Blessed Imelda Lambertini is a child saint often remembered as saying, “Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?”
She was born in the year 1322, and she had a desire to receive the Eucharist from a very young age. When she was 5 years old, she requested reception of her first Holy Communion, but at the time, Church custom did not allow for children under the age of 12 to receive the Eucharist.
As she grew older, Imelda’s love for Jesus, and her desire to receive Him, only grew. Her parents instilled in her a deep faith, a profound love of Our Lord, and a heart for performing charitable works. Imelda would often visit a Dominican convent near her home in Bologna to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with the nuns there.
When she was 9 years old, still unable to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist—though He was the only thing she desired in all the world—Imelda was allowed to enter the convent as a young postulant. There, she frequently begged her superiors for permission to receive the Eucharist, and they repeatedly denied her request, telling her that she had to wait until she was older and fully prepared for the sacrament.
The story goes that when she was 11 years old, on the eve of the Ascension, the nuns received Communion during Mass. As one of the sacristans was clearing the altar afterward, she noticed a brilliant light above Imelda’s head and a Host suspended in midair above her.
Taking this as a sign that Our Lord Himself desired Imelda to receive Him, the priest then gave Imelda her First Communion, which she received with incredible joy. Imelda again knelt down to pray in thanksgiving.
After some time, one of the nuns came to check on her and discovered that, while Imelda still wore the most radiant smile as she knelt in the chapel, her soul had left her body and gone to Christ. Imelda had died of pure joy upon receiving Our Eucharistic Lord.
For this joy, she is the patron saint of First Communicants.
Can anyone receive Jesus into their heart and not die? Can we receive Him with joyful surrender, throwing all our cares at the foot of the cross, and desiring only Him? May we share Imelda’s joy every time we approach Our Lord in the tabernacle, in the monstrance, in the Communion line, and in each other.