Catholic Church prepares to canonise its first gamer saint—and yep, one of his favourites was Halo

Carlo Acuti, who is being canonised as a saint by the Catholic Church.
(Image credit: Vatican Pool via Getty Images)

A teenager known as "God's influencer" who spread the gospel on the web and loved videogames is to be canonised as a saint, the Vatican has announced. Carlo Acutis was born in 1991 and will become the Catholic Church's first "millennial saint" after his canonization was approved by cardinals convened by Pope Francis.

Acutis died in 2006 at 15 years old from leukaemia, but dedicated his short life to spreading awareness of the Catholic faith and helping the poor. He was born in London to Italian parents but would go on to spend most of his life in Milan. Acutis is remembered by family as enjoying playing videogames such as Halo (naturally), Super Mario and Pokémon, and had a PlayStation from eight years old: though the devout young man limited himself to one hour's play a day.

The process for becoming a saint can take decades if not hundreds of years, but Acutis has become a cause celebre among Catholics and is a hugely popular figure. The teenager, who is most often depicted in jeans and trainers, was nicknamed "God's influencer" for both his online work and being emblematic of the younger generation of Catholics: Acutis created a website documenting reports of miracles across the world which found a huge following.

"As I did, you too can become holy," his mother Antonia Salzano told CNN in May. "Nevertheless, (with) all the media, the technologies, it seems sometimes that holiness is something that belongs to the past. Instead, holiness is also something nowadays in this modern time."

Salzano went on to say that, from the age of nine, Acutis would spend time helping the Milanese homeless and, among other things, insisted on only owning one pair of shoes, with any money saved going to help the poor. 

Becoming a saint requires that candidates have two distinct miracles attributed to them, which are examined in considerable detail by church authorities. Acutis was first beatified in 2020 after a Brazilian boy with a pancreatic defect was cured, following his mother's prayers to Acutis to help her son.

The second miracle involves the reported healing of a Costa Rican girl who suffered a serious head injury after falling off her bicycle in Florence, Italy. Her mother prayed for the girl's recovery at Acutis' tomb in Assisi, and lo and behold her daughter made a full recovery.

Acutis' path to sainthood has been unusually short. A person cannot be nominated for canonisation until five years after their death, so Acutis' cause began six years after his death in 2012. He was decreed "Venerable" in 2018, "Blessed" in 2020, and, although a date has not been set, is expected to be declared a saint during the Catholic church's jubilee celebrations in 2025. When it does happen, the Pope will formally declare Acutis a saint in St Peter's Square in Vatican City, after which the Catholic Church will remember him annually on a feast day, and parishes and schools can be named after him.

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One of the odder manifestations of Acutis' posthumous fame is a project named The Acutis Game. Billing itself as "the first Catholic open-world metaverse", the game will apparently follow Acutis as he time travels over the centuries, meeting other saints and key figures in Catholic history and travelling to various Holy sites. Among other highlights, this metaverse will allow you to ski as a young Pope John Paul II.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."