A Vatican cardinal has said that Blessed Carlo Acutis’ love for praying the rosary in his “short but full” life exemplified timeless wisdom.
Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, made the comment in a preface to a booklet containing guided meditations for the mysteries of the rosary in Italian with short reflections on the life of the recently beatified teen.
“Pope Francis has said that ‘the prayer of the rosary is the prayer of the humble and of the saints who, through its mysteries, contemplate with Mary the life of Jesus, the merciful face of the Father.’ Among these is Blessed Carlo Acutis,” Cardinal Semeraro wrote in the preface.
“Carlo loved the prayer of the rosary: an ancient prayer, which he refreshed every day on his lips; a prayer he learned and loved since early childhood,” he said.
Blessed Carlo Acutis was a young Catholic from Italy with a passionate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and an aptitude for computer programming.
From the ages of 12 to 14, he designed a website cataloging Eucharistic miracles that have occurred around the world, which he launched in 2005. He died of leukemia a year later at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the pope and the Church.
Acutis became the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church in October 2020. The live stream of his beatification Mass in Assisi went viral, with hundreds of thousands of people watching online.
“Our Blessed was an authentic apostle of the rosary of the Blessed Virgin,” Semeraro said.
The cardinal highlighted that the young boy is known to have called the rosary “the shortest ladder to go up to heaven.”
The idea of Marian prayer as a “ladder to heaven” is a classic Catholic image, Semeraro said, noting that it can also be found in one of St. Aelred of Rievaulx’s sermons in the 12th century.
“In one of his sermons on the occasion of the feast of the Nativity of Mary, he said that to go up to God we need a light that enlightens us and is itself a ladder by which to ascend,” he said. “This light is Mary, whose name is interpreted: Star of the Sea; this ladder is still Mary and it is with her that we can begin to climb.”
Semeraro said: “If, as Tertullian well said, ‘caro salutis est cardo,’ that is, ‘the flesh is the axis of salvation,’ then praying the rosary means entering into this history of salvation and letting yourself be infected by it.”
“St. John Paul II wrote that the recitation of the rosary puts us ‘in living communion with Jesus by drawing towards the heart of the Mother,” he added.
The booklet of rosary reflections, “The shortest ladder to climb to heaven: The Rosary with Blessed Carlo Acutis,” was written by an Italian priest, Fr. Michele Munno.
Munno has recently written two other devotional booklets. One offers reflections on the Stations of the Cross with Carlo Acutis and the other is a novena prayer he wrote to the saint. Both are in Italian.
Cardinal Semeraro also wrote the introduction to Fr. Munno’s novena prayer booklet, in which he said that Acutis was like the “just one” described in the Book of Wisdom: “being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years.”
He said: “We find a nice comment on this wisdom saying in a letter from St. Bernard of Clairvaux: ‘True virtue,’ he wrote, ‘knows no term, it is not enclosed in time. The eternal hunger of the righteous deserves an eternal satisfaction and, even if it is consumed in a short time, it appears as if it had lasted for many centuries, given the permanence of the virtuous impulse.’”