Pope Francis has set in motion the process toward canonisation of two teenagers who displayed heroic Christian virtues during their short lives, one of whom used his computer skills to catalogue Eucharistic miracles months before dying from leukemia.
The Pope signed a degree on 5 July during a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect for the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, which formally recognised the heroic virtues of 14 year-old Alexia González-Barros and 15 year-old Carlo Acutis.
Venerable Alexia González-Barros who was born in Spain in 1971 passed away on 5 December 1985, after a cancerous tumour had gradually paralysed her.
During her illness, the teenager offered her sufferings for the Church and the Pope. She was known to pray, “Jesus, I want to feel better, I want to be healed; but if you do not want that, I want what you want.”
As members of Opus Dei, her parents had passed on their strong Catholic faith to their five children. Alexia had made her First Holy Communion in Rome in 1979, where she attended a general audience with the Pope on 9 May. She ran to meet St John Paul II during the audience and received a blessing and kiss from him.
Venerable Carlo Acutis was known for making the Eucharist the centre of his life and referring to it as his “highway to heaven.”
According to the official website for the cause of his beatification, the Italian teenager never missed daily Mass from the time he received First Holy Communion at age seven.
It also states he spent time each day praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle and praying the Rosary.
“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan,” Carlo is reported to have said.
He also said, “Our aim has to be the infinite and not the finite. The Infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in Heaven.”
Carlo was considered a genius with computers and was gifted in the areas of computer programming, film editing, website creation and the editing and layout of comics. He also volunteered his time to helping those in need, especially children and the elderly.
He created the website ‘The Eucharistic Miracles of the World’ shortly before his untimely death from leukemia at age 15 in 2006. The website catalogues Eucharistic Miracles according to country and demonstrates Carlo’s great love for the Blessed Sacrament.
Before he passed away he said, “I’m happy to die because I’ve lived my life without wasting even a minute of it doing things that wouldn’t have pleased God.”
The Pope also signed decrees for two other people—Pietro De Vitale, an Italian layman and member of the Third Order of St Francis who died in 1940, and Giorgio La Pira, former mayor of Florence and member of the Third Order of St Dominic who died in 1977.
Recognising a person’s heroic virtue is the first step in the process toward canonisation. The next step is beatification, which requires proof of a miracle achieved through the intercession of the person.