For First Communicants
With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1919
by a Sister of Notre Dame, author of First Communion Days
-------St. Gerard Majella--------
You [may] have all heard of the wonderful Saint called St. Gerard
Majella, how he spent his whole life doing good, curing those who were
ill, making wicked men feel sorry for their sins, and become good
again, loving Our Dear Lord in the tabernacle so much, and being loved
so much by Him that whatever he prayed for was granted.
Now St. Gerard was once a little boy just like one of you, only he was
an Italian boy. He was born in a pretty little town in Italy called
Muro. His father kept a tailor's shop and used to make clothes for the
men who lived there. He was a good man and loved God, and wished his
children to grow up good Catholics. God had given him three children,
two girls and one little boy, Gerard, the youngest. The very day he was
born his father carried him to the Cathedral and had him Baptized so
that he might at once become a child of God. His mother, who loved her
son very much, took great care of him, and as soon as he could speak
taught him to say the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. His mother noticed
that whenever she talked to his sisters of God and His Holy Mother,
Gerard would leave his play and come and sit quietly at her side. When
they said their prayers Gerard would join his little hands and his lips
moved as if he were trying to say the words.
One day, when Gerard was three or four years old, he heard his mother
explaining to his sisters how Jesus dwelt in the tabernacle in church,
and how often He was left alone hour after hour, and yet never wearied
of waiting for us there.
This was enough for Gerard. Quietly he slipped out of the room;
out of the front door, and trotted down the street to the church. The
door was open, so in he went, right up the middle, up to the top of the
altar steps. There he knelt, talking to Jesus, his little hands
clasped, his eyes fixed on the tabernacle door. Two hours passed and
still he knelt on. People coming in and out wondered to see that tiny
child kneeling there, but no one disturbed him.
Meanwhile father and mother and friends were all looking for Gerard.
Gerard was lost! Where could he be? His mother at last went into the
church to ask the help of Our Lady who once lost her dear Son for three
days. Imagine her surprise when, on going into the church, she saw her
lost baby rapt in prayer on the altar steps.
With a cry of joy she hastened to him, lifted him in her arms and
carried him home. "Where have you been, Gerard, all this time?" she
"Only in church, mamma," he said. "I did not want Little Jesus to be lonely."
After this Gerard would slip away from home day after day, but he could
always be found just in front of the altar, talking to Jesus. Never was
he so happy as when he was talking to Our Blessed Lord in church.
One day he came home with a tiny loaf which he gave to his mother. When
she asked him where he had got it he told her that the lovely lady in
the church had given it to him. This happened several times. His sister
Bridget, curious to see who took such notice of her little brother, one
day followed him at a distance. Imagine her surprise to see Gerard stop
in front of the beautiful statue of Our Lady with the Infant Jesus, and
looking up, say: "Come down, Little One. Here I am." Before Gerard had
time to say any more a wonderful thing happened. The Holy Child was
standing beside him and when his sister looked again at the statue Our
Lady's arms were empty. Jesus kissed and talked to little Gerard, then,
giving him a little white loaf. He once more returned to His Blessed
Quickly Bridget ran home to tell her mother the wonderful miracle she
had seen, and the good mother thanked God for having given her a son
who was so pleasing to God as to be allowed to play with the Infant
As Gerard grew a little older he began to have a great desire to
receive his dear Jesus in Holy Communion. He had seen his eldest sister
make her First Holy Communion when she was twelve years old, for in
those days it was not the custom for very little children to receive
Our Lord. They had to wait until they were twelve or thirteen years
old, and Gerard was not seven. Many a time he asked his mother to let
him go, but she only smiled and told him to wait a little longer.
But one day during Holy Mass, as Gerard watched the people going up to
the communion rails, he felt he could not wait another moment. Jesus
seemed to be calling him. Joining his hands reverently he walked up to
the rails and knelt between two ladies. The priest came down from the
altar with Our Lord in his hands. He went to the end of the rails and
began giving Holy Communion to each one there. Nearer and nearer he
came to where Gerard was kneeling; only two more, only one, and he
stands in front of Gerard, whose heart beat so violently he could
hardly breathe. But the priest looked at the little one, then thinking
it some baby who had crept up with its mother, passed him by, gave Holy
Communion to the other lady and then returned to the altar. Gerard,
opening his eyes, saw Our Lord had passed him by. With one big sob he
rose, left the church, and hastened home. Once in his own little room
he threw himself on the ground and sobbed as if his little heart would
His mother heard all about what had happened from a neighbour who had
been there, and when much later Gerard came down, his eyes swollen with
crying, she asked no questions but, kissing him tenderly, tried to
amuse him and make him think of something else.
At half-past six that night, after his mother had left him safely
tucked up in bed and gone downstairs, Gerard began once more to cry
quietly to himself Then a wonderful thing happened. He could see the
sky from where he lay, and he seemed to see right up into Heaven, the
home of Little Jesus. Presently, as he lay gazing up and praying for
the great grace for which he longed, he saw the heavens open, and the
beautiful Archangel St. Michael come flying down towards him, carrying
in his hands the Sacred Host. In an instant Gerard was on his knees.
St. Michael flew right to Gerard, and placed on the tongue of the happy
child his dear Jesus.
And so, from the hands of the great Saint Michael himself, Gerard received his First Holy Communion.
The above image is not part of the book, which has black and white illustrations.