Brother André expressed a saint’s faith by a lifelong devotion to Saint Joseph. At 25, André applied for entrance into the Congregation of Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget, he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal.
When André heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. With his great devotion to Saint Joseph, André would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a burning lamp in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.
For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected $200 to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening and applying Saint Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes, and braces grew.
At his canonization in October 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that Saint André “lived the beatitude of the pure of heart.”
Rubbing ailing limbs with oil or a medal? Planting a medal to buy land? Isn’t this superstition? Aren’t we long past that superstitious people rely only on the “magic” of a word or action. Brother André’s oil and medals were authentic sacramentals of a simple, total faith in the Father who lets his saints help him bless his children.