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Br. André encouraged signs of faith

Brother André standing before the altar and tabernacle of his small chapel. (Photo: Archives Saint Joseph's Oratory)Brother André would often distribute two things to the sick and needy who came to visit him: St. Joseph's oil and St. Joseph medals.

Neither the oil nor the medals had magical healing powers, he would say. Rather, they were objects that helped a person to express their faith, and it was their faith that made them well.


The use of oil is a very ancient tradition found in the Bible. In Israel, oil symbolizes light. It was used to fuel the menorah so that it could keep burning (Ex 27:20).

In the Temple, the priest would keep watch of the oil used to light the lamp and the oil used for anointing (Nm 4:16). The priests themselves were anointed with oil as was the altar at the time of its consecration (Lv 8:1-11).

Not only was oil used to anoint priests, but also prophets and kings. In the Christian liturgy, oil is used for several sacraments, such as Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick.

For Brother André, the oil that burned before St. Josephʼs statue was a sign intended to lead people toward God. Brother André invited the sick people who visited him to rub this oil on the part of their body that needed healing.

Surely, he would tell them, the oil does not have the power to heal in itself. Rather, it was a way for the sick to put their faith into action and to express publicly their faith in Godʼs power.

St. Josephʼs Oratory of Mount Royal continues to distribute St. Josephʼs oil. The oil is poured into a basin in front of a statue of St. Joseph, where it burns before being bottled and offered to pilgrims.

Several pilgrims today continue to claim that they have been cured after rubbing themselves with the oil and praying to Brother André and St. Joseph.


Brother André enjoyed distributing St. Joseph medals to his visitors. Along with the students of Notre-Dame College, he buried some of these medals on the mountain in the hope of obtaining permission from his superiors to build an oratory for St. Joseph there.

He did not attribute any magical healing powers to the medal. Rather, he believed that when the sick expressed their great trust in St. Joseph when they carried it around. Brother André was convinced that the image of the saint would nourish the piety of those who wore it.

Rolande Parrot 

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