OTTAWA, Canada, FEB. 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The bishops of Canada are calling the announcement of the canonization of Blessed André Bessette — known as the “miracle man of Montreal” — as a moment to rejoice.
Bishop Pierre Morissette of Saint-Jérôme, president of the Canadian episcopal conference, wrote this Friday in a statement released after Benedict XVI announced that Brother André Bessette (1845-1937), a religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, would be canonized Oct. 17.
“Brother André lived his life with great humility. Guided by a deep faith and devotion to Saint Joseph, he dedicated his life to praying, serving the poor, welcoming strangers, healing the sick and comforting the suffering,” the bishop said. “To this day, his memory remains an important witness to all Canadians of faith and love.”
“May the canonization of Brother André be a moment of rejoicing throughout our country,” he addded. “May his legacy remind us of what each of us can achieve through faith and love.”
A press statement from Father Edwin Obermiller, assistant provincial of the congregation’s Indiana Province, noted that Brother André will be the first member of the Congregation of Holy Cross to be canonized.
The order of priests and brothers, founded in France by Blessed Basil Moreau in 1832, is best known in the United States for its role in founding the University of Notre Dame.
Father Hugh Cleary, superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, commented, “What a grace for our religious family, to count among its ranks such a model of the Christian life offered to the world, a true inspiration for a welcoming, compassionate presence. Such good news!”
Alfred Bessette was born in 1845 in Saint-Grégoire d’Iberville, near Montreal, and joined the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1874. He worked as a door keeper and barber at a school in Montreal, where he earned a reputation as a healer and miracle-worker.
“Bessette’s biographers recount tales of crippled rheumatics healed and fever-stricken schoolboys made suddenly well, often aided by ‘St. Joseph’s oil,’ a mixture that Bessette rubbed on wounds and sick limbs after burning it under a statue of the saint,” Father Obermiller recounted.
“Rooted in his devotion to St. Joseph and motivated by his compassion, Brother André dedicated his life to comforting those in greatest need,” the priest added.
Pope John Paul II praised the brother as “a man of prayer and a friend of the poor, a truly astonishing man.”
Brother André died in 1937, at the age of 91. He is buried at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, which he founded in 1904.
He was declared venerable in 1978, and beatified in 1982.
Brother André will be canonized alongside Australian Mother Mary MacKillop, the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Stanislaw Soltys, a 15th-century Polish priest; Italian nuns Giulia Salzano and Battista Varano, and Spanish nun Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola.
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text of Canadian bishop’s statement: http://www.zenit.org/article-28432?l=english