Berchmans Honors Blog: First Millennial Saint Up for Canonization: How the Canonization Process is Speeding Up in the 21st Century

First Millennial Saint Up For Canonization: How the Canonization Process is Speeding Up in the 21st Century

 

The Catholic Church is getting closer to having its first saint of this generation canonized. Carlo Acutis was born on May 13, 1991, in London, England, and raised in Catholicism. During his short life, he was interested in computer programming. 

After being diagnosed with leukemia in 2006, Acutis began working on programming a website that detailed the many Eucharistic miracles that have occurred throughout history. This website grew in popularity and is still up and available to view to this day. Acutis died later the same year from his leukemia, and it was heartbreaking to all who knew him. 

As time passed, people began attributing miracles to Acutis. One of these miracles included Actuis’ mother birthing twins several years after Carlo had passed away. As more of these miracles occured, his case was brought to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, starting his process towards canonization. On October 10, 2020, Carlo Acutis was officially beatified, allowing him to be venerated as “Blessed.” Now that he is beatified, he is only one step away from being canonized as a Catholic saint. 

Beatification is when the Roman Catholic Church declares that a person has entered heaven, can intervene through miracles, and can be venerated by worshippers. Acutis’ youthful beatification echoes the story of another boy who was born almost 400 years earlier than Acutis. John Berchmans was born in 1599 in the Belgian city of Diest in a family of two devoutly Catholic parents. Berchmans was an altar server in his young years and prayed often. When his mother was struck with a severe illness, his prayer increased greatly. Berchmans would pray for her healing for several hours per day at his mother’s bedside each night. 

In 1616 at the age of seventeen, John Berchmans enrolled in the Jesuit novitiate to fulfill his dream of becoming a Jesuit priest. Shortly after a trip to Rome, however, he was afflicted with Roman fever. Berchmans succumbed to his fever at the age of 22. Immediately after his death, many prayed for his intercession, leading to miracles that were performed in his name, including the one that occurred on Grand Coteau’s Sacred Heart campus. Berchmans was declared Blessed in 1865 and finally canonized as a saint in 1888.

The stories of Carlo Acutis and John Berchmans parallel one another in significant ways; both were  devout Catholics as young boys and died at a young age due to disease. The main difference between these stories, however, is the rate of beatification and canonization.  Canonization is the final step of the saintly process, and is defined as when a deceased person has officially reached sainthood. While Berchmans was beatified over 200 years after his death, it only took Acutis 14 years. This significant decrease in beatification time could potentially lead to Acutis also having a decreased canonization time.