Beatification to take place in Peoria
PEORIA ― A little more than a week after the mortal remains of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen were transferred from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, on July 6, Pope Francis formally approved a miracle attributable to Archbishop Sheen’s intercession, paving the way for Archbishop Sheen’s Beatification, which will grant him the new title of “Blessed.”
The date of the Beatification, which will take place in Peoria, has not been announced. Beatification is a ceremony at which the title of Blessed is granted. Blesseds are recognized by the Catholic Church for their martyrdom or their holiness of life and intercessory power through graces, favors, or miracles that are granted by God (another approved miracle would make Archbishop Sheen a saint).
The miracle approved by Pope Francis involved a 2010 incident where a newborn infant boy was born with no signs of life. For 61 minutes, this continued. Family and friends prayed, begging Archbishop Sheen for his immediate intercession and a miracle. The boy was transferred to OSF Medical Center in Peoria, a few blocks away from St. Mary’s Cathedral, where Archbishop Sheen was ordained and is now entombed. Doctors and nurses continued to work on the boy with no luck. Just before doctors were about to declare him dead, his heart started beating and he started breathing normally with no medical explanation. Today, that child is healthy.
The Diocese of Peoria says that in 2011, they initiated a canonical investigation into the events of this miraculous recovery, examining medical records and testimony provided by family members, doctors, nurses, and other people who were present that day. Each testified that there was no medical explanation for the infant’s recovery. Those findings were then presented to the Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes of Saints. Medical experts and theologians then reviewed the case. After their favorable findings, they were presented to Pope Francis who declared the infant’s recovery a miracle attributable to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen.
Archbishop Sheen was born in El Paso, Ill., in 1895. Ordained a priest in the Diocese of Peoria in 1919, he later when on to become an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York and then bishop of Rochester (New York). Archbishop Sheen is known for his famed preaching and as a media pioneer. In 1930, he started hosting a weekly Sunday night radio broadcast called The Catholic Hour. In 1951, he hosted a Catholic television program called Life is Worth Living, which ran for six years and earned him an Emmy Award. The show boasted as many as 30 million weekly viewers. He also contributed more than 50 written works. Archbishop Sheen died in 1979.
You can visit the tomb of Venerable Archbishop Sheen in the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria. For more information on that, his beatification, and other resources, visit celebratesheen.com.