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Mother’s ‘great joy’ as video-game loving son becomes set for sainthood

The mother of an Italian teenager set to become the Catholic Church’s first millennial saint has told of her “great joy” as she portrayed her son as an otherwise ordinary boy who enjoyed video games and pets.

Carlo Acutis – whose computing skill helped him spread the message of the Catholic Church and earned him the nickname “God’s Influencer” – died from leukemia in 2006 aged 15.

A second miracle attributed to Acutis has been recognized by Pope Francis, paving the way for him to be made a saint. Candidates normally need to have two miracles attributed to them before they can be canonized.

“As I did: you too can become holy” she said. “Nevertheless, [with] all the media the technologies it seems sometimes that holiness is something that belongs to the past. Instead, holiness is also something nowadays in this modern time.”

She said her son was bought a PlayStation when he was eight, but limited himself to one hour a week of gaming as he was wary that it could become addictive and that he knew the “dangers of the internet”. Along with his computing and gaming, Carlo played the saxophone, enjoyed soccer, loved animals and would make short, humorous films of his dogs.

Ms Salzano said her son used his computer skills “not to do things for earning money or to become famous but to spread the Gospel [the message of Jesus Christ], to help people,” and was “full of joy.”

While he had similar interests to other kids, the soon-to-be-saint was unafraid to stand out from the crowd.

His mother said that the age of nine the youngster spent time helping the homeless in Milan and giving his pocket money to those sleeping on the streets. She explained that he insisted on only having one pair of shoes, so he could save money to help the poor.

He was also unafraid to stand up for the victims of bullying and resist peer pressure. According to Nicola Gori, author of ‘Carlo Acutis: The First Millennial Saint’ and the postulator (guide) of his sainthood cause, Acutis once defended a girl from India who was targeted for wearing a sari, and he was known at school for his “cheerfulness, energy, generosity.” He was devoted to Saint Francis, the saint renowned for poverty, humility and care for creation, and the pope’s namesake.

Acutis became ill in early 2006 and was later diagnosed with Leukemia: he died on October 12. At his funeral two days later, a large crowd gathered with many of them immigrants to Italy and those belonging to a variety of religions. Devotion to Carlo quickly began to spread across the world, and his story was taken up by several Catholic youth groups.

Ms Salzano hopes the canonization will either be later this year or next year.

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