Sunday, January 6, 2019
01 Works, RELIGIOUS ART - Today, January 6, is Saint André of Montreal's Day, With Footnotes - 165
Saint André Bessette
André Bessette, C.S.C. (9 August 1845 – 6 January 1937), more commonly known as Brother André, and since his canonization as Saint André of Montreal, was a lay brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross and a significant figure of the Roman Catholic Church among French-Canadians, credited with thousands of reported miraculous oil healings associated with his pious devotion to Saint Joseph.
André was born near Montreal, Canada. Orphaned at the age of twelve, he was forced to support himself working as an unskilled laborer in the textile mills of New England.
In 1867, André returned to Canada. The pastor of his parish noticed the devotion and generosity of the young man. He decided to present Alfred to the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal. Although he was initially rejected by the order because of frail health, Archbishop Ignace Bourget of Montreal intervened on his behalf, and in 1872, Alfred was accepted, and entered the novitiate of the congregation, receiving the religious name of Brother André, by which he was known for the rest of his life. He made his final vows on February 2, 1874, at the age of 28.
He was sent to the brother’s Notre Dame College in Montreal. Because of his lack of skills and because he could hardly read or write because of his erratic schooling due to his poor health he was assigned all kinds of menial tasks such as janitor, sacristan, laundry worker, messenger, etc., but foremost of which was being doorkeeper
He served for the next 40 years as the doorkeeper and, along the way, gained a reputation as a healer. When students fell ill, they came to Br. André and together they prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of Canada.
Largely uneducated, always a sickly, 5-foot-3-inch brother is the first canonized Holy Cross saint. Known for his generosity and credited with many miracles, especially benefitting the sick and the poor, he was popularly known as the “Miracle Man of Montreal.” He was also quick to attribute any miracles or graces to the intercession of Saint Joseph.
Bessette was declared venerable in 1978 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree of sainthood for Blessed André on 19 February 2010, with the formal canonization taking place on 17 October 2010. More on André Bessette.
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