A 15-year-old Italian computer whiz who died of leukemia in 2006 moved a step closer to possible sainthood Saturday with his beatification in the town 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 who were proclaimed Catholic saints in 2017.
At the beatification ceremony in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, a portrait of Acutis was slowly unveiled, revealing a smiling teen in a red polo shirt, his curly dark hair illuminated by a halo of light. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal legate for the Assisi basilicas, kissed each of the boy’s mask-wearing parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, after reading the proclamation decreed by Pope Francis.
Already touted as the “patron saint of the internet,” Acutis created a website to catalog miracles and took care of websites for some local Catholic organizations. While still in elementary school, Acutis taught himself to code using a university computer science textbook, and then learned how to edit videos and create animation.
“Carlo used the internet in service of the Gospel, to reach as many people as possible,” the cardinal said during his homily, adding that the teen saw the web “as a place to use with responsibility, without becoming enslaved.”
Acutis was born in London on May 3, 1991, to Italian parents and moved to Milan as a child. Already as a small child, he showed a strong religious devotion that surprised his non-practicing parents. His mother told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that from age 3 he would ask to visit churches they passed in Milan, and by age 7 had asked to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, winning an exception to
Jason Jones spent nearly 14 years incarcerated. After learning how to code in prison, he now uses his experience to educate others on how coding can improve social mobility and prevent re-offending.
As someone who spent the majority of his young adult life in prison, Jason Jones knows firsthand the difficulties of trying to re-enter society after incarceration.
Jones was swept into gang activity at a young age following a difficult childhood, which culminated in him being sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison in 2005. It wasn’t until 2014, while spending time at California’s San Quentin Prison, that Jones was introduced to computer programming through a friend, who advised the then 30-year-old Jones that turning his efforts to coding might offer a practical means of staying out of trouble.
“I had a chip on my shoulder,” Jones tells TechRepublic, adding that a disciplinary infraction upon arriving at San Quentin resulted in him spending his first 10 months confined to his cell for nearly 23 hours a day.
Fast forward to today, and Jones has long since left his turbulent younger years behind him. Now 36 years old, Jones helps deliver software engineering training to incarcerated individuals in prison facilities all over the US.
The Last Mile is an education and entrepreneurial program that teaches coding, software design and other marketable skills in prison facilities across the US, in order to help create career pathways for individuals when they re-enter society. Founded by Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti in 2010, the program has served over 650 students to date, and is today the most widely sought-after educational program within US prisons.
Like many young men from similar backgrounds, Jones didn’t have a