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Sheen Pilgrimage

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is pictured preaching in an undated photo. (CNS file photo)


Within three hours from Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis, Peoria, Illinois, is at the heart of the Midwest. Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s hometown will be the location of his beatification, on a date yet to be determined by the Holy See. Peoria became a place of pilgrimage after the transfer of Sheen’s remains to the city’s Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in late June — and the number of pilgrims will only continue to grow. Here’s a brief guide to the Sheen-related sites in and around Peoria.

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Peoria

Once the long, contentious dispute between Fulton Sheen’s family and the Archdiocese of New York came to an end, Fulton Sheen’s remains were moved to a side altar at Peoria’s Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, where Sheen served Mass as a boy and was ordained a priest in 1919.

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Completed in 1889, Peoria’s cathedral is a grand, impressive edifice and was recently restored. Since the June transfer of Sheen’s body to the cathedral, it has become the heart of any Sheen-centered pilgrimage to Peoria. Plans are underway for development of a shrine in the cathedral’s side chapel, in addition to an outdoor garden and other facilities for pilgrims.

Spalding Pastoral Center, Peoria

Pictured is a display from the Fulton Sheen Museum, housed within the Spalding Center in Peoria.

Peoria’s diocesan chancery is located in facilities that also include the former Spalding Institute, the diocesan boys’ school Sheen attended before college. The Spalding Center is also home to the Fulton Sheen Museum, which includes a variety of memorabilia related to Sheen’s life and work.

St. Mary’s Cemetery, Peoria

In the same cemetery where many of Peoria’s bishops have been buried are also the graves of Sheen’s parents, Newton and Delia, and other Sheen relatives.

Nearby El Paso

A stone marks El Paso as Sheen’s birthplace.

Sheen was born in El Paso, Illinois, located just over 30 miles east of Peoria. Some markers have been placed at Sheen’s birthplace, which was located above his father’s hardware store. St. Mary’s Church, the place of Sheen’s baptism just four days after his birth, is only a few blocks away. The current building was built a few years after Sheen’s baptism. However, the parish remains proud of its native son and marks its relationship with him by a special display in the narthex and a large image of Sheen near the baptistery.

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