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Road to Sainthood

A contemporary color photograph of Massgoers congregating near a hand-carved life-sized statue of Blessed Solanus Casey located in the narthex of St. Bonaventure Chapel in Detroit.

The road to sainthood can be a long process or a relatively short one. In the case of Saint Bede, the Catholic theologian, he died in 735 but had to wait 1,164 years before he was declared a saint. Other saints have been canonized very quickly, like Saint John Paul II who was declared a saint just 6 years after his death. No matter how long or short the process takes though, it always follows these same four steps:

Step 1: Receiving the Title of “Servant of God”

The official process of canonization, called a Cause, does not begin until five years after the death of the candidate. This period of time permits the Church to verify whether the candidate enjoys a true and widespread reputation of holiness and of intercessory prayer. When a Cause is officially recognized by Rome, the candidate receives the title “Servant of God.” Father Solanus was named “Servant of God” in 1982.

Step 2: Receiving the Title of “Venerable”

Rome investigates the candidate’s life of faith, spirituality and relationship to God and others. So when it has been proven that they have led a virtuous life to a heroic degree, they receive the title of Venerable. Blessed Solanus received this title in 1995. The church then suggests that the followers pray to the candidate asking for their intercession to God for blessings in their own lives or those of their loved ones. In our case, the Cause of Bl. Solanus documents reports of any exceptional favors received, which might be acclaimed as miraculous. If evidence can be shown and proven as being miraculous or unexplainable, then the case can be presented to Rome as a possible miracle to further the process.

Step 3: Receiving the Title of “Blessed”

In this case, the reported favor was investigated and was accepted by the church as being miraculous through the intercession of then Venerable Solanus. Pope Francis recognized this miracle in May 2017. This allowed public veneration of him as being a saintly and holy person and with that he received the title of “Blessed.” With this declaration, he was acknowledged as one who is in heaven, in union with God. After this decree there are now allowed Mass prayers and liturgical devotions to him – asking for his continued intercession with God for the needs of God’s people. The official decree of beatification is dated November 11, 2017, and his beatification was celebrated on November 18 of that year at Ford Field in Detroit with 70,000 in attendance.

Step 4: Receiving the Title of “Saint”

The fourth step is to attain the title of Saint. Another healing has to be investigated and approved in the same manner as above to attain Sainthood.

The road to sainthood for Bl. Solanus Casey is paved with 87 years of giving. As he lay dying, Fr. Solanus said to Fr. Gerald Walker, OFM Cap., “I looked on my whole life as giving, and I want to give until there is nothing left of me to give. So I prayed that, when I come to die, I might be perfectly conscious, so that with a deliberate act I can give my last breath to God.” At 11:00 the next morning, on the 53rd anniversary of his first Mass, suddenly Bl. Solanus opened his eyes wide, stretched out his arms and said clearly, “I give my soul to Jesus Christ.” He willingly gave his last breath to God.

At the funeral Mass, Fr. Gerald said, “His was a life of service and love for people like me and you. When he himself was not sick, he nevertheless suffered with and for you that were sick. When he was not physically hungry, he hungered with people like you. He had a divine love for people. He loved people for what he could do for them – and for God, through them.”

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