Remarkable find when Fr. Solanus was exhumed for relics

On Saturday, thousands of Catholics in Detroit and hundreds of thousands around the world will be watching a historic beatification mass at Ford Field for Father Solanus Casey, a Capuchin Friar credited with a miracle.

The beatification gets Father Casey one step closer to sainthood and is in part thanks to the efforts of world-renowned pathologist, Dr. Werner Spitz.

Dr. Spitz was part of the initial process which involved exhuming the body - and shared with us something he has never seen before: Dr. Solanus looked remarkably well-preserved for someone who died 60 years ago.

“I am not sure I would call it a miracle. I would call this unusual,” Dr. Spitz said.

Dr. Spitz has been part of some of the most high-profile cases in our country’s history. For that reason, he was part of the team in charge of retrieving relics from Father Casey.

As part of the saint-making process, the priest’s body has to be exhumed and bone and tissue carefully removed from his arm. 

When Dr. Spitz and the team opened the tomb of Father Solanus, they were shocked by what they found.

“I was really amazed when I saw the body. This man, this gentleman had been buried for 60 years and I cannot say he looked like he died the day before but he certainly could be identified by anyone who knew him during his lifetime,” he said.

Dr. Spitz says he has exhumed bodies of people who were buried for even less time and found them to be in much worse condition.

“(I credit the preservation to) a lot of effort to prepare the body accordingly," I cannot tell you that (it's due to a higher power). I can say this man who was identified as someone that needs to be there for posterity."

Father Casey's relics will be displayed for thousands who attend his beatification ceremony at Ford Field – the faithful who want to be closer to God as Father Casey gets one step closer to sainthood. 

“I am looking at this from the scientific angle. I am not looking at it from the religious angle. It may very well be that this is something more than we normally see. Why? Maybe there is something out there that did it,” Spitz said.

Spitz is Jewish and believes in miracles. He even recalls when his mother would pray to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost articles.

“She would run around the house when my father misplaced the keys for the car or his glasses were gone or he needed something he couldn't find. He would run around singing a prayer to St. Anthony. The miracle is that it always worked,“ Spitz said.

The beatification is set for 4 p.m. from Ford Field. An estimated 70,000 people will be at the arena but tickets are not available, they were given away. FOX 2 will stream the beatification live on our Facebook page.