Brother André Memorabilia

Hat in hand, luggage in tow, Saint André Bessette is flying off to Rome this fall.

The Generalate of the Congregation of Holy Cross will welcome Brother André precious keepsakes from Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. A framed photograph of Brother André with an authentic signature, together with one of his hats, will represent the Oratory’s founder at the exhibition of the Congregation’s holy men.

They will include: Blessed Basile-Antoine Moreau (founder), Venerable Father Patrick Peyton, as well as Most Rev. Theotonius Amal Ganguly, Most. Rev. Vincent McCauley and Brother Flavien Laplante, all of whom have become Servants of God after the Vatican acknowledged their causes.

Encadrement du frère André et chapeau

The exclusive frame and hat donated to the Holy Cross Generalate in Rome as a precious relic of the holy founder of Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

As he was the first Holy Cross member to have been canonized (in 2010), Saint André Bessette is foot at the forefront of this special heritage display in the conference room that welcomes visitors from around the world.

Precious relics

A photograph from the Oratory Archives was chosen to represent Saint Brother André, reproduced and framed. The frame is made of ash from the kneeler of an old pew in the Crypt Church that was opened in 1917. This exclusive and history-laden piece was made by hand by Jean Laberge, an Oratory carpenter. The framing was done by Mario Beaulieu of Montreal.

The photograph shows Brother André in his seventies, wearing a hat and coat and holding a suitcase; it looks like he is setting off on a trip. The car in the background reinforces that idea. Brother André regularly visited sickbeds in the evenings after greeting and listening to the people who came to see him at the Oratory, and also when he left the city. The black and white portrait was probably taken some time in the 1920s.

Brother André’s signature has been inserted under the photograph. Saint Joseph’s Oratory has only about 50 authentic signatures, mostly in the records and minute books or on the backs of religious images or photographs. This one was on a piece of paper barely 2 inches long that had been carefully preserved.

In harmony with the chosen portrait, a hat that was worn by Brother André was offered for the exhibition. It is a black felt hat with a grosgrain ribbon, a leather inside band and a satin lining. It is a size 6½ “Victor Hat” made by the Victoria Hat company of Montreal. Up to now it has been kept in the collection of the Oratory Museum.

Équipe avec le cadeau saint frère André

The Oratory team that put together this “Saint Brother André” gift: Jean Laberge, carpenter;
David Bureau, archivist; Chantal Turbide, curator of the Museum;
Julie Buduroi, registrar of collections; Father Michael DeLaney, CSC, Rector.

Research and writing: David Bureau and Nathalie Dumas

This article was published in the September-December 2021 issue of The Oratory magazine (Vol. 95. No3).