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American Saint

June 6, 2017


He was slight of stature, an enthusiastic but untalented fiddler, able to drive people out of the room with grating renditions of old rural songs. He was also a baseball fanatic. Throughout his life, he suffered from Erysipelas - a painful skin condition that would eventually kill him. He had an unflagging belief in simplicity and a complete devotion to the moment at hand. Most of all, he was known as a healer and worker of miracles. It was said that "the hungry and troubled were as necessary to him as the breath of life. They were, in fact , his life". 

Father Solanus Casey was born in 1870 as Bernard Francis Casey, the sixth of sixteen children in a log cabin in Oak Grove near Prescott, Wisconsin. As a young man he worked in lumber camps, he was an errand boy at a state prison and later was an electric streetcar operator in Superior,Wisconsin. It was there that he witnessed a brutal murder that changed his life and turned him towards the priesthood. He began studies at St Francis Seminary in Milwaukee and was accepted into the Capuchin order in 1897. In 1904 he was ordained in Milwaukee and celebrated his first mass in Appleton at St Josephs Church that same year. But It was in the difficult environs of east side Detroit where his work from 1924 to 1948 as a healer working among the poor and sick would become the subject of a decades long investigation by the Vatican. He was declared "venerable" by John Paul II in 2005 and approved for Beatification by Pope Francis in 2017. The ceremony will take place in Detroit where Father Solanus was laid to rest in 1957. He is the first male American born Saint. The first American Saint is Sister Elizabeth Anne Seton who was born in New York in 1774.