Revisiting – Are You an Original or a Photocopy?

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

Before we tackle that question … who framed that question?

  • Bill Gates
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Marshall McLuhan
  • RBG
  • Carlos Acutis

Raise your hand if you picked Carlos Acutis!

Who is Carlos Acutis?

On October 10, 2020 Carlos became the first millennial to be named “Blessed”, the last step before being proclaimed a Saint. He would be the millennials’ first saint. Born in 1991, Carlos lived only 15 years before he died of leukemia in 2009.

He is known for his mastery of computer technology, spending his spare time designing a still online exhibition about Eucharistic Miracles around the world. He had cataloged each case since he was eleven.) He also cataloged the apparitions of Our Lady and designed websites for local clergy.

Why is Carlos proposed as a model?

He is presented as a role model for youth, a “saint of the ordinary,” and also a possible patron saint for IT workers.

All this despite some disciplinary notes in the future saint’s middle school record:

“Acutis disturbs the class and doesn’t have his homework” … “Acutis clowns around.”

But Acutis also worried about those friends of his whose parents were divorcing so he would invite those friends to his home to support them. He defended the rights of the disabled, especially at school when bullies mocked them. He loved traveling, especially Assisi.

However, he contracted leukemia and offered his pain for both Pope Benedict XVI and for the Universal Church. “I offer all the suffering I will have to suffer for the Lord, for the Pope, and the Church”.

Carlos had asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages to the sites of all the known Eucharistic miracles in the world. His worsening health prevented this.

He appreciated Blessed Giacomo Alberione’s initiatives to use the media to evangelize and proclaim the Gospel and aimed to do this with the website that he had created. He also liked film and comic editing.

As he was dying, the doctor treating him asked him if he was suffering much pain. He responded “There are people who suffer much more than me.” 

He died in October 2009.

So… Why the question about photocopies?

The current Archbishop of Assisi, Domenico Sorrentino has written a short book about the points of contact between St. Francis of Assisi and Acutis. He titles the book “Originals, Not Photocopies.”  One of Acutis’ favorite sayings: “Everyone is born original, but too many die as photocopies.”

He had a flair for memorable phrases of less than 280 characters. “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.” Carlos loved PlayStation, probably a first for anyone canonized or beatified.

A millennial, learning Carlo’s story recently, said

Carlo puts flesh on what a saint who plays video games and goes on the internet looks like. He challenges me to examine my conscience and say, ‘Ok, I’m called to be a saint who uses the internet too. Am I using it to make God’s love known?’”

“Dare to be more!” Pope Francis told young people in his Post-Synodal Exhortation Christus Vivit (“Christ is alive!”).

Carlos illustrated the most famous saying of that secular saint of the internet, Marshall McLuhan. “The medium is the message.” Carlos Acutis’ life was the medium and the message! He is a reminder to each of us that we too are the medium and the message. Come to think of it, Jesus was both medium and message!

Carlos dared to be different!

In your life, do you recognize any call to be both the medium and the message?


PS At the beatification, Carlo’s parents processed in with a relic of their son’s heart.

Visit his official website

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk


1 Comment


    Enjoyed this beautiful piece.