Beatification is a ceremony at which the title of Blessed is granted to a Servant of God. 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.
Canonization is the ceremony celebrated by the Pope at which the title of Saint is granted to a Blessed. Saints are recognized universally by the Catholic Church as models of holiness to be imitated. They are also intercessors who pray for us to God.
The Pope alone has the power to declare someone a Blessed or a Saint. According to the current practice, the Pope orders the Beatification which is carried out by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in the place where the Cause of the Servant of God was studied.
The Pope is assisted by the Congregation of the Causes of Saints which is part of the Roman Curia. Requests to begin a Cause come from around the world. Individual Bishops study the life or miracles attributed to an individual Servant of God and forward the results of their investigations to the Congregation for study.
God grants us grace to live a life of holiness according to his will. Saints are those who respond to the grace of God in an extraordinary way. Responding to God’s initiative, Saints are those who live lives of great and heroic virtue. They are sure examples of holiness for us to imitate. Their closeness to God also makes them powerful intercessors who we ask to pray for us before the Lord. God manifests his desire that the Saints be honored and revered by granting graces, favors, and miracles through their intercession.
Beatification is an authorization to honor a Blessed and celebrate their liturgical feast days in a local territory. Blesseds are not universally honored or celebrated until they are canonized. For Fulton Sheen, the authorized territory is limited to the Diocese of Peoria. Other Dioceses and other territories can petition the Congregation for Divine Worship to also be granted the authorization to honor Fulton Sheen.
The laity generally manifests the common opinion about the holiness of a particular person. The request is made to the local Bishop of the place where the person died. If the Bishop thinks the Cause is worthy, he initiates the Cause and begins a diocesan inquiry into the martyrdom or life and virtues of the person. At this stage, the person is called Servant of God.
The diocesan inquiry is studied by the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. If it is proven that the Servant of God practiced a life of heroic virtue, the Pope decrees the person to be Venerable. He or she is then called the Venerable Servant of God.
If it is proven that a Servant of God was a true martyr, after the diocesan inquiry and the study of the Congregation, the Pope decrees the person to be recognized as a martyr, after which he or she can be beatified.
For a Venerable Servant of God who was not a martyr, one proven miracle is necessary. After an alleged miracle is investigated by the local bishop and studied by the Congregation, the Pope can recognize the miracle by decree, after which the person may be beatified.
The Cause does not end with Beatification. It is important to continue to pray for an additional miracle, occurring after the Beatification, which can lead to Canonization. Saints are Canonized by the Holy Father in a ceremony generally celebrated at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
It is common practice to visit the graves of our loved ones. People often make a visit to a cemetery on Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, and especially on All Souls Day. It is also common for people to visit the graves of their relatives on the anniversary of their deaths. This same tradition has been a longstanding practice in the Church. Since the time of St. Stephen, the proto-martyr, when his pious followers took his body for burial (Acts 8:2), the Church has honored the burial places of the saints. They are places of pilgrimage that Christians have visited especially on their feast days.
The body of the Blessed is a first class relic. A small piece of hair or a small fragment of bone is also a fist class relic. Items that the Blessed wore or owned are second class relics. Relics, both first and second class, are prepared so that the faithful who cannot conveniently visit the tomb are able to still approach the relic as a way of spiritually connecting with the Blessed whom they admire and revere.
No first class relics are available at this time.
In the future, it may be possible to make first class relics available to Catholic institutions such as a parish, a diocese, a seminary, or a convent. No first class relics will be made available to private individuals.
Second class relics are available in the form of a small piece of fabric from vestments worn by Archbishop Sheen. The fabric is attached to a prayer card.
Please mail your request along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to Sister Lea Stefancova, FSJB, 419 NE Madison Ave, Peoria, IL 61603. Because of a limited material, we can only send one relic card per request or person. Requests for relic cards cannot be made over the phone or by email. Please note that all requests are answered in the order they are received.
Although there is no charge for the relic card, a donation to the Fulton Sheen Foundation is requested for the cost of preparing the card.
Priests who would like a second class relic in a larger reliquary suitable for a church or chapel should contact Sister Lea for more information.
