Solanus Casey: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

The Michigan priest whose beatification was announced by Pope Francis co-founded Detroit’s soup kitchen, and his tomb draws the faithful seeking miracles.

Born in Wisconsin, Casey was a Capuchin friar who died 60 years ago at age 86.

If canonized down the road, Casey, the son of Irish immigrants known for his work with the poor, would be the first American-born male Saint.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Casey Was Known for His ‘Compassion’ & ‘Simplicity’

The Detroit Archdiocese reported in a news release that Pope Francis had accepted a miracle and declared Casey “Venerable.” The priest was remembered for his compassion and simplicity.

At 10:30 on May 4 in Rome, “the Holy Father Pope Francis received in audience His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints,” the news release reads. “During this audience, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the following decree regarding a miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Solanus Casey, professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins.”

That means that Casey was beatified.

“The beatification of Father Solanus Casey is an incomparable grace for the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit and for the whole community of Southeast Michigan,” Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, Archdiocese of Detroit, said in the news release. “He is an inspiration to all us Catholics – and to all – of the power of grace to transform one’s life.”

“Long before we knew and loved Pope Francis, we had the example of Fr. Solanus who lived the Gospel of Mercy,” said Fr. Michael Sullivan, OFM Cap. and Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph. “Known for his compassion and simplicity, he drew many thousands to God. “


2. Casey’s Miracle Involved the Cure of a Woman With a Genetic Skin Disease

The miracle attributed to Casey came after a woman claimed that a stop at his tomb had cured her of an “incurable genetic skin disease,” reports The Michigan Catholic.

“The woman was visiting friends in Detroit and stopped at Fr. Solanus’ tomb to pray for others’ intentions. After her prayers, she felt the strong urging to ask for the friar’s intercession for herself, too, and received an instant and visible healing,” the site reports.

“The miraculous nature of her cure was verified by doctors in her home country, in Detroit and in Rome, all of whom confirmed there was no scientific explanation. In a blessed coincidence — or perhaps not — Fr. Solanus himself died of a skin disease in 1957.”


3. Casey Co-Founded Detroit’s Soup Kitchen & Died in the 1950s

Casey was born November 25, 1870 and died July 31, 1957, according to the Archdiocese of Detroit. “Father Solanus Casey was a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit and one of the co-founders of the city’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen,” the Archdiocese news release said.

According to Michigan Catholic, Casey was born in Oak Grove, Wis., and “in 1870, he spent most of his adult life and ministry in Detroit, caring for the sick, poor and downtrodden and lending a listening ear and caring heart to the thousands who came to him for counsel, wisdom and aid.”

The soup kitchen in Detroit “got its start in 1929 in Detroit during the Great Depression. Unemployed workers would come to the center begging for food and Casey would give them large sandwiches and cup of coffee,” reports the Detroit Free Press. It still exists today.


4. The Son of Irish Immigrants, Casey Would Be the First American-born Male Saint

Beatification is a key step on the road to Sainthood. If Casey is eventually canonized, he would become the first American-born male Saint and the first from Michigan, according to The Detroit Free Press.

According to The Detroit Free Press, he was born “Bernard Francis Casey to immigrants from Ireland who had 16 children, Casey struggled in seminary, but became known for his caring and love for others.”

He received the name “Solanus” after entering the Franciscan order in Detroit, the newspaper reports.


5. People Visit Casey’s Tomb in Detroit Seeking Miracles

The friar is buried in Detroit, and his tomb has become a gathering spot for people seeking miracles in their lives, according to the Detroit News.

“The Archdiocese of Detroit this year has been holding public events to remember Casey,” the newspaper reported. “His tomb in Detroit attracts visitors seeking to pay their respects or receive blessings from Casey. Some Catholics believe he interceded to bring miracles in their lives or the lives of loved ones.”

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