Meet Blessed Imelda Lambertini, the Eleven-year-old girl who became the Patroness of First Communicants
Some children portray a spirituality that is so powerful that they become an actual phenomenon. However, not like child prodigies, it is not their mental capabilities which transcend the norm. But, it is a connection with God Himself which normally take them to a place reserved only for them.
Imelda Lambertini was one of those children chosen as God’s messenger. And she started doing the work of God when she was only five years old.
Imelda was an only child born in Bologna in the year 1322. Her father, Count Egano Lambertini and his wife, Castora, were all devout Catholics. As Count Egano was well respected and was known for his ongoing charity, especially to the poor and downtrodden in the town of Bologna.
As Imelda was baptized, she was given the name, Magdalen.
She grew up and was inspired by both of her parents who told her stories about Jesus and Mary and of the saints. They went further to instruct her in the faith, and her mother is always used to a particular devotion to the souls in Purgatory.
Magdalen however, prepared a place for herself in her room where she could pray. She has always wanted to think about the Child Jesus as much as she could.
During her fifth birthday, she went on to ask if she could receive Holy Communion. At that period, a child could not receive Holy Communion until they attained the age of 14. And Magdalen, accepting the emptiness she felt, and she would have to wait.
During the time Magdalen was nine years old, she already had a very deep desire to live in a convent. Her love for Jesus was not matched with anything and all she could think about was that the best thing a person could do was to save their own soul.
She have ever wanted to live in a place of prayer where she could just focus on loving Jesus. She started pleading with her parents to let her join a convent.
As interesting as it maybe, in those days, it was not uncommon for parents to allow their children who professed their wish to become a religious person, to allow them move into a place of prayer and worship.
So, Magdalen was granted her wish by her parents and she moved into the convent of St. Mary Magdalen, outside Bologna.
Young Magdalen was just much too young to wear the Dominican habit but she passionately pleaded with the sisters so they gave in. She was however, filled with joy when they later gave her the habit and she started calling her Sister Imelda.
Nine-year-old Sister Imelda immediately began to devote herself to prayer and penance. Even though as a child, she worked so hard at obeying the order’s rules and doing the right thing. She turned out to be a role model for many of the sisters that lived with her. Sister Imelda discovered a corner in the rear of the convent garden and she built a small replica of Calvary there.
She would always go there and meditate on the sufferings of Jesus. The only thing that Sister Imelda longed for more than anything was to be united with Jesus through the Holy Communion. She even went further to ask the other sisters, “how is it possible to receive Jesus into one’s heart and not to die?”
The plan of God for Sister Imelda Magdalen came to fruition on May 12, 1333. The little nun was only eleven years old. As she knelt alone in the corner of the choir watching as the other sisters received Holy Communion. She desired to receive Communion so desperately that she was praying and weeping.
She continued to stay where she was as Mass ended and watched as the nuns and priest left the chapel.
The nuns who were on their way out all of a sudden started to smell a beautiful fragrance. So, following the aroma, they went back to the chapel and, to their amazement, they saw a brightly lit Host hovering above Imelda’s head. The nuns went in haste to get a priest.
Still vested, the Priest came back and saw the miraculous sight. He held the paten and he knelt down in adoration before the vision. As he knelt the Host descended onto the paten slowly. The definitely knew what to do. As he gave the Host to Sister Imelda who, at that moment, got to receive her First Holy Communion.
The love and joy that was felt by the young nun was incredibly too much for her. As he received the Holy Communion, she closed her eyes and died, and she was filled with her Savior and His love.
Sister Imelda Magdalen was however, beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1826. And she has been declared the Patroness of First Communicants.
Blessed Imelda, please pray for us all.