Feast day: January 6
Saint André Bessette was one of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple who lived near Montreal. He was adopted at the age of 12 after both of his parents passed away. He held odd jobs to contribute to the family, including working as a farmhand, shoemaker, baker, blacksmith, and factory worker. Even though André had a strong will and desire to work, he had a stomach ailment that prevented him from holding a job for very long.
André wanted to join the Holy Cross Brothers but was denied because of his stomach affliction and his inability to read and write. However, after André prayed to Saint Joseph and implored Bishop Bourget’s help, he was admitted into the order as a brother. He was given the primary duty of being a doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, along with other smaller tasks. Even though he held humble positions, André performed his duties well and with love.
He was very devoted to Saint Joseph and knew that one day the saint would be honored on Mount Royal. When someone was ill, André would rub the afflicted person with oil from a lamp in the college chapel and bring joy and healing. When an epidemic broke out at a neighboring college, André volunteered to go and minister to the sick. Miraculously, nobody died, and more and more people began to seek out André for healing. He gave all of the credit for his healing abilities to Saint Joseph.
For a number of years, the Holy Cross Brothers had tried to buy land to build a church on Mount Royal, but were unsuccessful. One day, Brother André and several other brothers climbed the hill and put medals of Saint Joseph in the ground. Suddenly, the landowners relented and allowed the Holy Cross Brothers to purchase their land. A small chapel was constructed, where André welcomed visitors. Soon, money began to run out to complete the church. André told the brothers to put a statue of Saint Joseph in the middle of the chapel, saying, “If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” Eventually, the spectacular Oratory on Mount Royal was completed.
Saint André passed away in 1937 and was canonized in 2010.
(Image by Wikimedia Commons)