St. Andre Bessette
Andre Bessette was born on the 9th of August, 1845 near Montreal to aFrench Canadian couple. His parents sadly passed away when he was 12years old; he was adopted and as he grew, he tried his hands at severalprofessions. First, he worked as a farmhand, then shoemaker, baker,blacksmith then factory worker in the civil war; all of which he couldbarely sustain due to his health challenges.
When Bessette turned 25, he applied to join the Congregation of HolyCross. He was refused admission after a year’s novitiate, because of hispoor health. Eventually, after an extension and with a recommendationfrom Bishop Bourget, he was finally admitted into the Congregation.
Dedication and Devotion
At Notre Dame College in Montreal, he worked as a doorkeeper, messenger,barber, gardener, laundry worker, and sacristan at the college. In hissmall room, he prayed on his knees most nights, next to the statue ofSaint Joseph on his windowsill. He firmly believed that one day; SaintJoseph would be specially honored on Mount Royal.
Whenever Brother Andre heard someone was sick, he would visit the personto pray for them and offer good cheer. He would take some oil from alamp burning within the college chapel and rub it gently on their bodywhile he prayed to St. Joseph for their healing.
When an epidemic broke out at a college nearby, Brother Bessettevolunteered to help nurse the ill; and not a single person died. Fromthen on, the sick began to crowd at his doorstep asking to be healed.This made the diocesan authorities and his superiors uneasy whiledoctors labeled him a quack. Through all this, Bessette maintained overand over that he was not the cause of the cure but just a vessel ofSaint Joseph.
In 1904, he requested permission from the Archbishop of Montreal tobuild a chapel to Saint Joseph on the mountain close to the college. TheArchbishop granted permission on the basis that Brother Andre wouldbuild only what he could afford.
Part of the money Andre had was from the nickels and dimes he had savedfrom giving haircuts to the college boys over the years. The remainingcame from a small donation plate he had placed in a picnic shelter onthe mountain top close to the statue of St. Joseph. Put together, themoney amounted to a few hundred dollars. Undeterred by the littlefunding, he put the money into building a tiny wood shelter.
Three years later, Brother Andre returned to the Archbishop to requestmore building permission. He had gathered some more money from donationsand wanted to expand the shelter. Once permission was given, BrotherAndre added a roof, walls, and a pilgrim shelter and paved the mountainroad. He lived there full time, caring and healing for as many people ashe could.
Death and Canonization
Brother Andre Bessette died at the age of 91 on January 6th, 1937 inMontreal and was buried in the beautiful Oratory on Mount Royal after along life of service to humanity and devotion to St. Joseph.
He was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2010. The feast of St. AndreBessette is held on the 6th of January every year
5 Interesting Facts About St. Andre Bessette
- Did you know that when St. Andre was alive, he received over 50,000
letters yearly and needed the help of four secretaries to handle
the outpouring of letters?
- Saint Andre Bessette was popularly called the “Miracle Man of
- Did you know that Saint Andre is one of the most popular Canadian
- When Saint Andre passed away, nearly one million people came to the
oratory to mourn him and pay their last respects.
- Did you know there are five different Catholic churches named after
St. Andre Bessette located respectively in Pennsylvania, New
Hampshire, Michigan, Ontario, and Oregon?
Prayer to St. Andre Bessette
Lord, you have chosen Brother Andréto spread devotion to Saint Joseph, and to dedicate himself to all those who are poor and afflicted. Grant through his intercessionthe favor that we now request…[state your intention(s) here…]Grant us the graceto imitate his piety and charity,so that, with him,we may share the reward promisedto all who care for their neighbors out of love for you.We make this prayer in the name of Jesus the Lord.Amen.