We all love Blessed Carlo Acutis, but there are a handful of other young people to get to know and imitate!
In the three years since Blessed Carlo Acutis was declared Venerable, the Catholic world has been fascinated by the idea of a saint who liked Pokémon, played video games, and built a website. But he’s not the only millennial on the path to canonization. These young men and women, too, lived with television, soccer, CDs, and even Google. Through their intercession, may we learn to be saints in and through the modern world.
Servant of God Jean-Thierry Ebogo (1982-2006) was a Cameroonian seminarian who suffered from a terribly painful cancer but said, “I only want to be healed so that I can become a priest.” Shortly after he entered the Discalced Carmelites, a soccer injury led to the discovery of a malignant tumor that forced the amputation of his right leg. By the next year, the cancer had spread throughout his body. Brother Jean-Thierry was taken to Italy for treatment, but it was too late. He was given permission to make his vows early and did so in his hospital room, his mother by his side; he died only a month later, just shy of his 24th birthday.
Servant of God Floribert Bwana Chui Bin Kositi (1981-2007) was a young Congolese customs officer who resisted government corruption by refusing to take bribes. Floribert graduated with a degree in economics and became engaged, but at his job he was pressured to ignore the contamination of certain food shipments and even offered a bribe of $3,000. Floribert refused, saying to a friend, “Money will soon vanish. But what about those people, if they had those products? What would happen to them? Do I live in Christ or not? Do I live for Christ or not? That’s why I can’t accept that money. It’s better to die than to accept that money!” For his refusal, he was abducted, tortured, and murdered.
Servants of God Basman Yousef Daud (1982-2007) and Gassan Isam Bidawed (1984-2007) were subdeacons in the Chaldean Catholic Church of Mosul, Iraq. They were traveling with Servant of God Ragheed Aziz Ganni (a Chaldean priest) and Servant of God Wahid Hanna Isho and his wife. The group was returning after Fr. Ganni had celebrated Sunday Mass, in defiance of terrorist threats. The car was pulled over and the group was ordered to convert to Islam. When they refused, the four men were murdered, leaving Isho’s wife to tell the story.
Servant of God Pierangelo Capuzzimati (1990-2008) was a serious and intelligent Italian boy who fought leukemia for four years before dying at 17. During his illness, he was unable to attend school but still dead set on learning. Though he had a tutor for Greek and Latin, he was self-taught in all other subjects and continued to impress his teachers with the work he sent in up until his death.
Venerable Matteo Farina (1990-2009) was a young athlete and musician who played guitar and loved chemistry. He hoped to become an environmental engineer, but was diagnosed with brain cancer at 13 and died six years later. During his illness, he suffered with joy and continued to embrace Jesus as an ordinary teenager—between band practice and dates with his girlfriend.
Servant of God Anne-Gabrielle Caron (2002-2010) was a shy but passionate little French girl, the daughter of a naval officer and a classics professor. At 7 she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma; for a year and a half she suffered with joy and generosity but also spoke honestly of her fear of dying. Still, she asked God to give her the suffering of the other children in the hospital; she died at eight and half.
Servant of God Giulia Gabrieli (1997-2011) was a cheerful and exuberant Italian girl who loved shopping, traveling, and listening to pop music. She had a devotion to Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, which gave her great consolation when she was diagnosed with cancer. At first, Giulia was understandably angry and depressed about her diagnosis, spending whole days crying. But soon she was given great joy in the knowledge that God was with her; her joyful suffering inspired many in the two years before her death.
Servant of God Darwin Ramos (1994–2012) was a Filipino child born into devastating poverty. Darwin and his sister spent their days picking through the trash, but his muscles became weak when he was around 5 and he ultimately lost the ability to walk and was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. At that point, Darwin’s father set him to begging (though Darwin was ashamed) until a group that worked with street children invited Darwin to come live with them at a home for children with disabilities. There, Darwin’s constant joy was evident to each person he met. He never lamented the disease that was slowly killing him, instead calling it his mission, and the way in which he would learn to love and trust God. He died at 17. His last words? “A huge thank you. I am very happy.”
Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrillo (1984-2012) was a young Italian wife and mother. After a tumultuous courtship, she and her husband found great peace through the sacrament of marriage. Early in their marriage, though, they lost two children, both within an hour of birth. Still they rejoiced to discover they were pregnant with a third child, and were even more delighted to discover that he was healthy. But while pregnant, Chiara was diagnosed with a cancer that soon spread throughout her body. Dressed in her wedding gown, she died two weeks after giving birth to her son.