Tens of thousands attributed their miraculous healings to André's intervention with his patron, St Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary.
Saint AndréSaint André, né Alfred Bessette, faith healer, religious counsellor (b at St-Grégoire-d'Iberville,
Tens of thousands attributed their miraculous healings to André's intervention with his patron, St Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary. His work scandalized many priests, physicians and sophisticated Catholics; but in 1904 his admirers, many from blue-collar families, helped him to build a small oratory in honour of Joseph on the slopes of Mount Royal. Some years later the church hierarchy became involved. A basilica, still Montréal's most imposing landmark, was constructed 1924-55. The church organized pilgrimages and the oratory became the liturgical centre for the Catholic trade union movement of Québec. Half a million visitors still come to the oratory - the only major urban shrine in Canada - every year.
Despite his reputation as a faith healer, Brother André's primary concern was to promote the worship of the suffering Christ through the patronage of St Joseph. Afflicted by poor health throughout his life, André encouraged his closest followers to accept their suffering rather than to seek healing, since suffering brings one closer to Jesus on the cross. He was declared "venerable" in 1978 and formally beatified on 23 May 1982.
Before such recognition is given, the Vatican must accept that a person is responsible posthumously for two miracles. The first miracle attributed to Brother André was the case of New York businessman Joseph Audino in 1958, who said he had recovered from terminal cancer after asking for André's spiritual guidance. The second case involved a Québec boy in 1999 who was riding his bicycle when he was struck by a car. He suffered severe head injuries but recovered. Relatives said they had prayed to Brother André.
On 19 Dec 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree approving the second miracle attributed to the intercession of Brother André. On 17 Oct 2010, Brother André was canonized, making Saint André the first male Catholic saint born in Canada.
Henri-Paul Bergeron, Brother André, Apostle of Saint Joseph (1958); Jean-Guy Dubuc, Brother André: Friend of the Suffering, Apostle of Saint Joseph (2010).