Blessed Imelda Lambertini Bologna 1333; Dying of Love
Bologna is a very famous city in Italy, famous for that matter, in all Europe. It boasts Europe’s oldest University. At one time, in the 14th Century, there were 10,000 students attending the University of Bologna. During this century, Marconi worked at that University on his wireless, which became the Radio. Because the city has always attracted intelligent people, freethinking has been a way of life for inhabitants of Bologna. Freethinking breeds agnosticsm and atheism, as well as anarchy and radicalism. Bologna has been known for all of the above. In the 1970’s, Bologna was a hotbed of a homegrown breed of terrorists, the Red Brigade, along with Turin, Padua and Milan.
On the other hand, Bologna is the resting place of many saints of the Church, one of which is St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order, and co-reformer of the Church of the Thirteenth Century, with St. Francis of Assisi. Another is St. Catherine, whose incorrupt body is seated in a small church in Bologna. During World War II, the entire church was bombed out, except for the little Chapel which is the Sanctuary of the saint.
There is also, in St. Sigismondo, a little Parish Church near the University, the body of a very special little girl, Blessed Imelda Lambertini named the Protectress of First Holy Communicants by Pope St. Pius X, . She was born of a very noble Bolognese family. Her father was Count Egano Lambertini. From the time she was a small child, she was known fo her piety and spirituality. It was obvious that she would devote her life to God. It was not known that it would be such a short life. Imelda was a joy to her parents. She was a pretty little girl, but things of the world had no value for her. She spent much time by herself in prayer, in various corners of the house where she would not be distracted.
It was no surprise when she asked her parents for permission at age nine to enter into the religious life. She was placed in the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria Maddalena in Valdipietra. She was loved very much by the nuns in the Convent, as they watched her grow in the spiritual life. Being the youngest in the community, and probably the most loved, Imelda was treated as a very special gift from the Lord. The nuns could tell that this was no ordinary child. She was extremely happy with them, taking to the community life immediately; she was an example to many of the older nuns.
Imelda had an all consuming love for Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. She longed to be able to take part in Communion, but at that time she was not able to, because of her age. ( In the 14th Century, children were not allowed to receive Communion until the age of 12) When the other sisters received the Eucharist at Mass, she yearned to be able to take part in the Eucharistic Feast. She grieved for this one gift of the Lord that was refused her. She was heard to have said “Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?”
But the Lord had a special gift for her, a Eucharistic Miracle. It took place on the feast of the Ascension in 1333. The community was at Mass. Blessed Imelda prayed fervently during this particular Mass. When the Mass ended, the sisters proceeded to leave the Church. Imelda stayed behind to continue praying. The sisters turned to call Imelda. What they saw astonished them. A bright white Host appeared above the head of Imelda, and remained suspended in air. They immediately called the priest. Upon witnessing what had happened, the priest took a paten, and went to where Imelda was kneeling. The bright Host, still suspended over her head, descended onto the Paten. The priest took this as a sign that Imelda was to be given her First Holy Communion. He administered the Lord to her. She swooned, and went into an ecstacy, from which she never returned. She died that same day. Thus, her first Communion was also to be her last. The date was May 12, 1333. Imelda was 11 years old.
Her story is short. Her life was short. But it was more complete than many people who live to be 100. The Lord had a very definite example He wanted to set by the devotion this young creature had for Him in His Precious Body and Blood. In St. Mark’s Gospel, 10:14-15, Jesus tells us: Let the children come to me and do not hinder them. It is to just such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. I assure you that whoever does not accept the reign of God like a little child shall not take part in it. The pure faith of this child was so strong that Our Lord Jesus put aside the laws of nature to reward her, and instruct us.
Devotion to this little Blessed person began almost immediately after her death. Many devotional booklets were written about her, especially in connection with the Eucharist. Wherever a great devotion to the Eucharist arose, or heresy denying the Eucharist, prayers for the intercession of Imelda followed. In 1922, a community of Dominicans was instituted, called Dominican Sisters of Blessed Imelda. Their Charisma is to spread the Eucharistic Spirit by means of Perpetual Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, and to give moral, intellectual and religious aid to young people. This community also does missionary work in Brazil.
Blessed Imelda’s body is venerated in the Parish Church of San Sigismondo, near the University in Bologna. It’s very fitting that she be there, close to young people. We would like to say that the young people need to take example and inspiration from Blessed Imelda. But that would only be half a truth People, young and old alike, need to take inspiration from her.
We have a responsibility to those that follow us, as our ancestors had to us. There is a lot of anger in our young people today, because of the world situation. They consider the Nuclear Age we live in as a mess that our generation has gifted them with. We, for our part, put the blame on those who came before us. The same can apply to our Spiritual World. There are those who believe that our Church has lost all its tradition, and that our children have nothing to hold onto. What legacy are we giving our children as regards to their souls?
What will our children and grandchildren give as a legacy to those who follow them? Will it be the endtimes? Or will a bright star, such as Blessed Imelda Lambertini, brilliant with the pure love she possessed for Our Lord Jesus, be able to light up the hearts and souls of our generation, and the next, and the next? Will that brightness light up the heart of our generation and the next and the next. I pray so.