Carlo Acutis, who taught himself to code from a college textbook while in grade school, was precocious not just when it came to computers, but in matters of faith. "Carlo used the internet in service of the Gospel, to reach as many people as possible," Cardinal Agostino Vallini said in his homily Saturday. "There was in him a natural predisposition for the sacred," said his mother, Andrea. In a ceremony in the Italian town of Assisi, Carlo became the youngest person to be beatified by the Catholic Church in a century, ABC reports. He died of leukemia in 2006 at age 15. The teenager was born in London and raised in Milan, but he asked to be buried in Assisi after developing an admiration for St. Francis. One miracle has been attributed to him, and a second would make him eligible for sainthood, a requirement Pope Francis has waived in the past.
Now just one step from sainthood, Carlo already is called "the patron saint of the internet" by supporters. The roughly 3,000 people at the ceremony Saturday were told his feast day each year will be Oct.12, the anniversary of his death, in a letter from the pope, per the Catholic News Agency. Starting at age 3, Carlo would ask to visit churches his family would pass, and he asked to make his First Communion at age 7. He asked his mother so many questions that she began to study theology; his parents were nonpracticing Catholics. "Carlo saved me. I was an illiterate of faith," Andrea Acutis said. He liked Pokémon and Super Mario but also maintained websites for Catholic organizations, while launching a site to keep track of miracles. "Carlo used the internet in service of the Gospel, to reach as many people as possible,’’ the cardinal said, and saw the internet "as a place to use with responsibility, without becoming enslaved." (Read more beatification stories.)