Bernard Francis Casey (November 25,1870 – July 31, 1957) was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. A Capuchin priest, Casey was known for his great faith, humility, and role as spiritual counselor and intercessor. The first United States-born man formally to be declared "Venerable" by the Roman Catholic church, Casey is a candidate now for beatification and possible sainthood.
The sixth of sixteen children of Irish immigrant
parents, "Barney" left the farm to work in a series of jobs in his home state and Minnesota: as a lumberjack
, hospital orderly, a prison guard in the Minnesota
state penitentiary, and a street car
operator. A diphtheria epidemic
in his youth permanently damaged his voice, leaving it wispy.
He attended St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the age of 21, hoping initially to become a diocesan priest. Five years later, though, he joined the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, a Roman Catholic religious order for men. He took the name "Solanus" after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century Spanish nobleman, intellectual, missionary and preacher.
On July 24
, at the age of 33, Solanus Casey was ordained to the Roman Catholic
priesthood by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer
at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Milwaukee. Because he was judged to have performed insufficiently well in his seminary studies, Casey was ordained a "sacerdotus simplex," a priesthood rank that prevented him from hearing confessions or preaching doctrinal sermons.
After his ordination, Solanus served for twenty years in a succession of assignments in Capuchin friaries in New York, Harlem, and Yonkers. In 1924, he was transferred to St Bonaventure Friary in Detroit, where he worked for a further twenty-one years. During these years, Solanus formally served primarily as "porter," or receptionist and doorkeeper. He became well known, though, for his great compassion and the miraculous results of his consultations with visitors.
Death and Legacy
Father Casey died on On July 31
in Detroit, Michigan
at the age of 86. His last words reportedly were: "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin prior to his burial in the cemetery at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, Michigan.
On July 8, 1987, Father Solanus Casey's incorrupt body was exhumed and subsequently reinterred inside the Father Solanus Casey Center at the St. Bonaventure Monastery.
Solanus Casey's cause for sainthood was opened in 1982. In 1995, Pope John Paul II declared Father Casey to be venerable, the first 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. Pilgrims from around the world continue to make pilgrimages to the tomb of Father Solanus.
- Vivian M. Baulch, "Father Solanus Casey and his 'favors,'" The Detroit News Review Mirror, 1996.
- Sr. Bernadine Casey, ed., Letters from Solanus Casey, Father Solanus Guild, 2000.
- Michael Crosby, ed., Solanus Casey: The Official Account of a Virtuous American Life, Crossroad Classic, 2000.
- Br. Nikola Derpich, L.C., "Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM: Apostle of Thanksgiving," Shorelines, February 17, 2003.
- James Patrick Derum, The Porter of Saint Bonaventure's, The Fidelity Press Detroit, 1997.
- Diane Morey Hanson, "The 'Holy Doorman' of St. Bonaventure's," The Word Among Us, 2006.
- Joan King, "Once a struggling seminarian, Capuchin’s on road to sainthood," Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 22, 2004.
- Catherine M. Odell, The Story of Father Solanus, Revised ed., Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2007.
- Maryangela Layman Román, "Shorewood woman blessed by saintly friar: Credits Solanus Casey with helping her overcome eye ailment," Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 26, 2007.
- Friar Jack Wintz, O.F.M., "Father Solanus Casey: Will He Be Beatified Soon? (Part I)," AmericanCatholic.org, February 28, 2007.
- Br. Leo Wollenweber, Meet Solanus Casey, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2002.
- Father Solanus Casey Guild
- Father Solanus Casey Center
- Vivian M. Baulch, "Father Solanus Casey and his 'favors,'" Detroit News: The Rearview Mirror, 1996
- Br. Nikola Derpich, L.C., "Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM: Apostle of Thanksgiving," Shorelines, February 17, 2003
- Diane Morey Hanson, "The 'Holy Doorman' of St. Bonaventure's," The Word Among Us, 2006
- Joan King, "Once a struggling seminarian, Capuchin’s on road to sainthood," Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 22, 2004
- Maryangela Layman Román, "Shorewood woman blessed by saintly friar: Credits Solanus Casey with helping her overcome eye ailment," Milwaukee Catholic Herald, July 26, 2007
- "Saint of the Day," AmericanCatholic.org