We continue this week with a multi-part evangelical biography on the life of Fr. Solanus Casey.
Fr. Solanus Casey: An Icon of the Gospel Unleashed
Fr. Solanus passed from this world on July 31, 1957 at the age of 86. His last conscious act was to sit up and exclaim, “I give my soul to Jesus Christ.” Some 20,000 people passed by his coffin during visitation, and 8,000 people attended his funeral. He was buried in the friars’ cemetery at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, but since many people sought to visit his grave, his body was exhumed on July 8, 1987, placed in a metal casket, and re-interred in the north transept of St. Bonaventure Church.
People from near and far continued to visit the body of Fr. Solanus, seeking his intercession. Stories continued of cures and favors believed to have been received through his intercession. The beatification cause for Fr. Solanus began with an informative phase of investigation of his life in 1976; the results were sent by our Archdiocese to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, who then validated the informative phase in 1986 voting affirmatively that Fr. Solanus lived a life of heroic virtue. This, in turn, led to the conferral of the title Venerable to Fr. Solanus by Pope John Paul II in July 1995. On May 4, 2017, Pope Francis announced that Fr. Solanus had met the requirements for beatification after the miraculous cure of a woman with an incurable genetic skin disease was unequivocally attributed to his intercession. She was praying to Fr. Solanus next to his casket when she received an instantaneous and scientifically inexplicable healing.
The declaration of Fr. Solanus Casey as “Blessed” acknowledges that he is in heaven, in union with God. Official Mass prayers and liturgical devotions can now be used, asking for Fr. Solanus’ continued intercession to God for the needs of His people. As Fr. Solanus welcomed so many souls seeking God’s assistance as a porter throughout his life, he continues to be a friend to those on the journey seeking God’s help through his intercession.
At the local announcement of the approved beatification, Archbishop Vigneron stated, “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,” and that “long before phrases like ‘new evangelization’ and ‘Unleash the Gospel’ were used, Fr. Solanus was doing just that.” Now, through his heroic example and heavenly intercession, Fr. Solanus continues to assist us in the Church of Detroit to Unleash the Gospel, as he did for so many wonderful years at St. Bonaventure. Fr. Solanus Casey, pray for us!
God Bless! – Fr. Patrick