St. André Bessette was born in a poor family in Quebec in 1845. After his father and mother died only 3 years apart, his large family was split up and André, physically weak from birth and barely able to read, moved around for many years looking for work.
In 1870, he presented himself to the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal. The bishop implored the brothers to take him in, so they gave him a very humble job at Notre-Dame College — washing floors and windows, cleaning lamps, and carrying firewood and messages.
Brother André often said, “It is with the smallest brushes that the artists paint the most beautiful pictures.”
He welcomed the sick and troubled, and urged them to pray to St. Joseph. Over his 25 years at Notre-Dame College, thousands of people visited him, and his reputation grew as many reported that their prayers were answered.
With donations and the money he earned giving haircuts to students, Brother André built a chapel to St. Joseph. He had to construct larger and larger versions and more and more pilgrims came to see him.
Brother André died in 1937. More than a million people attended his wake and burial.
Brother André was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 17, 2010.