On 31 December 1999, the world held its breath as the clock ticked towards midnight, fearing the worst from the Y2K or millennium bug, a snag that had stirred up fears that computers would stop as the year changed to 2000. Computers continued to work, and the world didn’t come to an end. The first camera phones, USB flash drives and Bluetooth were invented and the world headed towards an IT revolution.
Carlo Acutis turned nine that year. Born in London to Italian parents who had since moved back to live in Milan, he was fascinated with the world of computers, and began studying computer science textbooks, teaching himself computer programming and graphic design. He amazed everyone with his extraordinary understanding of complex IT processes and applications, being one of the pioneers in mastering the use of the internet.
Carlo died of a very aggressive leukemia at the age of 15 in 2006. His funeral was packed with many of the city’s poor residents and all the people that Carlo had helped, and as messages flooded social media from across the globe, his family, teachers and friends realized that he was truly a global influencer.
The extraordinary in the ordinary
In many ways Carlo Acutis was a typical teenager. He loved his PlayStation, he had a cellphone and an e-mail address, and had a great passion for making videos of his pets. Yet in one particular way Carlo stands out from his peers: he is the first millennial on his way to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. On 10 October 2020, Pope Francis declared him “blessed” in the town of Assisi which Carlo loved so much, the same city of the 12th century Saint Francis, “the poor man of God”, where Carlo’s family had a second home.
Since his early childhood, Carlo had an unusual love for God and spirituality, which made him look at everything from another perspective, bringing to light the extraordinary side of an ordinary life.
Those around him considered him a “computer geek”. He greatly admired Blessed James Alberione, to whom The Teenager Today, Better Yourself Books and sister publications in India owe their original inspiration, who used media and technology to spread values and promote all that is good. “Carlo’s life shows how the internet can be used for good, to spread good thoughts. He was the light answer to the dark side of the web,” his mother says, adding that some admirers have called him an “influencer for God.”
Rose Aloysius from Mumbai is deeply passionate about the culture of unity and universal brotherhood promoted by the Focolare Movement, and actively promotes all that teenagers, children and youth contribute towards it.