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Pope recognizes miracle needed for church’s first ‘millennial’ saint

Pope Francis recognized May 23, 2024, the second miracle needed for the canonization of Italian Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15. He is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/courtesy Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis) Editors: best quality available.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis formally recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis, a 15-year-old Italian teenager whose birth in 1991 will make him the first “millennial” to become a saint.

In a meeting May 23 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for Saints’ Causes, the pope signed decrees advancing the sainthood causes of Blessed Acutis, as well as one woman, and six men.

The Vatican announced May 23 that the pope had signed the decrees and that he would convene a consistory to set a date for the canonization of Acutis and other future saints: Blesseds Giuseppe Allamano; Marie-Léonie Paradis of Québec, Canada; Elena Guerra; and eight Franciscan friars and three Maronite laymen who were martyred in Damascus, Syria, in 1860.

Blessed Acutis was born and baptized in London to Italian parents in 1991, but the family moved back to Milan, Italy, while he was still an infant.

After he started high school, he began to curate, create or design websites, including one for a local parish, for his Jesuit-run high school and for the Pontifical Academy “Cultorum Martyrum,” according to the saints’ dicastery. He also used his computer skills to create an online database of Eucharistic miracles around the world.

He volunteered at a church-run soup kitchen, helped the poor in his neighborhood, assisted children struggling with their homework, played saxophone, soccer and videogames, and loved making videos with his dogs and cats, according to carloacutis.com, the website dedicated to his cause for canonization.

“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan,” he wrote when he was 7 years old.

He was devoted to Our Lady, praying the rosary every day, and to the Eucharist.

“The Eucarist is the highway to heaven,” he wrote. When people sit in the sun, they become tan, “but when they sit before Eucharistic Jesus, they become saints.”

When he was only 15, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and died Oct. 12, 2006. He had said, “I’m happy to die because I’ve lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn’t have pleased God,” according to carloacutis.com.

His mortal remains were moved to the municipal cemetery in Assisi in 2007 to fulfill his wish to be in the city of St. Francis. Then his remains were moved to the Shrine of the Renunciation at the Church of St. Mary Major in Assisi in 2019. He was buried wearing Nike sneakers, black jeans and an athletic warmup jacket — clothes he was used to wearing every day.

In February 2020, the pope formally recognized a miracle attributed to Acutis’ intercession and in October that year, the teen was beatified during a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis. An estimated 117,000 pilgrims visited the teen’s tomb in just the first year after his beatification, the Diocese of Assisi said the day before his feast day, Oct. 12, 2021.

The two miracles attributed to the intercession of the teen involved alleged miraculous recoveries for a young boy in Brazil in 2013 and a young woman in Florence in 2022.

The miracle Pope Francis recognized May 23 that paves the way for the blessed’s canonization involved a young woman who was born in Costa Rica in 2001 and moved to Florence in 2018 to study.

The woman fell from her bicycle at 4 a.m. July 2, 2022, and suffered a serious head injury, according to the dicastery website. Even after emergency surgery removing part of her skull to reduce severe intracranial pressure, doctors warned her family she could die at any moment.

An associate of the young woman’s mother began praying to Blessed Acutis the same day, and the mother went to Assisi and prayed at the blessed’s tomb July 8 — the same day the young woman began to breathe on her own again. She slowly recovered basic mobility and a CT scan showed the hemorrhage was gone. After a period of rehabilitation therapy and a complete recovery, she and her mother visited his tomb Sept. 2.

Pope Francis has urged young people to learn about Blessed Acutis, who “did a great deal of good things,” despite his short life.

“Above all, he was impassioned by Jesus; and since he was very good at getting around on the internet, he used it in the service of the Gospel, spreading love for prayer, the witness of faith and charity toward others,” the pope told young Italians Jan. 29.

“Prayer, witness and charity” were the hallmarks of Blessed Acutis’ life and should be a key part of the life of every Christian, he said.

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