|Born||3 May 1991|
London, United Kingdom
|Died||12 October 2006 (aged 15)|
|Resting place||Santa Maria Maggiore, Assisi|
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
|Beatified||10 October 2020, Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy, by Cardinal Agostino Vallini (on behalf of Pope Francis)|
|Major shrine||Santa Maria Maggiore (Sanctuary of the Spoliation), Assisi, Italy|
Carlo Acutis (3 May 1991 – 12 October 2006) was an English-born Italian Catholic youth and website designer who is best known for documenting Eucharistic miracles and the approved Marian apparitions around the world and cataloguing them onto a website which he created before his death from leukemia. He was noted for his cheerfulness, computer skills, and deep devotion to the Eucharist, which became a core theme of his life. He was beatified by the Catholic Church on 10 October 2020, two days before the 14th anniversary of his death.
Birth and baptism
Carlo Acutis was born in London, England, on 3 May 1991, to Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, members of a wealthy Italian family. The Acutis family had a prominent position in the Italian insurance industry. The Salzanos ran a publishing company. Acutis' maternal great-grandmother was born in the United States and came from a family of landowners in New York.
His baptism took place on 18 May 1991 in the Church of Our Lady of Dolours, Chelsea. His paternal grandfather, Carlo, was his godfather, and his maternal grandmother, Luana, was his godmother.
His first nanny was a young Scottish woman who once gave him a small amount of alcohol to help him sleep. Neither parent was religious, and they had worked in London and Germany before Acutis was born.
Move to Italy
Aside from a few visits to a daycare center, most of Acutis' early care came from nannies. At once such visit to a daycare center, he began to be hassled by other children. He was now under the care of a Polish nanny who thought Acutis was "too good" and she tried to teach him to set boundaries so that the other children would not take his toys. He once responded to her that "Jesus would not be happy if I lost my temper."
In the summer, Acutis was sent to stay with his mother's parents in Centola. After spending the day at the beach, he would join a number of old women in the local parish church to pray the rosary. His family owned a boat at Santa Margherita Ligure.
Acutis' first grade school, the San Carlo Institute, was one of the most elite schools in Milan. He entered in September 1997 but the school was a distance from their home and, three months later he transferred to Marcelline Tommaseo Institute, a school closer to his home. During his walks to school, he took a particular interest in the home caretakers, most of whom were not Italian, he met along the way. After learning their names, he would stop to greet them personally each morning.
Starting in September 2002 he received his middle school education at the Marcelline Tommaseo Institute, which is run by the Sisters of St. Marcellina, and went to the Jesuit Instituto Leone XIII high school. He was an average student, but liked to read and independent study in areas that interested him, including computer science. He also taught himself to play the saxophone. He had a tutor who helped him with his homework and ended up following him to church.
Outside school, he did volunteer work with the homeless and destitute. He also liked films, comic editing, and playing PlayStation video games. He struggled with his weight, often overindulging on Nutella. As a sacrifice, he would give up sweets or his favorite movies, like the children of Fatima. He admired the poverty of the Franciscans and sought to emulate it.
Acts of kindness
Acutis was a lover of nature. His father bought him a device to pick up trash while hiking so that he would not fill his pockets with trash and cigarette butts. While at the beach, he used an inflatable boat, snorkel, and fins to retrieve trash in the ocean. He also became very angry when he encountered young people who were stomping on lizards. An animal lover, he had two cats, four dogs, and fish at home, and asked his parents to take in every stray animal he found.
On the social side, Acutis would worry about friends of his whose parents were divorcing and would invite them to his home to support them. He defended peers at school when bullies mocked them. He would sometimes see two friends at school fighting, and then invite them back to his house after school to help them reconcile. He also spoke up for girls who were being whistled at or harassed, and told the boys doing so to stop.
When his grandparents gave him several games for his birthday one year, Acustis visited the Capuchin friars in Milan and donated them to children who had none. In the evenings, Acutis would ask his grandmother to make a snack for a man who begged in the park near their house. When he dropped it off, Acutis would also give the beggar some of his pocket money to buy coffee in the morning.
Acutis's parents were not able to have other children during his lifetime, though they wanted them and met with doctors to assist them in conceiving. His mother, Antonia, is said to attribute to his intercession the fact that, at the age of 44, she gave birth to twins, Michele and Francesca, born precisely four years to the day after his death. During his lifetime his cousin Flavia was his best friend.
The Acutises employed a Brahmin immigrant from India to work in their household. Rajesh Mohur and Acutis quickly became friends. In time, after speaking with Acutis about Christianity, Mohur asked to be baptized. A friend of Mohur's, Seeven Kistnen, also converted and was baptized after meeting with Acutis and hearing him speak about the faith.
Acutis's mother, Antonia, grew up in a secular family. She was confirmed while she was in college and was married in the church, but she did not attend mass before Acutis was born. It was her son's faith, and his insistent questions, that brought her back to the faith. It was similar for his father. Antonia was asked, and agreed, to lead a catechism class after Acutis made his first communion, though she did not feel qualified to do so.
