The Miracle Man of Montreal
Saint Francis High School celebrates the canonization of Holy Cross Brother André Bessette
When Pope Benedict XVI announced the canonization of Brother André Bessette earlier this year, the entire Congregation of Holy Cross greeted his pronouncement with joy and pride. This is particularly exciting news for the Holy Cross community because Brother Andre holds the unique position of being the first member of the congregation to be recognized as a saint.
“It is truly extraordinary that Blessed André Bessette is being canonized as the first saint of the congregation,” Director of Campus Ministry Sal Chavez shared. “When the Brothers of Holy Cross founded Saint Francis High School it was established on the core values of the congregation. These values of hope, respect, integrity and family are reflected in the life and legacy of Blessed André Bessette. He is an enduring role model for our students, faculty and families and we are inspired to see him join the communion of saints.”
Brother André was born Alfred Bessette in 1845 in Quebec, Canada. As a young man, he spent several years as a laborer on farms and in mills, yet his faith was steadfast and he had an enduring love for St. Joseph. His pastor was a mentor to Alfred, and soon he recommended he join religious life. The priest sent Alfred to the nearby community of Holy Cross brothers with a letter boldly telling the superior, “I am sending you a saint.” He entered the congregation in 1870 and took the name Brother André.
Soon after joining the congregation, Brother André was assigned to serve as the doorkeeper at the College of Notre Dame in Montreal. He had a welcoming, easy way about him that drew people to share their lives with him. When people spoke of their illnesses and afflictions he prayed with them and many experienced healing. Soon, the sick and suffering flocked to seek his prayers. Thousands of healings were attributed to his prayers for St. Joseph’s intercession, and soon he was known as “Miracle Man of Montreal.”
Brother André had a lifelong devotion to St. Joseph. He founded a simple shrine nearby the College of Notre Dame in Montreal in 1904 that would later become the world-renowned St. Joseph’s Oratory.
Brother André died Jan. 6, 1937, and nearly one million people came to pay their respects. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1982. The official canonization ceremony took place at the Vatican on Oct. 17. In Montreal, events will include a Eucharistic celebration at Olympic Stadium on Oct. 30. At Saint Francis, the students, faculty and staff celebrated with a school-wide liturgy honoring the life and legacy of Saint André of Montreal Oct. 18.
“God used a humble porter to work miracles and witness to the faith to the People of God,” reflected Mr. Chavez. “The Church publicly declaring this same brother a saint is a powerful endorsement for the hard work that every brother of Holy Cross has lived out in loyalty to the Gospel. May we all find inspiration in Brother André and work daily to continue his remarkable legacy.”
The Congregation prayfully anticipates that Blessed Father Basil Moreau will soon follow Brother Andre's footsteps and be the next member to be canonized.