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Article: May 12 + Blessed Imelda Lambertini

May 12 + Blessed Imelda Lambertini - VENXARA®

May 12 + Blessed Imelda Lambertini

Little Imelda Lambertini loved Jesus so deeply that she often wondered, “Can anyone receive Jesus into their heart and not die?”

Born in 1322 in Bologna, Italy, Imelda's very wealthy and devout Catholic family was known for their charity. When Imelda turned 5 she requested to receive Holy Communion. The custom at the time would not allow her to receive until age 14. But Imelda was persistent.

Although her father was an Italian count and she had a comfortable home life, she wanted to be closer to God. She would often visit a nearby Dominican church to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with the nuns there.

At the age of nine, though her wish for receiving Holy Communion had not been granted, Imelda was allowed to enter the Dominican convent as a young postulant. All the while she continued to beg to be allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist.

One night, on the Vigil of the Ascension, the now eleven-year-old Imelda stayed late in the chapel to pray after Mass. She had begged to be allowed to make her First Holy Communion on this feast, but was again denied. Each denied request increased her love and desire for the Real Presence of Jesus in her soul. 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 child to receive, the convent chaplain took the Eucharist and gave Imelda her First Holy Communion on the spot.

As she took Jesus into her heart, Imelda entered into a state of ecstatic prayer. The child remained kneeling as the nuns left the chapel to allow her more time to pray. When they returned for her, they found her just as they had left her, but her body was lifeless. After receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Imelda, proving her early words to be prophetic, died of pure love and joy.

Blessed Imelda Lambertini is the patroness of First Holy Communicants. She is also an "incorruptible" — her beautiful, perfectly incorrupt body (pictured), now over 700 years old, is kept in Bologna, Italy, at the Church of San Sigismondo. In 1910, Pope St. Pius X began to allow children to receive Holy Communion at age seven.

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