Brother André Bessette, C.S.C. will be the first saint in the history of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Given the title "Blessed" in 1982, this "miracle man of Montreal" has already inspired millions by offering hope, hospitality, and healing during his lifetime (1845-1937) and by his profound faith and humble service, enlivened by a special devotion to Saint Joseph.
The decision to canonize Blessed Brother André was announced by Pope Benedict XVI in February. It was a moving reminder of the early steps of discernment for a young Quebec native who had lost both his parents by the age of 12. This young man, born Alfred Bessette, expressed an interest in a religious vocation, and his local parish priest sent him to a nearby community of Holy Cross brothers with a letter telling its superior, "I am sending you a saint."
Brother André Bessette, who was largely illiterate, served primarily as a porter, or doorman, at Montreal's College of Notre Dame for the next 40 years. He received visitors, most of them poor and sick, with great kindness, moral advice, and spiritual assistance. Many visitors attributed miraculous cures to him, but he would insist that any such cures were attributable to prayer and the intercession of Saint Joseph.
His affection for Saint Joseph, whom Congregation of Holy Cross founder Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., set forth as the patron for the Holy Cross brothers, made Brother André instrumental in the founding of Saint Joseph's Oratory on Mount Royal in Montreal, a construction job first undertaken with funds from many small donations. Today's massive basilica attracts two million pilgrims every year. Blessed André is entombed there.
In recognition of the canonization of Brother André, Our Lady of Holy Cross College will celebrate a mass on campus on Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.