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! Ancestry.com 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?