Rome, Italy, May 3, 2021 / 13:00 pm America/Denver (CNA).
Catholic parishes across Italy and as far away as the Philippines celebrated what would have been the 30th birthday of Blessed Carlo Acutis on Monday.
Acutis, who was born on May 3, 1991, became the first millennial to be beatified by Catholic Church in October 2020. The live stream of his beatification Mass in Assisi went viral, with hundreds of thousands of people watching online.
The Diocese of Assisi celebrated the date with a live-stream prayer and reflection at the tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis with Fr. Carlos Ferriera, rector of the Sanctuary of the Spoliation, where the Blessed is buried, followed by a rosary and Mass offered by Bishop Domenico Sorrentino.
“Today for those who love Blessed Carlo there is the memory of his earthly birthday, but as you know, for the blessed and saints, the true birthday that the Church celebrates is that of death, so his feast will be in October,” Sorrentino said at the Mass.
“But it is also nice to be able to participate in the Eucharist on this day with him, as he would have celebrated his birthday on earth, surely with the Lord, definitely Eucharist, therefore it is nice to be together with him and to experience the Eucharist.”
Young people offered birthday wishes in a collaborative video message posted on Facebook by the Friends of Carlo Acutis Association.
“Ciao, Carlo, I wish you a very happy birthday. I am grateful from my heart for how you helped me to find the salvation of my life and my faith,” a girl said at the start of the video.
A procession took place in the Philippines with a statue of Carlo Acutis as part of the “National Thanksgiving Mass for Blessed Carlo Acutis’ 30th Birthday” at the Chapel of St. Joseph in Bulacan province, with more than 36,000 viewers tuning in to the live stream.
Parishes in Naples, Salerno, Ferentino, Foggia, Salerno, and other parts of Italy are dedicating the day to prayer with relics of Carlo Acutis, as well as Masses, Eucharistic adoration, extra hours of confession, and the rosary.
The archdiocese of Pisa marked the Blessed’s birthday with three days of prayer leading up to May 3 at the Madonna dell’Acqua parish in Cascina, which also hosted a Mass for children and families on Monday night.
The southern Italian diocese of Cassano all’Jonio hosted a “Eucharistic Week with Blessed Carlo Acutis” at the parish of Fr. Michele Munno, who has written several devotionals dedicated to Acutis.
As part of its Eucharistic Week, San Vincenzo Ferrer parish temporarily hosted a wooden statue of Acutis that was recently blessed by Pope Francis.
A church in Roncà, outside of Verona, is dedicating a month of prayer for young people, families, and the community through Carlo’s intercession with special evening Masses May 4-27.
A new Catholic youth center named after Carlo Acutis opened in Reggio Calabria at the Holy Family parish in Palmi.
The oratory, which includes a soccer field, was inaugurated with a ribbon-cutting and blessing by Bishop Francesco Milito, who quoted St. John Bosco in his speech.
“In an oratory, three things can never be lacking: the sports field, the theater, and the church,” he said.
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Antonia Salzano, the mother of Carlo Acutis, donated a relic of a lock of her son’s hair to the Catholic youth center.
“Carlo entrusted himself to the Eucharist, which he called ‘my highway to heaven,’ and by eating Christ he fed on the source of love. Carlo went to Mass, adoration, and prayed the holy rosary every day. Carlo was beatified thanks to the Eucharist, which each of us has at hand,” she said in a video message sent to the oratory.
“Carlo was quite bad at football, but he loved being with friends,” she added.
Blessed Carlo Acutis was a young Catholic from Italy with a passionate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and an aptitude for computer programming.
From the ages of 12 to 14, he designed a website cataloging Eucharistic miracles that have occurred around the world, which he launched in 2005. He died of leukemia a year later at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the pope and the Church.
To mark his 30th birthday, priests and religious around Italy recorded a video message reflecting on what the witness of Carlo has meant to their parishes.
Pope Francis alluded to Carlo Acutis in a message to altar servers gathered at a weekend event in Fatima, Portugal, which took its theme from one of the young Blessed’s favorite quotes: “All are born as originals, but many die as photocopies.”
“You have to find out who you are and develop your personal way of being holy, regardless of what others say and think. To make yourself holy is to become more fully yourself, the one God wanted to dream and create, not a photocopy. Your life must be a prophetic stimulus that inspires others, that leaves a mark on this world, that unique mark that only you can leave,” Pope Francis said, according to Vatican News.
With the beatification of Carlo Acutis in Assisi Saturday, the Catholic Church now has its first “Blessed” who loved Super Mario, Pokémon, and above all the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.