Friend to the poor and sick, founder of Montreal's St. Joseph's Oratory, and a man once dubbed the Miracle Man of Montreal, Bessette officially joined the sainthood along with five others during an elaborate ceremony yesterday in St Peter's Square.
Brother Andre Bessette "knew suffering and poverty very early in life," Pope Benedict said in a homily before an estimated 50,000 pilgrims from around the world, gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Born to an extremely poor family in St. Gregoire, southeast of Montreal, Bessette was orphaned at age 12 and drifted for years as an illiterate, unskilled worker. In 1870, he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross, which reluctantly accepted him and assigned him to a lowly job at the reception area of College Notre Dame in Cote des Neiges.
His early-life difficulties "led him to turn to God for prayer and an intense interior life," Pope Benedict said. "Doorman at College Notre Dame in Montreal, he showed boundless charity and did everything possible to soothe the despair of those who confided in him."
The diminutive lay brother "was the witness of many healings and conversions. 'Do not try to have your trials taken away from you,' he said, 'rather, ask for the grace to endure them,' " Pope Benedict added. "For him, everything spoke of God and His presence.
"May we, following his example, search for God with simplicity to discover Him always present in the core of our lives. May the example of Brother Andre inspire Canadian Chrisltian life."