The Holy Father announced today, in a very formal gathering of cardinals at the Vatican, that six individuals will be canonized on October 17, 2010. Among them is Blessed Andre’ Bessette from Canada.
Those of us from Holy Cross Parish in Dakota will remember well our former pastor, Fr. Frisch, often mentioning Blessed Andre.
Alfred Bessette was born in Saint-Gregoire d’Iberville, Quebec, a town about 30 miles from Montreal. His father was a carpenter and his mother educated the children. When Alfred was nine years old, his father was killed in a lumbering accident and his mother died a few years later of tuberculosis. He was sent to live with his sister and husband. Alfred was poor in health and had difficulty doing manual labor. He exhibited early in life an intense spirituality,praying before a crucifix and speaking of the faith with his friends. He imposed penances on himself, drawing the concern of his family members because of his poor health. He left Canada when he was 20 years old, working in the United States, and returned to Canada in 1867.
Alfred joined the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal in 1872 and took the name Brother Andre. He was given the task of porter at Notre Dame College in Cote-des-Neiges, Quebec. He was porter for forty years. He had a special devotion to St. Joseph. Many people claimed to have been cured of diseases through the prayers of Brother Andre. His reputation grew and he was known as the miracle worker of Mount-Royal.
Andre Bessette died in 1937, at the age of 91. A million people filed by his coffin and his remains lie in the oratory to St. Joseph that he had arranged to be built. His body is in a tomb below the main chapel, and his heart is preserved in a reliquary in the oratory.