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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Saints & Angels: Saint Andre Bessette (Great Uncle), Celebrate His Feast Day - January 6

I, the artful girl, am glad to celebrate the life of "the miracle man of Montreal."  Yes, this unassuming man was my husbands great uncle.  I have married into the Bessette family and have made the trip to Montreal to visit St. Joseph's Oratory.  The bronze statue of Blesssed Brother Andre is almost a perfect image of my dear husband, the same size and profile - unbelievable.


Alfred Bessette was born in Mont-Saint-Grégoire, Quebec (then Canada East), a small town situated 40 kilometers south-east of Montreal.  Loosing both parents by the age of 13 he tried many different trades, wondering Canada while constantly in poor health. When he was 20 years old, Alfred joined many Canadians who were emigrating to the United States to work in a textile mill of New England (in Moosup CT to be exact - my husbands birthplace.)

When the Canadian federation was formed in 1867, he returned to his native country. André was given the task of porter (doorman) at Notre Dame College in Côte-des-Neiges, Quebec. He fulfilled this function for some forty years while at the same time doing innumerable odd jobs for the community.  People claimed that they had been cured through the prayers of the good Brother and Saint Joseph, and they were grateful their prayers had been heard. Brother André steadfastly refused to take any credit for these cures.. Because he wanted St. Joseph to be honored, in 1904 Bessette began the campaign to erect a chapel to honor the saint.

Brother André's reputation grew, and soon he was known as the miracle worker of Mount-Royal.] He had the strong support, however, of the diocesan Church, and thousands of cures without apparent medical explanation made him the object of popular acclaim. In 1924 construction of  Saint Joseph's Oratory began on the side of the mountain, near Bessette's chapel.  His humble life and his dedication to the church through prayer and service to those with poor health reflected the mission of the Holy Cross.



Bessette died in 1937, at the age of 91. A million people filed past his coffin. 

Brother André was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982.  The miracle cited in support of his beatification was the healing in 1958 of Giuseppe Carlo Audino, who suffered from cancer. He is commemorated by an optional memorial on January 6.  On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree recognizing a second miracle at Blessed André's intercession.

And on October 17, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for Blessed Andre.

My husband is blessed to have his family history dating back to the 1600's due to the Catholic Church's research on Brother Andre.  A thick book of 1100 pages, published in 1964,  printed in French which we are honored to have in our household.

Although the story I have told is not one of the usual I tell in this blog, it is about a wonderful time in Montreal, learning first hand about a humble man who prayed for good health of all people.  It was a wonder experience visiting the lovely city of Montreal.  As my husband's first language as a child was French, he still does recall enough French to enjoy the French speaking people of a very cosmopolitan city.

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Sweet dreams and my prayers to all to never give up and to take one step at a time to accomplish our dreams.

Love and my prayers to all,

Maria Liberto Bessette

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