Vatican Corner 11-15-2020

The Italian boy – Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006 at the age 15, was beatified on
October 10, 2020 at a special Mass in the city of Assisi. Beatification is the last step before sainthood and it is the recognition by the Catholic Church of the deceased person’s entrance into Heaven and his or her capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who venerate or pray in his or her name. Carlo was a normal boy who demonstrated a generous soul and a true passion for the Eucharist. After his death, townspeople began attributing miracles to Carlo’s intervention. His case was submitted to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Cause of Saints. He was recognized formally by Pope Francis as having lived a heroically virtuous life and it is likely that someday Carlo will be made a saint. It might seem puzzling to some that such a young person could become a saint; however, there is a long history of young children being named as saints. One group of child saints is the Holy Innocents. In the Gospel of Matthew, King Herod, threatened by rumors of the birth of a new king, he had his soldiers kill all male infants in Bethlehem. These children became known as  the Holy Innocents and they are commemorated during Christmas week. Sometimes children have been canonized as saints because they were part of a larger group of martyrs. One example is the 120 Chinese Catholics that were killed between 1648 and 1930. They were recognized for their dedication to the Catholic faith during intense persecution. In his homily in the year 2000 when this group was canonized, Pope St. John Paul II mentioned the heroic deaths of two children in this group: Anna Wang – age 14 and Chi Zhuzi – age 18. Another child saint is St. Dominic Savio who died at age 14 in 1857and was canonized a saint in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. He learned to be an altar boy at age 5. At age 7 he established 4 saintly rules to live by, and as a pre-teen he experimented with severe physical penances. He contracted a lung disease and died. Child saint Maria Goretti was a devoted Christian who at age 11 resisted a rape attack. She forgave her attacker and died of the stab wounds she received. Miracles soon followed, and she became a popular patron saint for young girls. At the beginning of the 4th century, St. Vitus was martyred as a child under age 14. He was tortured by his father and by the soldiers of the Roman emperor and was killed for his Christian faith. St. Rose of Viterbo as a small child wanted to pray and help the poor. At age 7 she would walk around town holding a crucifix and encouraging people to live a Christian life. At age 15 he attempted to start a monastery. She died at age 18 of a heart condition. St. Agnes age 13, born to a noble Christian family in A.D. 291 refused to renounce her faith to a Roman official. She was stripped naked, dragged through the streets, sentenced to death, lit on fire, but wouldn’t burn, so she was stabbed to death. In 1917, three peasant children from the town of Fatima in Portugal claimed to have received visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Francisco Marto died at age 10 and Jacinta Marto died at age 9, both from complications of the Spanish flu. They both were beatified in 2000 by Pope St. John Paul II and canonized by Pope Francis in 2017. The third child Lucia became a nun and lived into her 90s. Her cause for sainthood is still in process. So from these
example, it is seen that sanctity is not limited to adults, and an ordinary 21st century teenager can also be worthy of veneration and praise.