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Detroit friar becomes second US-born man to be named ‘blessed’

Blessed Solanus Casey (CNS photo/The Michigan Catholic)

A Detroit friar is to become only the second US-born man to be named “blessed”, sixty years after his death.

Pope Francis announced on May 4 that Capuchin Father Solanus Casey, who had earlier been named venerable, met the requirements for beatification and will be named “blessed” – the second US-born man to achieve such a designation and the first person from Michigan.

Father Casey was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin, in 1870, and spent most of his adult life and ministry in Detroit. He helped establish the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in 1929 to feed hungry people during the Great Depression, a work that continues in Detroit today. By the time of his death July 31, 1957, devotion to Father Casey had grown to the point that more than 8,000 people attended his funeral.

Pope Francis recognised the authenticity of a miracle necessary for the friar to be elevated from venerable to blessed after a review by the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes was completed earlier this year.

“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,” Detroit Archbishop Allen H Vigneron said in a statement.

“He is an inspiration to all us Catholics – and to all – of the power of grace to transform one’s life.”

The miracle needed to raise Father Casey to blessed involved a woman with an incurable genetic skin disease. The woman was visiting friends in Detroit and stopped at Father Casey’s 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 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. Father Casey himself died of a skin disease in 1957.

The beatification, which will take place during a Mass in Detroit later this year, is the final step before sainthood. A declaration of sainthood requires a second miracle attributed to Father Casey’s intercession.

Capuchin Father Michael Sullivan, provincial minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph in Detroit, said:

“Rather than call attention to himself, Father Solanus taught people to thank God for his blessings. We are overjoyed at the news that Father Solanus’ holiness is recognised by the Holy Father.”