With relic badges, faithful carry Fr. Solanus’ message with them

DETROIT — Ford Field is sure to be filled with thousands of people wearing small badges depicting Fr. Solanus Casey.
But the badges are more than just a thoughtful gesture. They are third-class — and some of them second-class — relics.

Third-class relic badges given out at the Solanus Casey Center feature Fr. Solanus’ picture on one side and his last words, “I give my soul to Jesus Christ” on the other, with a piece of fabric touched to his tomb.

Third-class relic badges given out at the Solanus Casey Center feature Fr. Solanus’ picture on one side and his last words, “I give my soul to Jesus Christ” on the other, with a piece of fabric touched to his tomb.

The badges feature a 1.75-inch-by-2.25-inch photo of Fr. Solanus with small piece of brown fabric blessed at Fr. Solanus’ tomb glued onto the backside, depicting his last words, “I give my soul to Jesus Christ.”

The “relic badges” date back to 1960, when Dorothy Fletcher, then secretary of the Father Solanus Guild, organized members of the guild to hand-punch oval pictures of Fr. Solanus and laminate them with a small piece of cloth from Fr. Solanus’ habit.

Production of the relic badges increased when Elenore Geiger of Cleveland supplied the guild with an electric punch press she used to create laminated images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The badges are now produced using a high-tech die-cutting machine that can produce up to 4,000 pieces per hour, and given to visitors of the Solanus Casey Center.

Each badge is then separated individually by hand and two plastic sheets are crotched for the final, unique product.

The small brown fabric was originally a tiny piece of Fr. Solanus’ actual habit, making it a second-class relic. But since 1997, the fabric is taken from a brown cloth that’s been blessed and touched to the friar’s tomb, making it a third-class relic.

Relic badges are intended to be reminders of Fr. Solanus’ devotion to God and the trust he placed in God’s providence when counseling people who came to see him at St. Bonaventure Monastery.

Canon law forbids the selling of sacred relics, and the badges are freely given to those who request them. Relic badges are readily available at the front desk of the Solanus Casey Center, 1780 Mt. Elliott St.; one may also order a relic badge by emailing [email protected].


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