Solanus Casey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ven. Solanus Casey
Religious and priest
Born (1870-11-25)November 25, 1870
Oak Grove, Wisconsin
United States
Died July 31, 1957(1957-07-31) (aged 86)
Detroit, Michigan
United States
Major shrine St. Bonaventure Monastery Detroit, Michigan

Solanus Casey (November 25, 1870 – July 31, 1957) was an American Capuchin friar and priest who was known during his lifetime as a wonderworker and is the first United States-born man to be declared "venerable" by the Roman Catholic Church. He is now a candidate for beatification. A Capuchin priest, Casey was known for his great faith, humility, and role as spiritual counselor and intercessor.


Early life[edit]

He was born Bernard Francis Casey (nicknamed Barney) on a farm in what is now the town of Oak Grove, Wisconsin, the sixth of 16 children of Bernard and Ellen Casey, who were Irish immigrants.[1] He contracted diphtheria at age eight, which permanently damaged his voice, leaving it wispy.[2] The family later moved to Hudson, Wisconsin.[3] At age 17 he left the farm to work in a series of jobs in his home state and Minnesota, working as a lumberjack, a hospital orderly, a guard in the Minnesota state prison, and a street car operator in Superior, Wisconsin.[4]

While working at his last job Casey witnessed a brutal murder, which caused him to evaluate his life and his future. He then acted on a call he felt to the priesthood. Because of his limited formal education, he enrolled at St. Francis High School Seminary, the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at age 21, hoping to become a diocesan priest. Classes at the seminary were taught only in German and Latin, neither of which he knew. Eventually he was advised that, because of his academic limitations, he should consider joining a religious order if he wanted to be a priest. There he could be ordained a simplex priest, who could preside at Mass but would not have the faculties for public preaching or hearing confessions.[5]


Following this advice, Casey applied to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in Detroit, Michigan, into which he was received in 1897.[6] When he received the religious habit he was given the religious name of "Solanus", after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th-century Spanish Franciscan friar who was a noted missionary in Peru, and with whom he shared a love of the violin.

Casey struggled through the seminary, but on July 24, 1904, at age 33, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Milwaukee.[7][8] Because he had not performed well enough in his seminary studies, Casey was ordained a sacerdos simplex.[9]

After his ordination, Casey served for 20 years in a succession of assignments in Capuchin friaries in New York. His first assignment was at Sacred Heart Friary, in Yonkers, New York, later being transferred to New York City, where he first served at St. John's Church next to Penn Station and later at Our Lady Queen of Angels in Harlem.[10] Casey was recognized as an inspiring speaker. In 1924, he was transferred to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, where he worked for 21 years. During this time, Casey served primarily as the monastery porter, or receptionist and doorkeeper. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. Through these services, he became known for his great compassion and the amazing results of his consultations with visitors.[2] Many considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received.

Death and legacy[edit]

In 1946, in failing health and suffering from eczema over his entire body, he was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, where he lived until 1956, when he was hospitalized in Detroit.

Casey died of erysipelas[11] on July 31, 1957, at St. John Hospital in Detroit.[12] A commemorative plaque was placed outside the door of the hospital room in which he died. His last words reportedly were: "I give my soul to Jesus Christ."[2] An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin prior to his burial in the cemetery at St. Bonaventure Monastery.[13]

On July 8, 1987, Casey's body was exhumed and reinterred inside the Father Solanus Casey Center at St. Bonaventure Monastery.[14]

Casey's cause for sainthood was opened in 1982 and in 1995 Pope John Paul II declared him venerable,[14] the second step in the path to sainthood. Many miraculous cures have been associated with Father Solanus's intercession, both when he was alive and after his death.[2] Pilgrims from around the world make pilgrimages to the tomb of Father Solanus Casey.[citation needed]


  • The only science that gives purpose to every other science is the science of religion—the science of our happy relationship with, and our providential dependence on God and our neighbor.
  • We are continually immersed in God's merciful grace like the air that permeates us.
  • Gratitude is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature.
  • Thank you God, in all your designs.
  • Confidence is the very soul of prayer.
  • Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.
  • Like the Holy Trinity, Faith, Hope and Charity are one. Theoretically, Faith, like the Eternal Father, comes first, but in both cases they are essentially one.
  • God condescends to use our powers if we don't spoil His plans by ours.
  • We must be faithful to the present moment or we will frustrate the plan of God for our lives.
  • Many are the rainbows, the sunbursts, the gentle breezes—and the hailstorms—we are liable to meet before, by the grace of God, we shall be able to tumble into our graves with the confidence of tired children into their places of peaceful slumber.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vivian M. Baulch. "Father Solanus Casey and his 'favors'", The Detroit News, 2002.
  2. ^ a b c d Hanson, Diane Morey. "The 'Holy Doorman' of St. Bonaventure's: The Story of Venerable Solanus Casey", The Word Among Us, 2006.
  3. ^ "Father Solanus lives on in the people and places of our diocese" (PDF). The Catholic Times. September 20, 2007. p. 10. 
  4. ^ Wisconsin Historical Society. "Father Solanus Casey (1870 - 1957)" in Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Archived at [1] December 8, 2013.
  5. ^ Kelly, Brian. "Venerable Solanus Casey, O.F.M., Cap.". 
  6. ^ Joseph, Gina. "Father Solanus: A Christmas miracle", Macomb Daily, December 19, 2013.
  7. ^ Joan King, "Once a struggling seminarian, Capuchin’s on road to sainthood," Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 22, 2004.
  8. ^ Maryangela Layman Román, "Shorewood woman blessed by saintly friar: Credits Solanus Casey with helping her overcome eye ailment", Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Nikola Derpich, "Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM: Apostle of Thanksgiving", Shorelines, February 17, 2003.
  10. ^ Father Solanus Guild, "About Solanus Casey", 2005.
  11. ^ L. Wollenweber. Meet Solanus Casey. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2002. ISBN 1-56955-281-9
  12. ^ Jack Wintz, "Father Solanus Casey: Will He Be Beatified Soon? (Part I)",, February 28, 2007.
  13. ^ "Saint of the Day: Venerable Solanus Casey",
  14. ^ a b Father Solanus Guild, "Cause for Canonization".
  15. ^ Michael Crosby, ed., Solanus Casey: The Official Account of a Virtuous American Life. New York: Crossroad Classic, 2000. ISBN 978-0824518356

Further reading[edit]

  • Casey, Solanus; Casey, Bernadine (ed.). Letters from Solanus Casey OFM. Cap.: God Bless You and Yours. Detroit: Father Solanus Guild, 2000.
  • Derum, James Patrick. The Porter of Saint Bonaventure's: The Life of Father Solanus Casey, Capuchin. Detroit: Fidelity Press, 1968.
  • Odell, Catherine. Father Solanus: The Story of Father Solanus. Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor Press, 1988.

External links[edit]