Blessed Solanus Casey’s Devotion to Mary

There is a popular image of Fr. Solanus standing near a grotto of Mary, with book in hand, praying. According to a caption I came across, it says Solanus is praying the Little Office. He took this devotion quite seriously, believing that to neglect it would be a sign of his ingratitude toward the Blessed Virgin, who had been so good to him throughout his life.

Solanus felt a call to the priesthood stirring within his soul. After consulting his parish priest, he set out for St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to begin his studies. He was a poor student, and the seminary’s administration needed to make a decision: should Solanus continue on toward priesthood? They recommended that he enter a religious order. This brought his priestly discernment to a new level.

Seeking guidance, Solanus prayed a novena in anticipation of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. As he prayed each day, he discerned that he felt called to live a life consecrated to God. At the very least, he would make a private vow of chastity. Solanus reached a conclusion by the end of the novena, as he felt the maternal presence of Mary and heard the words, “Go to Detroit.” The Immaculata interceded for him, and he set off for Detroit to join the Capuchins.

Throughout his life, Fr. Solanus prayed the Rosary often and for special intentions, offering it for those he knew needed his prayers. A friend of Solanus’s, Art Lohrman, once shared an anecdote about wanting to spend extra time with Solanus while out for a walk. Art pretended he could not find the bridge to get back home. Solanus recommended praying a Rosary that he might find it and, once they found the bridge, Solanus insisted on praying another Rosary in thanksgiving.

Solanus was also a devoted follower of Venerable Mary of Agreda (1602–1665), a Spanish Conceptionist Poor Clare nun, who was commanded by God to write the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her mystical revelations are contained in the four-volume The Mystical City of God. Initially skeptical of Mary of Agreda’s claims, Solanus eventually read the entire work three times over the span of forty years, always on his knees. At nearly three thousand pages, it was an accomplishment for any man—let alone one who found reading very difficult, as did Solanus. When death neared, he requested the help of visitors and nurses to read the book to him. If a word or phrase was misread, he knew it and corrected them.

As the hour of death drew near, Solanus sang out a hymn to the Blessed Virgin. His devotion to Mary, which had been kindled in his youth, now burned brighter than ever. His admiration for the Mother of God should inspire us. In fact, Solanus felt strongly about our need for a Marian devotion. He believed that devotion to Mary could help curb the growing atheism and communism of his time. He also encouraged people to “learn to know Mary, that you may love Heaven and heavenly things.”

How to Love Mary Like Blessed Solanus Casey

  • Acquire a copy of the Little Office. Pray it every day, or on Saturdays (Our Lady’s day) and on Marian feast days.
  • Pray a novena for nine days leading up to a Marian feast like the Assumption, Immaculate Conception, or the date of a favorite apparition. You might wish to pray a novena before every Marian feast as a way of drawing nearer to Our Lady. Whenever you pray a novena, be sure to have
    a special intention for which you want to pray.
  • The next time you are in the car, whether by yourself or with friends, pray the Rosary.

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Solanus Casey's Devotion to Mary

This article on Blessed Solanus Casey’s devotion to Mary is adapted from the book How They Love Mary by Fr. Edward Looney which is available from Sophia Institute Press.

Art for this post on a reflection from How They Love Mary by Fr. Edward Looney: cover used with permission; Detail of Mater dulce (Sweet Mother), Josef August Untersberger, circa 1914, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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