Sister Callistus speaks about the Andrea Doria [Part One]

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Sister Callistus speaks about the Andrea Doria [Part One]


Andrea Doria; Sister Callistus Arnsby


In 1987, Sister Callistus spoke to the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph at Mount St Joseph Motherhouse in London, Ontario. The story was well known, but it was the first time that she had spoken to the whole Congregation about the sinking of the Andrea Doria.

After her year spent in Italy, Sr Callistus and Sr Marie Raymond, a Dominican sister from Grand Rapids, Michigan, secured passage on the Andrea Doria to New York. Sister Callistus described a beautiful ship, with canvasses, murals, frescoes, tapestries, sculptures, and mirrors everywhere.

On the night of July 26, 1956, the Swedish ship Stockholm struck the Andrea Doria port side creating a large tear in her hull. Chaos ensued, and the cabins were evacuated. Sisters Callistus and Marie Raymond rushed out of their berths and dressed quickly, throwing on their habits and head linens.

They joined the other passengers in the Promenade Deck lounge to await information and instruction. The Andrea Doria was listing significantly, making moving around the ship difficult. Once they arrived in the lounge, the Sisters discovered that glasses had been thrown off the bar and the furniture was out of place, creating quite a danger. The bar-keeper found heavy rope and tied it between the pillars in the lounge to help people move around.

Sister Callistus and Sister Angelita, an Italian Sister, tried to calm the upset passengers by praying the Rosary. There were several priests on board the Andrea Doria, and one of them, realizing the gravity of the event, came into the lounge and pronounced a General Absolution to all those who truly repented of their sins.

The passengers received no information from Captain Calamai or any of the ship's officers. No one ever told them that the ship was in danger of sinking or that half the lifeboats were useless. Sister Callistus found out later that the captain was so shocked by the event that he had been rendered "totally useless."


Sr Callistus Arnsby


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Sr Callistus Arnsby, “Sister Callistus speaks about the Andrea Doria [Part One],” Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives, accessed May 24, 2024,