Beatification of Father Solanus Casey (OFM Cap)

Father Solanus Casey declared 'Blessed Solanus' at Detroit beatification.

Over 60,000 people from metro Detroit and around the world attend Saturday's ceremony that celebrates the beatification of Father Solanus Casey, Saturday Nov. 18, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit.

Eminence Angelo Cardinal Amato from Rome, Italy, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints and representative of the Holy Father, Pope Francis blesses a portrait of Father Solanus Casey during Saturday's ceremony celebrating the beatification of Father Solanus Casey, Saturday Nov. 18, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit.  (Photo: Mandi Wright/Special to the (Detroit) Free Press)


Father Solanus was born Bernard Francis Casey in 1870 in Wisconsin, according to the Capuchin Franciscan Ministry. After serving in New York, he was assigned to the St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit where he worked for 20 years.

  He helped establish one of the city's Depression-era soup kitchens. Pope Francis called him "a humble and faithful disciple of Christ, tireless in serving the poor," the Catholic News Agency reported.

On July 24, 1904, he was ordained, but because his knowledge of theology was judged to be weak, Father Solanus was not given permission to hear confessions or to preach. A Franciscan Capuchin who knew him well said this annoying restriction "brought forth in him a greatness and a holiness that might never have been realized in any other way." During his 14 years as porter and sacristan in Yonkers, New York, the people there recognized him as a fine speaker. "For, though he was forbidden to deliver doctrinal sermons," writes his biographer, James Derum, "he could give inspirational talks, or feverinos, as the Capuchins termed them" (18:96). His spiritual fire deeply impressed his listeners.Father Solanus served at parishes in Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he was porter and sacristan for 20 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. A co-worker estimates that on the average day 150 to 200 people came to see Father Solanus in the front office. Most of them came to receive his blessing; 40 to 50 came for consultation. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.Father Solanus’ sense of God’s providence inspired many of his visitors. "Blessed be God in all his designs" was one of his favorite expressions.

In 1946 in failing health, he was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, where he lived until 1956 when he was hospitalized in Detroit. He died on July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit.

Beatification also brings with it a feast day, July 30, dedicated to Blessed Solanus, to be celebrated on the church's liturgical calendar in Michigan and in Capuchin order-run churches elsewhere. It means statues and paintings of Casey can be placed inside Catholic churches because now he can be a subject of public veneration.

Father Wolfgang Pisa of Tanzania holds a bowl of hosts before the Beatification of Father Solanus Casey at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday November 17, 2017. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Special to the Detroit Free Press)