One of the most influential Catholic figures of the 20th Century – Venerable Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen – will be beatified in his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois on December 21, 2019.
The Catholic Post, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, published the joyful news yesterday afternoon: “It is with great joy and thanksgiving that the Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., Bishop of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois announces that he received notification from the Vatican today that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called for Venerable Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen’s Beatification on December 21, 2019.”
With the Beatification only six weeks away, plans are already underway for the ceremony which will take place at 10:00 a.m in the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria, Illinois.
“This is the same Cathedral where Sheen was ordained a priest 100 years ago on September 20, 1919,” the bishop’s office explained. “It seems entirely fitting that the Beatification will take place at the end of this 100-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. The Cathedral is also the current resting place for Sheen, who is entombed in a marble vault next to the altar where he was ordained.”
The door opened for the beatification of Venerable Archbishop Sheen after a miracle attributed to his intercession was approved in July of 2019.
The miracle involved a newborn infant who was born in 2010 and showed no signs of life for 61 minutes. Family and friends immediately began to pray to Fulton Sheen to intercede for the newborn. The infant was moved to a hospital near the Cathedral where he could receive the most advanced medical treatment, but to no avail. The child continued to show no signs of life.
However, moments before the doctor was going to declare the infant to be dead, the baby’s heart began to beat and he began to breath normally. He has now grown into a healthy child.
“In 2011, the Diocese of Peoria initiated a canonical investigation into the events of this miraculous recovery,” the diocese explained. “This investigation examined medical records and testimony provided by family members, EMT’s, doctors, nurses, and others present at the time of birth. Each testified that there was no medical explanation for the infant’s recovery. Nearly all involved, and some with tears, stated, ‘It was a miracle’.”
In December 2011, the findings of the Peoria investigation were presented to the Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes of Saints and the case was reviewed by a panel of medical experts, theologians, and finally by the Cardinals and the Bishops of the Congregation. The miracle received a unanimous recommendation at every stage of the process.
However, there were a few unexpected snags along the way that threatened to seriously derail the Cause of the famous Fulton Sheen, whose TV show Life is Worth Living, won an Emmy award and landed him on the cover of Time Magazine. In 2014, the Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of New York were unable to come to an agreement for the transfer of Sheen’s remains from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to his home diocese of Peoria. Because of this, the Cause was relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive and the process came to a halt.
An agreement was eventually reached and just eight days after the Archbishop was interred in Peoria, Pope Francis approved the miracle.
According to the current practice of the Vatican, a Beatification is celebrated in the local diocese where the Cause was instructed. It is expected that Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, will come to Peoria to preside at the ceremony.
Click here for more information about the upcoming Beatification.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, pray for us!
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