On Saturday 10th October Venerable Carlo Acutis will be beatified (declared to be a Blessed) in Assisi, in the Basilica of Saint Francis. He was buried in Assisi in 2006 at his request because of his love for Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor.
Carlo Acutis was born 3rd May 1991, in London, where his parents were working. Just a few months later, his parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, moved to Milan. As a teenager, Carlo was diagnosed with leukaemia. He offered his sufferings for Pope Benedict XVI and for the Church, saying “I offer all the suffering I will have to suffer for the Lord, for the Pope, and the Church.”
He died on 12th October 2006, and was buried in Assisi, at his request, because of his love for Saint Francis of Assisi. His cause for canonization began in 2013. He was declared “Venerable” in 2018, and will be declared “Blessed” on Saturday.
From a young age, Acutis seemed to have a special love for God, even though his parents weren’t especially devout. His mother said that, before Carlo, she went to Mass only for her First Communion, her confirmation, and her wedding.
As a young child, he loved to pray the rosary. After he made his First Communion, he went to Mass as often as he could, and he made Holy Hours before or after Mass. He went to confession weekly. As he grew older he began to go to Mass daily, often bringing his parents along. He made the Eucharist the centre of his life, and he directed towards the most needy the love that God poured out through him. He asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages — to the places of the saints, and to the sites of Eucharistic miracles.
Among his friends was Sister Giovanna Negrotto, a missionary religious sister, who is now 86 years old and one of the people who shared her memories of Acutis at the event in Assisi. She said that Acutis took great interest in her missionary work in India, asking to see photos of “my great leper friends.” She said the last question that Acutis had asked her was: “What do you think? Is God more pleased with a service like this to the least of the world, generous and tireless, or prayer?” Referencing Acutis’ parents, Negrotto said: “I will never forget that morning when you told me that Carlo had gone up to heaven and about how he offered his life for the pope and for the Church. And then I realised that Carlo had already given the answer to his question. Service, yes, prayer, yes, but no one has a greater love than someone who gives his life for his friends.”
It is for his great devotion to the Eucharist that Acutis is best remembered. From his adolescence, Carlo prayed the rosary daily and in addition to other devotions, frequently spent time in Eucharistic adoration. He said when “we face the sun we become tan … but when we place ourselves in front of the Eucharistic Jesus we become saints.” Carlo died from a brain tumour in 2006 at the age 15. The summer after his 14th birthday he spent researching Eucharistic miracles and creating a website to catalogue and share the information with others. Carlos wanted people to approach the Eucharist and for this he used the internet.
The website Carlo created was the genesis of The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, an international exhibition which highlights such occurrences:
On the site, he told people that ‘the more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.’
When Carlo got sick, his life of faith increased. He was intentional about offering up his suffering for the Church, the pope, and for people who were suffering with illness. There was fruit of Carlos’ devotion in his life. His witness of faith led to a deep conversion in his mother, because, according to the priest promoting his cause for sainthood, he “managed to drag his relatives, his parents to Mass every day. It was not the other way around; it was not his parents bringing the little boy to Mass, but it was he who managed to get himself to Mass and to convince others to receive Communion daily.”
He was known for defending kids at school who got picked on, especially disabled kids. When a friend’s parents were getting a divorce, Carlo made a special effort to include his friend in the Acutis family life. Carlo also loved playing video games. His console of choice was a Playstation, or possibly a PS2, which was released in 2000, when Carlo was nine. We know he only allowed himself to play games for an hour a week, as a penance and a spiritual discipline, but he wanted to play much more. He was also a programmer, and liked sports and the outdoors.
His body has now been exhumed and has been transferred to a glass coffin in Assisi, where it lies in repose and can be venerated by pilgrims until 17th October. He is displayed in jeans and a pair of Nikes, the casual clothes he preferred in life.
Article shared by Fr Simon Gillespie
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