Spotlight on: Solanus

My family has a special connection to Venerable Solanus Casey — a Capuchin who died in 1957. He’s been a powerful intercessor for us — we believe that his intercession miraculously saved my sister’s life when she was stillborn — and I’m delighted to spotlight his name today.

Barney Casey was the oldest of sixteen children, and he struggled academically (a great patron for any student who has a hard time!). As I understand it, he took the name Solanus when he entered the seminary in Detroit, after St. Francis Solano (also known as Francis Solanus), a Spanish Franciscan missionary who died in 1610. When I first thought about the name Solanus, I assumed it had something to do with the sun — “sol” means “sun” and all that — but it’s not actually true (a mistake I’ve made often … like the name Soledad I always thought probably meant “sunny” because of the “sol” part, but it actually means “solitude” and comes from the Marian title “Mary of Solitude” [Maria de Soledad]). With Solano, it was St. Francis’ family’s last name, which means … oh wait a minute! is saying that it’s a “Spanish, Aragonese, Asturian-Leonese: habitational name from any of the places named Solano (Burgos and Málaga provinces) or El Solano (Asturies, and Uesca, Aragon), named with solano ‘place exposed to the sun’ (Late Latin solanum, a derivative of sol ‘sun’).” (Emphasis mine.)

So I was right! Which is so awesome, because when I’d originally had the thought that it had something to do with “sun,” I thought of a nickname that seemed just perfect, and when I thought that I’d been wrong and it didn’t have anything to do with “sun,” I thought, “Oh well, the nickname’s a good one anyway.” But here we are back again and the nickname I thought of was …. Sonny! Or Sunny, but I think Sonny comes across as more masculine. How cute is that?? Solanus nicknamed Sonny. Swoon! Because, you know, with a name like Solanus, if you’re a two-year-old little guy and not an old Capuchin with a long beard, you kind of have to have a nickname. (I think Solly works too, which is really cute.)

What do you all think of Solanus? I think it’s extremely do-able as a middle name, and with a great accessible nickname like Sonny it’s a great first name too. Do you know anyone who has the name Solanus as a first or a middle? What does he think of his name? Does he go by a nickname?


27 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Solanus

  1. Loving Fr. Solanus “Barney” Casey as I do, I was delighted to see the spotlight on his name and him!
    There is one particularly holy and inspirational thought that is a favorite of mine which is from Fr. Solanus himself, and, that is to thank God ahead of time when you are praying for whatever intention you might be praying for. Knowing that God answers every prayer, not always as we might have imagined, Fr. Solanus inspires us to have Faith and Trust in that whatever happens is God’s infinite wisdom and mercy at work…thank God in advance…God has thought it best. I also believe Fr. Solanus encourages devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so as a result, Sacred Heart of Jesus, please bless me (or us or whomever), is my constant prayer.
    And…I love the nickname Sunny!

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  2. I was never much of a nickname person until reading this blog, and suddenly, I am loving it! “Sonny” totally makes this uber-Catholic name work on a baby today! I can’t say I’ve met a baby Solanus, however, I do know a baby Casey (named after Solanus Casey) born in the past 6 months. So that’s another option that works (although I can’t resist a name that sounds overtly Catholic).


    • Oh gosh yeah, my family is big into nicknames … basically if we don’t decide on a nickname we like, someone else will come up with one … and maybe not always one we’d like!

      I love Casey!!


  3. Am I the only one who can’t stomach Solanus? Love love the man and the name but the last four letters completely hang me up. Every time. For the same reason that my nerves grind when someone misspells my daughter’s name Analise. But in that case, it’s the first four letters that cause me grief!


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  4. […] I’ve mentioned before that my family believes my sister’s life is a miracle attributed to Ven. Solanus Casey’s intercession. In fact, my mom worked with the hospital whose NICU is where my sister was transported after she was finally revived at our local hospital after birth, the doctor who cared for my sister when she was in the NICU (who’s not Catholic, but believes my sister’s progress is beyond scientific explanation), and our bishop to compile all the info from her traumatic birth 33 years ago, and submitted it to the Vice-Postulators for the Cause of Fr. Solanus’ canonization. Though a different miracle was the one recognized by Pope Francis as evidence for Fr. Solanus’ beatification, my sister has been invited to participate in the Beatification Mass on Nov. 18 in Detroit, and we continue to thank God for Fr. Solanus’ intercession. […]


  5. So excited for his beatification. I know two families who are related to him through the large family tree. He had 15 siblings so there are LOTS of nieces and nephews (and grands). I am wondering if we will see more Casey and Solanus (or Barney or Bernard) babies coming up in Catholic circles.

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  6. Love this post! I just started reading the book Meet Solanus Casey. We are currently expecting our first and as I was reading I thought of the nickname Sully for a boy! So I started looking up the name and meaning online and found this post. If we have a boy would love to name him
    Solanus and call him Sully!

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  7. I’m expecting my fourth girl in February and we have lots of names in mind. I’ve been hearing about Fr. Casey on Catholic radio all this week in anticipation of the beatification, and I keep thinking that SolanA would actually be a really pretty name for a girl 🙂 Casey would work too of course. I don’t think I will end up choosing either one of those, but I thought I would put “Solana” out there for anyone who has a special devotion to Fr. Casey 🙂

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  8. Love Fr. Solanus! I recently saw a girl named Sole (Italian for sun, pronounced “so-LAY”). I thought this could work for a girl named after Fr. Solanus. I also love it as a middle with something a little more traditional, like Anna Sole or Maria Sole.

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  9. There is a little Solanus (2018) in our homeschool group. Just heard of an acquaintance whose grandson was born this weekend and given name Solanus John. I was looking at the SS info and there were 7 Solanus boys in 2017 (beatification year) and other than that pretty much unused (under 5 so not counted), so not gaining a lot of traction. I have no idea if they will use a nickname. But I did think of a couple more nicknames that weren’t suggested here – Lonnie/Lonny or Lane.

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