Alfred Bessette was born on August 9, 1845, near Montreal, Canada. He was the eighth of twelve children. When Alfred was nine, his father, a wood cutter, died in an accident at work. Three years later, Alfred’s mother died of tuberculosis, leaving the children orphans. They were split up and placed in different homes. Alfred went to live with his aunt and uncle. Because his family had been so poor and he was often sick, Alfred had very little education.
So for the next thirteen years he tried learning different trades like farming, shoemaking and baking. But his health and illiteracy always failed him. When Alfred was twenty-five, he joined the order of Holy Cross and chose the name Brother Andre. He spent the next forty years as the doorkeeper for the order’s college. Here, Brother Andre’s healing power became known.
When people came to ask him for a cure, he would tell them to first thank God for their suffering because it was so valuable. Then he would pray with them. Most of them were cured. Brother Andre always refused credit for the healing. He insisted it had been the person’s faith and the power of St. Joseph.