It is with great joy that I welcome the publication of this beautiful comic book. I’m sure it will help many young people to discover the beauty and richness of a life centered on Christ, as Carlo’s was. He accepted Saint John Paul II’s invitation to open wide the gates to Christ and to be unafraid. Carlo said that once you allow God to enter your life, this life is trans gured and “divinized.” Many believe sainthood is reserved for a small minority; yet, according to God’s plan, we are all called to be saints. We were all created in the image of God. Carlo said that everyone is born “as an original,” but that many die “like photocopies.” For him, dying like a photocopy meant not realizing one’s own unique destiny foreseen from all eternity. Reading this book will help you see how Carlo’s example is easier to follow than you might imagine. He grew up with many of the same experiences his friends did: school, video games, computers, social networks, sports, volunteering, pets, hiking. Gi ed in computer science, he put all his talents at the service of the Church. He created websites, cartoons, and virtual exhibitions that have helped thousands across the globe to return to the faith and discover the beauty of the Gospel. Carlo was especially attached to his exhibition of Eucharistic miracles because, for him, the Eucharist was the “highway to heaven.” He made his First Communion at age seven and began going every day to Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. For Carlo, a successful life meant the ability to love God above all and love one’s neighbor as oneself. “Not me, but God”: that was Carlo’s motto. I hope that all those who read this book will make it theirs too. Foreword Antonia Salzano Acutis Carlo’s mother

AsSisi, ApRil 6, 2019. The relicS of CarLo Acutis are tRanSferRed to tHe ChurCh of SaInT Mary Major. MomMy, wHy sucH a cRowD? It’s for CarLo. Milan, eArLy 2000s He SAiD helLo witH a sMile, loOkinG tHem in tHe eYe. SurPrised, tHe caretakerS didN’t kNow at first what to make of him. LIVINg QUiETlY ANd PrIVATELY IN ThEiR GrANd HOMES... …tHe inHabitanTs of tHese COStLY buIlDinGs harDly kNew tHe caretakerS exisTed... Every daY on his waY to sChoOl, a litTle boY named CarLo did sometHinG unusuAl: he saId helLo to tHe aparTmenT caretakerS, ofTen FOREiGnERs, in A weAlThy neIgHborHoOd of MILAN. BuOnGiOrNo! 3

HelLo, sir. What’s yOur name? Why do yOu wanT to kNow my name? WelL, so | can TALk TO yOu more perSonalLy. It’s AsRa. My name’s AsRa. | don’t sPeAk mucH ItaliAn. The nexT daY | don’t get wHy yOu sPeAk to tHat litTle ItaliAn… He sHowS me resPecT. He’s jusT a kid! Yes. But he bReAkS dowN walLs… He’s tHe son of tHose ricH Acutises. BuOnGiOrNo, AsRa! How are yOu? OkaY, tHanKs. WelL, |’ve adopTed a dog! |’lL sHow him to yOu on SunDaY. My name’s CarLo. 4

For CarLo, everyOne deserVed to be tReAted witH RESpECt. RACE OR EThNIC BACkGrOuNd MADE NO DIFfERENcE TO HIM. BORn INtO ThE BrAHmIN CAStE, ThE MOSt RESpECtED IN HINdU SOCIeTY, RAJESh LEFt HIS COuNtRY… … ANd became a hoUsekeEper in Italy. |’VE GOT A ClOSE FrIeNd… GoOd. SomeOne in yOur cLasS? He lives here—in my heArT. His name is Jesus. Uh, no, not exacTly a cLasSmate. Do yOu misS yOur family a lot? But | don’t wanT to. It’s not cLotHes tHat make me a betTer perSon. But CarLo conSidered him a fRiEnD, anD liked to talK to him. YoU seE, at sChoOl, everyOne wanTs to weAr tHe rigHt bRanD. TheY’re totalLy obSesSed WITh IT. YoU coUlD dResS like tHem, toO. He was fasCinated by InDiA, tHe native lanD of RajesH, wHo humBly loOked afTer tHe hoUseholD tasKs of tHe Acutis family. 5

CarLo talKs more anD more aboUt tHis fRiEnD. His mom, AnToniA, at a losS to anSwer alL of his quEsTiOnS, takes him to seE an elDerLy nun wHo used to be a misSiOnary in InDiA. But |’ve got one pRobLem: Do yOu reAlLy have to go far, far awaY to become a misSiOnary? BecaUse, now, todaY, | live in Milan. So tHat’s a bit of a pRobLem… WelL, | love comPuterS. YoU can go anywHere. It’s up to you to find your way. SeEk it in tHe silenCe of yOur heArT. YoU’lL get tHe anSwer. There are no boUnDariEs… …EXcEPt MY PARENtS ThINk | SpENd TOo MUCh TIME ON MY COMpUTER. Or is it betTer for me to sTaY wHere | am anD pRaY for otHerS? InDiA was my cHoIce… ANd yOu, wHat are yOur pasSiOnS? | seE yOur “pRobLem.” But don’t worRy. YoU don’t have to go to tHe enDs of tHe eArTh to serVe ChRisT, yOu kNow; we eAcH have a sPeciAl misSiOn alL oUr owN. | wanT to be a misSiOnary toO! SigH… 6

