Sister Callistus speaks about the Andrea Doria [Part Two]

Dublin Core


Sister Callistus speaks about the Andrea Doria [Part Two]


Andrea Doria; Sister Callistus Arnsby


Several small ships responded to the Andrea Doria's distress call, as did the French luxury liner the Ile de France. The French liner went 200 miles out of its way to respond to the distress call and the captain asked for volunteers to man the 32 lifeboats. The Stockholm, the very ship that collided with the Andrea Doria, also responded to the call.

Still, the passengers knew nothing of this. All Sister Callistus could see from the Promenade Deck was crew members using the Andrea Doria's lifeboats to save themselves. The barman in the lounge went to investigate, and upon his return he led them to the open boat deck where, by this time, the Ile de France was waiting.

Once on the Ile de France, they were given hot coffee, blankets, and sandwiches. Sister Callistus, however, was completely sapped of all her strength and the power of speech. She recalls that many passengers were taken to the hospital through the early hours of the morning.

At about 7 a.m., the chaplain of the Ile de France offered a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Chapel after which they were given permission to send a cable free of charge. Sister Callistus sent a cable to Mother Margaret Coughlin in London, Ontario telling her that she had gotten off the Andrea Doria and that she was safe.

Sister Callistus continued to comfort and reassure the distressed passengers. She recalls particularly one man, Dr. Peterson, whose wife, Martha, had been killed. Sister found out later that his wife had been crushed by the elevator shaft which fell on her bed. Martha and Dr Peterson had been traveling home from a medical conference Europe and had gotten tickets for the Andrea Doria after an unexpected cancellation. The night of the crash, the maid had put their nightclothes on opposite beds, and the two decided to sleep in each other's beds. When the collision occurred, Dr. Peterson was thrown out of his bed while Martha was pinned under the shaft and eventually killed, despite the efforts of many to free her.

Sister Marie Raymond, who was Sister Callistus' traveling companion, contacted her Reverend Mother who arranged for a Dominican priest to take the two Sisters to one of their convents in New York. From New York, Sister Callistus traveled to St Thomas, Ontario, arriving at 5 a.m. on the Saturday. She was met by Sister Baptista and Sister Immanuel who came to get her and take her to the convent in St Thomas to rest. Mother Margaret and Sister St. Martin came in the community car to bring her home. Sister Callistus was received with a great welcome when she returned to London.

Meanwhile, the Andrea Doria sank 45 miles south of Nantucket at 10:10 on the morning of July 26, 1956.


Sr Callistus Arnsby


[no text]


[no text]




[no text]


This content is from the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph in Canada Archives. We hold copyright or have copyright permission for this content. This content is intended for private reference and research, and we cannot assume liability for any other use. The content must not be altered or manipulated in any way, or be used for commercial purposes. Proper credit must be given when any part of this content is used, as follows:

The Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph in Canada Archives.

We are committed to observing copyright law. If we have inadvertently infringed on the intellectual property rights of copyright holders with respect to any content on this site, please don't hesitate to contact us with specific details.


[no text]


MP3 audio


[no text]







Sound Item Type Metadata

Original Format

audio cassette



Bit Rate/Frequency

256 kbit/s


[no text]



Sr Callistus Arnsby, “Sister Callistus speaks about the Andrea Doria [Part Two],” Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives, accessed April 16, 2024,