The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds and Papal History/Notable Individuals to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen will be found in the Notable Individuals’ pages. Papal Artifacts is honored to remember Venerable Fulton J. Sheen on the anniversary of his birth.
Pope Pius XII once asked Bishop Fulton Sheen how many converts he had made. He answered: Your Holiness, I have never counted them. I am always afraid if I did count them, I might think I made them, instead of the Lord.
Such were the words of one of the most prominent Americans of the 20th century, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.
He was born on May 8th, 1895 in El Paso, Illinois, the child of moderately prosperous farmers whose four sons were all gifted intellectually and all expected to work hard. The family was very devout and their Catholic faith was a centerpiece of their lives. The boys attended Catholic schools and church regularly and said the rosary together daily. Sheen excelled in school where he was a skilled member of the debate team and the valedictorian of his class.
Upon graduation from college in Illinois, Sheen attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and was ordained in 1919. Further studies were at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he earned two degrees in 1920, and at Louvain University in Belgium. While there, he became the first American ever to win the Cardinal Mercier award for the best philosophical treatise, which he then transformed into a prize winning book. Even G. K. Chesterton admired and respected this work.
Fulton Sheen was a parish priest briefly but soon became an instructor at the Catholic University where he taught philosophy and theology from 1926 until 1950. Fairly soon he was publishing both scholarly and popular books and articles that earned him praised throughout the country. In 1925 he began hosting a popular radio program, the Catholic Hour. This was the beginning of his career in the media. He was soon in demand everywhere as a preacher, retreat leader and teacher.
In 1948, Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York invited him to join a worldwide tour and be responsible for preaching. The two men admired each other’s talents. Spellman soon made Sheen the head of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Church’s principle source of missionary funds. In 1951 he was consecrated bishop at a ceremony in Rome.
Here is a link to Cardinal Francis Spellman on Papal Artifacts:
Bishop Sheen will be most remembered for the series of lectures he gave on television that won him an Emmy, an appearance on the cover of Time magazine and a place on the most admired Americans list. Life Is Worth Living was presented without notes or cue cards and his humor, charm, and intelligence captivated millions. His skill at oratory is said to have brought thousands of people into the church.
A student of Freud, Sheen was critical of his psychology and presented his views on this subject in Peace of Soul. The Collection has a signed copy, which you may view with this biographical material.
A dispute occurred between Cardinal Spellman and Bishop Sheen over the distribution of funds for the Society for the Propagation of Faith. So chaotic did this struggle become that the two of them had a private audience with Pope Pius XII who sided with Bishop Sheen. The end result was that Cardinal Spellman terminated Sheen’s television series, made him a local outcast and drove him from the archdiocese. In 1966, Sheen became the bishop of Rochester.
Bishop Sheen was an active participant in the Vatican II sessions and thoroughly endorsed the reforms that followed. He was, however, unable to be the bridge between the old and new Catholicism and his sweeping reforms often alienated his people in Rochester. In 1969 he resigned as bishop. He also publicly denounced the Vietnam War and participated in political activities connected to his anti-war sentiments.
During the course of his fifty years in the Church, he wrote over seventy books and countless articles. He estimated that he gave ten million dollars in royalties to the organization he headed.
In October 1979, Archbishop Sheen met Pope John Paul II at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Pope told the eighty-four-year-old Sheen that he had been a loyal son of the Church. Fulton Sheen died on December 9th in his chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.
Fulton Sheen always believed the source of his strength were the hours of intimacy he spent with the Lord, an hour daily before the Blessed Sacrament, which he never once missed from the day of his ordination. In 2002, Sheen’s Cause for Canonization as a saint was officially opened. He is now Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.
The definitive biography of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is America’s Bishop by Thomas C. Reeves and published by Encounter Books.
Papal Artifacts honors the gift of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to our Church.
Here is a link to Archbishop Sheen’s information on Papal Artifacts: