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Italian teenage computer wizard Carlo Acutis beatified by the Catholic Church

A 15-year-old Italian computer wizard who died of leukemia in 2006 took a step towards possible holiness on Saturday with his beatification in the city of Assisi, where he is buried.

Carlo Acutis is the youngest contemporary person to be beatified, a path undertaken by two Portuguese shepherd children who lived in the early 1900s and proclaimed Catholic saints in 2017.

During the beatification ceremony in the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, a portrait of Acutis was slowly unveiled, revealing a smiling teenager in a red polo shirt, dark curly hair illuminated by a halo of light. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal legate for the basilicas of Assisi, kissed each of the boy̵

7;s masked parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, after reading the proclamation decreed by Pope Francis.

Already touted as the “patron saint of the Internet,” Acutis created a website to catalog miracles and took care of websites for some local Catholic organizations. While still in elementary school, Acutis learned to code on his own using a college computer science textbook, then learned how to edit videos and create animations.

“Carlo used the internet in the service of the Gospel, to reach as many people as possible”, the cardinal said during the homily, adding that the teenager saw the web “as a place to use responsibly, without becoming a slave”.

Acutis was born in London on May 3, 1991 of Italian parents and moved to Milan as a child. Already as a child he showed a strong religious devotion that surprised his non-practicing parents. His mother told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that from the age of 3 he would ask to visit the churches that passed through Milan, and at the age of 7 he had asked to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, obtaining an exception to the usual age requirement.

“There was a natural predisposition in him for the sacred,” his mother said.

Her curiosity led her to study theology to answer her questions, renewing her faith.

“Carlo saved me. I was an illiterate of faith. I returned thanks to Father Ilio Carrai, Padre Pio of Bologna, otherwise I would have felt discredited in my parental authority. It is a path that continues. I hope at least to end up in purgatory, ”he told the Milanese newspaper.

Acutis died of acute leukemia on 12 October 2006.

He was put on the road to holiness after Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Acutis: the healing of a 7-year-old Brazilian boy from a rare pancreatic disease after coming into contact with a relic of Acutis, a piece of one of his T-shirts.

“I was sure he was already a saint while alive. He healed a woman of cancer by praying to Our Lady of Pompeii, ”his mother told Corriere.

Another verified miracle is necessary for holiness, even though Pope Francis has renounced it on rare occasions.

Acutis was buried in Assisi at his request, who became an admirer of St. Francis of Assisi for his dedication to the poor. The Umbrian town was one of his favorite travel destinations. His body, dressed in tracksuit and sneakers, was exhibited for veneration in a shrine in the city, and his heart will be exhibited in a reliquary in the Basilica of San Francesco.

Acutis told her mother that she would give her many signs of his presence after death.

“Before he left us, I told him: if you find our four-legged friends in heaven, look for Billy, my childhood dog he never knew,” said the mother. One day she received a phone call from an aunt unaware of the mother-child pact who said to her: “I saw Carlo in a dream tonight. She held Billy in her arms. “

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