Rome Newsroom, Jul 15, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).
During the beatification of Blessed Carlo Acutis, visitors to Assisi were able to see the Italian teen on the way to sainthood dressed in tennis shoes and jeans through a viewing glass on his tomb.
The Assisi diocese announced July 15 that the reopening of this part of the tomb allowing pilgrims to view the young Blessed had been postponed, with a promise that it would reopen permanently in the future.
“This reopening, already announced last year, is planned, and will be implemented as soon as possible, so that the visibility of the body of the Blessed will be made permanent,” the statement from the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino said, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the postponement.
While unable to view his body, visitors can still pray at the closed tomb and venerate the first millennial to be beatified.
Devoted pilgrims have continued to come to the tomb, located in the Sanctuary of the Spoliation, part of Assisi’s Church of St. Mary Major, bringing their prayer intentions with them.
The diocese of Assisi said that the number of daily prayer requests it receives online, over the phone, and in a box located next to Carlo’s tomb had increased in recent months.
“I would like to receive a relic of the sweet Carlo to use for my daughter Silvia for a health problem and to be able to have a child. She is the same age as Carlo. If you can say a prayer for her in front of the tomb of the Blessed. Thank you so much,” said one message sent to the diocese.
“Good morning. I had a mammogram this morning. While waiting for the outcome, I ask you to pray for me as well. A sincere hug. Thank you, Carlo Acutis,” another person wrote.
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 for the Church.
Acutis, who was born on May 3, 1991, was beatified in October 2020. The live stream of his beatification Mass in Assisi went viral, with hundreds of thousands of people watching online.
Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi had said in a video posted online on July 8 that he was hoping that the tomb would open for public viewing on the vigil of the Feast of the Assumption, August 14.
“Carlo was in love with heaven and the Eucharist. He loved to say that ‘the Eucharist is my highway to heaven,’” Sorrentino said, adding that the Assumption was the feast of heaven “par excellence.”
But the latest statement from the diocese clarifies that “circumstances related to the course of the pandemic in Italy and in the world, however, suggested to the bishop … to wait for a more convenient period.”
The bishop explained in the video interview that he felt he had to cover the glass of Acutis’ tomb last October because of the number of pilgrims who are visiting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had to close it immediately because of the pandemic,” Sorrentino said.
“I opened it on Oct. 1, and 40,000 people came to the city in 20 days, and as it was the time of the pandemic, I was a bit scared,” he added.
The bishop said it was his hope that when more international pilgrims eventually returned to Assisi, they would be able to venerate two young men who were great examples of holiness — “one from eight centuries ago and the other from the beginning of the millennium.”