MONTREAL, CANADA –Celebrating the recent canonization of Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C., thousands of pilgrims from around the world gathered this past weekend in the city where he earned his nickname, “The Miracle Man of Montreal.”
Montreal celebrated her native son with events in the city and at Saint Joseph’s Oratory, which Saint Andre founded in 1904. A series of musical performances, Masses, reflections, and the dedication of an icon of Saint Andre culminated in an assembly and Mass of Thanksgiving at the Olympic Stadium on October 30 for 30,000 people. The theme of the events was “a friend, a brother, a saint.” Brother Andre was canonized at Saint Peter’s Basilica on October 17, 2010.
On Saturday, October 30, at Olympic Stadium, there were large groups of the faithful, and the crowd spanned all ages–from toddlers in strollers to seniors using walkers. This was a chance for North Americans who could not make the trip to Rome to participate in the celebration. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and hundreds of Holy Cross religious were in attendance. Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal, presided over the two-hour Mass and spoke at length about Saint Andre.
“The world is silly if it thinks that Brother Andre is doing miracles. It is the good God who does the miracles. St. Joseph obtains them,” Turcotte said of the newly minted saint.
Besides the reliquary containing a portion of Brother Andre’s heart, other symbols of the man’s life were brought forward in the liturgy: the suitcase he carried for his many visits, wooden crutches representing those cured by St. Joseph, St. Joseph oil, and blueprints of the oratory building.
Masses of Thanksgiving were held at the Oratory on Sunday, October 31, providing additional opportunities to celebrate this first saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
Over the years, millions of pilgrims have passed under the dome of Saint Joseph’s Oratory in the Mont-Royal section of Montreal, Quebec, seeking insight and perhaps a miraculous healing like those that Saint Andre affected there. In his role as a humble porter (doorman), Brother Andre welcomed any who came to the school where he worked, and soon they began to come to him for prayerful insight and relief from their physical ailments.
The Congregation of Holy Cross, the religious order in which Saint Andre lived out his vows, has been a presence in North America since shortly after its founding in France in 1831. A sickly, orphaned, barely literate youth, Andre Bessette discovered his vocation in this community, entering Holy Cross as a brother in 1870. When he died at age 91 in 1937, St. Joseph’s Oratory drew thousands of pilgrims a year, all inspired by Andre to seek the intercession of his beloved Saint Joseph.
As the first saint from the Congregation of Holy Cross, Andre has inspired his religious brothers in their work around the world. From outreach efforts to the poor at Andre House in Phoenix, AZ, and the Downtown Chapel in Portland, OR, to missions in Mexico, East Africa, and Chile, to the University of Notre Dame and the University of Portland, Holy Cross carries the gospel through its “parish, mission, education” ministries.
“The celebration of Brother Andre’s canonization is a signal of the vitality of the Congregation of Holy Cross community,” said Rev. Edwin H. Obermiller, C.S.C., Assistant Provincial of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Indiana Province. “The Indiana Province is currently working with more than 600 men a year who are considering a vocation with Holy Cross. And there are 50 men in the United States studying to become Holy Cross priests.”
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The Congregation of Holy Cross Priests and Brothersfulfills the original vision of founder Blessed Basil Moreau, to make God known, loved, and served in educational, parish, and mission settings. The Congregation sponsors eight colleges and universities throughout the country-University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Holy Cross College, Indiana; Saint Mary’s College, Indiana; University of Portland, Oregon; St. Edward’s University, Texas; Stonehill College, Massachusetts; Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Louisiana; and King’s College, Pennsylvania-as well as parishes, high schools, and outreach ministries throughout North America, Latin America, and East Africa.
For more information about Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C., please review the following materials: