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Meet the Teen Who Could become the First Millennial Saint


By Christopher Centrella, Franciscan University

Alleluia! Alleluia! “Death is defeated! The King is alive!” Just this past Saturday, October 10, the Holy Father beatified the first millennial, Blessed Carlo Acutis. Carlo was a regular teenager in so many ways—he enjoyed playing video games, was a computer genius, and loved hanging out with friends. But above all of this, Carlo was in love, in love with a person who sees our every weakness and sin, knows our every secret, but yet loves us totally and unconditionally. “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.”[1] He made this more than mere words; Carlo took this beautiful statement into every aspect of his life.

Carlo was born in London on May 3, 1991, the oldest child of Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano.[2] Growing up, Carlo was very likeable and could easily draw friends to himself.[3] He loved playing football, watching movies, playing on the PlayStation, playing the saxophone and having fun.[4] [5] Besides all of this, he was a computer wiz, loved photography/video, and even designed computer programs.[6] [7] In fact, when he was fourteen years old he even created his own website.[8] [9]

Yet despite all of the problems that so many young people fall into today, he was able to order his life properly, to put God first, and to base everything he did on that principle. What was his secret? You know if you are in love with someone, what happens? If we truly love the person, does not our entire worldview change? We want to please the beloved in everything we do. If the beloved doesn’t want us to talk a certain way, we won’t talk that way. If she doesn’t like the way we treat others, hopefully we will try to do better, to please her. Well, he too was in love, in love with someone who literally gave His life for His beloved, and who has redeemed each of us; we need only ask for and receive His forgiveness.

Since a very young age, Carlo began showing signs of intense devotion to Jesus and Mary, and wanted to learn more about Him, even though his parents weren’t practicing Catholics.[10] [11] In fact, when he was just four years old, he wanted to visit Jesus in the church and kiss the cross when he would go on walks with his mother.[12] At seven years old, he received his first communion, attending Mass daily ever since.[13] Carlo was so devoted to the Eucharist, which divinizes us, transforms us, that he said it was his “highway to heaven.”[14]

In fact, his passionate love for our Eucharistic Lord, led him to begin documenting all of the Eucharistic miracles when he was only 11 years old.[15] When he was 14 years old, he created a website that still exists today, http://www.miracolieucaristici.org/, to announce Jesus to the entire world.[16] [17] Carlo couldn’t be complacent; he had to share Jesus with the world, because “they have to see, they have to understand.”[18]

Because He was in love with the One who was love itself, Carlo brought this Love into the world by his witness, as well; he became “another Jesus” for his neighbor, seeing their dignity and their worth, above all else. One time, he used his savings to buy a sleeping bag for a homeless person. [19] On another occasion, the parents of one of Carlo’s friends were getting a divorce. Carlo decided to make a point to spend time with the friend, to treat him as a member of his family.[20]

At the beginning of Fall 2006, Carlo wasn’t feeling well and thought he came down with the flu, like many of his classmates did.[21] But after a while he was still feeling sick and was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe leukemia.[22] Carlo boldly said that, “I offer to the Lord the sufferings that I will have to undergo for the Pope and for the Church, so as not to have to be in Purgatory and be able to go directly to heaven.”[23]

His love for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, reminds me so much of St. Francis, whom he took as one of his role models.[24] In fact, he asked to be buried in Assisi, so he could be close to St. Francis.[25] [26] St. Francis literally saw the world as upside down. For Francis, nothing of this world mattered, only work for the kingdom which would last forever. Francis saw each man and each woman, each boy and each girl as a son or daughter of God, and so he almost converted even the Moslem Sultan.[27]

Today, there is so much pain in the world, so much hurt, so much evil. So many believe that they are hopeless, that their sin is too great, that no one could ever love them if they knew what they had done. Yet even amid all of the chaos of our times, beyond the evil and death all around us, there is hope, Christian hope. For Jesus has triumphed; “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that those who believe in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” As St. John Paul II said, “we raise our voices and pray that the Love which is in the Father may once again be revealed at this stage of history, and that, through the work of the Son and Holy Spirit, it may be shown to be present in our modern world and to be more powerful than evil: more powerful than sin and death.”[28]

Like Carlo, we are called to bring that love of Jesus, His mercy and His hope, to EVERY person that we meet, male or female, liberal or conservative, close or far from the Lord. We are called to be Jesus to them, to witness to them by the way we live our lives, to be His witnesses, witnesses of a hope which is greater than despair, of a love which is greater than hate, and of a mercy which is greater than sin, greater than evil and death.

