Two parishes in the diocese of Westminster have each been presented with a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis. On 21st May, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Nicholas Hudson welcomed Fr Pat Ryall, parish priest at Our Lady of Dolours Servite Church, Fulham Road and Fr Alan Robinson, Rector of the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, to Archbishop’s House to receive the relics and share a moment of prayer.
The two parishes were presented with these relics because of their close association with Blessed Carlo Acutis. Carlo was born in London on 3rd May 1991, to Italian parents and was baptised at Our Lady of Dolours on 18th May of the same year. The family moved to Italy shortly afterwards where Carlo was raised.
Fr Pat Ryall said: “The internationality of our parish is further enhanced and developed by the presence of Blessed Carlo. He was, as we know, Italian, and his parents were in London at the time and were attached to our parish. And it was there that, it was to our church, they came and arranged for the baptism to take place. I do feel that there was a naturalness about the manner in which they gradually integrated themselves into the parish community, and, above all, I feel that Carlo really contributed very much to the growth in faith of the parents by his encouragement and his love of the Eucharist.
“He is very welcome and we are delighted to have him back. We hope that, as he left an indelible mark with us on his first visit, we hope that also, he will continue to make his presence felt during this new time.”
The presentation of one of the relics to Corpus Christi, the diocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, is a reflection of Carlo’s dedication to the Eucharist. Having made his First Holy Communion at the age of seven, he made the decision to attend Mass daily. By the age of 11, he became a catechist. Carlo learned about the known sites of Eucharistic Miracles around the world. To help others learn to grow in devotion to the Eucharist, he used his digital media skills to develop a website to catalogue each of these miracles. Carlo died of leukaemia in 2006 at the age of 15. He was beatified on 10th October 2020 at the basilica in Assisi.
Fr Alan Robinson, Rector of the Shrine, said: “He’s someone that we can refer to, point to, as an example. A wonderful example of how young people can have this incredible relationship with the Lord if they’re prepared to make that effort, to actually offer themselves to him.
“I think Carlo would be very happy in Corpus Christi, it’s very much about his life. It’s about Our Lord in the Eucharist. And I hope, I pray, that through his intercession and his encouragement that it will be a home for many more young people. Young people often think they’re invincible, they’re going to live forever. And Carlo is this example of saying: that’s not necessarily true. But the one thing that will continue forever is our relationship with the Lord, in the Eucharist, both in this world and then with Our Lord when our earthly life comes to its end.”
Reflecting on the special occasion, Cardinal Nichols said: “This afternoon is a very lovely moment as I have the privilege of being able to present to Fr Pat from Fulham Road and Fr Alan from the Corpus Christi Shrine, these relics of Blessed Carlo. Each of these churches is very beautiful, and each of them is worthy of a visit for its beauty, but even more so for the importance that each stands for of these two crucial sacraments in the life of the disciple of Jesus, and the life of the Catholic: Baptism and Eucharist. And we hope and pray that the example of this young man, who was baptised at Fulham Road, and who lived his life in the close embrace of Jesus in the Eucharist, will help us all to have the right priorities in life.”
Speaking about the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis, Bishop Nicholas Hudson said: “I think his beatification is of significance, particularly for the young people of our diocese, because Carlo was only 16 when he died, and he really is a model of young people evangelising their elders. By his mother’s own admission, her son really evangelised her … meanwhile, he was also evangelising his friends as well.
“He had an intuition that he would die young and I think in some ways, as well as teaching young people how they can evangelise their elders, he taught all of us as well how to die. When he was just approaching the end of his days, he decided he would offer all his suffering for the pope, for Jesus himself, and for his Church.”
Photo: On 21st May, Cardinal Vincent Nicols and Bishop Nicholas Hudson welcomed Fr Pat Ryall (right centre) and Fr Alan Robinson (left centre), to Archbishop’s House to receive the relics and share a moment of prayer. (Photo: © Mazur/cbcew.org.uk)