PEORIA, Ill. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is one step closer to sainthood, the Vatican announcing Monday that it has approved his beatification.
"Bishop Daniel Jenky of the diocese of Peoria is overjoyed that finally a date has been set for the beatification of Abp. Sheen," said Msgr. James Kruse, adjunct judicial vicar for the diocese, in comments to Church Militant. "We look forward to hosting the beatification Mass in Peoria."
A press release issued by the diocese Monday announced that the Mass will take place at 10 a.m. on Dec. 21 in the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria:
This is the same Cathedral where Sheen was ordained a priest 100 years ago on September 20, 1919. 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.
Sheen's remains were brought to Peoria in June after years of contentious legal wrangling between the archdiocese of New York, which insisted on keeping his body at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and Joan Sheen Cunningham (Sheen's closest living relative), who requested that his body be moved to the shrine in Peoria.
On June 8, New York's highest court ruled that Sheen's remains could be disinterred and sent to Peoria, ending the litigation, and leading to the private 5 a.m. disinterment of Sheen's body from St. Patrick's Cathedral on June 27.
His casket was immediately whisked away in a hearse to the airport. Media were not informed of the event, although Church Militant was on the scene to capture exclusive footage of Sheen's casket as it was taken away.
"There has been a constant stream of faithful to visit Abp. Sheen's tomb in Peoria," Msgr. Kruse told Church Militant, "and we anticipate even more after his beatification."
Sheen's disinterment took place on the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, coinciding with the altar of his new resting place, where the celebrated archbishop rests under the altar to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
This will make Sheen the first American-born bishop to be beatified, according to Patricia Gibson, chancellor for the diocese of Peoria.
"How wonderful it will happen in the 100th-year anniversary of his ordination," she noted.
A second miracle would be required to canonize Sheen. "[M]any people in Peoria could testify to a miracle attributed to Fulton Sheen. So those will be looked into," said Gibson.
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside over the beatification Mass.
More information about the beatification ceremony can be found here.