On October 10th Cardinal Vallini, on the authority of Pope Francis, formally declared Carlo Acutis Blessed in Assisi. The images of Carlo are so recent, and so… “ordinary” …that you feel you could have met him somewhere. Who is this recently beatified young man, with the broad smile? Carlo Acutis was born on May 3rd 1991 in London. His parents Andrea Acutis and Antonio Salzano moved to Milan shortly afterwards. Carlo’s parents weren’t especially devout. His mother said that before Carlo, she had attended Mass only for her First Holy Communion, her Confirmation and her wedding. Carlo, however, showed a remarkable piety from his childhood on. He asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages, to shrines and to places associated with Eucharistic miracles. Assisi, the city of St. Francis, had a special place in Carlo’s heart, as did the Poverello, St. Francis. From a young age Carlo was practicing prayer, receiving the sacraments regularly and counselling his friends in their times of trouble and distress.
Growing up in the early 2000s Carlo was at home online and was an enthusiastic gamer. Although the internet was a passion for Carlo, he limited his time online each week, as a discipline and an act of penance. He combined his faith and his passion for the internet when he built a dedicated website cataloguing Eucharistic miracles. In his teens Carlo developed leukaemia. He underwent this time of illness with great faith, offering his sufferings as an intercessory prayer for the Pope and the Church. He died on October 12th 2006. So much of Carlo’s life and interests are recognizable and relatable to young people today. If saints typically look remote and other-worldly, photos of Carlo show a happy young man dressed like a typical teenager, and at home in the world around him. Will Carlo be the first canonized saint who loved PlayStation, or the patron saint of online gamers? He was indeed typical, but he also was, and is, an example of heroic sanctity, a Blessed. In his brief life, he pursued the path of holiness, joyfully, faithfully, and without compromise.
It is fitting that Blessed Carlo’s mortal remains should lie in the Santuario della Spogliazione, Assisi, near the tomb of St. Francis. Separated by eight centuries Blessed Carlo and St. Francis are both remarkable models of pursuing the vocation to holiness with fidelity and joy. Both showed a special devotion to Our Lady and to the Eucharist. Of the Eucharist, Carlo said: “The more we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven”. Eight centuries earlier, St. Francis gave us this unforgettable testimony to his faith in the Eucharist:
“Behold, each day He humbles Himself as when He came from the royal throne into the Virgin’s womb; each day He Himself comes to us, appearing humbly; each day He comes down from the bosom of the Father upon the altar in the hands of a priest. As He revealed Himself to the holy apostles in true flesh, so He reveals Himself to us now in sacred bread. And as they saw only His flesh by the insight of their flesh, yet believed that He was God as they contemplated Him with their spiritual eyes, let us, as we see bread and wine with our bodily eyes, see and firmly believe that they are His most holy Body and Blood living and true. And in this way the Lord is always with His faithful, as He Himself says: Behold I am with you until the end of the age. (Admonitions of St. Francis, First Admonition).
May Blessed Carlo, Assisi’s newest Blessed, continue to support and guide young people from heaven with his prayers. May Carlo inspire others to seek God with an undivided heart.
Wishing you Peace and all good!
Friar Liam, OFM.