Carlo Acutis, an Italian computer expert, beatified by the Catholic Church

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A 15-year-old Italian computer genius who died of leukemia in 2006 came closer to possible holiness on Saturday with his beatification in the city of Assisi, where he is buried.Carlo Acutis is the youngest contemporary person to be beatified, a path taken by two Portuguese shepherd children living in the early 1900s and proclaimed Catholic saints in 2017.

During the beatification ceremony in St. Francis of Assisi Basilica, a portrait of Acutis was slowly unveiled, revealing a smiling teenager wearing a red polo shirt, his curly black hair lit by a halo of light. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal legate of the Basilicas of Assisi, kissed each of the boy’s masked parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, after reading the proclamation decreed by Pope Francis.

Already billed as the “patron saint of the Internet,” Acutis created a website to catalog miracles and took care of the websites of some local Catholic organizations. While still in elementary school, Acutis learned to code himself using a college computer textbook, then learned to edit videos and create animations.

“Carlo used the Internet in the service of the Gospel, to reach as many people as possible”, declared the cardinal during his homily, adding that the teenager saw the Web “as a place to be used responsibly, without becoming a slave “.

Acutis was born in London on May 3, 1991 to Italian parents and moved to Milan as a child. Already young, he showed a strong religious devotion which surprised his non-practicing parents. His mother told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that from 3 years old he would ask to visit the churches they passed in Milan and, at 7 years old, asked to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, obtaining an exception to customary age.

“There was in him a natural predisposition for the sacred,” said his mother.

Her curiosity led her to study theology to answer her questions, renewing her own faith.

“Carlo saved me. I was faith illiterate. I came back thanks to Father Ilio Carrai, Padre Pio of Bologna, otherwise I would have felt discredited in my parental authority. It is a path that continues. I hope at least to end up in purgatory, ”she told the Milan daily.

Acutis died of acute leukemia on October 12, 2006.

He was put on the path to holiness after Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Acutis: the healing of a 7-year-old Brazilian boy from a rare pancreatic disorder after coming into contact with an Acutis relic, a piece of one of his T-shirts.

“I was sure he was already a saint when he was alive. He healed a woman of cancer by praying to Our Lady of Pompeii, ”his mother told Corriere.

Another verified miracle is necessary for holiness, although Pope Francis has renounced it on rare occasions.

Acutis was buried in Assisi at his request, having become an admirer of Saint Francis of Assisi for his dedication to the poor. The Umbrian city was one of his favorite travel destinations. Her body, dressed in a tracksuit and sneakers, has been displayed for worship at a city shrine, and her heart will be on display in a reliquary in St. Francis Basilica.

Acutis told his mother that he would give her many signs of his presence after death.

“Before we left, I said to him: If in heaven you find our four-legged friends, look for Billy, my childhood dog he never knew,” said the mother. One day, she received a call from an aunt who was unaware of the mother-son pact, saying: “I saw Carlo in a dream tonight. He had Billy in his arms.

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