Also known as
Son of a woodcutter, and eighth of twelve children. His father died in a work-related accident, his mother of tuberculosis, and he was adopted at age twelve by a farmer uncle who insisted he work for his keep. Farmhand, shoemaker, baker, blacksmith, factory worker. At 25 he applied to join the Congregation of the Holy Cross; initially refused due to poor health, but he gained the backing of Bishop Bourget, and was accepted.
Doorkeeper at Notre Dame College, Montreal. Sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. Spent much of each night in prayer. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of Saint Joseph, to whom Andre was especially devoted. "Some day," he believed, "Saint Joseph will be honored on Mount Royal."
Andre had a special ministry to the sick. He would rub the sick person with oil from a lamp in the college chapel, and many were healed. Word of his power spread, and when an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, Andre volunteered to help; no one died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. "I do not cure," he always said. "Saint Joseph cures." By his death, he was receiving 80,000 letters each year from the sick who sought his prayers and healing.
For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother Andre and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph on it, and soon after, the owners yielded, which incident helped the current devotion to Saint Joseph by those looking to buy or sell a home. Andre collected money to build a small chapel and received visitors there, listening to their problems, praying, rubbing them with Saint Joseph's oil, and curing many. The chapel is still in use.
9 August 1845 near Montreal, Canada as Alfred Bessette
6 January 1937 of natural causes; more than a million people paid their respects at his funeral
12 June 1978 by Pope Paul VI
23 May 1982 by Pope John Paul II
17 October 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI