Pilgrims fly to Rome for Brother André sainthood
We’d like to share with you this article from CBC News that was written the day we left to go Rome, October 14th, 2010.
More than 2,000 people from across North America are expected to travel to the Vatican this week for the canonization of Brother André on Sunday.Brother André will be canonized at a ceremony in the Vatican on Sunday. (St. Joseph’s Oratory)The largest contingent is leaving from Trudeau International airport in Montreal.Brother André was born Alfred Bessette in Saint-Grégoire d’Iberville in Quebec in 1845, and he’s about to become the Roman Catholic Church’s first Canadian-born male saint.
Noella-Marie Bolduc, 85, of Montreal has a personal connection to Brother André. She says he performed a miracle that allowed her sister to walk again.
« He made the sign of the cross on her legs and then he said, ‘OK, you’ll be OK now » then he went out…. From that time on, her legs became so strong, » said Bolduc.
Noella-Marie Bolduc says Brother André performed a miracle on her sister. (CBC) She will travel to Rome, for the first time, on Friday to witness Brother André’s ascension to sainthood. « I’m happy, » she said. « I’m joyful because it’s a privilege to be able to go there. »
Bolduc is among the more than 900 pilgrims flying out of Trudeau International with Spiritours this week. It’s the travel agency affiliated with St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, the shrine Brother André built from the donations he received from people who said he had cured them. Donations continued to pour in long after his death in 1937.
The canonization at St. Peter’s Basilica will be beamed in live, at 4 a.m. E.T., to the public at St. Joseph’s Oratory.
Many, such as Nicole Roy, are too young to have known Brother André but she says she wouldn’t miss his canonization. « Brother André was big, he was beautiful, He’s a saint, » she said as she waited in line at the airport to board her plane on Thursday.
Tour guide Laurence Maurin assists pilgrims headed to Rome for the canonization. (CBC) Laurence Morin, tour guide for Spiritours, says « some people were crying when I told them, ‘You were on the waiting list and now there is a seat for you and now you can join us.' »
The rector at St. Joseph’s, Rev. Claude Grou, is a member of the same Holy Cross order that Brother André belonged to and is leading the pilgrimage to Rome.
« They want to be part of this celebration…. All the people coming, they have all received pass to enter St. Peter’s place, which means they will have a seat on the Saint Peter’s Square, » said Grou.
Among the pilgrims going to Rome will be an anonymous Quebecer who was thrown from a moving car when he was 10 years old, and whose miraculous recovery led to the Pope’s declaration of André’s sainthood.
Doctors didn’t believe he would live, Grou said recently. His family anointed him with St. Joseph’s oil and touched him with a medallion of Brother André.
« Almost at the same time, there seemed to be an unexpected change. The danger of death disappeared and even, they discovered, there would probably be no major damage to his brain, » Grou said.
« In fact, now the boy is a young man and he is in very good health, » he said.
Grou said the young man and his family want to guard their privacy. They also want the attention to be on Brother André himself.
Shrine draws 2 million annually
Already, two million tourists a year visit St. Joseph’s Oratory, and Kevin Wright, who runs the World Religious Travel Association based in Kentucky, predicts Brother André’s canonization will make Montreal one of the top draws internationally for Christian pilgrims.
« Tour operators, travel agents and others are going to discover Quebec and start integrating an itinerary to Quebec — the religious sites — into their portfolios. And that’s where it all begins, » Wright said.
There will be events tied to Brother André’s canonization throughout October across Quebec.
They will culminate in a commemorative mass at the Olympic Stadium on Oct. 30 that is expected to attract 50,000 people.