Venerable Carlo Acoutis: ‘Patron Saint of the Internet’
‘The Catholic church is about to have its first millennial saint!’ That was how the BBC reported news of Carlo Acutis’ beautification to the amazement of the world shattering the belief that with the distractions in society today, it is impossible for a millennial to take after Christ and end up on the path to sainthood!
Welcome to the world of Venerable Carlo Acoutis who could be described as the first millennial saint by proving through his life that Christ has not gone out of fashion in today’s world!
Dubbed the ‘Patron Saint of the Internet,’ many a catholic youth today have a lot to learn from him as an icon of the faith. Following his beautification, Pope Francis had showered encomiums on him in one of his his Angelus addresses.
He said: “… a 15 year-old boy in love with the Eucharist was beatified. He did not settle into comfortable inaction but grasped the needs of his time because in the weakest he saw the face of Christ. His witness shows today's young people that true happiness is found by putting God first and serving Him in our brothers, especially the least. Let’s make a round of applause for the new young Blessed.”
In an earlier message Pope Francis said: “It is true that the digital world can expose you to the risk of self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure. But don’t forget that there are young people who show creativity and even genius. That was the case with Venerable Carlo Acoutis.
“Carlo was well aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity. Yet he knew how to use the new communications technology to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty.”
Born on May 3 1991, Acutis, an English-born Italian Catholic and amateur computer programmer passed on October 12, 2006 after he succumbed to Leukemia. Acutis is best known for documenting Eucharistic miracles around the world and cataloguing them onto a website that he created.
Interestingly, his parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano were not very religious. At the tender age of four, the toddler began getting heavenly visitations after his maternal grandfather died and appeared to him in a dream asking for intercession. His journey to holiness began three years later when he requested to receive his First Holy Communion at the tender age of seven which was granted! He would always reflect before the tabernacle before or after mass and made weekly confession a habit.
Acutis displayed charisma far beyond his years that could only have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and one thing that set him apart was his dedication to church through the three Ts namely Time, Treasure and Talent. Acutis always worried about friends of his whose parents were divorcing and would invite them to his home to support them. He defended disabled peers at school when bullies mocked them and did voluntary work with the homeless and destitute. And guess what, like every millennial, he also liked films, read comics and was a big fan of PlayStation.
A computer geek, Acutis reportedly taught himself to code at a young age and his role models included Francis of Assisi and the Fatima trio of Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia among others. Little wonder at the tender age of 11, Acutis took care of websites for local Catholic organisations and also created his own website celebrating Eucharistic miracles which he completed in 2005 at a time when his peers were engaging in hedonistic practices of this generation on the internet. And on the website he had famously stated: “The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus so that on this earth, we will have a foretaste of heaven.’ The teenager was also involved in charity work and spent his own money on helping disadvantaged people and also volunteered at a soup kitchen in Italy.
Leukemia and death
When he developed leukemia, rather than blame God for his plight, he had humbly accepted his suffering and offered it both for Pope Benedict XVI and for the Catholic Church saying, ‘I offer all the suffering I will have to undergo for the Lord, for the Pope, and the Church.;
Before his death, he had asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages to the sites of all the known Eucharistic miracles in the world but his declining health prevented this from happening. So selfless was he it is reported that whenever his doctors asked him if he was in great pain, he responded saying, there are people who suffer much more than me.’ He died on 12 October 2006 at 6:45 AM from leukemia. He was buried in Assisi in accordance with his wishes.
Acutis' mother later attributed her birthing a set of twins at age of 44, born exactly four years to the day after his death to her son’s intercession. She also told the press that her son had appeared to her in dreams saying that he will not only be beatified but also canonised a saint in the future.
Miracle and path to sainthood
Acutis’ formal introduction to the cause of sainthood took place on the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013, and Acutis became titled a ‘Servant of God.’ Pope Francis next confirmed his life as one of heroic virtue on July 5, 2018, and declared him Venerable.
On Nov. 14 2019, the Vatican's Medical Council of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints expressed a positive opinion about a miracle in Brazil attributed to Acutis' intercession after a woman’s son had been healed of a pancreatic defect which made eating difficult. Pope Francisc confirmed the miracle's authenticity in a decree on 21 February 2020, leading to Acutis' beatification.
Indeed, whoever says it is impossible for a millennial to be a saint and witness to Christ in today’s hedonistic world need to do a rethink after reading the inspiring story of Venerable Carlo Acutis. And by the way, it takes two miracles for the church to declare anybody a saint. Acutis already has one but Pope Francis is known to have waved this procedure in the past raising expectations that he would do the same for Venerable Acutis.