Saturday, October 17, 2015

52 Ancestors 2015: #42 – André Bessette, a saint in the family

Saint Andre Bessette
Saint André Bessette

I’m participating in “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition” by Amy Johnson Crow of 
No Story too Small.

For the 42nd week of this challenge, I used the optional weekly theme (Proud) to write about Saint André Bessette, a distant relative of mine. After I read about his tireless work for the sick of Montreal, I felt very proud to know him. Today – 17 October 2015 – is the fifth anniversary of his canonization. He is the first Canadian-born male to receive this distinction. [1]

St. André and I have one or two, possibly more, sets of ancestors in common. For this article, I chose my maternal ancestors Jacques and Marie (Bouart) Antrade, immigrants from the province of Poitou, France to show how we are related. If you have French-Canadian ancestry, you quite possibly have this saint, too, in your family.

St. André was born Alfred Besset (var. Bessette) on 9 August 1845 in Mont-St-Grégoire, a village southeast of Montreal. [2] He chose André as his name when he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross as a lay brother in Montreal in December 1870. [3] Because of poor health, Brother André worked in a humble capacity for the Congregation. He was porter, sacristan, laundry worker, and messenger at its Notre-Dame College. [4] Brother André also cared for the sick – those who came to see him at the College and those he visited in their homes. When people were miraculously healed, he did not take credit, but believed it was due to the intercession of St. Joseph, for whom he had a special devotion, and to whom he prayed faithfully.

Led by this devotion, Brother André began construction of a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph in 1904. Soon, the small chapel gave way to a church, and later, to a basilica, also known as an oratory. Large crowds of people and pilgrims came to Saint Joseph to pray and to seek a cure for their ailments. As a sign of faith, those who were healed left behind their crutches. [5]

Oratoire Saint Joseph
Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal

Brother André died on 6 January 1937 in St-Laurent, now part of Montreal. His funeral was held at Saint Joseph Oratory on 12 January. The Archbishop of Quebec, the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, and the Premier of Quebec were among the dignitaries present. Also in attendance was “une immense foule” (
an immense crowd) not only from Montreal, but from the province of Quebec and the United States. [6]

On 23 May 1982, Brother André was beatified by Pope John Paul II as “Blessed André”. Twenty-eight years later, Pope Benedict XVI canonized him “Saint André Bessette” on 17 October 2010. [7] His feast day is January 6 in the USA and January 7 in Canada. [8]

Photo credit:

Saint André: Wikipedia contributors, "André Bessette", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Bessette : accessed 13 October 2015).

Saint Joseph Oratory: "Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi. License: GFDL/CC-BY-SA 3.0" (“Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal”, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oratoire_Saint-Joseph_du_Mont-Royal_-_Montreal.jpg : accessed 13 October 2015).

Sources:

1. “Saint Brother André: His Canonization”, Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal (http://www.saint-joseph.org/en/sanctuary/saint-brother-andre/his-canonization : accessed 13 October 2015).

2. St-Grégoire-le-Grand (Mont-St-Grégoire, Quebec), parish register, 1845, p. 20 verso, entry no. B.92, Alfred Besset [sic] baptism, 10 August 1845; St-Grégoire-le-Grand parish; digital images, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec (http://www.genealogiequebec.com : accessed 13 October 2015).

3. “St. André Bessette”, Congregation of Holy Cross (http://www.holycrosscongregation.org/holy-ones/st-andre-bessette/ : accessed 13 October 2015).

4. Wikipedia contributors, "André Bessette", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Bessette : accessed 13 October 2015).

5. “St. André Bessette”, Congregation of Holy Cross (http://www.holycrosscongregation.org/holy-ones/st-andre-bessette/ : accessed 13 October 2015).

6. Notre-Dames-des-Neiges (Montreal, Quebec), parish register, 1937, p. 1 verso, entry no. S.1, Alfred Bessette burial, 12 January 1937; Notre-Dame-des-Neiges parish; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 13 October 2015).

7. “St. André Bessette”, Congregation of Holy Cross (http://www.holycrosscongregation.org/holy-ones/st-andre-bessette/ : accessed 13 October 2015).

8. Wikipedia contributors, "André Bessette", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Bessette : accessed 13 October 2015).

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

2 comments:

  1. Well, that is very interesting. How handsome too, and wonderful ancestor to be proud of.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing, not many of us can claim a Saint for our own!

    ReplyDelete

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