Last month four new causes were formally opened, two of them for children - a young boy, Carlo Acutis, and a young girl, Jeanne-Marie Kegelin who is being put forward as a possible martyr - she was not yet ten when she died in defence of her chastity.
Carlo Acutis seems to be the teenage version of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati or Blessed Alberto Marvelli. He was only fifteen when he died of leukemia. Carlo was born in London on the 3rd May 1990 of Italian parents. He grew up in Milan. He seemed to be an ordinary teenager - loved his friends, did well in school, had a passion for computers, but there was more to him. He discovered Jesus Christ, and so his spiritual life was profound. He attended daily Mass, spent time in adoration, had a great love for Our Lady. He made a deep impression on all he met, and he was always ready to help anyone in need if he could.
Life was to be short for Carlo: diagnosed with leukemia it became obvious very quickly he would not survive. He endured the illness with great serenity and heroism - he never lost his joy. As he was dying he offered his suffering and death for Pope Benedict and the Church. He passed away on the 12th October 2006. His life and death has taken Italian Catholics by storm. See here for his website, and more information here.
On the 18th June 2004 little nine year old Jeanne-Marie Kegelin went out to play, taking her bicycle and heading off to the tennis courts where she like to help pick up the tennis balls during play. On her way she met with Pierre Bodein. On the 29th June her body was found in a stream: she had been raped and drowned, and her lower body mutilated in an attempt to cover up the assault.
Jeanne-Marie was born in Strasbourg on the 18th July 1994 to a devout Catholic family, the sixth of seven children. She was a bit of a tomboy, so she liked climbing trees and playing football. She was precocious in terms of her own faith, and soon she was praying and trying to live the Gospel in as radical a way as she could. She loved the Rosary and singing hymns. Again, a child who seemed to have been formed in grace. As her mother said, "She was more worthy of heaven than earth" - the Church agrees with her as her Cause is formally opened.