Who is Carlos Acutis? First millennial to be canonised as a saint

He has been dubbed "God's influencer" and "the patron saint of the internet"  (carloacutis.com)
He has been dubbed "God's influencer" and "the patron saint of the internet" (carloacutis.com)

Carlos Acutis, a London-born teenager who died of leukaemia in 2006, will become the first millennial saint, after Pope Francis formally recognised a second miracle attributed to him.

Dubbed "God's influencer" and "the patron saint of the internet", he used his computer skills to spread the word of God online.

A Vatican statement issued on Thursday said that the miracle being recognised involves a Costa Rican woman, Liliana, whose 21-year-old daughter, Valeria Valverde, suffered severe head trauma from a bicycle accident in Florence on July 2, 2022.

Valverde underwent critical surgery, according to the Vatican, and the family were told that she had little chance of surviving. Liliana prayed for her recovery six days later at his tomb in Assisi in the Umbria region.

On the same day Valeria could breathe on her own and the following day she could once again move and talk. By July 18, her haemorrhage had vanished, according to a CAT scan, and she entered rehabilitation on August 11, progressing very quickly.

Acutis "used the internet in service of the gospel, to reach as many people as possible”, Cardinal Agostino Vallini said during his beatification ceremony in the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in October 2020, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Who was Carlos Acutis?

Carlos Acutis created a website that listed miracles and managed websites for local Catholic organisations in Italy before his death from leukaemia in 2006.

“Carlo was the light answer to the dark side of the web,” his mother, Antonia Acutis, told the New York Times in 2020.

He started attending daily mass by the age of seven, his mother said.

Her son’s life, she said, “can be used to show how the internet can be used for good, to spread good things”.

He is remembered for saying: “People who place themselves before the sun get a tan; people who place themselves before the Eucharist become saints.”

After his death, the diocese of Assisi petitioned the Vatican for Acutis to become a saint. They looked at his emails and computer search history and interviewed witnesses while awaiting miracles to support his cause.

What miracles is he said to have performed?

In addition to the miracle involving Costa Rican woman, Liliana, and her daughter, Acutis was also said to have performed other miracles.

In Brazil, a boy named Mattheus was healed from a serious birth defect – an annular pancreas – after he and his mother asked Acutis to pray on their behalf. Pope Francis credited Acutis with this miracle.

What does it mean to be canonised?

Canonisation is the final step in the process by which the Church decides a person should be a saint.

The process to make someone a saint cannot normally start until at least five years after their death to assist with objective evaluation.

After five years (or a waiver is granted) the bishop of the diocese where the person died can open an investigation into the life of the person, to see whether he or she is deemed worthy of becoming a saint. This is based on if the person lived with sufficient holiness and virtue.

Some have to wait a long period of time before they reach Catholic sainthood. Mother Teresa was beatified on October 19, 2003 in St Peter's Square. In order to move to the final stage of canonisation, a second attributed miracle had to be verified and approved.

In 2016, she was canonised and became known as Saint Mother Teresa.