How are we to witness to Christ? How can we, upon entering Paradise, be able to say, “How I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.” (Psalms 42:4, RSV). First, we must strive to live in purity, purity in our speech, in our actions, in our relationships. Towards the end of his life, Carlo said, “I die in peace because I’ve lived my life without wasting a single moment doing things that aren’t pleasing to God.”[29] In other words, for Carlo, God wasn’t just something during Liturgy on Sundays. Rather, Carlo had a renewed mind. He saw the world as God saw it, and all of his actions were ordered to Christ, even implicitly. Christ was truly the center of his life.

In order to become close to Christ, we must first seek to be clean, to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our sins, and then repent. It doesn’t matter how far we have driven from Jesus, so long as we come back to Him and lay our sin before Him, promising not to offend Him again. As Jesus tells us in the Scriptures, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7, RSV).

Even though we must acknowledge our sin, this is a continual process. Blessed Carlo wasn’t perfect either; he struggled with self-control, especially in regard to eating.[30] He said, “What does it matter if you can win 1,000 battles, if you cannot win against your own corrupt passions? The real battle is within ourselves.”[31] Yet, he persevered and by the grace of God, was able to love perfectly, which is the goal of the Christian life.

Along with acknowledging our sin, we must have a relationship with Jesus, just as Carlo did. As Catholics, the fullness of this relationship is expressed in the Holy Eucharist, where Jesus is physically in our midst, and we have on this earth, a foretaste of heaven, a foretaste in that kingdom where the pain of this world is left behind and we can behold the Lamb of God, in our midst forever and ever.[32] “Forever He is glorified! Forever He is lifted high! Forever He is risen! He is alive! He is alive!” May this be our battle cry, as we seek to follow after Blessed Carlo, and live for Jesus, our Savior. God bless you.


[1] Cardinal Angelo Comastri, “Introduction,” http://www.carloacutis.com/en/association/presentazione, accessed October 14, 2020.

[2] Gianpiero Pettiti and Emilia Flocchini, “Blessed Carlo Acutis,” http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/93910, accessed October 14, 2020.

[3] Ibid.

[4] CNA Daily News, “Who was Carlo Acutis? A CNA Explainer”, https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/10/01/who-was-carlo-acutis-a-cna-explainer/, accessed October 14, 2020.

[5] Gianpiero Pettiti and Emilia Flocchini, “Blessed Carlo Acutis.”

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Biography,” http://www.carloacutis.com/en/association/la-linea-del-tempo-di-carlo, accessed October 14, 2020.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Gianpiero Pettiti and Emilia Flocchini, “Blessed Carlo Acutis.”

[10] CNA Daily News, “Who was Carlo Acutis? A CNA Explainer.”

[11] “Biography.”

[12] Saints in Seven, “The Life of Blessed Carlo Acutis,” YouTube video, 0:45, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC_oZIY_f5w, accessed October 14, 2020

[13] “Biography.”

[14] Ibid.

[15] Angela Mengis Palleck, “Carlo Acutis: Millennial generation has a Blessed,” https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-10/carlo-acutis-blessed-assisi-eucharist-patron-internet.html, accessed October 14, 2020.

[16] Gianpiero Pettiti and Emilia Flocchini, “Blessed Carlo Acutis.”

[17] Angela Mengis Palleck, “Carlo Acutis: Millennial generation has a Blessed.”

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] CNA Daily News, “Who was Carlo Acutis? A CNA Explainer.”

[21] Angela Mengis Palleck, “Carlo Acutis: Millennial generation has a Blessed.”

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] CNA Daily News, “Who was Carlo Acutis? A CNA Explainer.”

[25] Ibid.

[26] Gianpiero Pettiti and Emilia Flocchini, “Blessed Carlo Acutis.”

[27] Philip Kosloski, “St. Francis and the Sultan: An encounter of peace between Christians and Muslims,” https://aleteia.org/2017/06/28/st-francis-and-the-sultan-an-encounter-of-peace-between-christians-and-muslims, accessed October 14, 2020.

[28] Dives et Misericordia, Pope St. John Paul II, http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_30111980_dives-in-misericordia.html, accessed October 14, 2020.

[29] Aleteia, “Meet Carlo Acutis: A Teenage Testament to the Faith,” YouTube video, 2:36,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuWYgXnfk0M, accessed July 28, 2020.

[30] Saints in Seven, “The Life of Blessed Carlo Acutis,” 2:22.

[31] Ibid, 2:38.

[32] Cf. Revelation 5

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