Saint of the day: St. André Bessette, whose funeral was attended by the entire city of Montreal

Today is not only the feast of the 3 Magi, the Kings who visited Jesus upon his birth. It is also the day when the people of Canada – and with them, the whole Catholic Church – celebrate St. André Bessette, the “Miracle Man of Montreal”. 


Born in Canada and orphaned at the age of 10, André worked for three years in the United States as a weaver and manual laborer. After returning to Canada in 1870, he joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross and took final vows in 1874.

He served for the next 40 years as porter of a school and, along the way, gained a reputation as a healer. When students fell ill, they came to Br. André and together they prayed to St. Joseph, the patron saint of Canada.

For decades, Br. André humbly served his community near Montreal as doorman, janitor, barber, gardener and infirmarian. With St. Joseph as his model and intercessor, he developed a healing ministry and huge following. In 1904, he moved into Montreal to help build the Oratory of the Holy Cross and remained there for the rest of his life.

When Br. André died in 1937 at the age of 91, an estimated 1 million people came to pay their respects. 

When this “Miracle Man of Montreal” was canonized in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said he “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.”

One might lament the enormous change Canada went through since Fr. Andre’s death. Montreal now has 1.7 million inhabitants, those days it had 900 thousand – so practically the whole city participated at his funeral.

In 1937 the people of Montreal venerated an authentic Christian – and his values. Now Montreal is one of the most liberal cities of Canada – one of the most liberal countries of the world.

Fr. Andre’s own congregation also seems to have taken a different path. They have displayed a controversial representation of the birth of Jesus this year at the Oratory of Saint Joseph – where the saint lived. The widely discussed nativity scene aims to show the birth of Jesus in a modern setting. Joseph and Mary are taking a selfie beside the manger of the baby Jesus in a stable equipped with solar panels. The visiting three Wise Men are standing on Segways.

Source: Catholic Sun

Photo: Portrait of St. André Bessette found at the oratory in honour of St. Joseph he established. (Courtesy of the Archives of St. Joseph’s Oratory)

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