Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager informally known as “God’s influencer,” was set on Saturday to be beatified by the Catholic Church. Beatification is one step removed from sainthood, or canonization.
Acutis, who died from leukaemia aged 15 in 2006, was a deeply religious computer whizz-kid from Milan, who saw the internet as a way to spread the Catholic faith.
According to Nicola Gori, the man who is promoting Acutis’ sainthood cause, he was “a normal boy like many others,” who liked playing football and hanging out with friends.
But Acutis also helped priests set up websites for their parishes and created an online exhibition on religious miracles from around the world.
His mother Antonia Salzano told Vatican News her son was “considered a computer genius because he knew logarithms, he knew how to make programs and read university texts on these topics.”
Acutis also used to go out at night to give blankets and food to the homeless, attended Mass every day, and
donated his pocket money to a Catholic charity.
The Milanese boy has been suggested as a possible future patron saint of the internet, once his canonization, or path towards sainthood, is completed.
Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, Vice-Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, told Vatican News
on Thursday he came up with the idea in 2016. Acutis’ story “can conquer the heart as well as the gaze of many boys and girls and tell everyone that it is
possible even today to live the experience of the Gospel,” Vigano said.
In 2019, Pope Francis hailed him as a model for younger generations who are at risk “of self-absorption,
isolation and empty pleasure” when exposed to the digital world. “Carlo didn’t fall into the trap,” and “knew how to use the new communications technology to transmit the
Gospel, to communicate values and beauty,” the pope said. Francis cleared the beatification in February after the Vatican recognized as a miracle the 2013 healing of a
Brazilian boy with a rare pancreatic disease following prayers addressed to Acutis. A beatification Mass was scheduled to take place in the central Italian town of Assisi, the birthplace of St
Francis, where Acutis asked to be buried.The service was meant to be led by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, but he resigned in disgrace two weeks ago as
head of the Vatican’s sainthood department over embezzlement allegations. Cardinal Agostino Vallini was chosen as a replacement celebrant.
In the run-up to the ceremony, Acutis’s embalmed body was put on display for veneration by the faithful: he can be seen dressed in jeans, fleece and trainers, clutching a rosary in his hands.