Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brother Andre, CSC, Is a Saint Today

Brother Andre Bassette, CSC (1845-1937)

Painting (Toronto: October 8, 2010) © Joachim Romeo D'Costa

Pope Benedict XVI, in an impressive ceremony at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican today, officially canonized Brother Andre Bassette, CSC, the first Canada-born saint, along with five others belonging to different countries. Thousands of Church officials, priests, Brothers, Sisters, lay persons and foreign dignitaries were present in the open-air solemn Mass and ceremony.

Bangladeshi Catholics Also Feel Elated at Brother Andre's Canonization

Brother Andre is the first saint belonging to the Congregation of Holy Cross that was founded at Le Mans, France, in 1837 by Father Basil Anthony Moreau, CSC, (who has been beatified in 2007). Missionaries from this congregation at present work in 14 countries, including Bangladesh. In 1852, Holy Cross Fathers, Brothers and Sisters started work in the dioceses of Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. The canonization of Brother Andre is, therefore, a good news for many Bangladeshi Catholics.

Two Miracles of Brother Andre

Two miracles through the intercession of Brother Andre were required for making him a saint. The first miracle occurred in 1958, when Giusepe Carlo Audino of Quebec Province of Canada was spontaneously healed of his terminal cancer after earnestly praying to Brother Andre. This healing was medically inexplicable and it led the Brother to be beatified. From then on, he was being called "Blessed Brother Andre."

The second miracle, that occurred in 1998, made Brother Andre eligible for sainthood. In that year, a 9-year-old Quebec boy, on a bicycle, was struck by a car and he received severe head injuries (massive cranial trauma with irreversible coma). Medically, there was no chance for him to get healed. His relatives prayed to Brother Andre and applied on him "St. Joseph's oil", taken from St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada. The boy miraculously was healed of his injury. Now he is living a normal life. The boy's family wants privacy and want the boy to remain anonymous. After today's canonization, Brother Andre will be known as "Saint Brother Andre."

Brother Andre: A Simple and Humble Man

Brother Andre, who was born in 1845 a few kilometres away from Montreal, Quebec, comes from a rural area. He was barely literate but seriously a religious person. For 40 years, he was a Brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He served as a porter (doorman), launderer, janitor and sacristan (helper in the church) at Notre Dame College, Montreal. He also came in contact with the poor and sick for whom he devoted his spare time. His rustic simplicity and untainted humility attracted thousands of these disadvantaged people. They requested him for his prayers and for their healing he gave them "St. Joseph's oil." Innumerable people were healed. As a testimony to their healing, many of them left their canes and crutches with the Brother and walked home. Some of these canes and crutches are still visible at St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal. Brother never claimed any credit for the healings. He used to say: "I am a man just like you." He, of course, attributed all the miracles to St. Joseph. Every year, two million tourists and pilgrims visit St. Joseph's Oratory.

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