NEW YORK -– Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi, Italy, presented New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan with a first-class relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis for the U.S. Catholic Church’s three-year National Eucharistic Revival that begins June 19, the feast of Corpus Christi, and culminates with the National Eucharistic Congress in 2024.
Cardinal Dolan received the relic April 7 on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, which is spearheading the Eucharistic revival.
The relic’s presentation followed adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and an evening Mass at St. Rita of Cascia Church in the Bronx, according to an April 8 news release from the USCCB.
Blessed Acutis, an Italian teen who died of leukemia in 2006 and was beatified in 2020, is entombed in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Assisi. The 15-year-old’s use of technology to spread devotion to the Eucharist prompted Pope Francis to hail him as a role model for young people today.
He is the patron of the first year of the Eucharistic revival, which the U.S. bishops approved during their fall general session in November in Baltimore.
His relic, consigned to the U.S. Church for a year, is a fragment of the pericardium, the membrane that surrounded and protected his heart.
“Blessed Carlo Acutis intercedes for us and shows us the way through his living relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist,” said a letter read to the congregation before Archbishop Sorrentino presented the reliquary to Cardinal Dolan.
“Blessed Carlo tells us: ‘The more we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.’ Such a promise can only fill all who venerate the relic with hope and joy,” it said.
Msgr. Anthony J. Figueiredo, who accompanied Archbishop Sorrentino on the relic tour, read the letter. The priest is director of international relations for the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.
Cardinal Dolan, who will be the guardian of the relic, was the main celebrant of the Mass with Archbishop Sorrentino and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph A. Espaillat of New York as concelebrants.
“Celebration, adoration and transformation. This is what the Eucharist is,” Archbishop Sorrentino told the congregation at St. Rita.
The Mass and presentation of the relic came on the fourth day of the archbishop’s five-day U.S. tour with the relic.
He began his trip April 4 in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, with a visit to St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, where the relic was exposed.
Other stops included the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, where he led a diocesan youth and young adult Holy Hour at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria and a high school rally at Holy Family Church in Flushing, again with exposition of the relic.
The relic tour was organized in response to a request by the USCCB for U.S. Catholics to have an opportunity to venerate a relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis, “the inspiring millennial witness of the Eucharist as our ‘highway to heaven,'” as the letter read at Mass at St. Rita of Cascia Church put it.
The relic tour also coincided with a New York exhibit, “Museum of Memory, Assisi 1943-1944,” which recognizes lifesaving actions taken by clergy and citizens of Assisi to protect Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Marina Rosati, founder and curator of the Museum of Memory, also accompanied Archbishop Sorrentino on the relic trip.
On April 6, Archbishop Sorrentino spoke during a panel discussion on the church’s efforts to protect Jewish refugees in Assisi during the Holocaust.
Held at St. John’s University in Jamaica, New York, the panel’s other participants included Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, and retired Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who offered a prayer.
The next-to-last stop of the Archbishop Sorrentino’s relic tour was mid-afternoon April 8 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan, where Archbishop Sorrentino celebrated Mass. He was welcomed to the church by Franciscan Thomas Gallagher, the pastor.
The archbishop’s last stop before departing the U.S. in the evening was the Statue of Liberty.
In a statement released ahead of his visit to the New York metropolitan area, Archbishop Sorrentino said: “It is a joy for me to carry this relic from Assisi, where Blessed Carlo said he felt ‘happiest of all.'”
The teen’s remains lie in the Assisi church’s Sanctuary of Renunciation, “the very place where St. Francis, 800 years earlier, stripped himself of everything to follow Jesus,” the archbishop said.
“My prayer is that the presence of Blessed Carlo’s relic stir a desire within our American brothers and sisters, especially the young, not to waste life, but rather to make of it a masterpiece, as chosen by Blessed Carlo in our own times and St. Francis before him,” he added.
Blessed Acutis centered his life on the Eucharist to grow in his relationship with Jesus. “The more we receive the Eucharist,” he would say, “the more we will become like Jesus.” He strove to attend daily Mass and spend time in Eucharistic adoration, believing that “when we get in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, we become saints.”
More information about the U.S. Catholic Church’s National Eucharistic Revival can be found here.