Father Solanus Guild


Cause for Canonization

Canonization is the complex and lengthy process by which someone receives the title of “Saint” in the Roman Catholic Church. This process has taken many forms over the centuries and was most recently revised by Pope John Paul II. The current process consists of 4 stages: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, and Saint. The Servant of God Solanus Casey was named Venerable on July 11, 1995 by Pope John Paul II. With the support of the Guild, the Cause is currently pursuing the stage of “Blessed” (beatification) for Venerable Solanus.

Learn more about the Steps to Sainthood.

The word “canonization” comes from the celebration of the Mass. What we now call the “Eucharistic Prayer” was formerly known as the “Canon of the Mass.” Therefore, to say that one is “canonized” means that his/her name is able to be included in the list of saints in the “Canon of the Mass.” The term is still in use today since that ancient rule-of-thumb still applies. When a person is canonized or named a Saint, the Church may celebrate the Saint’s feast day and the name may be included in the Eucharistic Prayer.

After his death, the fame of Fr. Solanus continued to spread and many people visited his simple grave in the Friars’ Cemetery. Three years after his death many friends formed the Fr. Solanus Guild to preserve his memory and ideals. The Guild sparked the movement to present Fr. Solanus as a candidate for Sainthood.

Early 1958: Movement begins

Fr. Gerald Walker, OFM Cap., Provincial Minister of the Detroit Capuchins, sent a definitive report on the life and virtues of Fr. Solanus Casey to the General Superiors in Rome.

The Capuchin Minister General responded with great admiration for Solanus and called him, “an extraordinary example of a true Capuchin, and a replica of St. Francis.” His tribute confirmed the many reports about the outstanding virtues of Father Solanus which began to come in from people everywhere.

July 1960: The Guild is born

Fr. Paschal

Fr. Rupert

Br. Leo

So many people expressed a wish to preserve the memory of Father Solanus that, in July of 1960, the Father Solanus Guild was organized with the approval of the Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph. Fr. Rupert Dorn, pictured left, was one of several who were also present at the first Guild meeting. He was later appointed first Moderator of the Guild.

The purpose of the Father Solanus Guild is to keep alive the inspiring memory of Father Solanus; to spread the knowledge of his holy life, and to help gather information to further his Cause for Canonization. The Guild has spread throughout the U.S. and many foreign countries.

1966: A Vice Postulator is appointed

Prompted by the urgent appeals of the Guild Members and many Detroiters, the Capuchin Provincial Minister sent to Rome an account of favors attributed to the intercession of Father Solanus. Capuchin Postulator General (in Rome) Fr. Bernardine of Siena appointed Fr. Paschal Siler, OFM Cap. to be Vice Postulator for the Cause of Solanus Casey. He began to collect information about Fr. Solanus’ life and work from people who had known him personally.

Br. Leo Wollenweber, OFM Cap. succeeded Fr. Paschal in 1974.


The first biography, “The Porter of Saint Bonaventure’s” was written by James Patrick Derum and published in 1968. Several other books have since been published and have spread the fame of Fr. Solanus far and wide. All are available by mail order from the Guild office.

Guild Mail Order Catalog


1976: Writings examined

Archbishop of Detroit John Cardinal Dearden, was asked to initiate the Cause for Canonization of Father Solanus Casey. He published a request that all writings attributed to Father Solanus be sent in. By 1980 these were assembled, typed, and bound into four volumes. After examination by two theologians, Solanus’ writings were declared to be free of any doctrinal error.

1981: Testimonies recorded

In 1981 Cardinal Dearden was ready to petition the Congregation for Causes of Saints to open the Cause. Permission was granted in 1982 and instructions were sent to Edmund C. Szoka, the new Archbishop of Detroit, to begin the Diocesan investigation. Szoka opened the Investigation on the life and virtues of the Servant of God (Father Solanus) in 1983.

There were 53 witnesses, priests, religious, and laity who gave sworn testimony
attesting to the extraordinary virtues of Father Solanus. They all had vivid
recollections of his kindly concern for their problems and needs. Completed in 1984, the testimonies were presented to the Congregation for Causes of Saints.

1987: Digging up more evidence

The canonical exhumation and examination of Fr. Solanus’ body took place on July 8, 1987 in the presence of Archbishop Szoka and Archdiocesan officials. Solanus' body, found to be quite intact, was clothed in a new habit, placed in a new steel casket, and sealed with the Archbishop’s seal. The casket was reinterred in a cement vault beneath the floor of the north transept of St. Bonaventure Church where many people continue to pray for the intercession of Fr. Solanus.

1995: The Positio is approved

The Positio {pronounced puh-ZEET-see-oh}, documentation of the Cause, was studied and approved by the Congregation for Causes of Saints in 1995. On July 11th of that year Pope John Paul II
promulgated the Decree of Heroic Virtue for Fr. Solanus and declared him “Venerable.”

One miraculous cure attributed to the intercession of Venerable Solanus and approved by the Congregation will advance the Cause to Beatification and the title of “Blessed.” While Fr. Solanus would officially be a saint after beatification, public devotion would be limited to a local area. After full sainthood or canonization, the Church deems one worthy of public veneration by the universal Church.

2009: Archbishop Vigneron endorses the Cause

On May 19, 2009, Br. Leo and Br. Richard met with the new Archbishop Allen Vigneron at his office to give him an update on the Cause of Venerable Solanus Casey. The Archbishop expressed his sincere interest and pledged his help for the Cause. He believes it is important for the Archdiocese of Detroit and all our people.

When a report of a miraculous healing attributed to the intercession of Venerable Solanus becomes ready, the official investigation might take place at the Archdiocesan Tribunal under the authority of Archbishop Vigneron. He is quite anxious, as we all are, to see the Cause proceed whenever we receive a report of a certain healing that seems to be without any medical intervention. We are most grateful for Archbishop Vigneron’s interest and encouragement.

2012: Vice Postulators succeed Br. Leo

After the death of Br. Leo in October 2012, Br. Richard Merling and Fr. Larry Webber were appointed to the office of the Vice Postulator. In addition to their respective roles as Director of the Guild and Director of the Solanus Center, they continue the work of researching possible cases.

Through the many years, thousands of favors have been reported. Dozens have passed the criteria sufficiently for reporting to Rome. To date, while some have proceeded to a Diocesan Investigation, none of have been accepted. Please help us pray for this intention. "God bless you and yours!" +