There’s a patron saint for just about everything: St. Anthony for lost things and people; St. Augustine, the patron saint of addiction; and Joan of Arc, who everyone forgets is a saint because of that whole burned at the stake thing. Last year Pope Francis canonized five people, adding them to the hyper-exclusive list of only 10,000 saints recognized by the Catholic Church. This year, the year of our lord 2020 could see that list grow longer by one teenage boy who is in the running to become the patron saint of the internet.
Carlo Acutis, a teenager from Milan, Italy, died of leukemia in 2010 when he was just 15 years old. During his short life, Acutis devoted his time to spreading the message of Catholicism online, and started building websites for priests when he was only 10, the LATimes reports. After his death, Acutis became a symbol within his community in Milan of the positive ways to use the internet, and last year he was recognized by Pope Francis for Acutis’s work in creating an online exhibit of miracles. According to a Vatican representative who spoke to the LA Times, several miracles have been attributed to Acutis, including a woman who was “cured of her cancer after attending his funeral, and I heard of two more a few days ago.”
Additionally, in 2013, a young boy was allegedly cured of “congenital deformation of the pancreas” after a priest prayed to Acutis on his behalf. Because of this specific miracle, Acutis is to be beatified in October of this year, according to the LA Times. Beatification is an integral step in becoming a saint, as saints can only be sainted if miracles can be attributed to them. If the Vatican attributes a second miracle to Acutis, he could be canonized.
Once Acutis is sainted, the pope gets to decide whether he moves up to the even higher level of a patron saint. Because of his work in using the internet as an instrument in god’s holy war, Acutis would be a natural fit for patron saint of internet use. However! Saint Isidore of Seville may have something to say about that.
According to The Telegraph, St. Isidore of Seville canonized in 653 AD, is already widely considered the patron saint of the internet, as Isidore strove to record everything in his life. St. Isidore “wrote a 20-book opus Etymologies, also known as the Origins, in which he tried to record everything that was known. Published after his death in 636, it was for a thousand years considered the encyclopedia of all human knowledge.” The Telegraph reports that St. Isidore was nominated for the patronage by the late St. Pope John Paul II, but the Vatican never confirmed the nomination—thus leaving the position wide open for the potential St. Acutis.
While the Vatican will have the last word on which of these people gets to rule over the internet in perpetuity, I like to imagine that both Isidore and Acutis are sitting in heaven having a lengthy discussion on how neither of them wants the job of watching over the most cursed instrument invented in the history of humankind.