Tag Archives: August 9

St. André of Montreal

Born August 9, 1845, he is credited with thousands of reported miraculous healings. So allow me to introduce you to André Bessette.

St. André of Montreal

St. André of Montreal (9 August 1845 – 6 January 1937)

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.


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“Umm … Can You Slow Down a Bit?”

Roosevelt and Winston Churchill aboard HMS Pri...

Roosevelt and Winston Churchill aboard HMS Prince of Wales for 1941 Atlantic Charter meeting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early in August 1941, two Canadian destroyers, H.M.C.S. Assiniboine and H.M.C.S. Restigouche, were patrolling the North Atlantic when they received a thrilling message in code.  They were to rendezvous with the new battleship H.M.S.C. Prince of Wales at a place given in longitude and latitude.

What could a lone British battleship be doing at sea at that time?   The Assiniboine and Restigouche had to go full steam ahead to make the rendezvous on schedule, and sighted the Prince of Wales amidst rain and fog at 9:25 on the morning of August 6.  Then they were told why they were there.  The battleship flashed a message to the destroyers:  “We have the Prime Minister, the First Sea Lord, the Chief of Imperial General Staff, and the Chief of the Air Staff on board and are proceeding to rendezvous with the President of the United States.”  Restigouche and Assiniboine were to act as an anti-submarine screen for the battleship to Argentia, in Placentia Harbour, Newfoundland.

Although the sea was rough, the battleship raced ahead at 30 knots.  It was difficult for the destroyers to keep pace.  Their egg-shell hulls could not stand the pounding a battleship could, and they asked the Admiral to slow down.  Reluctantly, he agreed to reduce speed to 29 knots!

Restigouche and Assiniboine, passing through a lane of American destroyers, entered Placentia Harbour with the Prince of Wales on August 9.  President Roosevelt was on board the U.S.S. Augusta with his naval and military advisers, and Secretary of State, Cordell Hull.  The United States was not involved in the war until December 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour and the Philippines.  Nevertheless, President Roosevelt was battling the isolationists in the United States and giving the nations of the British Commonwealth all the aid he could.

Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt held conferences alternately on the Prince of Wales and the Augusta and issued what was known as the Atlantic Charter on August 14.  It emphasized that neither Britain nor the United States sought any other nation’s territory.  They respected the rights of all people to choose their own form of government and intended to see that sovereign rights were restored to nations from which these had been taken.  The charter also said there should be trade on equal terms for all nations, including the enemy, and access to raw materials.  It concluded with a strong plea for disarmament.

While Churchill and Roosevelt were drawing up the Atlantic Charter, their military experts were making plans.  They included an agreement about convoy escorts that gave Canadian and American destroyers a larger area of responsibility.  Restigouche, Assiniboine, and many other unites of the Royal Canadian Navy played outstanding roles in the Battle of the Atlantic.

To learn more about today’s post and the Atlantic Charter, I suggest visiting The Office of the Historian, and the World War II Today. Lastly, I will highly suggest visiting the National Archives for a comprehensive article called “Teaching With Documents: Documents Related to Churchill and FDR”.


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“Last of the Mohicans”

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm trying to stop Native...

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm trying to stop Native Americans from attacking British soldiers and civilians as they leave Fort William Henry at the Battle of Fort William Henry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


On July 5, (A Cup of Hot Blood) the story was told how General Montcalm defeated the British at Ticonderoga, New York, in 1758.  The next step was to attack Fort William Henry at the end of Lake George.  The fort was commanded by a tough Scottish soldier, Colonel Munro, who had 2,500 troops.  Montcalm, however, had 8,000 men, whom he started moving towards Fort William Henry on August 3.  Brigadier Lévis, with Indians leading the way, approached the rear of the fort while Montcalm’s main force made a frontal attack.

When Munro heard that Montcalm was coming, he sent an urgent message to General Webb at nearby Fort Edward to send reinforcements.  Webb in turn was pleading with Governor Loudon of Massachusetts, to send reinforcements to him and did nothing to help Fort William Henry.  A message was sent to Munro saying that Webb did not think it was “prudent” to send help until he was reinforced.  The messenger was killed and scalped by Indians who brought the message to Montcalm.  Montcalm in turn relayed it to Munro and urged him to surrender.

On August 9, after several days of bombardment, Munro had to  surrender.  Montcalm agreed to allow the British troops to march to Fort Edward provided they undertook not to fight again for 18 months.  They were allowed to take one cannon with them in recognition of their gallant defence.

Montcalm has often been blamed unjustly for a great tragedy which then occurred.  He warned the British to get rid of all their liquor so that it would not be consumed by the Indians.  This was not done and the Indians invaded the hospital where they scalped the patients, many of whom were suffering from smallpox.  The infected scalps later spread the disease through Indian villages, resulting in many deaths.

The march to Fort Edward began early the next morning.  Montcalm posted a number of French regulars along the route to protect the British from the Indians, should they go on the rampage.  Some of the British had filled their canteens with rum instead of water, and gave drinks to the Indians, hoping to make friends with them.  The rum had the opposite effect.  Many of the soldiers were ill and could not keep up with the rest.  They were killed.  Men, women, and children were attacked and taken prisoner.  Of the 2,200 who began the march from Fort William Henry, only 1,400 reached Fort Edward.

Many of the French soldiers did not care if the Indians killed the British and did nothing to stop the slaughter.  However, Montcalm, Lévis, Bourlamaque and other French officers did their best.  At one point Montcalm shouted: “Kill me, but spare the English who are under my protection.”  This helped to bring some order out of chaos.

The episode was dramatized years later in the book The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, who once acted as an American spy  in Canada. More on that on my July 12, 2013 post:  James Fenimore Cooper.

To read more about the siege at Fort .William Henry, I have a few suggestions: the Fort, and the Independence There’s also a very good article written on, written by Kennedy Hickman. As lastly, I suggest going to the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.


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