There’s a good chance you haven’t even heard of Blessed Imelda Lambertini before – but after reading her story, you’ll wonder how that was possible!

Lambertini was born in 1322 in Bologna, Italy to two devoutly Catholic parents. And that faithfulness rubbed off on her. 

At nine years of age, she begged her parents to allow her to live with the Dominican nuns. Even though it was a difficult decision, her parents permitted her to live in a neighboring monastery and entrusted her faith formation to the Dominicans at Val di Pietra.

According to the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn., "It seems she was well loved by the sisters, who allowed her to wear the Dominican habit, to pray with them, and to follow their way of life to the extent that a little girl would be able to do while still remaining a child." 

Even though it was the custom of her time and place for people to receive First Communion at age 15, Imelda greatly desired to receive it when she was just five years old.

And she didn’t just want to do what everyone else was doing. She seemed to not only understand the Eucharist but to appreciate it better than anyone else. 

What illustrated this better than anything was that as a child, she often told people:

Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?

This pious wonder would prove to be prophetic for her life.

She was 11 years old, kneeling in prayer at Mass on the vigil of the Ascension when the sacristan helping the priest noticed something striking: there appeared to be some sort of miraculous light above her head, "with the Sacred Host suspended in the light."

The sacristan ran to alert the priest, who then felt moved to offer Lambertini the Eucharist even though she wasn’t at the customary age yet.

Lambertini gratefully received and then went back to her seat to pray, where she stayed after Mass to spend extra time in prayer. A long time passed and she was still praying, and one of the sisters was sent to get her for dinner. She found Lambertini kneeling with a smile on her face. When the sister tapped her to get her attention, Lambertini fell over – she was dead!

Lambertini was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1826 and is the patroness of First Communicants. You can venerate her incorrupt remains in the Church of San Sigismondo in Bologna, Italy.

Blessed Imelda Lambertini, please pray for us, especially for First Communicants, and for all of us to love Jesus in the Eucharist more!

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