Today we went to The St. Joseph’s Oratory at the top of Mount Royal in Montreal. This place is truly a Holy place. It began as a tiny chapel (an oratory), built by Brother Andre, to honor St. Joseph.
Brother Andre was a simple and humble man. He always had a deep devotion to St. Joseph and hoped at one time to become a priest. He was never able to fulfill his dream of becoming a priest (mostly due to his lack of formal education); however, the bishops recognized Brother Andre’s love for God and his devotion to St. Joseph. They assigned him to be the Porter ( the person who opens the doors to visitors and keeps the tiny chapel clean) at the Oratory in 1904.
While working as the Porter in this tiny chapel, Brother Andre began welcoming people who came to him in need due to sickness, disabilities, and any other serious ailments. The people would struggle to walk up while hanging on to crutches or canes. Brother Andre would care for any and all of these people in his room which was located directly above the church altar. Since part of his work was to empty and refill the oils from the candles, he would use the oil to rub on the sores, cuts, or bones of his patients. Of course, he would continually pray fervently to Jesus through St. Joseph for the healing of the person in need. He had a tiny window in the room which allowed him a clear view of the altar where he would pray all night while he took care of the person, or sometimes more than one person who was ill. Many of the people were cured of their ailments and/or disabilities and left their canes and crutches in the church.
Word of Brother Andre’s humility and love for this tiny chapel began to spread. Soon, in 1908 began a succession of enlargements to the Oratory, which would soon be referred to as a Basilica. These improvements and enlargements continued for many years until its official opening in 1956. Brother Andre never saw the completion of the Basilica, as he died January 6, 1937. By then Brother Andre was loved by people all over the world. For 6 days and nights, over 1 million people moved past his open coffin. The canonization of Brother Andre occurred on October 17, 2010, Brother Andre was officially canonized as St. Andre Bessette, Canada’s first Saint.