Diocesan News

Diocese of Brooklyn Catholics Cheer News That Carlo Acutis Will Become First Millennial Saint

Pope Francis formally recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis, a 15-year-old Italian teenager whose birth in 1991 will make him the first millennial to become a saint. He is pictured in an undated photo. (Photo: OSV News/Courtesy of Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Since his beatification less than four years ago, Blessed Carlo Acutis has been an integral part of the prayer life in the Diocese of Brooklyn. 

Born in 1991, Blessed Acutis was devoted to his faith and the Eucharist, and he spent his short life serving God through volunteering and prayer. He died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15 in his native Italy.

Now, Pope Francis on May 23 recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession to Blessed Acutis, and he will officially become the first “millennial” saint. 

With the pope’s announcement formally advancing the sainthood cause for Blessed Acutis, all that is left now is for a date to be set for his canonization. 

“There’s a road to sainthood. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what your status in life is. It’s your love and devotion to Jesus,” said Father Vincent Chirichella, the pastor at St. Joseph Church in Astoria, where a statue dedicated to Blessed Acutis stands. 

During his life, Blessed Acutis created a website dedicated to chronicling the world’s verified Eucharistic miracles and prayed the rosary daily, a testament to his faith. 

The statue in St. Joseph stands beside those of St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer survivors, and St. Charbel, the patron saint of those who suffer in body and soul. Devotion to the soon-to-be-saint runs deep in the parish, where its youth group meets in a room dedicated to the teenager.

Pope Francis recognized, on May 23, the second miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15. He is pictured in an undated photo. (Photo: CNS photo/Courtesy of Sainthood Cause of Carlo Acutis)

Father Chirichella hopes to plan a pilgrimage to the Vatican for the canonization of Blessed Acutis, and in the parish’s pilgrimage in October, they will likely visit his grave.

“There’s so much to be said about him: his devotion, the way he lived his life, his love for Jesus in the Eucharist, and his ordinariness. He was an ordinary teenager who became extraordinary because of God’s grace,” Father Chirichella said.

This latest miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Acutis involved the recovery of a woman who fell off her bicycle in Florence on July 2, 2022. She suffered a critical head injury, requiring the doctors to remove part of her skull to reduce intracranial pressure. Her mother turned her prayers for her daughter to Blessed Acutis. 

She prayed at his tomb in Assisi on July 8. That day, her daughter began to breathe on her own again. According to reports in OSV, the girl, Valeria Valverde, has completely recovered after a period of rehabilitation, and she and her mother returned to visit his tomb on Sept. 2. The first miracle involved the recovery of a young boy in Brazil in 2013.

“I think Carlo feels very much at home in Brooklyn because he loves to be with people. He loved to be with people from different nationalities. He loved to be with people who had difficulties in their lives. I think Brooklyn is a microcosm of that,” said Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, a Vatican consultant from the Diocese of Assisi.

Two years ago, Msgr. Figueiredo visited Brooklyn, bringing a first-class relic of Blessed Acutis — a fragment of the pericardium, the membrane that protected his heart — to the United States. New York City was one of the first places Msgr. Figueiredo visited, and he immediately recognized the connection between the faith in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Acutis.

“Now we have a friend in heaven. The people of [the Diocese of] Brooklyn have a friend in heaven,” he said.

The young Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens have already been pulled to their faith thanks to Blessed Carlo Acutis. Khloe Chavez, a sixth grader at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy in Corona, was sent a video message by Antonia Salzano, the mother of Blessed Acutis, along with a piece of her son’s sweater. It encouraged Khloe to love the Eucharist as her son did. 

There are two statues of Blessed Acutis in the diocese. The second can be found at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg, where a permanent shrine has stood in his honor since 2022. 

Carlo_statueStJosephCloseUp: The statue of Blessed Carlo Acutis at St. Joseph Church in Astoria. (Photo: Katie Vasquez)

A second-class relic of the teenager, a piece of his shirt, is also in the church’s possession, which they use in veneration. Two Holy Hours have been held to pray for Blessed Acutis’ canonization, said Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, the pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

He predicts that Acutis’ canonization will be next year, during the Jubilee Year, and perhaps even on the World Youth Day planned for next year.

“With his backpack on his back and his cell phone in his hand, that’s something that young people can relate to,” Msgr. Gigantiello said.

The faithful who visit St. Joseph’s Church in Astoria can pray at this shrine where they will find statues of St. Sharbel (left), St. Peregrine (center), and Blessed Carlo Acutis. (Photo: Paula Katinas)