The breakfast penance
Saints are often people known for offering up some kind of physical penances to the Lord - whether that's wearing a scratchy hair shirt, taking on some kind of fasting, or sleeping on a hard floor. Even in this way, Fr. Solanus' penance was uniquely quirky.
The friar was known for eating all of his breakfast at once - cereal, juice, coffee, and milk all mixed together in the same bowl.
In a story for the Michigan Catholic earlier this year, Fr. Werner Wolf, OFM Cap., recalled how he had been inspired to join the Capuchins specifically by Fr. Solanus Casey, who was still alive at the time. Eager to learn from the holy friar, Fr. Wolf decided he would watch Fr. Solanus very closely.
"So the first day I was there, I watched him like a hawk," Fr. Wolf said.
"In the morning, the novices brought food to the older friars. First breakfast, I watched that man's every move, pouring his cereal, the sugar, the cold milk, then warm milk, then prune juice in the whole works. I looked at him, telling God, 'Father, if that's holiness, I don't want none.'"
Tamer of bees
Like St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans, Fr. Solanus also had a special relationship with animals - bees in particular.
On several occasions, witnesses recalled Fr. Solanus taming the bees that were kept by the Capuchin friars.
On one particular occasion, the witness was Father Benedict Groeschel, cofounder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
Fr. Groeschel was visiting St. Felix Friary in Huntington, Indiana, where Fr. Solanus Casey was stationed at the time.
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Then a young Capuchin, Fr. Groeschel had also heard of the holy Fr. Solanus, and watched him closely.
One day, Fr. Groeschel and another friar were visiting the beehives kept by the friars, when the bees started swarming angrily.
Fr. Groeschel was instructed to get Fr. Solanus, who started talking to the bees and calming them when he arrived.
"He started to talk to the bees. 'All right now. Calm down. All right,'" Father Groeschel recalled in a story to Our Sunday Visitor. "And they started to calm down and go back into the hive.... I was absolutely in total shock."
Fr. Solanus recognized the problem - there were two queen bees in the hive - and without the standard protective gloves or netting, stuck his bare hand in the hive and pulled out the second queen without getting stung.
He was also known for calming bees by playing his harmonica, which is now on display at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.