This past spring, Archbishop Manuel Clemente, the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal, announced 13 patrons for World Youth Day 2023, which will take place at a gathering in Lisbon in the first week of August. The announcement was made on May 18, the 103rd anniversary of the birth of St. Pope John Paul II, founder of World Youth Day and one of this year’s patrons.
Among the other patrons is Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial ever beatified by the Church. Carlo had a deep faith as a child, and, at the age of 11, he began to create a website cataloguing Eucharistic miracles around the world. Carlo completed his project in 2005, just one year before he died of leukemia at the age of 15. He was beatified in 2020 after the healing of a child was attributed to his intercession through the grace of God.
Rome-based journalist Courtney Mares recently wrote a book entitled Blessed Carlo Acutis: A Saint in Sneakers, in which she details the stories of people whose lives have intersected with Blessed Carlo. One of the stories Mares shares is that of Rajesh Mohur, who emigrated from India to Italy, where he eventually met the Acutis family and was hired to help care for young Carlo. Raised in the Hindu faith, Mohur began accompanying Carlo on his spiritual journey, and four years after taking the job, Mohur was initiated into the Catholic faith himself. Recalling the profound impact Carlo’s witness of faith had on him, Mohur says, “His behavior changed when he was in side the church…. He knew that there was something different where Jesus lives…. That touched my heart.” When Mohur’s mother came to visit, she converted as well. “That was Carlo’s magic,” Mohur said. “He could convert me and my mom, too.”
In 2021, the first stained glass window depicting Blessed Carlo Acutis was inaugurated at the church of San Giuseppe in Molfetta, Italy. This beautiful image depicts Carlo in the jeans and sneakers that he so often wore. He has a backpack slung over his shoulder, and he makes his way along a winding path, which seems to symbolize the path he walked to God. Blessed Carlo has given us a holy example to raise up for young people today to realize that God’s call is timeless and is extended to each generation. By lighting a candle of hope in this world even amid his own suffering, Blessed Carlo points us towards the things of eternity and all that truly matters in life.
In addition to the 13 patrons named for World Youth Day 2023, the Virgin Mary has also been invoked as the Patroness Par Excellence to watch over those gathering in Lisbon, which is less than 100 miles south of Fatima, where the Blessed Mother’s appearances to three shepherd children over a century ago culminated in the Miracle of the Sun witnessed by tens of thousands of people and re-ported by newspapers of the time around the world.
Let us pray for the intercession of all the patrons of World Youth Day 2023, including Saint Pope John Paul II and Blessed Carlo Acutis, and let us especially pray for the intercession of Our Blessed Mother to watch over all who attend. May their hearts be opened to the healing power of God’s love so they can be inspired to follow in the foot-steps of the saints and give witness to the truth of Christ in their own lives.
Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., serves on The Christophers’ Board of Directors. For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: email@example.com.