It is sometimes disconcerting for researchers who frequent the shrine archives to note that Brother André’s name is rarely mentioned in the official publications of the Oratory. He does appear here and there, but only on very rare occasions and no article is specifically dedicated to him.
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.
We seem to be on the way out of this long period marked by the pandemic, even if the path remains uncertain and the fear of new waves still present. We have all been affected by this crisis and we understand the importance of healing the wounds caused by these difficult times.
People who suffered from this disease needed medical attention and a shorter or longer healing time. But, all of us need to heal from the isolation, the estrangement, the loss of the landmarks that give direction to our life. We need to experience these moments of brotherhood again: of celebration of life or of support in the ordeal of the death of relatives or friends.
“Saint Brother André, we celebrate your presence among us.” This first sentence of the prayer that is offered “to obtain a special favor” through the intercession of Saint Brother André will resonate in a very special way during the month of August which is dedicated to him. More than an occasion to mark the birthday of the founder of the Oratory, born Alfred Bessette on August 9, 1845, this annual event is an opportunity to celebrate the Friend, the Brother, the Saint who accompanies us today.
January 6, 2021 marks the 84th anniversary of the death of Saint Brother André (January 6, 1937).
In the days – if not hours – following Brother André’s death, a significant amount of letters, telegrams and cards of sympathy arrived at the monastery’s post office. A brief inventory of this correspondence is made in the wake of the opening of the trial for Brother André’s canonization in 1940, and lists more than 700 letters of sympathy.
Two years ago, while I was looking for the archives of the Cause’s Office, I came across a small brown suitcase with the inscription “Cause of Brother André”. I thought I had stumbled upon one of the suitcases used to transport documents to Rome. When I opened it, I was surprised to find an old slide projector instead! I thought, “What have I stumbled upon again? It was only some time later, while working on other archives of the Cause, that I was able to put the pieces of this puzzle back together.
The Roland-Gauthier Archives and Documentation Centre has 245 documents about Brother André. Of these, 119 are biographies, sometimes in 2 copies, written by about forty different authors (including translations).
The Archbishops of Montreal had a role to play throughout the steps leading up to the canonization of Saint Brother André. Some were prominent players while others were more discreet. Here is an outline of the history of their participation in the canonization.
On October 30, 2010, the canonization of Saint Brother André was celebrated with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. This is the second time in 30 years that the Stadium has hosted an event concerning Brother André: the first event took place on June 20, 1982 on the occasion of Brother André’s beatification. Archbishop Paul Grégoire, Archbishop of Montreal, gave the homily for the occasion.
A Significant Event that Marked My Life and that of the Congregation Of Holy Cross
On October 30, at the Olympic Stadium, there were many of us from the Holy Cross family, gathered with more than 40,000 people to give thanks to God for having given us this exceptional man, Brother André. He is the first member of our religious community and the first man born in the country to be declared a saint for the whole world.
As soon as Brother André died, many pious images were produced and distributed by the Oratory. They are usually wallet-sized images with a representation of Brother André on one side and a prayer text on the back. The inscriptions on the back of these images give them great interest.