Feast Day: January 6
Canonized: October 17, 2010
Beatified: May 23, 1982
Venerated: June 12, 1978
André Bessette was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1845. By the time he was 12 he was an orphan who had to take care of himself. He traveled to the United States and worked for a time in a textile mill in New England. But he soon returned home to Canada with a dream of entering religious life.
In 1870, he went to the Holy Cross Brothers in Montreal with a note from his pastor. The note read, “I am sending you a saint.”
André suffered from stomach problems, and soon the Holy Cross Brothers leaned how little André could work because of this. But André was very devoted to God and St. Joseph. So, André took his vows and became Brother André. Then Brother André went to work at Notre Dame College in Montreal as a doorman. He did whatever was asked. He cleaned and ran errands, cut people’s hair, and welcomed visitors to the college.
In 1904, Brother André asked the Archbishop of Montreal if he could build a chapel to St. Joseph. The archbishop told Brother André that he could build the chapel, but Brother André had to pay for it.
Over many years, Brother André built a small chapel atop Montreal’s Mont Royal with any little money people gave him or which he earned giving haircuts to students. At first the little structure was made of wood. People came to see Brother André and the statue of St. Joseph there. The chapel grew as more and more people came to visit.
Brother André was very kind to the people, and some of the visitors were healed. Brother André thanked St. Joseph for healing the people.
Brother Andre’s devotion to St. Joseph continued. He decided to build a basilica. The basilica was not finished when Brother André died in 1937 at age 90, but it was completed later. When he died, more than a million people came to honor him.
Pope Benedict XVI canonized Brother André in 2010. Saint André Bessette shows us that the humblest of people can do mighty things for God.
Connecting to Blest Are We® Parish and School
Grade 6, unit 1