Blessed Is He

Take a break from the debates, from the pandemic, and from racial tensions tomorrow to honor and learn from a boy who lived his short life for Christ.

Young Carlo Acutis will be beatified in Assisi, Italy, tomorrow.

“For the first time in history we will see a saint dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a sweater,” said Fr. Carlos Acácio Gonçalves Ferreira, the rector of the Sanctuary of Spoliation in Assisi where Carlo’s tomb is located.

Carlo Acutis died at the age of 15, but not before he made a profound impact on his community and on the world.

Born in London, but raised in Milan, Carlo exhibited immense love for Jesus and Mary from a young age. His mother remembers that, at age 4, he would pick flowers to present to a statue of Mary. He would kiss Jesus on the crucifix. What’s most remarkable is that, at this time, his parents were not practicing Catholics. Because of Carlo’s devotion, however, his parents soon returned to the Church.

As Carlo grew, so did his devotion. He received his First Communion at the age of seven, and from that time on he said the Rosary every day and went to daily Mass.

Carlo was extremely bright and eventually found his passion in computer programming. Using books his mother bought him, he taught himself how to program. He combined this love with his love of Christ in the Eucharist, which led him to the creation of a website cataloging Eucharistic miracles around the world. He was even able to travel to some of these sites to take pictures for this “virtual museum.”

“The eucharist is my highway to heaven,” Carlos said. He rightly understood that the Eucharist transforms lives and gives a foretaste of heaven. He wanted others to understand this as well, and he wanted to share these miracles with people around the world.

When not ensconced in his programming, Carlo was a normal kid having fun with his friends. But he was always encouraging them to do the right thing, to speak kindly, and to help others. He and his mother would volunteer with the homeless, taking them blankets and food, and he would encourage his friends to join them. In addition, Carlo taught catechism classes at his church and loved being part of the faith formation of young children.

Carlo went to confession regularly and kept a journal of his behaviors, noting what he could do better. He once said: “What does it matter if you can win 1,000 battles if you cannot win against your own corrupt passions? The real battle is within ourselves.”

At 15, Carlo became really sick and thought he had the flu, as many of his friends had gotten it that season. However, his sickness didn’t improve, so his parents took him to the doctor, where they found that he had an aggressive form of leukemia. It was an illness that would quickly take his life.

Though Carlo was in a lot of pain and knew that he would soon die, he offered up those sufferings for the Church and Pope Benedict.

He told his mother: “I die happy because I did not spend my life wasting my time on things not pleasing to God.”

Just a week after his family received the diagnosis—on October 12, 2006—Carlo died.

People—strangers and friends alike—packed the church for his funeral. They told story after story of how his witness changed their lives.

“To be close to Jesus is my life plan,” Carlo once stated.

Shouldn’t that be the plan we all have? Isn’t that the point of life? We were put here on earth to know, love, and serve God. Each day, we must glorify Him with our words and with our actions.

The reason that the saints, the venerable, and the blessed are so important to our faith is because they help guide us along the path to heaven. Their words, their actions, their experiences, and their thoughts and teachings resonate with us. These people serve as models so that we can change our lives for the better and be more Christlike.

Carlo Acutis accomplished more in his 15 years than many accomplish in three times that. We venerate him by not only spreading his message, but by learning from and emulating him. As we do so, let us remember his words: “I die happy because I did not spend my life wasting my time on things not pleasing to God.”

Let us resolve to not waste our time on things that cause us to sin. Let us spend our time doing only what glorifies God.

Carlo was truly a remarkable young man—and tomorrow we call him Blessed.

Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us!


Novena to Blessed Carlo Acutis

Pope Francis beatified Carlo Acutis on October 10. This young man is an inspiration to all, but he should also serve as an inspiration to our youth, as he was just 15 when he died of leukemia. In his short time on earth, Carlo exhibited more wisdom in his decade-and-a-half than many people do in a lifetime. His love for Christ and his devotion to Him in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary in the rosary guided every day of his life.

Now that we know Carlo is in heaven, we can go to him with our prayers, asking for his intercession. This novena, reflecting upon his life and his actions, will help us as we strive to become more Christlike.

Because Carlo had a special devotion to Mary, after each reflection, we will say three Hail Marys.

