Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo
Image of St. Andre Bessette


Feastday: January 6

Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

Canonized By: October 17, 2010, Saint Peter's Square, Rome, by Pope Benedict XVI

When Alfred Bessette came to the Holy Cross Brothers in 1870, he carried with him a note from his pastor saying, "I am sending you a saint." The Brothers found that difficult to believe. Chronic stomach pains had made it impossible for Alfred to hold a job very long and since he was a boy he had wandered from shop to shop, farm to farm, in his native Canada and in the United States, staying only until his employers found out how little work he could do. The Holy Cross Brothers were teachers and, at 25, Alfred still did not know how to read and write. It seemed as if Alfred approached the religious order out of desperation, not vocation.

Alfred was desperate, but he was also prayerful and deeply devoted to God and Saint Joseph. He may have had no place left to go, but he believed that was because this was the place he felt he should have been all along.

The Holy Cross Brothers took him into the novitiate but soon found out what others had learned -- as hard as Alfred, now Brother Andre, wanted to work, he simply wasn't strong enough. They asked him to leave the order, but Andre, out of desperation again, appealed to a visiting bishop who promised him that Andre would stay and take his vows.

After his vows, Brother Andre was sent to Notre Dame College in Montreal (a school for boys age seven to twelve) as a porter. There his responsibilities were to answer the door, to welcome guests, find the people they were visiting, wake up those in the school, and deliver mail. Brother Andre joked later, "At the end of my novitiate, my superiors showed me the door, and I stayed there for forty years."

In 1904, he surprised the Archbishop of Montreal if he could, by requesting permission to, build a chapel to Saint Joseph on the mountain near the college. The Archbishop refused to go into debt and would only give permission for Brother Andre to build what he had money for. What money did Brother Andre have? Nickels he had collected as donations for Saint Joseph from haircuts he gave the boys. Nickels and dimes from a small dish he had kept in a picnic shelter on top of the mountain near a statue of St. Joseph with a sign "Donations for St. Joseph." He had collected this change for years but he still had only a few hundred dollars. Who would start a chapel now with so little funding?

Andre took his few hundred dollars and built what he could ... a small wood shelter only fifteen feet by eighteen feet. He kept collecting money and went back three years later to request more building. The wary Archbishop asked him, "Are you having visions of Saint Joseph telling you to build a church for him?"

Brother Andre reassured him. "I have only my great devotion to St. Joseph to guide me."

The Archbishop granted him permission to keep building as long as he didn't go into debt. He started by adding a roof so that all the people who were coming to hear Mass at the shrine wouldn't have to stand out in the rain and the wind. Then came walls, heating, a paved road up the mountain, a shelter for pilgrims, and finally a place where Brother Andre and others could live and take care of the shrine -- and the pilgrims who came - full-time. Through kindness, caring, and devotion, Brother Andre helped many souls experience healing and renewal on the mountaintop. There were even cases of physical healing. But for everything, Brother Andre thanked St. Joseph.

Despite financial troubles, Brother Andre never lost faith or devotion. He had started to build a basilica on the mountain but the Depression had interfered. At ninety-years old he told his co-workers to place a statue of St. Joseph in the unfinished, unroofed basilica. He was so ill he had to be carried up the mountain to see the statue in its new home. Brother Andre died soon after on January 6, and didn't live to see the work on the basilica completed. But in Brother Andre's mind it never would be completed because he always saw more ways to express his devotion and to heal others. As long as he lived, the man who had trouble keeping work for himself, would never have stopped working for God.

On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a decree recognizing a second miracle at Blessed André's intercession and on October 17, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI formally declared sainthood for Blessed Andre.

In His Footsteps:

Brother Andre didn't mind starting small.

Think of some service you have longed to perform for God and God's people, but that you thought was too overwhelming for you. What small bit can you do in this service? If you can't afford to give a lot of money to a cause, just give a little. If you can't afford hours a week in volunteering, try an hour a month on a small task. It is amazing how those small steps can lead you up the mountain as they did for Brother Andre.


Blessed Brother Andre, your devotion to Saint Joseph is an inspiration to us. You gave your life selflessly to bring the message of his life to others. Pray that we may learn from Saint Joseph, and from you, what it is like to care for Jesus and do his work in the world. Amen

Copyright 1996-2000 by Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved.

More about St. Andre Bessette from Wikipedia

St. Andre Bessette Comments

More Saints

Browse Saints by Category

Popular Saints




Image of St. Katharine Drexel

St. Katharine Drexel

Saint Katharine Drexel, Religious (Feast Day-March 3) Born in 1858, into a prominent Philadelphia family, Katharine became imbued with love for God and neighbor. She took an avid interest ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Joseph of Cupertino

St. Joseph of Cupertino

St. Joseph was born at Cupertino, in the diocese of Nardo in the Kingdom of Naples, in 1603. After spending his childhood and adolescence in simplicity and innocence, he finally joined the ... continue reading


Image of Pope Saint Gregory the Great

Pope Saint Gregory the Great

St. Gregory, born at Rome about the year 540, was the son of Gordianus, a wealthy senator, who later renounced the world and became one of the seven deacons of Rome. After he had acquired ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Eligius

St. Eligius

Eligius (also known as Eloi) was born around 590 near Limoges in France. He became an extremely skillful metalsmith and was appointed master of the mint under King Clotaire II of Paris. Eligius ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Female Saints

Image of St. Faustina Kowalska

St. Faustina Kowalska

Saint Faustina was born Helena Kowalska in a small village west of Lodz, Poland on August 25, 1905. She was the third of ten children. When she was almost twenty, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, whose members devote themselves to the ... continue reading

More Female Saints

Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts


Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading

Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Lucy

St. Lucy

Lucy's history has been lost and all we really know for certain is that this brave woman who lived in Syracuse lost her life during the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for Sts. Nereus & Achilleus

Sts. Nereus & Achilleus

So often we hear people or even ourselves excuse an action by saying "I was only following orders." But for Nereus and Achilleus this excuse could not stand in the face of the cross. Everything we know from authority about the two first- century martyrs comes from ... continue reading

Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of St. Therese of Lisieux

Jennifer Hartline: Trying to Learn Humility From St. Therese

By Jennifer Hartline

St. Therese helps me understand: "the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 72:1, 7-8, 12-13, 17
1 [Of Solomon] God, endow the king with your own fair judgement, the son ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:21-24
21 Just at this time, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said, 'I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 1st, 2015 Image

St. Eligius
December 1: Eligius (also known as Eloi) was born around 590 ... Read More