The Acutis family would sometimes invite priests to dinner, including a high-ranking official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The family also supported scholarships for underprivileged students at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Though Acutis was considered a computer genius, his parents were not as skilled and said they did not know how to set up parental controls on his computer.
Religious education and devotion
When Acutis was three years old, his maternal grandfather, Antonio Salzano, died. Several days before his death, Acutis was present when his grandfather received the anointing of the sick. The grandfather was said to have appeared to him in a dream asking to be prayed for. Shortly after his death, Acutis put on his coat while his grandmother was caring for him and asked to be taken to church. When she asked him why, Acutis said he wanted to pray for his grandfather who, Acutis said, "went to see Jesus."
When Acutis was 12 years old, he became a catechist at his parish, Santa Maria Segreta. In the structure in Italy at the time, religious education was typically conducted by young team leaders in youth groups as opposed to an adult standing at the head of a classroom. The pastor or other adult would provide the lesson, and the young person would impart it to their peers.
His parish priest said of Acutis that
Carlo was a young man who was exceptionally transparent. He really wanted to progress in loving his parents, God, his classmates, and those who loved him less. He wanted to apply himself in his studies to educate himself in his catechism class as well as in school and computer science.
On June 16, 1998, Acutis receives his First Communion at the age of seven at the convent of Sant'Ambrogio ad Nemus, Milan. After that he made an effort, either before or after Mass, to reflect before the tabernacle. Acutis became a frequent communicant, would often attend Eucharistic Adoration, and would make a weekly confession. He was confirmed on May 24, 2003, at Saint-Marie Secrete Church.
While in Meteora, Acutis visited an Eastern Orthodox church, met hieromonks, and watched the faithful kiss the icons on the iconostasis. Acutis visited Lourdes, France, for the first time in February 2005. The following year, in February 2006, he traveled to Portugal – visiting the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Miracle of Santarém and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima – for the final time.
His father once proposed that the family visit the Holy Land, but Acutis responded that he would rather stay in Milan: "Why go to where Jesus was 2,000 years ago, whereas He is here now?" While he wanted to visit the Holy Land, he instead decided to make a pilgrimage to each of the churches in Milan, seeing as many of them were often empty.
Devotion to saints
He is said to have had several models as guides for his life, especially Francis of Assisi, as well as Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Dominic Savio, Tarcisius, Bernadette Soubirous, and Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi. He would often visit church alone. He would frequently pray to his guardian angel and had a special devotion to St. Michael the Archangel.
Those around him considered him a "computer geek" on account of his passion and skill with computers and the internet. He was skilled in using Dreamweaver, Java, C++, and Ubuntu. He often helped others with technical issues.
When he was 14, his parish priest asked him to create a webpage for his parish, Santa Maria Segreta in Milan. After this, a priest at his high school asked him to create a website to promote volunteering, on which Acutis spent most of the summer of 2006 working. For this work, he won a national competition named "Sarai volontario" (You will be a volunteer).
Having seen the need for a new way to transmit the faith to a younger generation, Acutis applied himself to creating a website dedicated to cataloging each reported Eucharistic miracle in the world, as well as a list of the approved Marian apparitions of the Catholic Church. He appreciated Blessed Giacomo Alberione's initiatives to use the media to evangelize and proclaim the Gospel and aimed to do likewise with the website he had created.
Acutis was inspired by the Italian designs of Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati, which are works of art in addition to being automobiles. After attending the Rimini Meeting, which took place not far from the factories that produce the cars, he began to wonder why the Church could not present Christ and the Church better.
Acutis launched the website in 2004 and worked on it for two and a half years, involving his entire family in the project. It was unveiled on October 4, 2006, the Feast of St. Francis, only days before his death. Acutis was not able to attend the debut of his exhibition at Rome's Church of San Carlo Borromeo as he was hospitalized. It was also presented at his high school, the Leo XIII Institute.
On October 1, 2006, Acutis developed an inflammation of the throat. His parents brought him to a doctor who diagnosed him with parotitis and dehydration, which a second doctor, a family friend, confirmed. A few days later, the pain became worse and there was blood in his urine. By October 8, a Sunday, Acutis was too weak to get out of bed to go to Mass.
Acutis was brought to a clinic that specialized in blood diseases and was diagnosed him with acute promyelocytic leukemia. He was given almost no chance of recovery. He was rushed to the intensive care unit and given a respirator mask to assist with his breathing. After a sleepless night, Acutis was transported to San Gerardo Hospital north of Milan, one of only three hospitals in Italy that was equipped to treat his illness.
The hospital chaplain was called in and performed the anointing of the sick. When a nurse came in to care for him, he asked her not to wake his parents as they were already very tired and he did not want to worry them more.
Acutis offered his suffering both for Pope Benedict XVI and for the Catholic Church, saying: "I offer to the Lord the sufferings that I will have to undergo for the Pope and for the Church." 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.
The doctors treating his final illness had asked him if he was in great pain, a question to which he responded that "there are people who suffer much more than me". His final words to his mother were
Mom, don't be afraid. Since Jesus has became a man, death has become the passage towards life, and we don't need to flee it. Let us prepare ourselves to experience something extraordinary in the eternal life.
