DETROIT – Sixty thousand people packed Ford Field Saturday to witness history.
Detroit's Father Solanus Casey was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church, which is a major step toward sainthood.
Saturday's mass brought together worshipers and some of the high-profile cardinals in the Catholic faith.
Devoted Catholics from across the region and the world packed Ford Field for Saturday mass. The more than 500 priests joined the nearly 70,000 who came to witness the beatification of Father Solanus Casey.
The two-hour ceremony elevated Solanous to the title of "Blessed," making him one step away from becoming a Catholic saint.
"Usually things like this happen in Rome, and we've been honored to have it happen in America," said Jyotsna Jillepalli, of Toronto.
It happened here in Detroit, where it is believed miracles occurred for those who prayed at Solanus' tomb. So watching Solanus become "Blessed" firsthand is an honor. It's extremely special for those who met him.
"I just remember him being so gentle and serene and holy. You could just see the holiness in him," said Sophia Skrocki, of Sterling Heights.
"When I was a little girl, my mom took me to his funeral, and I cherished that man's work forever," said Jenny Hosbach, of Rochester Hills.
Now, 60 years later, Hosbach is humbled to witness this history.
"Remember that what's God wants us to do to love him and love each other no matter our faith, culture, age, just love one another," Hosbach said.
The "Blessed" Solanus was known to pray and focus mainly on those who were less fortunate, and that's what people admire about him.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston was amazed by the turnout.
"It's a manifestation of God's love, and that's something whether you're catholic or not we can identify with," Cardinal O'Malley said. "Really impressed. I'm told it's the largest event they had here when you take in the account those on the field it's very moving, and we're so happy for Detroit this great event."
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, a former pastor of Detroit Holy Redeemer, knows even more people would have attended if the ceremony had been held at a larger venue.
"Archbishop said he could to fill the stadium twice if it was big enough, so it's a great day for Detroit, not just the Catholic Church," Tobin said.
Many hope to live to see the "Blessed" Solanus become Saint Solanus.
"You can see it's such a gift," Hosbach said. "Detroit has come out to honor an amazing man and honor each other."
Now that Father Solanus is "Blessed," a second miracle needs to be witnessed in order for him to be canonized as a saint. The faithful believe that will eventually happen.