In order for saints to be formally recognized by the church, they need to have at least two miracles attributed to them. Once the miracle is claimed it is usually filed with the local bishop who then submits it to the Vatican for investigation.
The Vatican recently accepted a miracle attributed to the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, claimed by an Illinois woman almost ten years ago, bringing the story back into the headlines.
The Birth of James Fulton Engstrom
In September of 2010, James Fulton Engstrom was born in Peoria Illinois, according to an article written by his mother Bonnie. The article was published on Ignitum Today and picked up by Catholic.Org. This might have been any other birthday but James was stillborn.
“For a moment he was placed in my arms quiet, blue, and limp. The midwife and her assistant then took him from me and began CPR,” Bonnie wrote “They could not find a pulse. He did not breathe.”
Bonnie and her husband Travis, prayed to the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen – also originally from Peoria - for intercession. James’ was a planned home-birth so an ambulance was called. Meanwhile, his parents could only pray.
"My husband took water and baptized him using the name we had agreed upon, James Fulton,” Bonnie wrote. “ I remember sitting on the floor saying, ‘Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen’ over and over again in my head. I suppose it was as close as I could come to a prayer; I suppose it was my way of asking Archbishop Sheen to interceded for my son.”
After over an hour, medical intercession was stopped to allow for the call of death. Then, without an understandable reason, his heart started to beat.
A Miraculous Recovery
Even if it had been medical means that brought James’ heart to beat, it shouldn’t have been enough. After having been without oxygenated blood for over an hour, medical science suggested that James would never be able to live a normal life.
However, with continued prayer for Sheen’s intercession, James’ organs began functioning normally and he was eventually returned home.
Written on James’ first birthday, the article concludes “My family and I believe that God brought James back from the dead and healed his body. We believe that He did this through the intercession of Archbishop Sheen. We believe that God did this for the same reason that he allowed Lazarus to die: ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it’.”
The Cause for Sainthood
The church would love to simply believe all reported miracles, but that isn’t enough. Thorough investigations are required before miracles can be “approved” by the Vatican. This is the second step to a potential saint’s canonization, after their cause being initiated.
Sheen’s cause had been initiated in 2002 making James’ recovery the first potential miracle attributed to his intercession.
In early March of 2014, some 12 years after the launch of Sheen’s cause and four years after James’ recovery was submitted, a medical t a medical team confirmed the miracle and submitted it to the Vatican for approval.
It was only last week that the Vatican formally accepted the miracle, bringing an almost ten-year-old miracle back into the public eye. Sheen still requires one confirmed and approved miracle to be canonized but his beatification can now take place at any time.
Article written by Johnathan Jaehnig with Christian Catholic Media News
Jon Jaehnig is a professional freelance writer and journalist, specializing in technology and health. He is a practicing Catholic and active Knight of Columbus living in upper Michigan, USA.