Friday 5 July 2024

Brother André of Montreal - Ann Nolan Clark and Harold Lang - Vision Books #71

Brother André of Montreal
Harold Lang (Illustrator)
Farrar, Straus & Company, Inc.

This is one of the original 72 Vision Books for Young Readers. The originals were published between 1955 and 1969 by Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, Inc. Reprints of about half are available from Ignatius Press. This is not one of them. I wrote a piece about the series as a whole, Vision Books for Young Readers, after reading a few and wanting to know more about the series. This one was one of the last in the series, to the best of my research only one volume was released after this one, but there were three others announced at the end of this as being in progress. The description of the book states:

“One of the best-known sights of Montreal is the white basilica, St. Joseph's Oratory, which towers above the city. Less known is the man whose determination and faith led to its construction. Brother Andre, who spent the forty prime years of his life answering the door at a boys' school across the road from the Oratory and who always wanted to help build a church in honor of St. Joseph. Orphaned, sickly, awkward at every manual job to which he turned, both in his native Canada and in the United States, Alfred Bessette found his place in life in 1874 when he became Brother Andre in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Soon after his death in 1937, first steps were taken which may lead to his canonization.”

About the author we are informed:

“Ann Nolan Clark is the author of Secret of the Andes (Newbery Medal, 1953), In My Mother’s House, World Song, Paco’s Miracle, and Medicine Man’s Daughter, among others. She lives in Santa Fe and for many years worked among the Indians of the Southwest as teacher, writer, and school supervisor. Her first Vision Book was Father Kino, Priest to the Pimas.”

She only wrote the two volumes in the series. 

While reading this volume I only highlighted a few passages, I just did not want to stop and take the time. They are:

“Getting to know the facts of his life was something else again. I could not find much about his childhood, and to me it is very important to know the child before I write about the man.”

“Leaning on his hay rake, he asked Saint Joseph where he was to die, and in his mind there arose a picture of a long stone building with many dormer windows, a spire, and a cross. Later he was to live for forty years in the building that he saw in his imagination in a hayfield near Farnham, although at the time he saw it the building had not yet been built.”

“On December 2 7, 1 870, in the chapel of Hotel Bellevue, Alfred Bessette was permitted to take the holy habit of a brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross, dedicated to Saint Joseph.”

“Little by little he began to dream of this place's becoming a shrine where tired and troubled people could come to ask the Carpenter of Nazareth to lay a prayer for them before the throne of God.”

“His drive to build a shrine had perhaps been greatly strengthened by the death of his beloved Bishop Bourget, who had helped him in his darkest hour and had made it possible for him to become a working brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross. After the bishop's death, it became known that his greatest ambition had never been fulfilled: to build a fitting church to honor the Guardian of the Queen of Heaven, who was also patron saint of Canada. This grieved Brother Andre and made him doubly determined to have a shrine in loving memory.”

“In 1909, on the eve of Saint Joseph's feast day in a cold, snowy March, a thousand people carrying lighted candles and chanting the Litany of Joseph and sacred hymns came winding up the icy road to pay homage in his honor at Brother Andre's oratory. That year the Confraternity of Saint Joseph was organized in Montreal.”

This book was a fascinating read from beginning to end. I could hardly put it down. I have been familiar with the basics of Brother Andre’s story. And I was even sent oil to use with our son before his spinal surgery. But reading this biography was deeply moving. All he overcame both physically and intellectually. The example of his deep faith that guided and led him though his whole life, and his devotion to Saint Joseph. 

This is an excellent volume and one I can easily recommend if you can lay your hands upon it. It is another from the original Vision Books Series I am surprised that Ignatius did not bring back into print. I encourage you to try and track down a copy and give it a read, it will inspire and challenge readers of all ages!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!   

Books by Ann Nolan Clark:
A Santo for Pasqualita
Blue Canyon I!_ orse
In My Mother's House
Little Navajo Bluebird
Magic Money
Medicine Man's Daughter
Paco's Miracle
Secret of the Andes
The Desert People
Third Monkey
World Song

Books in the Vision Books Saints Biographies:
Bernadette, Our Lady's Little Servant 
The Cure of Ars 
Edmund Campion 
Florence Nightingale's Nuns 
Fr. Marquette and the Great Rivers 
Francis and Clare, Saints of Assisi 
Kateri Tekakwitha 
Mother Cabrini, Missionary to the World 
Mother Seton and the Sisters of Charity 
Saint Anthony and the Christ Child 
Saint Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal 
Saint Dominic and the Rosary 
Saint Elizabeth's Three Crowns 
Saint Francis of the Seven Seas 
Saint Helena and the True Cross 
Saint Ignatius and the Company of Jesus 
Saint Isaac and the Indians 
Saint John Bosco 
Saint Katherine Drexel 
Saint Louis and the Last Crusade 
Saint Philip of the Joyous Heart 
Saint Therese and the Roses 
Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars 
Saint Thomas More of London 
Vincent De Paul: Saint of Charity 

Out of Print books in the Series:
Catholic Campuses, Stories of American Catholic Colleges 
Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Children Welcome: Villages for Boys and Girls 
Christmas and the Saints 
Columbus and the New World 
Dear Philippine: Mission of Mother Duchesne 
Edel Quinn: Beneath the Southern Cross 
Frances Warde and the First Sisters of Mercy 
Good Pope John b
Governor Al Smith 
In American Vineyards, Religious Orders in the United States 
Irish Saints 
John Carroll Bishop and Patriot
John Neumann, The Children's Bishop 
Kit Carson of the Old West 
Lydia Longley, the First American Nun 
Marguerite Bourgeoys, Pioneer Teacher 
Martin de Porres, Saint of the New World 
Modern Crusaders 
More Champions in Sports and Spirit 
Mother Barat's Vineyard 
My Eskimos: A Priest in the Artic 
Peter and Paul: The Rock and the Sword 
Peter Claver, Saint Among Slaves
Pope Pius XII, the World's Shepherd 
Rose Hawthorne: The Pilgramage of Nathaniel's Daughter 
Saints of the Byzantine World 
Sarah Peter: The Dream and the Harvest 
St. Augustine and His Search for Faith 
St. Francis de Sales 
St. Gregory the Great, Consul of God 
St. Jerome and the Bible 
St. Margaret Mary, Apostle of the Sacred Heart 
The Bible Story, The Promised Lord and His Coming 
The Cross in the West 
The Ursulines, Nuns of Adventure 
When Saints Were Young 

No comments: