several people, and was seen placing a child in a lifeboat. He did not wear a lifebelt, and was lost in the disaster. His body was recovered by two elderly fishermen and identified by his papers, silver watch, banker’s drafts for ₤2,000. He was buried in England.
In Roll Back the Clouds, Father Maturin meets the Bonnards in the first-class lounge, where they partook of afternoon tea.