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Blessed Solanus Casey, OFM, Cap
25 November 1870 - 31 July 1957
1982 was the eight hundredth anniversary of St Francis' birth, and so many tributes to Francis happened around that year, including the most incredible and beautiful double album (now on CD) by John Michael Talbot "Troubadour of the Great King." I think I wore out those records more than once. That year the whole world seemed Franciscan and I was invited to create a slide presentation on Francis' life by St Joseph's church in the West Village. Later I was asked to take that same presentation up to the Bronx to a Third Order group of Franciscans started by Fr Andre' Cirino, OFM, which I gradually could not help but join, in 1983. Andre' remains one of the great mentors of my life. It was through these Franciscans I first heard of Solanus. Later I visited his tomb in Detroit, to ask for help in working with the dying. It was in Detroit I found the only book available on Solanus at that time, now a classic, by James Patrick Derum, "The Porter of St Bonaventure's."
Now I believe there are many books, including two wonderful accounts I have read by Catherine Odell and Michael Crosby, OFM, Cap. It was Fr Crosby who commissioned this icon.
The icon shows Fr Solanus with a large soup pot getting ready to feed you , as he fed so many during his life, physically and spiritually. I placed the Blessed Mother in a mandala hovering near him because one of the set of books that nourished him most in his life, was the four volumes of the Mystical City of God , the life of the Mother of God by Venerable Maria of Agreda. I believe I read in the book by Derum, that Solanus read the entire set of books, four times through, on his knees.
During his life there were so many, many miracles, like Padre Pio, that you wonder why it has taken so long for him to be beatified? The letters near him refer to his miracles and gifts of healing... "Holy Solanus Thaumaturgus." He also had a sense of humor and often when people would come to him worrying, or trying to control everything and everyone, he'd say,
"Aren't we going to let God do Anything !!?? "
I think this is enough of an introduction to Fr Solanus. In him you will find a loving guide, friend, and someone who lived in God continually, who always preached one of the great themes of St Francis - Gratitude. Solanus often urged people, as they'd ask for something from Heaven, to have hope and to,
"Thank God ahead of time."
Fr Bill McNichols
4 May 2017