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The Illustrated Monk: Brother Andre Can't Leave His Tattoos Behind But Can Pursue Sanctity

Jo Garcia-Cobb

Jo Garcia-Cobb - published on 12/09/14

As for the choice of his monastic name, Brother André initially proposed Moses the Black, a Coptic saint whose life story has elements that resemble his own, but the abbot picked André, partly because of Love’s paternal French Canadian ancestry.

“St. André Bessette’s degree of humility was what I was seeking anyway. A life of true simplicity and devotion,” he said.

Brother André has been appointed curator of the abbey museum, and has a ministry writing commissioned icons. After taking a week-long course at the Institute of  Iconography at Queen of Angels Monastery in Mount Angel, OR, Brother André has been taken by the beauty of an art form “that takes the ego out.”

“I’m using the geometry, the colors, and techniques that had been established in a canon hundreds of years ago. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

Caring for the bell tower is another one of his monastic duties. The bells ring at 5:20 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 7:55 a.m. 11:55 a.m., 5:15 p.m., and 7:25 p.m. for prayer and daily Mass, the monks’ main work: “Life at the hilltop revolves around the tolling of the bells. It makes it simple to be in the moment. There’s a great sense of peace that comes from that.”

Jo Garcia-Cobb writes from Mount Angel, Oregon.

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