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London-born teen to be made saint for spreading church teachings on internet

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The Vatican has announced that Carlo Acutis, a London-born teenager who became famous for spreading church teachings, will be made a saint. As Willem Marx reports, Acutis, who died in 2006, will become the first person from the millennial generation to be canonized.

WILLEM MARX, BYLINE: Carlo Acutis was a devout child, then teenager, who worked for his local church and school as a part-time web designer, with most of his childhood spent in Italy. He was diagnosed with leukemia at a young age and became internationally recognized among Catholic Christians for his development of a website that documented miracles. The site went live only days before his death at the age of 15 but earned him the nickname God's Influencer. He died in the Italian city of Monza, famous for hosting an annual Formula 1 car race. But his body was later moved to the city of Assisi, famous thanks to Saint Francis, where it's displayed for devout visitors alongside other relics linked to his life.

In 2020, Acutis was judged to be responsible for a miracle after a child from Brazil with a congenital pancreatic condition recovered, to the surprise of doctors, after touching one of Acutis' shirts. In October that year, it prompted a process for Acutis known as beatification, often an interim step on the road to sainthood. Later, a college student from Costa Rica fell off a bike in Florence and suffered a serious head trauma but later recovered against the odds. This, too, was deemed a miracle and attributed to Acutis since the girl's mother had prayed at his tomb. It was that second miracular judgment led by Pope Francis that opened the path to Acutis' formal recognition as a saint after Francis met Thursday with several of his cardinals.

The Vatican's dedicated saint-making team has approved the decision, too, but as yet, no date has been set for the formal sanctification ceremony. Acutis is already commemorated in the name of a church parish in central England, alongside a statue in Scotland and a traveling exhibition based on his original miracle-listing website. The last person to be pronounced a saint was an 18th-century nun from Argentina, and experts say the choice to canonize Acutis may mark a move by the church to appeal to a younger, global generation that might more easily recognize themselves in his acts of internet-based devotion.

For NPR News, I'm Willem Marx.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAN ANGUS WATSON'S "WALTZ IN SWEATERS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Willem Marx
[Copyright 2024 NPR]