Carlo Acutis, the First Millennial Saint?

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Italian teenager Carlo Acutis was beatified and placed on the track to Catholic sainthood in a ceremony held at St. Francis of Assisi Basilica in Assisi, Italy, in October of 2020. In that ceremony, the 15-year-old who died of leukemia in 2006 grew closer to joining the thousands of saints in the Catholic Church.

His beatification sets a record, as he’s not only one of the youngest to be canonized but also the first millennial on the path to canonization.

A Devout Computer Whiz

Carlo Acutis was born in London in May 1991 to Italian parents. The family moved to Milan, Italy, soon after his birth. By the age of seven, he was devoted to the church and daily attendance of mass. His mother reports that he significantly influenced her, urging her every day to join in the masses.

At home, he loved video games and his dog. He showed unusual self-control, limiting his video-game-playing to an hour a week. He had a heart for the poor and disadvantaged in his community, never lacking an encouraging word or food for the needy. It is said that he sometimes sacrificed his own money to help those around him.

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As far as computers went, he was utterly obsessed. At the age of nine, Carlo taught himself how to code. He learned how to build and manage websites. At the age of 10, he created a website to share stories about miracles related to the Eucharist. In this way, he hoped that more people would believe and draw closer to the body of Christ. He also managed websites for other Catholic organizations.

Though he acknowledged that the Internet can be dangerous, he saw it as an opportunity for good, to spread light in a dark world. In some circles he is known as the patron saint of the Internet.

Carlo was diagnosed with leukemia as a teenager and succumbed in 2006 at the young age of 15.

The Final Miracle

The Catholic Church has roughly 10,000 saints. The process toward sainthood begins when a miracle is attributed to prayer to that saint at least five years after their death. This is followed by beatification, where the individual is called “blessed.” The final step to sainthood is canonization, which requires another miracle. 

Carlo was beatified in 2013 after a teenage boy who prayed to him reported being healed from a severe form of pancreatic disease. Only one final miracle is needed before Blessed Carlo Acutis is declared a saint. It is not uncommon, however, for the Pope to waive this requirement, so it’s possible the final miracle won’t be needed at all. 

An Influencer for Jesus

Father Will Conquer, an Italian priest who has written about Carlo, has said,

“There is really nothing extraordinary about his life. Everything that he did you can do, honestly. And that’s what gives us all a lot of hope.”

Fr. Will Conquer

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In this digital age, when it sometimes seems that the Internet is spreading decay in our society, Carlos chose to be an influencer for Jesus. This is something we should all embrace—being the salt of the earth in Internet spaces and social media at large. 

He was an ordinary teenager, a regular person. This should encourage us Christians to seek to be found worthy in any small ways we can, both at home and in our communities.

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