When Beatifications are celebrated today, it is customary to venerate a relic during the Mass of Beatification and to make a pious visit to the tomb shortly before or after. In some cases, if there is no first class relic from the body to venerate, a second class relic is presented from the items the Blessed owned or wore. (For example, no first class relics may exist if the body is lost or the place of burial is unknown.) In the case of Fulton Sheen, the location of his mortal remains is known. It would be very much out of the ordinary to celebrate a Beatification in Peoria and not to have the opportunity to venerate a first class relic or the place of burial, around the same time. The faithful who would want to attend the Beatification and pray at the tomb would be hindered in their desire if they had to travel from one event in Peoria and another in New York.
The Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of the Venerable Servant of God was reopened after the mortal remains were transferred to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois. On July 6, 2019, Pope Francis formally approved the miracle that is attributed to the intercession of Venerable 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 the current practice of the Vatican, a Beatification is celebrated in the local diocese where the Cause was instructed. Once the date for the Beatification is granted by Pope Francis, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, would come to Peoria to preside at the ceremony.
Although the date of Beatification is not known at this time, it is hoped that Fulton Sheen can be Beatified during the 100th year of his ordination to the priesthood, which took place in Peoria in 1919.
In 2010, in central Illinois, a newborn infant was born showing no signs of life. This absence of vital signs lasted for sixty-one minutes. Family and friends immediately began offering prayers begging Fulton Sheen to intercede for their newborn child. The infant was transferred to OSF Medical Center in Peoria, a few blocks away from the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria where Sheen was ordained in 1919 and now is entombed.
Despite receiving the most advanced medical treatment available, the infant continued to show no signs of life. Moments before the doctor was going to declare the infant to be dead, suddenly and without any medical explanation, the infant’s heart began to beat normally and the baby breathed normally. After sixty-one minutes without a heartbeat, the baby was alive! After a few weeks in the hospital, the infant was sent home and has now grown into a healthy young child.
This miracle attributed to Sheen has been unanimously approved by doctors, theologians, and cardinals in the Congregation of the Causes of Saints and was officially recognized by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on July 6, 2019.
First class relics come from the body of the Blessed, such as a small strand of hair or fragment of bone. Second class relics come from those items that the Blessed wore or owned. The Diocese of Peoria has various second class relics, especially vestments worn by Archbishop Sheen. For the Beatification ceremony, it is customary to respectfully prepare a first class relic for veneration.
The preparation of a first class relic depends on the Congregation of the Causes of Saints which regulates this process. There will be no information about the preparation of relics until the Congregation has given its instructions.
Feast days of Blesseds and Saints are generally celebrated on the date of earthly death, which is also the birth of the Blessed or Saint into Eternal Life. Fulton Sheen died on December 9, 1979, which coincides with the celebration of St. Juan Diego. For this reason, it is likely that another date will be requested to celebrate the memorial of Archbishop Sheen. Other significant dates can be proposed, such as his date of ordination. The decision of Archbishop Sheen’s feast day will be made by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.
Beginning on Friday, June 28, the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception is open daily to the public for a limited schedule. The number of hours will be increased according to the response from the faithful who wish to make a visit. Current hours may be found on the homepage of this website.
There is no altar at the tomb of the Venerable Servant of God in the side chapel of the Cathedral. It is not permitted to celebrate Mass over the tomb of a person who has not yet been beatified.
Masses at the Cathedral may be celebrated at the main altar or in the St. Thomas More Chapel (on Fridays, only the main altar is available). Masses during regular open hours must be in the St. Thomas More Chapel.
Please direct all Mass requests to the Director of Divine Worship, Phil Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org), at least one week in advance of the desired date.
Some honors are reserved only to those who have been Beatified or Canonized by the Church, but not to those Servants of God who have not yet been Beatified.
After Beatification, Mass and the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) may be celebrated in honor of the Blessed, especially on the assigned feast day. An altar can be constructed over or near the tomb. Churches and chapels can be dedicated in the name of the Blessed. Relics can be displayed for public veneration. An image of the Blessed can be displayed with a halo or with the light of heavenly glory. Books regarding miracles, graces, or revelations attributed to the Blessed may be published. Votive candles can be lit at the tomb, which can also be marked by memorials of graces or favors received through the intercession of the Blessed.
Before Beatification, public veneration of the Servant of God is not allowed, but the faithful may freely come to privately venerate the tomb of the Servant of God by coming to pray.
