Fulton on way to sainthood after first miracle approved

Fulton on way to sainthood after first miracle approved Archbishop Fulton Sheen

With “overwhelming joy”, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria announced that Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

“Now that the miracle has been confirmed by Pope Francis, the Diocese of Peoria can formally begin planning for the beatification of Archbishop Sheen, which will take place in Peoria,” according to a news release issued by the Diocese of Peoria over the weekend.

The Pope authorised the Congregation for Saints’ Causes to promulgate the decree at an audience on July 5. In addition to affirming the miracle for Archbishop Sheen, Pope Francis recognised the heroic virtues of one woman and six men, and enrolled Blessed Bartholomew of the Martyrs in the catalog of saints, which is equivalent to canonisation.


The miracle concerns the healing of James Fulton Engstrom of Washington, Illinois, who was considered stillborn when he was delivered during a planned home birth on September 16, 2010.

His parents, Bonnie and Travis Engstrom, immediately invoked the prayers of Archbishop Sheen and encouraged others to seek his intercession after the baby was taken to OSF HealthCare St Francis Medical Center in Peoria for emergency treatment.

Just as doctors were preparing to declare that he was dead, James Fulton’s tiny heart started to beat at a normal rate for a healthy newborn. He had been without a pulse for 61 minutes.

Despite dire prognoses for his future, including that he would probably be blind and never walk, talk or be able to feed himself, the child has thrived. Now a healthy eight-year-old, he likes chicken nuggets, Star Wars and riding his bicycle.

“It is truly amazing how God continues to work miracles,” Bishop Jenky said in the statement released by the Diocese of Peoria.

“I am so grateful that the Vatican acted so quickly after last week’s transfer of Sheen’s remains from New York to the Cathedral of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria.”

Archbishop Sheen had been placed in a crypt below the main altar of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York after his death in 1979. After protracted legal proceedings, his remains were brought to Peoria on June 27 at the request of his niece, Joan Sheen Cunningham, and now rest in a new marble tomb in the Peoria cathedral.

His sainthood cause was officially opened in 2003. The Church declared his heroic virtues and he was given the title ‘Venerable’ in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. In general, two miracles must be accepted by the Church as having occurred through the intercession of a prospective saint, one before beatification and the other before canonisation.