Born August 9, 1845, he is credited with thousands of reported miraculous healings. So allow me to introduce you to André Bessette.
Especially in Montreal, he is commonly known as Brother André (French: Frère André). He was declared venerable in 1978 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree of sainthood for Blessed André on February 19, 2010, with the formal canonization taking place on October 17, 2010.
Born Alfred Bessette in Mont-Saint-Grégoire, Quebec, (a small town situated 40 kilometres (25 mi) southeast of Montreal.) He was so frail when he was born that the curé baptized him “conditionally” the following day, completing an emergency ritual performed at his birth.
His father, Isaac Bessette, was a carpenter and lumberman, but tragically, he lost his life in an accident, crushed by a falling tree, when Alfred was only nine years old. His mother, Clothilde Foisy Bessette, found herself widowed at the age of forty with ten children in her care. She died of tuberculosis within three years, and Alfred found himself orphaned at the age of twelve.
Brother André had great confidence in Saint Joseph. On his many visits to the sick in their homes, he would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel and recommend them in prayer to St. Joseph.
An example of his devotion was witnessed when an epidemic broke out, and André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “St. Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.
Bessette died on January 6, 1937, at the age of 91. An estimated million people filed past his coffin.
His body lies in a tomb built below the Oratory’s Main Chapel, except for his heart, which is preserved in a reliquary in the same Oratory. The heart was stolen in March 1973, but was recovered in December 1974 with the help of famous criminal attorney, Frank Shoofey.
This, as you can imagine, is just a part of his life story. To learn more about St. André, I would suggest St. André Bessette: Pope Benedict XVI’s Canonization Homily, and The Canadian Encyclopedia. If you want to read a book about his life, I would suggest Brother Andre: The Miracle Man of Mount Royal as well as Brother Andre of Saint Joseph’s Oratory.
Prayer of Oh, St. Joseph:
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls – Pray for me.
This prayer was found in the fifteenth year of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, not shall poison take effect of them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy; or shall be burned in any fire, or shall be overpowered in battle. Say for nine mornings for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail, so be sure you really want what you ask.