Italian Carlo Acutis was like many teenagers of his time. He chilled out with friends, played soccer, watched Pokémon, and spent leisure time with his PlayStation 2 and computer. But it was also by living an ordinary life that he is able to touch many lives extraordinarily today.
Acutis was beatified on Saturday, October 10, in Assisi, Italy as the first "Millennial Blessed" and Patron of the Internet.
In an interview with EWTN News, the postulator of Acutis’ cause for sainthood Nicola Gori described how Acutis used his computer programming skills to encourage those growing distant from the Church to revert to a Christ-filled life. Acutis did this by putting up the website "The Eucharistic Miracles of the World" where he cataloged the miracles recognized by the Catholic church.
"Carlo wanted people to approach the Eucharist and for this, he used the internet," Gori said. "One summer before his death, he went to look for where great Eucharistic miracles occurred in the world, those recognized by the Church, from the first Christian era to the present day."
The website became "a call to shake consciences; say let’s go back to the essentials, let’s go back to filling the churches."
Who is Carlo Acutis?
Acutis was born on May 3, 1991 in London, where his parents Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano used to work. A few months later, the family moved to Milan.
Acutis had Catholic parents who did not practice the faith then. But his own story followed an entirely different path. He began going to Mass and praying the rosary every day since he had his first holy communion when he was seven years old.
At his young age, Acutis was able to bring people — especially his parents — closer to God.
"Think, he managed to drag his relatives, his parents to Mass every day. It was not the other way around; it was not his parents bringing the little boy to Mass, but it was he who managed to get himself to Mass and to convince others to receive Communion daily," Gori told EWTN News
Acutis' mom Antonia attested to it in an interview with Vaticano. "Carlo, I always say, was a little savior for me because usually in families, it is the family who passes on the faith. In my case, it was Carlo," she said. "In fact, I saw him like a father, an authoritative figure. I did not see him so much as a son... there is this authority given to him, precisely by that of Jesus."
At 11, Acutis began serving the church as an assistant catechist.
"Sometimes he was able to teach the catechist by himself because he was a very prepared boy, very ahead by those who were his age," Antonia recalled.
Acutis, as his mom recalled, was "very good at filming, making films, and even using the computers." He taught himself to code and play the saxophone. He limited himself to an hour of video games as he didn't want it controlling him.
Oftentimes, he and his mom would roam around Milan to give away food and sleeping bags to the less fortunate. She recalled, "With his savings, he bought sleeping bags for homeless people and in the evening he brought them hot drinks,"
She added, "He said it was better to have one less pair of shoes if it meant being able to do one more good work."
At 15, Acutis was diagnosed with leukemia.
Antonia recounted, "Carlo, when they told him that he had leukemia — that it was a disease that he could die of — he smiled and said, 'The Lord gave me a beautiful alarm clock.' As if to say, my time has arrived. Then he said, 'I'm not coming out of this alive. But mom, I will give you many signs. Don't worry.'"
The teenager bore the pains of his sickness with a beautiful end in mind.
His mom recounted, "He had asked the Lord, 'I offer my suffering for the Pope and for the church in order to not go to purgatory, but go directly to heaven.' And therefore I believe the Lord listened to him."
A step closer to sainthood
Acutis passed away on October 12, 2006. He started working miracles on the first day of his funeral, which his mom remembered being packed with "people who prayed for him, who prayed to him, to help (them) because he already had this reputation." She added, "The church was so full that many had to stay outside."
"He performed the first miracle on the day of his funeral," Antonia continued. "A lady who had breast cancer, prayed to him then she went away. Another lady could not have children. She was 45 years old. She prayed to Carlo and became pregnant. These are the first fruits of his intercession. Certainly, many people remember this funeral."
On February 22, 2020, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Acutis, whose intercession healed a young Brazilian boy with a rare congenital pancreatic disease. This led to the Italian teenager's beatification set October this year.
On October 1, Acutis' tomb was opened for public veneration at the Sanctuary of Spoliation, the venue for his beatification.
The church's rector, Fr. Carlos Acacio Goncalves Ferreira, said that the teenager's remains were intact but not incorrupt.
"(It) is integral—having all its organs. Work was done for the face," he explained. "But it is nice to see that for the first time in history, we will see a saint dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a sweater. Absolutely, this is the first time and a great message for us. We can feel your holiness not as a distant thing, but something very much in everyone's reach because the Lord is a Lord of everyone."