Naturally, every novena celebrated at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal has its own story…
Although Saint Brother André’s Original Chapel was inaugurated in the fall of 1904, it was used on a seasonal basis during the first five years of its existence. The Feast of St. Joseph wasn’t celebrated until 1909, and it was noticed that at the time, the Ascension (40 days after Easter) seemed to draw the most pilgrims.
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
It was on December 27, 1870, just a few weeks after arriving at Collège Notre-Dame, that young Alfred Bessette entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Holy Cross1. Dressed in the Brothers’ cassock with a double cincture around his waist, Alfred took his vows of commitment before the novice master, Father Julien Gastineau, CSC. It was during this ceremony that he took the name of Brother André.
Brother André’s passing on January 6, 1937, sent shockwaves through Quebec society. It also spawned a support network for the continuation of his work, which is still in operation today… Read the full article in French.