Italian teenager could be Catholic Church’s first millennial saint

A teenager from Italy who used the internet to spread his faith is on a path to becoming the Catholic Church’s first millennial saint.

Carlo Acutis, who died of leukaemia in 2006 aged 15, has already been dubbed “the patron saint of the internet”.

On Saturday, he was beatified at a ceremony in the town of Assisi and moved one step closer to sainthood.

The teenager recorded purported miracles online and helped run websites for Catholic organisations.

Acutis was placed on the path to sainthood after the Vatican ruled he had miraculously saved another boy’s life.

The Church claimed he interceded from heaven in 2013 to cure a Brazilian boy who was suffering from a rare pancreatic disease.

He is believed to be the youngest contemporary person to be beatified – the last stage before sainthood.

A ceremony was held in the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi on Saturday and a portrait of Acutis was unveiled. Those gathered also praised Acutis for his charity work.

Becoming A Saint?

The process to make someone a saint cannot normally start until at least five years after their death. But this waiting period can, in some circumstances, be waived by the Pope.

An investigation can then be opened to see whether the person lived their life with sufficient holiness. Evidence is gathered, and if the case is accepted the individual is called a “servant of God”.

The department that makes recommendations to the Pope on saints scrutinises the evidence.

If the case is approved, it is passed to the Pope who decides whether the person lived a life of “heroic virtue”. If so, they can be called “venerable”.

The next stage, beatification, requires a miracle to be attributed to prayers made to the individual after their death.

Incidents need to be “verified” by evidence before they are accepted. After beatification, the candidate is given the title “blessed”.

This is the final step in declaring a deceased person a saint. To reach this stage, a second miracle normally needs to be attributed to the individual.

But Pope Francis has waived this requirement on previous occasions.