'Digital holiness' teenager to be beatified

Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 aged 15. He will be beatified in a ceremony in Assisi on October 10
Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 aged 15. He will be beatified in a ceremony in Assisi on October 10

ASSISI will be the focus of Catholic attention this weekend when Pope Francis travels there to sign his new encyclical, Fratelli tutti.

The Umbrian hill town will host another important ceremony during the following weekend, with the beatification on October 10 of teenager Carlo Acutis.

He was 15 years old when he died in 2006 from leukaemia. Born in London but brought up in the centre of Milan, he was a gifted computer programmer from an early age.

Carlo was also fascinated by the Eucharist, and created a website cataloguing Eucharistic miracles from all over the world.

Pope Francis referred to Carlo during the Synod of Bishops in 2018, offering him as a model of holiness in a digital age.

In an interview with Catholic news agency EWTN, his mother, Antonia Salzano, said he could teach today's young people how to properly use and enjoy technology, including the internet and social media.

"Because he understood that they were potentially very harmful, very dangerous, he wanted to be the master of these means, not a slave," she said.

Her son "imposed on himself a maximum of one hour per week to use these means of communication".

This example would teach young people to "understand the need to maintain the proper autonomy and the need to be always able to say, 'No, enough', to not become a slave."

"Certainly today, in a society based a little on the ephemeral, on the exaltation of the self, of the ego, and where one forgets the existence of God, Carlo is certainly very prophetic," said his mother.

The miracle ascribed to Carlo involved the healing in 2013 of a Brazilian child suffering from a rare illness of the pancreas.

The medical council of the Vatican's Congregation for Saints' Causes gave a positive view of the miracle last November and Pope Francis approved it in February.

The beatification will take place at the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi; Carlo is buried in the church of St Mary's Major in the town.

The ceremony was to have been presided over by Cardinal Angelo Becciu. He resigned last week as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints in a scandal involving financial wrongdoing.