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 | By Sharon Delaney | Catholic News Agency

Carlo Acutis’ Mother Places His First-Class Relic in New Diocesan Shrine in New Jersey

October 4, 2023 | The faith community of St. Dominic Parish in Brick, New Jersey, celebrated the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis on Oct. 1 with a very special guest among them — Acutis’ mother, Antonia Salzano.

After the jubilant Mass concluded, Salzano took the relic of her son from the hands of Bishop David O’Connell of the Diocese of Trenton, and together they processed to the narthex, where a new shrine to Acutis was blessed. 

In her remarks to the faithful gathered for the celebration, Salzano declared: “Sainthood is for everyone. Carlo became a saint by practicing the seven theological and cardinal virtues.” She emphasized: “This is what makes us all saints.”

“Carlo prayed the rosary and read sacred Scripture every day,” Salzano shared. “He went to confession each week. Since his holy Communion at 7 years old, he never missed daily Mass. Before Mass or after, he would also spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Carlo believed the Eucharist was his ‘highway to heaven.’”

Carlo’s life

Carlo Acutis was born on May 3, 1991, in London, England, and then moved with his family to Milan, Italy. There, he grew up to be a “normal” teenager — a gamer, a brilliant computer programmer, and a website developer. He liked to travel, enjoyed his PlayStation, and took great care of his pets. He loved St. Francis of Assisi and the poor. He was also deeply in love with this Catholic faith and practiced it with all his heart. 

At just 14 years old, Acutis turned his devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament into a website. He cataloged more than 100 Eucharistic miracles around the world that have been approved by the Catholic Church. The website inspired the Eucharistic Miracle Exhibit, which has been viewed more than 10,000 times across the globe and counting.

On Oct. 4, 2006, after just a few days of illness, Acutis was diagnosed with promyelocytic leukemia. He offered his sufferings for the conversion of sinners. His mother offered her suffering as well. She prayed there would be greater love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for those who did not yet know Christ. After slipping into a coma, Carlo Acutis’ heart stopped beating on Oct. 12, 2006. 

Because of his love for the poor and his desire to emulate St. Francis of Assisi, Acutis requested to be buried in Assisi, Italy. The cause for his canonization opened officially in 2013. Pope Francis declared him Venerable in 2019 and Blessed in 2020. He is one step away from being canonized a saint. 

Just a regular teenager

“Carlo was a regular teenager like me,” said Anthony Ricardo, a 15-year-old sophomore at Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, New Jersey, who came to the event. “I really wanted to see Carlo’s mom, and I wanted to see his relics. Carlo was totally devoted to the Eucharist, which I think is the most important part of our faith.”

Traveling from Allentown, New Jersey, the Schuster family brought six of their eight children to see the dedication of the new shrine. Eight-year-old Brian Schuster said: “I came to see Carlo’s relics. He reminds me to be holy.”

Brian’s 10-year-old brother, Paul, added: “I wanted to meet Carlo’s mom. Carlo is a role model for all kids. He teaches us how to get closer to Jesus by going to Mass as often as we can and by praying the rosary every day.”

One of their own 

Blessed Carlo’s journey to the Diocese of Trenton began several years ago when Father Marian Kokorzycki, parochial vicar of St. Dominic Parish, brought a relic of Blessed Carlo back from a pilgrimage to Assisi for the diocese. Bishop O’Connell supported the idea of a shrine at the parish devoted to the new Blessed.

“I love his story,” O’Connell told CNA. “I’ve read everything I could get my hands on about Blessed Carlo Acutis. He was a normal boy, but his devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist and love for his Catholic faith created a collective orientation toward God in all that he did.”

Sometime later, at the annual Catholic school Mass for the diocese, a video was shown to the students before Mass about Blessed Carlo Acutis. “I watched the young people in the church,” O’Connell recalled. “They were riveted. You could hear a pin drop. That’s when the idea came to me.”

 In April 2022, O’Connell declared Blessed Carlo Acutis the patron of students in his diocese. “Since then, I’ve noticed Blessed Carlo Acutis’ picture is in all of our schools,” O’Connell said. “There is an awareness of him. Young people talk about him. He was a computer geek. He went to school. He even defended kids from bullies —­ all the things the young people of our diocese do. Carlo is one of their own. I’m counting on him to help me evangelize the young people of the Diocese of Trenton.”

‘A higher project’

During the ceremony, the reliquary containing Blessed Carlo’s relic stood prominently before his portrait in the shrine. Salzano looked on as O’Connell blessed the shrine in honor of her son. The room was packed to capacity. Many held their phones over their heads to capture the historic moment. Even though it was a Sunday, the students of St. Dominic Catholic School proudly wore their school uniforms. 

Then it was time for Salzano to leave Carlo with his new parish family. “As a mother,” she said, “it was a pleasure for me to do this for Carlo. This is a higher project. Through Carlo, God will help many people. It makes me very happy to see so many young people here today.” 

“Through Carlo, Jesus is doing a lot of miracles, healings, and conversions. This is a time when we need saints because the darkness is all around us, and young people have so many dangers. Pornography, drugs, gaming addictions, alcohol, brainwashing from the media and its anti-Gospel —­ the danger is strong. Carlo is a sign of hope. He passed over all these things, too. He was not polluted by it. This is possible for everybody. Our children can still be holy.”