The tomb of the Venerable Servant of God is not under or in front of any altar at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. The tomb is in front of an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
St. John Paul II performed many Beatifications personally in Rome. After Benedict XVI was elected, he returned to the previous practice of allowing Beatifications to be celebrated locally in the diocese where the Cause was instructed.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, the former Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints celebrated three Beatifications in the United States. In 2014, Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich was Beatified in Newark. In 2017, Blessed Stanley Rother and Blessed Solanus Casey were Beatified in Oklahoma City and Detroit, respectively.
The Rite of Beatification takes place at the beginning of the Beatification Mass. After a brief biography of the new Blessed is read, Cardinal Becciu, the prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, reads the Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father in Latin. This letter, which grants the Servant of God the title of Blessed, is then repeated by a diocesan official in English. After this declaration, the new image of the Blessed with a halo is revealed, and a relic is presented for veneration and is incensed. Copies of the Pope’s Apostolic Letter are given to the Bishop and selected guests. After a Hymn of Thanksgiving, the Mass continues with the Collect (Opening Prayer) from the proper Mass of the new Blessed. The Mass continues as normal.
The date of Beatification is not known at this time, but it is hoped for that Fulton Sheen can be Beatified during the 100th year of his ordination to the priesthood in Peoria in 1919.
Beatifications are celebrated in the local diocese where the Cause was instructed. The Beatification of Fulton Sheen would take place in Peoria in a large venue to accommodate the number of faithful who would want to attend.
The Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Fulton Sheen is supported by the Archbishop Sheen Foundation which pays for the costs related to the Cause. When the Cause was opened, and with the unanimous recommendation of the Priest Council to the Bishop, the Diocese of Peoria loaned the Foundation approximately $30,000 for the initial expenses.
The Sheen Foundation is funded entirely from the offerings of the many generous donors who support the Cause of Archbishop Sheen and want to promote the advancement of the Cause. Bishop Jenky is proud to have worked closely with the other members of the Foundation to encourage donations for the good of the Cause.
Since the Sheen Foundation was established in 2002, over one million dollars has been raised. From these donations, the Foundation has paid for all the expenses of the Cause. This includes the two diocesan inquiries into the life of Archbishop Sheen and the miracle attributed to his intercession, as well as the expenses of the Roman phase as the Cause has been studied in the Congregation of the Causes of Saints.
The tomb of Archbishop Sheen is located in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, 607 NE Madison Ave, Peoria, Illinois. Phone 309-682-5823. www.catholicpeoria.com/Cathedral. The Cathedral is open daily according to the posted schedule.
The Sheen Museum is located in the Spalding Pastoral Center, 419 NE Madison Ave, Peoria, Illinois. Phone 309-671-1550. www.cdopmuseums.org/. The Museum is open weekdays during regular business hours.
The Family Resource Center is located at 415 NE Monroe St, Peoria, Illinois. Phone 309-839-2287. cdop.org/family-resources-center/. The Resource Center is open Monday through Saturday.
St. Mary Cemetery, 421 N Sterling Ave, West Peoria, IL. Burial place of Newton Sheen (1863-1944) and Delia (Fulton) Sheen (1864-1943), parents of Archbishop Sheen. Sheen’s parents are buried in Section C, the first major section on the right when entering the cemetery.
Sacred Heart Church is located next to the Civic Center at 504 Fulton St, Peoria, Illinois. Phone 309-682-5823. Web http://www.catholicpeoria.com/sacred-heart. Sacred Heart Church has been beautifully renovated with images of American Blesseds and Saints around the perimeter of the church.
St. Joseph Church is located at 103 Richard Pryor Pl, Peoria, Illinois. Phone 309-682-5823. Web http://www.catholicpeoria.com/St-Joseph. Father Fulton Sheen served at the former St. Patrick Church, Peoria, Illinois. Although St. Patrick Church no longer exists, St. Joseph serves the Catholics in the same part of Peoria as the Venerable Servant of God.
Archbishop Sheen was baptized at St. Mary Church in El Paso about 45 minutes east of Peoria: 79 W Third St, El Paso, Illinois. Archbishop Sheen’s birth house no longer exists, but there is a marker where it stood at 25 W Front St, El Paso, Illinois.
Please submit your additional questions to email@example.com.
The mailing address for the Beatification and the Foundation is 419 NE Madison Ave, Peoria, IL 61603. The phone number for Beatification and Foundation questions is 1-877-71SHEEN (1-877-717-4336).