London-born boy who died aged 15 to become first millennial saint

A London-born teenager who died of leukaemia in 2006 is set to become the Catholic Church’s first millennial saint, after Pope Francis formally recognised a second miracle attributed to Carlo Acutis.

The late teenager, who moved with his family to Milan in Italy when he was a child, is known as the patron saint of the internet among Roman Catholics and has been referred to as “God’s influencer”.

According to a Vatican statement issued on Thursday, the miracle being recognised involves a Costa Rican woman, Liliana, whose daughter Valeria Valverde, 21, suffered severe head trauma from a bicycle accident in Florence on 2 July 2022.

Carlo Acutis pictured in 2006
Carlo Acutis pictured in 2006 (Alamy)

The Vatican says that Valeria underwent critical surgery and had slim survival chances according to her doctors. Liliana reportedly prayed at Carlo Acutis’s tomb in Assisi on 8 July, while her secretary had already begun praying to him.

That same day, according to the Vatican, Valeria started to breathe on her own, and the following day she regained some movement and speech. By 18 July, a CAT scan showed her haemorrhage had vanished, and she entered rehabilitation on 11 August, making rapid progress.

Pope Francis has announced a meeting of Cardinals to discuss making Acutis a saint, according to the Vatican statement.

In 2020 Acutis became the youngest person in the modern era to be beatified after purportedly curing a Brazilian boy, Mattheus Vianna, of a serious birth defect that made eating difficult.

Acutis created a website to catalogue miracles and managed websites for local Catholic organisations in Italy before his death from leukaemia in 2006. He was 15.

“Carlo was the light answer to the dark side of the web,” his mother Antonia Acutis told The New York Times in 2020 after he was beatified and put on the path to sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Ms Acutis said that at the age of seven, he began attending daily mass. Her son’s life, she said, “can be used to show how the internet can be used for good, to spread good things”.

After Acutis’s death, the Diocese of Assisi petitioned the Vatican for his sainthood. They examined his emails and computer search history and interviewed witnesses while awaiting miracles to support his cause.

Carlo was beatified, the step before sainthood, in a 2020 ceremony in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Carlo was beatified, the step before sainthood, in a 2020 ceremony in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (Alamy)

In February that year, Pope Francis credited Acutis with the miraculous healing of the Brazilian boy with a malformed pancreas after the child reportedly touched one of Carlo’s shirts.

According to a 2017 report by the National Catholic Register, only 120 of the more than 10,000 saints recognised by the Roman Catholic Church died as children or teenagers.

The Vatican has not yet announced a date for the formal canonisation ceremony.

Before Acutis, the last saint born in England was Cardinal John Henry Newman, who died in 1890 at the age of 89. He was canonised by Pope Francis in 2019. According to the Catholic News Agency, the first miracle attributed to Cardinal Newman was the inexplicable healing of a deacon with a severe spinal condition.

The second involved a pregnant American woman who recovered from a life-threatening diagnosis after praying for Newman’s intercession, with doctors unable to explain her sudden recovery.

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