Blessed Imelda Lambertini, born in Bologna, Italy in 1322, was given the title, Patroness of First Communicants for good reason!
Even at the age of nine, Imelda had an extraordinary devotion to Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist at Mass and in the tabernacle. To receive Our Lord in Holy Communion became the consuming desire of her heart, but the Church at that time and place prohibited anyone under the age of twelve from receiving their first Holy Communion.
In expressing how she yearned to receive the Eucharist, Imelda was known to ask the question, "Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die? "
The following miracle story illustrates how our Lord responded to Imelda’s intense desire to receive Him in the Eucharist, and is one that should remind all of us Catholics of how we should approach the Blessed Sacrament with the utmost reverence, and to receive the Eucharist only after being made worthy through the sacrament of Reconciliation!
Blessed Imelda was a pious child who begged her parents to allow her to become a Dominican when she was just nine years of age. Her parents, though saddened at having to be separated from their only child, recognized God's will for their daughter, and Imelda joined the nuns at Val di Pietra.
Her status among the nuns is unclear. She received the habit and participated in the life of the nuns to some extent. At that time, children were not allowed to make their First Holy Communion until age 12, but Imelda prayed continually that she would be able to receive Our Lord without having to wait so long.
When Imelda was 11, after Mass on the vigil of the Feast of the Ascension, the Sacred Host was seen suspended amidst a brilliant light above Imelda's head. The chaplain, who was immediately summoned, gave the Host to Imelda. Afterwards, the nuns left her alone to make her thanksgiving. The prioress soon discovered, however, that Imelda, who had been in ecstasy, had died shortly after receiving her First Holy Communion, so much in love was she with Our Lord in the Eucharist.
Blessed Imelda Lambertini was declared Patroness of First Communicants by Pope St. Pius X.