A Catholic Monthly Magazine

January Saints

6 January

St André Bessette

(1845-1937)

“When things get tough, the tough get going” could be the motto applied to many saints who retained their vision for
doing God’s work despite almost overwhelming odds.

Alfred Bessette was born in Mon-Saint-Grégoire, Quebec, the ninth of 13 children, four of whom died in infancy. His father, a lumberman, died tragically when the boy was nine, leaving his mother, at age forty, with ten children in her care. She died of tuberculosis three years later. For thirteen years Alfred, who himself suffered from chronic ill-health, wandered from job to job, staying only until his employers found out how little work he could do.

When Alfred came to the Holy Cross Brothers in 1870, he carried with him a note from his pastor saying, “I am sending you a saint”. Apart from his health, at twenty-five years of age, Alfred could neither read nor write – and the Brothers were teachers! Although he was desperate, he felt this was the place he belonged. The Brothers took him into the novitiate where, now as Brother André, the young man’s physical frailty was recognised. Asked to leave the order, André appealed to a visiting bishop who promised him he would take his vows.

Following profession, Brother André was sent to Notre Dame College in Montreal as a porter, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. He was to joke later, “At the end of my novitiate, my superiors showed me the door, and I stayed there for 40 years!”

Brother André had a deep spirit of prayer and an abiding devotion to Saint Joseph, in whose intercession he had absolute confidence. Often the sick recovered after his ministrations, but he always attributed this to Saint Joseph, refusing to take any credit for himself. When he nursed victims of an epidemic at a nearby college, no one died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood, causing unease among his superiors, diocesan authorities and medical people. “I do not cure”, he insisted. “Saint Joseph cures”.

The volume of people coming to the college increased to the point where Brother André had to move his ministry to a nearby tramway station. Four secretaries were needed to cope with the 80,000 letters he received each year.

In 1904, Brother André began the campaign to erect a chapel to honour his favourite saint on a mountain near the college. Despite having little money, he started the project, building whatever he could afford at the time. When he was 90, he had a statue of Saint Joseph erected in the unfinished, unroofed basilica. He died soon after, on 6 January, 1937, leaving a legacy of devotion to the Head of the Holy Family.

Saint André, obtain for us a deep trust in St Joseph.

Source: Internet, various

6 January

St Rafaela Porras Ayllón
(1850-1925)

Rafaela Porras Ayllón was born in Pedro Abad, Spain, the tenth of thirteen children. She had one sister and eleven brothers. Her father died in 1854 while tending victims of a cholera epidemic and her mother died in 1869. Her mother’s death anchored in Rafaela the desire to follow Jesus more closely, so she took a vow of perpetual chastity. In February 1874 she and her sister María Dolores went to the convent of the Poor Clare nuns in their home town and were clothed with the habit.

In 1875, the two entered a religious congregation - the Sisters of Mary Reparatrix, and it was there that Rafaela assumed her new religious name of ‘María of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’. She and her sister founded the Institute of Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament and Daughters of Mary Immaculate and went with sixteen religious to Madrid to make their vows in 1877.

The congregation received a papal decree of praise from Pope Leo XIII in 1886, the congregation being officially named the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Papal approval was bestowed in 1887.

Rafaela was appointed as the Superior of her order and remained in that post until 1893, when dissension in the group saw her resign and her sister appointed as her successor. She then withdrew to the house in Rome and spent the remainder of her life there.

Saint Rafaela, help us to be sensitive to God’s designs in our lives.

Source: Wikipedia


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