Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Carlo Acutis, who was named Venerable on July 5, died at the age of 15 in 2006, but he left a tremendous legacy that will continue to touch people on all five continents. (See companion article here.)
How? Through the major exhibits this computer genius designed and created beginning when he was 11 years old. These exhibits present and examine Eucharistic Miracles; Heaven, Hell and Purgatory’ Angels and Demons; and Our Blessed Mother.
“He is still spreading his faith and devotion universally as a youthful Eucharistic Evangelizer, helping especially those who are skeptical about the sacramental realities of our faith,” wrote Father Stanley Smolenski, director of the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina – Our Lady and Mother of Joyful Hope in Kingstree, South Carolina. “In this age, when the young are ignorant of their faith, especially of the importance and uniqueness of Our Lord's personal presence in the Eucharist, it was easy to see the providential mission of Carlo as an apostle of especially a true and personal Eucharistic relationship with Our Lord in our times.”
“Carlo used to catechize people with Eucharistic miracles,” his mother Antonia Salzano Acutis told Father Smolenski.
In a homily Father Joseph Wolfe of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word shared how Carlo said that “many people wind up to be photocopies of others. They don’t use their talents to become an original, what God has made them to be.”
Carlo used his talents. And wasn’t self-centered. Father Wolfe observed how Carlo’s mother described, “His immense generosity made him interested in everyone, the foreigners, the handicapped, children, beggars, elderly. He would visit them…He understood the true value of life as a gift from God. An answer that we are to give to the Lord.”
Father Wolfe said the Eucharist-loving teen told his parents: ‘I offer what I will have to suffer to the Lord for the Pope and for the Church, to skip Purgatory and go straight to Heaven.’
See the International Eucharistic Exhibit
Carlo’s first international exhibit, officially titled The Eucharistic Miracles of the World, presents the 140 officially recognized Eucharistic miracles. It began in Rome, traveled to all five continents, appeared in long or short form in hundreds of churches and colleges, and still continues to travel to parishes, schools and any organizations.
The possibilities are endless because the exhibit was
1) designed to be downloadable so people and parishes and others could print them in poster form or other ways, and
2) to be viewed in any home by one or more at the same time.
That goes for the other three exhibits Carlo also did after these to continue evangelizing on spiritual matters — Angels and Demons; Paradise, Hell and Purgatory — and on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s apparitions when he died. His mother completed that exhibit on Our Lady.
Let’s take a quick look at each, starting with the Eucharistic Miracles and how to get them.
View in Public or at Home
For a public exhibit, see TheRealPresence.org, which in in part is the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association.
Before we talk about the downloadable exhibit, a person at the association has this practical advice.
The website is set up so that you can sit and read about each individual miracle from in the comfort of your home. Anyone can do that at either this site or this site, both simple and set up slightly differently.
This choice might be the way to go especially for people with little children, and for older people who prefer not to stand long. The homebound can read it while in bed.
The purpose? “So everybody anywhere can learn of these Eucharistic miracles,” said an association spokesperson. Already thousands of parishes alone across Europe, the United States, and Canada, plus the rest of the world, have hosted this exhibits.
That’s why the exhibit, downloadable or viewed from the comfort of home, is available in 17 languages so far, and counting — everything from the usual European languages and Latin American languages to those in the Far East, including Chinese and Japanese. Even Arabic.
The exhibit can also be brought to any place or parish by being downloaded from the website — MiracoliEucaristici.org for choice of languages to download or at MiracoliEucaristici.org/en/Liste/download directly for English — and turned into posters.
A word of practical advice. If you make posters from the zip file from the website, the recommended size is 2x3 feet. You must use the high-definition PDF for these posters. (Instruction on which file to choose are right there.)
If you’re not going to use posters but for other methods, you need low-definition PDFs. They’re made low-definition to put up on a website computer — high-definition only for posters. (Follow simple instructions.)