Death and burial
Acutis fell into a coma and was rushed to the intensive care unit where he underwent a treatment to cleanse his blood. He then underwent a cerebral hemorrhage and was pronounced brain dead on October 11. Acutis died on October 12, 2006, at 6:45 p.m. He was 15 years old at the time of his death.
After the mortuary cleaned his body, Acutis' parents brought his body home where a flood of people came over the next four days to pay their last respects. Acutis's body had the odor of sanctity. At his funeral, a crowd of strangers attended.
Many young people who had fallen away from the church returned for his funeral, and then for a memorial mass three months later. The Friends of Carlo Acutis was formed to organize annual requiem masses.
At his funeral was a woman with a cancerous tumor. A few days after the funeral, her doctor told her the tumor had disappeared. Also at the funeral was a 44-year-old woman who wanted to have children, but was not able to give birth. Nine months after the funeral, she had a child. Both women attribute their miracles to Acutis' intercession.
Exhumation and removals
On April 6, 2018, his body was brought to the Sanctuary of the Spoliation so that the faithful could visit his final resting spot and venerate his body. The procession began on Friday night and ended on Saturday morning, traveling a distance of 1.5 miles. Overnight, the procession stopped at the Cathedral of San Rufino where the diocesan choir sang a Non io, ma Dio, ("Not me, but God"), a hymn especially composed for the occasion by Marco Mammoli.
Following the Catholic Church's recognition of a miracle in 2020, attributed to Acutis, Antonia told the press that her son had appeared to her in dreams saying that he will not only be beatified but also canonized a saint in the future.
There is a website for his canonization cause, another for educators, young people, and prayer groups, and sites for each of the four exhibitions that he inspired.
Photo exhibition of eucharistic miracles
In memory of Acutis, bishops Raffaello Martinelli and Angelo Comastri have helped to organize a traveling photo exhibition of all the Eucharistic miracle sites. It has since traveled to dozens of different countries across five continents.
The preface to the print version of the exhibit was written by Cardinal Angelo Comastri and has been translated into 18 languages. It has traveled to more than 10,000 places, including churches, congressional palaces, youth clubs, and welcome centers, in addition to the canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto in Fatima, Portugal.
Parish of Blessed Carlo Acutis
On 15 December 2020, under the provisions of Canon Law, Archbishop Bernard Longley established a new parish in the Archdiocese of Birmingham under the patronage of the Blessed Carlo Acutis. The parish incorporates the three churches of St Peter & Paul, St Michael and St Bernadette in Wolverhampton.
Acutis is quoted as saying that "We are all born originals, but many of us die as photocopies." In the document that concluded the Synod on Young People in 2018, Pope Francis used the phrase and praised Acutis thusly:
Carlo did not fall into a trap. He saw that many young people, if they seem to be different, end up, in reality, looking like each other, by running behind what powerful people impose on them via mechanisms of consumption and stupor. In this way, they do not let the gifts that the Lord has made for them flow into them. They do not offer the world these personal and unique gifts that the Lord has sown in each one of them.
Pope Francis has also spoken about Acutis as a model for people who live normal lives to grow in holiness.
The campaign gained momentum on May 13, 2013, when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a nihil obstat stating there was nothing preventing the cause from moving forward. He was then named a Servant of God, the first stage on the path towards sainthood. The Lombardy Episcopal Conference approved the petition for the official canonization cause to proceed at a meeting in 2013.
The opening of the diocesan investigation was held on 15 February 2013, with Cardinal Angelo Scola inaugurating the process, and concluding it on 24 November 2016. Scola said Acutis was not called to be "a movie star, but a star in Heaven" and that Acutis is "a new treasure in the Ambrosian church." The formal introduction to the cause occurred on 13 May 2013, and Acutis became titled a "Servant of God". Pope Francis next confirmed his life as one of heroic virtue on 5 July 2018, and declared him Venerable.
On 14 November 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's intercession. Luciana Vianna had taken her son, Mattheus, who was born with a pancreatic defect that made eating difficult, to a prayer service. Beforehand, Vianna had already prayed a novena asking for the teenager Acutis's intercession. During the service, her son had asked that he should not "throw up as much". Immediately following the service, Mattheus told his mother that he felt healed and asked for solid food when he came home. Until then he had been on an all-liquid diet. After a detailed investigation, Pope Francis confirmed the miracle's authenticity in a decree on 21 February 2020, leading to Acutis's beatification.
Within a month of the decree, the beatification ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, during which the country was placed on lockdown. It was rescheduled for 10 October 2020 and was held in the Upper Church of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Assisi, Italy, with Cardinal Agostino Vallini presiding on the Pope's behalf. As of 2019[update], the postulator for Acutis's cause is Nicola Gori.
Since the beatification ceremony on 10 October 2020, silent crowds have been filing past the exposed relics of the blessed youth in the one-time cathedral of Assisi, the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.
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- Association of Friends of Carlo Acutis – Official Site
- The apparitions of Our Lady – List of Marian apparitions catalogued by Acutis
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