Nothing Short of a Miracle: The Best-Loved Man in Detroit

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When I entered . . . Father Solanus was sitting at a little table. He welcomed me, asking me to sit down. “What is your name? he asked.

“Mrs. Feighan.”

“No — your given name?”

“Gladys.”

“What, Gladys, do you want from God?”

“I want a baby. Another baby.”

“A baby! For a woman to want a baby — how blessed. To hold God’s own creation in your own hands.”

I told him about my Rh factor; that I was well toward my middle thirties; that I feared it wouldn’t be long before I might be too old to bear children.

“I do so want another child,” I told him. “Perhaps I am selfish.”

“No,” he answered me, “you are not selfish. For a woman to want children is normal and blessed. Motherhood entails so many responsibilities — bringing up a child as it should be brought up is doing God’s work. One doesn’t always meet women who want children.”

[Gladys expressed concern about her children who had died before they could be baptized.]

“That’s not for you to concern yourself about,” he answered. “Just have confidence in our dear Lord’s infinite love.”

Father Solanus’s mind seemed above earthly things. He was ecstatic — so much so that I could hardly ask him a question. After answering my first few questions, he did nearly all the talking. His words to me were of God’s infinite love for us, and of how we should place all our confidence in that divine, all-embracing love. As he spoke, he was trembling with emotion. Finally he said, “Kneel down, and I will bless you, and your husband and all your family.”

The other Capuchin was there, and a Sister of St. Joseph [who was] one of the hospital sisters, and they knelt too.

Then he said to me, “You will have another child, Gladys. Your Blessed Mother will give you another child. You must believe this with all your heart and soul. You must believe this so strongly that before your baby is born you will get down on your knees and thank the Blessed Mother [for her intercession]. Because once you ask her, and thank her, there’s nothing she can do but go to her own Son and ask Him to grant your prayer that you have a baby.”

Tears were in his eyes.

When I reached home, I was shaken for a couple of days but uplifted. I felt confident, happy.

Not long after, on July 31, 1957, the mystic Franciscan, conscious to the last, died peacefully. He was buried in the small Franciscan graveyard next to St. Bonaventure’s.73 There, several years later, Gladys came with her children. She had become pregnant in 1962. Her doctors feared another dead child. But she was jubilant and confident. That confidence was rewarded — with twins.

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This article is adapted from a chapter in Nothing Short of a Miracle by Patricia Treece, which is available from Sophia Institute Press.

Art for this post on Father Solanus: Cover and featured image used with permission.

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