A Fond Farewell to Saint Brother André

Frequent reference has been made to the magnitude of the funeral that followed the death of Brother André, on January 6, 1937. For an entire week, hundreds of thousands of people came to pay their respects and attend the funeral in the burning chapel of the Oratory’s crypt. The crowd was so large that it could take up to four hours to reach the coffin. And you couldn’t linger for long in front of Brother André’s body. According to reports from that time, there were 110 visitors per minute! 1

Foule devant crypte - chapelle ardente SFA

Figure 1. Photograph of the crowd in front of the crypt of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal during Brother André’s burning chapel.
Photographer unknown. January 1937.
Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, 12-1.

Two funerals were held. The first on January 9 at the Marie-Reine-du-Monde de Montréal Cathedral and the second on January 12 at the crypt of Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

Foule lors de la chapelle ardente SFA

Figure 2. View of the crowd at the burning chapel. Photograph taken on the roof of Collège Notre-Dame. Photographer unknown. January 1937.
Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, 12-11a.

In the days following the death, on the evening of January 9, some of Brother André’s close friends gathered to bid him a special farewell. Far from the crowds, three men, Paul Corbeil, R.H. Deschamps and T.O. Grandmaison went to the residence of Father Lucien Pagé, CSV [Clerics of Saint Viator], Superior of the Institut des Sourds-Muets. They wanted to write a letter, “as one would write to a friend who, for a time, is separated by distance 2.” They asked for Father Pagé’s help to better express their feelings. The next morning, January 10, the letter was ready.

Lettre du père Lucien Pagé, c.s.v.

Figure 3. Letter from Father Lucien Pagé, CSV, to Father Alfred Laplante, CSV. January 22, 1952.
Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, 13.07.00/E.6-1-3

Lettre fac-simile de l'adieu à frère André

Figure 4. A facsimile of the letter of farewell to Brother André, read on January 10, 1937.
Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, 13.07.00/E.6-1-3

The letter was read the same day at midnight. Those friends who could attend formed a crown around Brother André’s coffin. One could feel the friendship and admiration of these men who had assisted Saint Brother André. Here are a few excerpts:

“Good and faithful servant of Saint Joseph, in the presence of your venerated remains, your humble friends come to pay tribute to you with their fraternal affection and deep gratitude.

[…] you have passed on while doing good to the people of our city, our province, our country and all five parts of the world.

[…] Sometimes we were unhappy, you sympathized with our hardships. We were in pain, you cried with us. We were sick, you visited us in our homes and you healed us. […] During your visits to the sick, we have seen our fellow citizens running up to you and asking you to pray to Saint Joseph for them.

[…] For all these blessings received through the intercession of Saint Joseph, whom you advised us to pray in all simplicity and trust, we come to express our appreciation and offer you our tributes of gratitude. Your humble and faithful friends ask that you intercede for them with the good Saint Joseph; they beg you to pursue for them the blessings of this powerful protector after your entry into heaven.

After the reading, a copy of the letter was placed in the coffin of Saint Brother André. However, one copy was given to La Presse which published it in the edition of Monday, January 11, 1937. A few years later, Mr. Joseph Cantin gave a typewritten copy with the signatures to the archives.


  1. La Patrie, January 13, 1937 (in Catta, 1965, p. 914)
  2. Catta, 1965, p. 934