There! Take tHat! But he pRojecTs a kinD of quIet sTrenGtH… Come on, come to my hoUse afTer sChoOl. …witH a sMile. | have a surPrise to sHow yOu. Wow! It’s cusTomized! That’s yOu, CarLo, in a sPacesHip!! Oh, yEah!! AWESOME! |’m sTilL worKinG on it. It’s not finished yet. |’m goInG to adD a tRacK fRom Star WarS as bacKgRoUnD music. CarLo likes leArNinG on his owN anD sPenDs hoUrS in fRonT of his sCreEn, RESEaRcHINg ThINgS ANd TEaChINg HIMsELf PrOGrAMs. He masTerS IlLusTrator, Java, anD DreAmWeAver. CarLo, wHy don’t yOu come sHopPinG witH me tomorRow? |’lL buY yOu tHat LacosTe POLO ShIRt alL yOur fRiEnDs are weArinG. We’re alL borN original, but so many of us diE like pHotocopiEs of one anotHer. | don’t wanT to be like tHat. YoU keEp surPrisinG me, CarLo, my son. YoU teAcH me so mucH. ForGet it, Mom. He’s goInG to get it… AureliO! GiUliO! In sChoOl, CarLo isN’t tHe sMarTesT in his cLasS. Nor is he tHe toUgHesT.

CarLo’s parenTs leAd very busy pRofesSiOnal lives. | don’t get wHy yOu’re not top of yOur cLasS. YoU coUlD be so eAsily if yOu wanTed to. HelPinG otHerS. That’s wHat inTeresTs CarLo—not sCholasTic acHiEvemenT. Curious, she finally decides to folLow him. CarLo goEs to MasS every daY. The onLy kid amonG alL tHe olD peOpLe. MaYbe | sHoUlD warN his parenTs. . I’ve got to finish this math ASsIGnMENt … | pRomised MrS. Sica to helP her witH her comPuter. ShE HAS NO IDEa HOW TO USE IT. ChiAra comes regularLy anD notices tHat CarLo alWaYs goEs oUt afTer his homeworK. He’s surely not goInG to helP MrS. Sica every daY. So, tHeY calL upon a yOunG tutor, a sTudenT, to helP him witH his homeworK in tHe eveninGs. Hi, my name’s ChiAra. InSuranCe PubLisHinG 8

AnD yOu reAlLy come here every daY? LitTle SaInT CarLo! But CarLo is unMoved. He doEsN’t REaCt to tHeIr taUnTs. YoU kNow, | wanT to pRogResS in everytHinG. It musT be a quEsTiOn of selF-disCipLine. But | have many faUlTs tHat are like tetHerS holDinG me dowN. RajesH, here’s tHe New TesTamenT. My favorite GosPel is JohN. But… wHat doEs faItH meAn to yOu? FaItH is a fRiEnDsHip, | pRomise yOu. In cHurCh witH tHe gRanNiEs! Ha ha! GranDpa CarLo, ha ha! WelL, yEah. AnD at sChoOl, don’t tHeY teAse yOu? Oh, yEs, sure. But | don’t minD. It’s jusT kidDinG aroUnD. My fRiEnD Jesus is alWaYs tHere. Even if we sinG waY ofF-keY, even if tHe pRiEsT is tired, he’s alWaYs tHere. 9

Carlo Acutis was like other boys his age. In his hometown of Milan, Italy, he loved video games, playing soccer, and hanging out with his friends. But unlike most other boys, he also loved going to Mass, and his deep concern for others was felt by everyone around him—including the poor, the brokenhearted, and even stray dogs. A self-taught computer whiz, Carlo used his tech skills to serve the Church and to share his faith in Christ. He built websites for parishes, and he created an online exhibition to document Eucharistic miracles around the world. At the age of fifteen, Carlo was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and died a week later on October 12, 2006. He accepted suffering without complaint and offered it for others. “Sadness is looking at oneself,” he said. “Happiness is looking at God.” In 2018, a miracle was attributed to his intercession, and Pope Francis beatified him in 2020. He has become a shining example of faith, hope, and love, especially to young people. HOLINESS FOR THE THIRD MILLENNIUM AGES 8 AND UP