London-born boy who died aged 15 to become first millennial saint | Catholicism

A London-born teenager who died of leukaemia aged 15 is to become the Catholic church’s first millennial saint.

Carlo Acutis was a computer prodigy who helped to spread Roman Catholic teaching online before his death in 2006. On Thursday, Pope Francis decreed that a second posthumous miracle has been attributed to Acutis, qualifying the teenager for canonisation.

Acutis was born in London in 1991 before moving to Milan with his Italian parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, as a child.

Out of 912 people canonised by Pope Francis, the most recent birth date was previously 1926.

Salzano previously told the newspaper Corriere della Sera that from the age of three her son would ask to visit churches they passed in Milan and would donate his pocket money to poor people in the city.

He said Acutis would also offer to support classmates whose parents were going through divorces, would defend disabled peers when they were bullied and would take meals and sleeping bags to rough sleepers in Milan.

Acutis taught himself to code while still at primary school, before using his skills to create websites for Catholic organisations, as well as one that documented miracles around the world.

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi said: “The Church in Assisi is in celebration. I plan to arrive in Assisi this evening to thank the Lord in a Eucharistic celebration. But as of now I join the faithful who are in the shrine for a prayer of praise.”

In Catholicism people can pray to deceased people who they believe to be in heaven to request they speak to God on their behalf, such as asking for a person to recover from an illness or injury.

If the person in question then appears to undergo an unexpected recovery it can be classed as a miracle by the Vatican. If two miracles are attributed to a deceased person and approved by the pope, then they qualify for sainthood.

Acutis was put on the path towards sainthood after Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to him: a seven-year-old boy from Brazil recovered from a rare pancreatic disorder after coming into contact with one of Acutis’s T-shirts. A priest had also prayed to Acutis on behalf of the child.

The Catholic church’s dedicated unit for looking into the validity of miracles, called the Medical Council of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, have now investigated claims that a Costa Rican woman enjoyed a miraculous recovery after a bicycle accident in Florence in 2022.

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Valeria Valverde, 21, underwent an emergency craniotomy to reduce pressure on her brain and her family was told she was in a critical condition, it was reported.

Her mother went to pray for her daughter’s recovery at the tomb of Acutis in the Umbrian town of Assisi six days later.

The church said that on the same day, Valverde began to breathe without a ventilator and recovered the use of her upper limbs and her speech.

She was discharged from intensive care 10 days later and scans showed that the contusion on her brain had disappeared, according to reports.

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