Jennifer Kostyrka of Lynbrook, New York, presses rosary beads against the tomb of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. (CNS PHOTO/GREGORY A. SHEMITZ)

A 2016 court ruling allowing Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s body to be moved from the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to his hometown of Peoria, Illinois, has been overturned. 

In the latest twist in a years-long battle over the famous evangelist’s final resting place, on Feb. 6 the New York Supreme Court’s appellate division ruled 3-2 that the famous televangelist’s earthly remains should stay put. The court cited testimony from a former assistant, Msgr. Hilary Franco, who said the bishop had wanted his body to “remain in New York even after his death.” 

Archbishop Sheen has been buried in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral since his death in 1979. But his niece has fought for years to transfer his body to his hometown of Peoria, where the local diocese has opened his cause for canonization. 

The Archdiocese of New York praised the decision and repeated its belief that it was the archbishop’s wish to be buried in New York. 

The archdiocese also said that Peoria’s canonization effort can proceed because “the Vatican has told us there is no requirement that the earthly body of a candidate for sainthood reside in a particular place.” The case is not closed, however. The appeals court ruling sends the case back to the lower court and orders the lower court to consider more carefully the testimony of Msgr. Franco.