I recently spent a couple of days in the wonderful town of Assisi in the province of Umbria in Italy. Assisi is of course a world pilgrimage site because of its most famous son St. Francis, and his companion St. Clare. Each year hundreds of thousand converge on this hilltop town to visit the various places associated with the saints, I have been among them on many occasions.

This time however I stumbled upon a church I have never visited before in a quiet side street. The church of Santa Maria Maggiore dates from the earliest centuries of Christianity and for a time served as the Cathedral of the city. I was intrigued to see a large number of teenagers filing in to the church on a continuous basis and curiosity drew me inside. The church houses the tomb of a young Italian teenager Carlo Acutis, who died at the age of 15. Carlo Acutis was born May 3, 1991, in London, where his parents were working. Just a few months later, his parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, moved to Milan.

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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 Oct. 12, 2006, and was buried in Assisi, at his request, because of his love for St. Francis of Assisi. His cause for canonization began in 2013. He was designated 'Venerable' in 2018, and designated 'Blessed' October 10, 2020. From a young age, Carlo 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.

But as a young child, Carlo 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.

He asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages - to the places of the saints, and to the sites of Eucharistic miracles. 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.

And he promoted Eucharistic miracles, especially through a website he built to promote them.

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, offering up his suffering for the Church, the pope, and for people who were suffering with illness.

And he was a gamer. Carlo loved playing video games. His console of choice was 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. Carlo was a modern young teenager with an extraordinary love for God, in death his influence is inspiring a generation of young people who see in this modern saint a shining beacon of faith.

He is the first Millennial to be beatified. Visit this website for further information https://blessedcarloacutis.com/

Philip Curran
St. Mary's Lucan

September 18, 2021 - 6:28pm
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