These exhibits do change lives. One example in the Register’s companion article on Teen Saints, is the story of a newspaper reporter sent to cover the exhibit during one of its stops. After viewing the exhibit, the reporter who had been away from the Church for 17 years went into the church at the exhibit, “got on her knees and crawled to altar.”
The Other Exhibits
For one so young, Carlo was a powerhouse of an evangelizer. Next he created and designed exhibits Angels and Demons and also on Paradise, Hell and Purgatory.
Carlo gathered a wealth of information in these exhibits to teach and inspire. One of his favorite sayings was, “Continuously ask your Guardian Angel for help. Your Guardian Angel has to become your best friend.”
Angels and Demons (also at Carlo’s site) has stories for 131 saints and blesseds that Carlo researched, collected, and presents in a style that will surely inspire everyone who takes the “tour” of this exhibit. Best of all, anyone using it at home can start and stop very easily to think about the story or lesson each saint and blessed presents about these spiritual beings like their guardian angel.
And they can stretch the “tour” out over days, learning from well-known to lesser-known men and women in heaven like Agnes, Maria of Jesus of Agreda, Anthony, John Bosco, Saint Joseph of Cupertino, Anne Catherine Emmerich, Angela of Foligno, Francis of Assisi, Dominic of Guzman, Nicholas of Flüe, Frances of Rome, Anna Schäffer, Dominic Savio, Anna Maria Taigi, Zita, Nicholas of Tolentino, Bridget of Sweden — and a long list of others.
Paradise, Hell and Purgatory (also at Carlo’s site) follows the same pattern, but in this one Carlo separates each section with titles: in Testimonies of Saints and Mystics Visions of Paradise, we hear of 54 saints and blesseds’ visions. Testimonies of Saints and Mystics Visions of Hell brings us the experience of 19 more, then Testimonies of Saints and Mystics Visions of Purgatory completes the picture as we hear from 87 more. All together this exhibit is yet another tremendous feat all for everyone’s benefit.
“The Virgin Mary is the only Woman in my life,” Carlo would say. He had a great devotion to the Rosary. Is it any wonder he would also have an exhibit on Our Blessed Mother?
The Appeals of Our Lady — Apparitions and Marian Shrine in the World (and at Carlo’s site) was yet another international exhibit already in progress when Carlo took ill and shortly thereafter died of leukemia. But his final exhibit would be completed by his mother Antonia.
Like his other exhibits, it’s monumental as it looks at 156 examples from around the world. And it’s easily accessible via website again, with each of the 156 places and apparitions in downloadable PDF format with text and pictures.
The range from Our Lady’s first apparition to St. James in Zaragoza, Spain right through the early 21st century.
Then there’s a wonderful bonus. The Holy Rosary with all four mysteries, each on a separate PDF for downloading. Each mystery is presented with illustrations joined by the gospel text for them plus a short reflection from the Catechism for each of them. And there’s a choice of having them on an ivory or a blue background. Along with the mysteries is a similar PDF on the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows.
All these are also accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of this The Real Presence site mentioned earlier.
More to See
Another bonus for youngsters and older children is the story of The Eucharist My Highway to Heaven in colorful cartoon format. It’s on the same site as you scroll down to it.
The cartoon video is also on the American-based Carlo Acutis site. Before you get to the cartoon, as you scroll look at the great short, very moving video of Carlo growing up.
You can even picture him repeating a few of his favorite sayings:
“If you want to grow in holiness you must want it will all your heart. And if this desire has not arisen in your heart you must ask for it with insistence to the Lord.”
“Our aim has to be the infinite and not the finite. The Infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in Heaven.”
“Go to Mass every day and take Holy Communion. Remember to pray the Rosary every day. Read every day a passage of Holy Scripture. You can make a moment of Eucharistic adoration before the altar where Jesus is truly present. You see how wonderfully you can increase your level of holiness.”
“To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.”
The international exhibits will be a big help following that plan.