Oct. 12 (UPI) — An Italian teen who died of leukemia at age 15 is on track to become the first Millennial saint. Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006, was beatified by Cardinal Agostino Vallini in his hometown of Assisi, Italy this week.
Pope Francis praised Acutis as “a young man in love with the Eucharist.” The pope said Acutis showed an example for young people that, “true happiness is found in putting God in the first place and serving Him in our brothers and sisters.”
Acutis was an amateur computer coder and built several Catholic websites that are said to have drawn internet users to explore the Catholic Church.
The teen was not raised in a devout Catholic family but became interested in eucharistic miracles, according to the Vatican News. Acutis also demonstrated love for his fellow people by buying a sleeping bag for a homeless man, the church said.
Acutis considered becoming a priest as a teen, but died of leukemia while in high school.
In a ceremony Saturday, a large portrait of the curly-haired teen wearing a red polo shirt was unveiled behind the altar of the St Francis Basilica, where the relics of St. Francis of Assissi are housed. Acutis’ parents and siblings accompanied a relic of the teen’s heart in a ceremonial reliquary that will be displayed around the world.
The teen’s body, wearing Nike sneakers and a tracksuit, was exhumed and is temporarily on display in a glass tomb until Saturday in Assisi for visitors to venerate.
“For the first time in history we will see a saint dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a sweater,” rector Fr. Carlos Acácio Gonçalves Ferreira said.
In the Catholic church’s beatification process, those who are to be considered for sainthood are considered after having performed a series of confirmed miracles after their death.
Pope Francis approved the church’s claims that in 2013 Acutis intervened from heaven in the case of a Brazilian boy, age 7, who was healed of a pancreatic disease after touching a piece of a t-shirt formerly worn by Acutis.
Acutis is now officially known as a “blessed” in the church.
Supporters said they hoped Acutis could become the “patron saint of the Internet,” but if the church declares the teen a saint, Acutis would have to share that title with St. Isidore of Seville, a Spanish bishop from the year 600 A.D., named by Pope John Paul II.