With the beatification of Carlo Acutis in Assisi Saturday, the Catholic Church now has its first “Blessed” who loved Super Mario and Pokémon, but not as much as he loved the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“To be always united with Jesus, this is my life program,” Carlo Acutis wrote at the age of seven.
The young Italian computer whiz, who died of leukemia at 15 offering his suffering for the pope and the Church, was beatified Oct. 10 in a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
Born in 1991, Acutis is the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church. The teen who had an aptitude for computer programming is now one step away from canonization.
“Since he was a child … he had his gaze turned to Jesus. Love for the Eucharist was the foundation that kept alive his relationship with God. He often said ‘The Eucharist is my highway to heaven,” Cardinal Agostino Vallini said in his homily for the beatification.
“Carlo felt a strong need to help people discover that God is close to us and that it is beautiful to be with him to enjoy his friendship and his grace,” Vallini said.
During the beatification Mass, Acutis’ parents processed behind a relic of their son’s heart which was placed near the altar. An apostolic letter from Pope Francis was read aloud in which the pope declared that Carlo Acutis’ feast will take place each year on Oct. 12, the anniversary of his death in Milan in 2006.
Masked pilgrims spread out in front of the Basilica of St. Francis and throughout the different piazzas in Assisi to watch the Mass on large screens as only a limited number of people were allowed inside.
Acutis’ beatification drew an estimated 3,000 people to Assisi, including people who personally knew Acutis and many other young people inspired by his witness.
Mattia Pastorelli, 28, was a childhood friend of Acutis, who first met him when they were both around the age of five. He remembers playing video games, including Halo, with Carlo. (Acutis’ mother also told CNA that Super Mario and Pokémon were Carlo’s favorites.)
“Having a friend who is about to become a saint is a very strange emotion,” Pastorelli told CNA Oct. 10. “I knew he was different from others, but now I realize just how special he was.”
“I watched him while he was programming websites … He was truly an incredible talent,” he added.
In his homily, Cardinal Vallini, the pontifical legate for the Basilica of St. Francis, hailed Acutis as a model of how young people can use technology at the service of the Gospel to “reach as many people as possible and help them know the beauty of friendship with the Lord.”
For Carlo, Jesus was “the strength of his life and the purpose of everything he did,” the cardinal said.
“He was convinced that to love people and do them good you need to draw energy from the Lord. In this spirit he was very devoted to Our Lady,” he added.
“His ardent desire was also that of attracting as many people to Jesus, making himself herald of the Gospel above all with the example of life.”
At a young age, Acutis taught himself how to program and went on to create websites cataloguing the world’s Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions.
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