In many ways, Carlo Acutis was a typical teenager. He loved his PlayStation and making videos of his dogs. He favored Nikes and jeans, and he had a cellphone and an e-mail address.
But in one significant respect, Carlo — who was 15 when he died of leukemia in 2006 — stands out from his peers: He is on his way to becoming the first millennial to be recognized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.
Carlo, who lived in Milan, was beatified, or declared “blessed” by the pope, on Saturday after a miracle was attributed to him this year. The ceremony, in Assisi, Italy, was the second-to-last step before Carlo can be canonized as a saint.
Since his death, Carlo has become known in some Catholic circles as the patron saint of the internet for his facility with computers and his early and enthusiastic embrace of the web, which he used as an expression of his Catholic faith.
When he was 9, Carlo taught himself computer programming and graphic design, said his mother, Antonia Acutis. In the months before his death, he created a website that cataloged miracles. “Carlo was the light answer to the dark side of the web,” his mother said, adding that some admirers have called him an “influencer for God.”
Her son’s life, she said, “can be used to show how the internet can be used for good, to spread good things.”
After his death, the Diocese of Assisi petitioned the Vatican to recognize Carlo as a saint.
Acutis said people from all over the world had told her about miracles, including cures for infertility and cancer, that happened after they prayed to her son. In February, Pope Francis attributed the unexplainable healing of a boy with a malformed pancreas to Carlo after the child came in contact with one of his shirts.
Now that he has been beatified, Carlo could become a saint if a second verified miracle is attributed to him and is recognized by the pope. A formal canonization ceremony would follow.
If that happens, Carlo would be joining an elite group. Among the more than 10,000 saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, just 120 died as children or teenagers, the National Catholic Register reported in 2017.