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Ven Fr Solanis Casey 

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Fr Solanis Casey was born Bernard Casey, November 25, 1870 on a farm. His father, originally a shoemaker, became a farmer as shoemaking appeared to be a dying profession. Both Bernard, his father and Ellen, his Mom had been born in Ireland and were very devout Catholics.  They ended up having 16 children. Bernard was the sixth child (10 boys and 6 girls). As a young man, Barney (named after his Dad - Bernard) like sports but not sports like boxing as he disliked the possibility of hurting other participants.  Feeling the call to the priesthood, Barney joined the Capuchins and was given the name of Friar Francis Solanis after his patron saint, St Francis Solano, a Spanish missionary to Peru who loved the native children and called them to prayer playing his violin.  Fr Solanis had a lot of trouble with his studies especially foreign language - he was ordained a "simplex priest" - he was able to celebrate Mass but not hear confessions or preach doctrinal sermons.

Because he was a simplex priest, it was decided that he would fit in the best as the "porter" - the person who answered the door in his first assignment in Yonkers, NY. A humble man, he felt any job he did for the church was an honor.  In his capacity as porter, he became sought out by many people for counseling and later, he appeared to have the Charismata of healing and people crowded the doors of the monastery, anxious to see Fr Solanis.  "I have two loves - the sick and the poor" Fr Solanis was fond of saying, reminding that we all have felt sickness and poverty of body, mind or spirit at one time or another.   "Please pray for poor Fr Solanis," he said, "who like all sinners, needs the grace of God to be fully converted."  During his final suffering, now in his late 80's, Fr Solanis said he was offering his sufferings that all might be one, for the conversion of the world.  He died at the age of 87, of skin cancer. They had moved him to Detroit, hoping to get treatment there.

I could not find much information about Solanis' violin but he must have learned violin as a child, playing for family gatherings etc and apparently, he liked to sing in a squeaky voice while playing his violin.  He had fiddled at barn dances etc when he was young before he entered the Capuchins.  One brother quipped "Turn on the radio... Fr Solanis has gone to get his violin" suggesting that he was far from a virtuoso on the instrument.  He had never studied formally.

"A novice recalled that on the last Christmas evening before the death of Father Solanus, he overheard the friar playing his violin alone in the chapel, singing Christmas carols to the Christ Child."