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London-born teenager to become Catholic Church’s first millennial saint

A London-born teenager is to become the Roman Catholic Church’s first millennial saint.

Carlo Acutis, who was born in 1991 and died of leukemia aged 15, has been suggested as a patron saint of the internet owing to his passion for computer programming and building websites.

On Thursday, the Pope decreed that a second posthumous miracle had been attributed to Acutis, meaning he is eligible for canonization.

Previously the most recent birth date of the 912 people canonized by Pope Francis was 1926.

Acutis was born in London to an Italian mother and a half-Italian, half-English father who was a banker, but the family moved to Milan when he was a young child.

Antonia Salzano said her son was devoted from a young age, taking daily communion, helping classmates whose parents were getting divorced, challenging bullies targeting disabled students, and donating meals and sleeping bags to the homeless.

He also created a webpage that documented suspected miracles that had occurred around the world.

The teenager died in 2006 following a leukemia diagnosis, but was told to have told his parents: “I’m happy to die because I’ve lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn’t have pleased God. ”

He has since built a worldwide following of devotees who view him as a role model for modern youth.

The Catholic religion teaches that you can pray to the dead and ask them to speak to God on your behalf, with many hoping to be cured of illness or injury.

If that person then recovers in the face of slim odds, the Vatican can class it as a miracle.

If two miracles are attributed to someone who is dead and the two events are validated by the Pope, then the deceased qualifies for sainthood.

Role model to young

Upon the initial announcement of Acutis being considered for canonization, Ms Salzano told The Times: “Sometimes these beautiful (saints) are all very old and used to live in a very different world so young people don’t feel so close to them.

“Carlo was young and handsome and always smiling and was a computer genius and would play on his PlayStation and Game Boy. “To have a saint that played with the same things as you do is something that really touches these young people.”

In 2020 the Catholic Church dispatched its Medical Council of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, which investigated the validity of miracles in 2020, to Brazil after it was claimed a child was cured of a rare genetic pancreatic disease in 2013 after praying to Acutis.

The Pope gave his seal of approval to the miracle, which led to Acutis being beatified in 2020.

This is the penultimate step on the road to sainthood and led to Acutis being granted the title “Blessed.”

The specialist unit has now looked into claims that a 21-year-old Costa Rican girl enjoyed an unexpected recovery after a bicycle accident in Florence in 2022.

The girl, Valeria Valverde, reportedly underwent an emergency craniotomy to reduce pressure on her brain and her family was told she was in a critical condition.

Her mother later went to Acutis’s grave and prayed for her daughter’s swift recovery, and on the same day Ms Valverde started breathing again, church representatives said.

She was discharged from intensive care 10 days later with the use of her upper limbs and speech. Medical scans reportedly showed the contusion on her brain had disappeared.

Pope Francis has now approved this miracle.

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi told broadcasters: “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.”

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