January 5, 2018

Saint André Bessette of Montreal

Saint André Bessette

January 6th is the optional memorial of Saint André Bessette. God raised up this poor, uneducated, sickly man to be a model of holiness and obedience. Brother André was born Alfred Bessette on August 9, 1845, near Quebec, Canada. When he first entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross, he was of such poor health that they weren't sure what job he could do, so, they made him the doorkeeper. Brother André like to say: "When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained forty years." It was as a doorkeeper that he came into contact with the poor and the sick and commenced his ministry as a healer.

More and more people started coming to Brother André and his guidance was always the same. He told them to pray especially to Saint Joseph. Brother André had a great devotion to the foster father of Our Lord and he extolled others to seek St. Joseph's intercession. Soon, Brother André’s reputation for piety and as a healer grew, and people traveled from far and wide to meet and pray with him. In the end, he need four secretaries to handle the thousands of letters received.

For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to purchase land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of St. Joseph. Suddenly, the property owners yielded. André collected two hundred dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there-smiling through long hours of listening and applying St. Joseph's oil. Many physical and spiritual healings occurred as evidenced by large piles of crutches, canes and braces.

In time, an oratory dedicated to St. Joseph was established on Mt. Royal. Brother André would spend days there with long lines of sick people waiting to see him. The Congregation of the Holy Cross professes that the Cross of Christ is our only hope. Brother André witnessed to that every day. The pilgrims who sought him out were poor, sick and desperate. Brother André was their last resort. His Order had many educated and dynamic members yet God raised as its first canonized saint this uneducated man who seemed insignificant in the eyes of the world.

St. André Bessette died on January 6, 1937, at age 91. Newspapers reported that well over a million people attended his wake and burial. His body lies in a simple tomb in the Oratory he helped found. He was beatified by Saint John Paul II on May 23, 1982. Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for Blessed Bro. André on October 17, 2010. Lord our God, friend of the lowly, who gave your servant, Saint André Bessette, a great devotion to Saint Joseph and a special commitment to the poor and afflicted, help us through his intercession to follow his example of prayer and love and so come to share with him in your glory.

1 comment :

Scott Smith said...

Love St. Andre! Thanks for sharing.