Medical experts have reported to the Vatican that there is no natural explanation for the survival of a child whose heart didn’t beat for the first hour of his life.
The mother of the child, now a healthy 3 year old, has attributed the ‘miracle’ to deceased Irish American Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Bishop Jenky of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation has called the report a “significant step” in the cause for beatification and canonization of Sheen, who was put forward for sainthood by Pope Benedict in 2012.
James Fulton Engstrom was stillborn after his umbilical cord knotted itself and cut off his blood flow and oxygen supply. As medical staff tried to revive the child his mother, Bonnie Engstrom, asked for divine intervention. "I just kept repeating his name over and over in my head: Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen," she recounted.
But with no signs of life medical staff prepared to call time of death, which is when the child’s heart began beating “[It was] 148 beats per minute, which is healthy for a newborn. And it never faltered,” she said.
This is the first possible miracle attributed to the Archbishop, who died in 1979. He was a Peoria diocesan priest best known as a popular radio and TV evangelist. At the height of his career in the 1950s his television show "Life Is Worth Living" helped him reach 20 million viewers on 123 stations.
Archbishop Sheen was born in 1895 in Illinois to Irish immigrant parents.
The case now has to be reviewed by theologians, who can move the case on to cardinals and bishops. They will then advise Pope Francis, who can decide to affirm that a miracle was performed by God through Archbishop Sheen.
And while no timeline is yet in place, Bishop Jenky is hopeful, "There are many more steps ahead and more prayers are needed. But today is a good reason to rejoice."
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