What comes to mind when you think of a saint? What do you picture? You might think of seventeenth century monks and friars writing books about God and preaching the Gospel. You might think of St Josemaria Escriva, a name frequently mentioned around Montrose, and stories of him encouraging ordinary people to take on the work of God. You might not think of a teenage boy from the twenty-first century with a knack for technology and a passion for Jesus Christ.
Blessed Carlo Acutis was a gifted teenage boy who was devoted to God from a very young age. He accomplished great things before dying from cancer at the age of 15. Born in London in 1991, Carlo was the first and only child of his family at the time, and he grew up in a household that barely practiced their Christian faith. In an interview for the Catholic News Agency podcast, his mother, Antonia Salanzo Acutis said: “I was not the ideal model of a Catholic mother.”
Right from the start, Carlo was an intelligent and gifted child. His first words came when he was three months old, and he was able to speak in full sentences at five months! Not only was he intellectually gifted, he also had the biggest heart and loved everyone he knew. Most of all, though, he loved Christ, which was peculiar considering his mother admitted to only going to Mass three times in her life before Carlo came along: for her own baptism, first communion, and confirmation.
He began seeking the sacraments for himself at a very young age. At seven years old, Carlo convinced his mother to take him to Mass and the priest declared him ready for his first communion. After that, he attended Mass every day without ever missing one and went to confession weekly. At the age of eleven, Carlo was confirmed, and this is when he began his mission to spread the word about the Eucharist.
One quality of Carlo that no other saint has ever been known to possess is that he was a computer whiz. But the amazing thing about Carlo is that he did not use his computer mastery to become a video game legend, although he did have a Playstation. No, he used his talent to create a website that showcased miracles from all around the world, which he researched himself. Through this website, which was accessible from anywhere in the world, he spread God’s love, and he was able to convert people to the faith in a new and unconventional way.
During the Mass at the opening of his tomb, Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino spoke about Carlo Acutis and the way he was able to reach out to people from anywhere: “The computer … has become a way of going through the streets of the world, like the first disciples of Jesus, to bring to hearts and homes the announcement of true peace.”
Keep in mind that he was only in his early teens when he began this project and even younger when he devoted his life to God. It is astonishing to think that a kid who was about the age of a American 6th or 7th grader knew he had a clear purpose in life that he fulfilled in ⅕ of the average life span.
After his death, an exhibit inspired by his project traveled around the world to 10,000 parishes presenting the Miracles of the Eucharist. Many converts called Antonia Salanzo thanking her because her son inspired them greatly.
In 2013, Acutis was attributed the miracle of healing a boy dying from a rare pancreatic disease and was soon after given the title “Servant of God.” As of October 2020, Carlo has been beatified. One more miracle, and Carlo is sure to be on the road to canonization.
I think his life can especially inspire Montrose girls who have the opportunity to follow in Carlo’s footsteps: going to daily Mass, loving everyone in their lives, using their talents to help others grow closer to God, and more. Carlo was a kid just like us — we must remember that. And even further, he’s a teen from a recent generation, and he experienced similar concerns and struggles to those that we are facing. It is amazing that his constant focus on God was always clear in his mind and his faith wasn’t once shaken, even on his deathbed.
His mother recounted some words of Carlo himself: “When we face the sun we get a tan… but when we stand before Jesus in the Eucharist we become saints.” Let us strive to be like Carlo to have his same faith, love, and generosity of heart.
Elyza Tuan ’23