Day 1

Blessed Carlo, you had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed, you once said that the Virgin Mary was the only woman in your life. We know how very special our spiritual mother is and how much she loves us. Help us to increase our devotion to her. Help us to seek her in times of trouble and in times of joy, just like we would an earthly mother. Please go to her with our intentions [add them here]. Ask her to take these prayers to her Son. And please pray for us, that we may grow in closeness to both Mary and Jesus. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 2

Blessed Carlo, after making your First Communion, you faithfully attended daily Mass. You also had a special devotion to Christ in the Eucharist, and you frequently would stop by the tabernacle and pray, wanting to spend even more time with Jesus. You understood how precious that time was, and you knew the importance of prayer and quiet time with Our Lord. Help us learn from you how to spend time in quiet reflection so that we, too, will become closer to Him. Now that you are there in His presence, please take our prayers [mention them here] to Jesus and implore Him to answer them. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 3

Blessed Carlo, in addition to attending daily Mass, you faithfully said the Rosary every day. Our Lady has often said how important it is to say the Rosary and to go to her in prayer. Sometimes our lives get busy, we let worldly things get in our way, and we don’t pray enough. We don’t take the time you took to talk to our mother, to seek out her wisdom and guidance, and to allow her to comfort us and intercede on our behalf. Help us to make that time. Pray for us so that we are able to put aside those worldly distractions and go to her in prayer. And please pray for our intentions [mention them here]. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 4

Blessed Carlo, you once said that our goal must be the infinite, not the finite, because the infinite is our homeland. You understood that the earth is not our final home, and that everything we do here on earth determines where we will spend eternity. Your goal was to always be close to Jesus. And that should be our goal as well, for if we stay close to Him, we will surely spend eternity with Him. Please pray for us that we spend every day trying to get closer to Him, listening to His words, talking to Him in prayer, and doing good things for others. And please pray for my special intention [mention it here]. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 5

Blessed Carlo, you taught others that our compass must be the word of God. Your example and the love you showed to others made a difference in the lives of so many. Pray for us, that like you, we may live our lives with God’s word as our guidepost and that all we do is done for His glory. Help us to not only listen to His words, but to live them and to teach others, just as you did. And please pray for my intentions [mention them here]. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 6

Blessed Carlo, you spent countless hours helping those most in need, especially children and the elderly. You made an impact on their lives. You taught them about Christ. And you made them feel like they mattered. Because you understood that every person is created in the image and likeness of God, you built a culture of life within your community as you taught others the importance of doing good. Help us to be more like you, to treat others well, and to give of ourselves, even when we don’t feel like it. And please pray for me and my intentions [mention them here]. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 7

Blessed Carlo, you placed the Eucharist at the center of your life and called it your “highway to heaven.” You rightly understood that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and that fortifying yourself with Him, especially every day like you did, helped you become holier. In becoming holier, you became closer to Christ. You wanted to share Eucharistic miracles with the world, so you spent years compiling a list so that we could all see the miraculous nature of the Eucharist. We so desperately want to become like Jesus. We want to be closer to Him. Please pray that we put aside any pettiness, anger, resentment, or hatred that we feel. We know those have no place in our hearts. And please pray for my intentions [mention them here]. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 8

Blessed Carlo, you asked us to spread the Gospel through our lives, so that each of us can be a beacon to light the journey of others. You were certainly that light for so many. You taught the catechism to young students. You took food and clothing to the homeless, and you taught your friends how to live like Christ. Your life was an amazing example of living the Gospel and spreading that light so that others could come to know Jesus through you. Imagine what our world would be like if we all did that! We should all have that desire—that fire in our hearts. Please pray that we change our behaviors so that we, too, can be the light of Christ here on earth. And please pray for my intentions [mention them here]. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.

Day 9

Blessed Carlo, you once said, “To be close to Jesus is my life plan.” You had such devotion to and such love for Christ. You spent hours in adoration craving a closeness to Him. You prayed unceasingly. You are a beautiful example of how to love and how to pray. Please pray that I work hard at becoming closer to Him. It’s so easy to get lazy in prayer, but prayer must be a part of us, not simply a part of our day. Help us to incorporate into our days conversations with Christ, adoration, short prayers throughout the day, and time to just listen to Him so that prayer is not just something we do before bed. And please pray for my intentions [mention them here]. Amen.

Say three Hail Marys.




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About the author

Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine and executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program.