Statue of Brother André at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount-Royal Montreal, Canada. Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount-Royal in Montreal, Canada, frames a statue of Blessed Brother André, who will be declared a Saint at St. Peter’s in Rome on October 17, 2010, the first Saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Photos by Steven Scardina Photography
Parish Church, Mont Saint-Gregoire, Canada. Born August 9, 1845 in Saint-Gregoire d’Iberville, southwest of Montreal, Alfred Bessette was the eighth child in a family of twelve. His father died when he was nine and his mother three years later. Poor, sickly, and with little school education, the young orphan found work in the villages and textile mills of New England. He joined the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1870 where he took the name Brother André, the name of his parish priest.
College of Notre Dame, Montreal, Canada. Brother André began tenure as porter at the College of Notre Dame, a secondary school for boys, in 1870. His duties extended far beyond doorkeeper. He served as a general handyman, maintained the wine cellar, swept rooms, washed windows, cleaned outhouses, repaired shoes, gardened, ran errands to town, picked up the mail, delivered students’ dirty laundry to their homes and picked it up again when clean, and served as community barber and undertaker.
The Chapel of Brother André, Exterior, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal Canada. In 1904, Brother André with a colleague, Brother Abundius, and the help of lay friends built this first chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph. It was too small to receive all the people who were coming to the mountain.
The Chapel of Brother André, Interior, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal Canada. During the winter of 1906, Brother Abundius sculpted the altar. The sanctuary of the chapel measures only 15 by 18 feet.