When Imelda Lambertini was just five years old, she asked to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time.
She loved Christ deeply, to the point of wondering, “Can anyone receive Jesus into their heart and not die?” However, as it was the year 1327, her request was out of the question. At that time children were not allowed to receive Holy Communion until they were at least 12 years old.
But she persisted.
Although her father was an Italian count and she had a comfortable home life, she wanted to be closer to God. Her parents raised her strongly in the faith which instilled in her a love for prayer and the Mass. She would often visit a nearby Dominican Church to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with the Religious there.
At age of nine, though her wish for receiving her First Communion had not been granted, Imelda was allowed to move into the Dominican convent to live with the nuns. All the while she continued to beg to be allowed to receive the Eucharist.
One night, on the Vigil of the Ascension, the now eleven-year-old Imelda stayed late in the chapel to pray after Mass. Some say that a scent of roses drew the nuns back to the chapel, other accounts cite a bright light. However it happened, the returning nuns were greeted by a stunning sight.
As Imelda prayed, a consecrated host was seen suspended in the air above her head. Quickly, understanding God’s will for the girl to receive, the convent chaplain took the Eucharist and gave Imelda her First Communion on the spot.
As she took Jesus into her heart, Imelda collapsed in a state of ecstasy and, proving her early words to be foreshadowing, died of pure love and joy.
The feast day of Blessed Imelda Lambertini is celebrated on May 12th. She is the patroness of First Communicants and of making a holy, fervent First Communion. Her purity of heart is a beautiful reminder that, to be truly happy, we must love and desire God above all things.
Blessed Imelda’s incorrupt body is kept in Bologna, Italy, at the Church of San Sigismondo, beneath the wax effigy of her likeness.
Blessed Imelda, pray for us to love Jesus in the Holy Eucharist as much as you did.