MONROE—When Fran Bifulco of St. Jude Church heard about Blessed Carlo Acutis, the 15-year-old who documented Eucharistic miracles around the world before dying of leukemia, something stirred in her heart.
She began researching the Italian teenager, whose cause for sainthood is before the Vatican, and learned about the exhibit he created, which has been viewed in dozens of countries across five continents and in thousands of parishes and university campuses.
Through her efforts, the Vatican International Exhibit of Eucharistic Miracles, designed and created by Acutis, will be on display at St. Jude Church at 707 Monroe Turnpike on Saturday, January 22 from 1 to 6 pm and on Sunday, January 23 from 8 am to 2 pm.
Because of his intense love of the Blessed Sacrament, he used his computer skills to document Eucharistic miracles throughout the centuries. He spent four years on the project, which was made into an exhibit after his death and has been received praise throughout Europe and the United States.
Although his parents were not religious, Acutis developed a love for the Eucharist at an early age and often said, “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven” and that “being close to Jesus” was his life plan.
“Something stirred in my heart,” Bifulco said. “And I thought this is what we need to bring our youth back. They really need to see this exhibit because so many Catholics are unaware of the many miracles that prove the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”
Bifulco said that Acutis, who was born in England and raised in Italy, was an ordinary teenager with a special love for Jesus. He played soccer, enjoyed computer games and doing practical jokes. He was declared blessed on October 10, 2020 after a miracle in Brazil was attributed to his intercession, and in a short time, he has earned the nicknames of “God’s influencer,” “Cyber-apostle of the Eucharist” and the “First Millennial Saint.”
As an amateur computer programmer, Acutis was able to catalog the miracles before he died, and they can be found on a website he designed—www.miracolieucaristici.org. The website has been translated into 17 languages, including Vietnamese and Swahili.
The exhibit at St. Jude consists of 159 panels with photographs and historical descriptions that provide a virtual visit to the places where the miracles occurred and prove that Jesus is really and truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.
Bifulco, who is a “media missionary” for EWTN and promotes the network’s seasonal programming, recently retired after 21 years as parish secretary at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newton. She previously attended the exhibit at St. Louis Church of St. John XXIII Parish in West Haven.
“I was so moved that I felt this was something the Lord was telling me to do something about,” she said.
She approached Father Joseph Gill, parochial administrator of St. Jude, about bringing the exhibit to Monroe, and he agreed because of its importance to Catholics, especially young people.
“You can’t just look at the exhibit without knowing about Carlo,” she said. “He was a faith-filled young person, a regular kid who did something on his computer that will resonate with youth. That’s why I feel so strongly about this. This is a teenager. This is not an old person talking. Carlo is part of their generation.”
She said that ever since Acutis made his first Holy Communion he was in love with the Eucharist and received it as often as possible, in addition to praying the rosary every day because of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Acutis loved Assisi and would often go there. In the tradition of St. Francis of Assisi, he used his money to buy sleeping bags, which he distributed to the homeless living on the streets.
He died of leukemia in 2006 at 15, and his body was interred at Assisi. It was later exhumed and put in a tomb in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Assisi, where he is dressed in jeans, a track suit jacket and sneakers. His heart, which is considered a relic after his beatification, is in a reliquary in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
Pope Francis has called Acutis a model of holiness in the digital age and suggested that his use of the computer resembles the efforts of the first disciples who traveled on foot to bring the Good News of Christ to people.
Pope Francis said Acutis is a role model for young people today, who are victims of “self-absorption, isolation and empty pleasure.”
“Carlo was well-aware that the whole apparatus of communications, advertising and social networking can be used to lull us, to make us addicted to consumerism and buying the latest thing on the market, obsessed with our free time, caught up in negativity,” the pope wrote. “Yet he knew how to use the new communications technology to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty.”
After examining the miracles in the exhibit, Bifulco believes they have a common thread—someone doubted the Real Presence or a Eucharist was defiled because of disbelief.
“All these miracles took place over the centuries, but I believe miracles are still happening today, and we need to recognize them,” she said. “Carlo was so moved by the Eucharist that he used his computer skills to bring these miracles to the world so that you can believe if you have doubts. We need something positive in the world today—something to give us hope.”
There is no admission fee for the exhibit, but visitors are encouraged to make a free will offering, and to wear a mark, she said. Those interested in bringing the exhibit to their parish, may contact Bifulco at firstname.lastname@example.org.