Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with the Saints: André Bessette


Jeremiah 17:5–10; Psalm 1:1–2, 3, 4, 6; Luke 16:19–31

Jesus tells the parable of a rich man who lived in luxury, failing to notice the beggar named Lazarus at his front door. Only too late—after death—does the rich man take notice of the poor man who had daily suffered on his doorstep.

The French Canadian saint André Bessette would not have been blind to a beggar on his doorstep. After twenty-five years of struggle with sickness and poverty, and having tried various trades, including working in a New England factory during the Civil War, he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal in 1872. Weak health had delayed his profession, and he was assigned the job of doorkeeper. He joked much later in life that when he entered religious life, he was shown the door and remained there for forty years.

Brother André had a rich spiritual life, fed by long hours of prayer. He visited the sick and brought oil from the chapel lamp to apply to them. Soon reports of healings began to spread. Such notoriety made his religious order and church authorities nervous; Brother André adamantly deferred any personal powers, claiming instead the intercession of St. Joseph. He was instrumental in building a shrine to St. Joseph on Mount Royal. It became a place of pilgrimage where many miracles of healing are claimed.

Humble Brother André would have felt a kinship with the beggar Lazarus at the rich man’s door. He died in 1937 at age ninety-one and was canonized in 2010.

Today’s Action

Visit, send a card, or make a phone call to someone who is sick within your family or your parish or among your friends.


Jesus, may we hear you knocking on the door of our heart.
Through the intercession of your foster father, Joseph,
may all who suffer find healing and peace.

Lent with the Saints

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