For First Communicants

With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1919

by a Sister of Notre Dame, author of First Communion Days

  Page 4



In the sunny land of Italy lived a little girl called Mariana. Her mother was a rich Countess, the cousin of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, so Mariana was related to a Saint. Counting both brothers and sisters the family was eleven in all, and they lived in a beautiful house and had many servants to wait upon them. Only one of Mariana's sisters was married, all the rest were nuns. The Countess was very good and holy, and had taught all her children herself.
Mariana learnt her prayers and catechism as soon as she could talk. Often her mother would take her to church and tell her all about Jesus dwelling in the tabernacle day and night She showed her the red lamp always burning to tell whoever came into the church that Jesus was there. It made Mariana very happy to know that she could always find Our Lord in church, and that He came into the hearts of those who received Him in Holy Communion.

Although at this time she was only four years old the little girl longed to receive Our Lord into her heart, and she loved kneeling before the tabernacle while she talked to Him. At home she was never so happy as when talking about her dear Jesus, or picking flowers for her little altars.

Sometimes her nurse told her about the sufferings of Our Lord in His Sacred Passion, and of how the Saints used to fast and do hard penances in order to be more like Him. Mariana talked all this over with one of her brothers, and they made up their minds to leave home and go and live alone like the Saints, spending their time in prayer and penance. So, like another St. Teresa and her brother, they packed up some bread and wine, found where the key of the front door was kept, and then went to bed, meaning to start very early the next morning before anyone was up. But, alas! for their plans. The next morning the basket was found by the servants while Mariana and her little brother were still fast asleep!

When Mariana was eight years old she became very ill, so ill that the doctors thought that she would die. A holy priest came to stay with the Countess, and he told her to pray very fervently to Our Lady Immaculate that Mariana might get better. Mariana said the prayers as her mother told her to do. Then looking up she saw Our Blessed Lady asking Jesus to cure her. It did not seem at first as if Our Lord was going to grant His Mother this favour, but Our Lady went on asking, and at last Jesus said "Yes," and Mariana suddenly felt quite well. She was cured.
You would think that after this great favour Mariana would have tried more than ever to be good but, strange to say, soon after her cure, instead of trying to please dear Jesus and His Blessed Mother she began to spend her time looking at herself in the glass, curling her hair and thinking how pretty she looked. She even became jealous and cross if her dresses were not as costly and beautiful as those of her friends. She did not do any big sins, but she did not love Our Lord as she had done before. This grieved Jesus very much, for He never left off loving Mariana. So at last He did something to remind the thoughtless little girl of His love.

One day as she was sitting in front of her glass Mariana was thinking what a beautiful face she had, when suddenly, instead of her own face, she saw the face of Our Lord in the mirror. His Sacred Head was crowned with thorns, and drops of His Precious Blood were trickling down His cheeks. When Mariana saw this she began to weep, for she knew that her vanity had helped to make Jesus suffer and caused Him to look so sad. There and then she made up her mind that she would never be vain or cross again. She told Our Lord how sorry she was for causing Him pain, and promised to spend more time with Him again.

Mariana kept her promise. Once more she found delight in kneeling before Jesus in the tabernacle, once more she longed to receive Him into her heart in Holy Communion. But she was only eight years old, and in those days it was not the custom to let such little children make their First Holy Communion. Whenever she went to Confession Mariana would ask the priest to let her receive her dear Jesus, but each time he said: "Not yet."

At last, one day in August, the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow [August 5], Mariana felt a great desire to go to a certain church built in honour of St. Roch. The Countess gave her permission, and the little girl set off with one of her brothers.

When they arrived at the church numbers of people were already going up to the altar rails to receive Holy Communion. Mariana knelt down near one of the confessionals, and as she watched the people coming back to their places with her dear Jesus in their hearts she began to cry because she could not have Him too. The priest who was hearing confessions noticed this, and called Mariana, asking her to tell him what troubled her. In a voice choked with sobs the little girl told him that it was because she was not yet allowed to make her First Holy Communion, although she wished so much to receive Our Lord.

"But why not, my little friend?" said the priest. "It must be because I am so vain and wicked," answered Mariana between her sobs.

When he heard this the kind priest told her to come to Confession to him every week, and that he would see if she were really trying to be good and to prepare her soul for receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. He also told her to beg Our Lord to come into her heart, especially when she saw others going to receive Him. Jesus would come into her heart spiritually, he explained to her, if she really wished to receive Him.

Mariana did just as the priest had told her to, and after each Spiritual Communion Jesus filled her heart more and more with His Divine love, so that the child often remained long hours in prayer, talking to her beloved Jesus. By the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption the wise priest gave Mariana permission to make her First Holy Communion.
Never was there such a happy little girl as she was when the morning of the Assumption dawned. In reward for all her desires Our Lord filled her heart to overflowing with His love and grace. Mariana used to say afterwards that no matter how long she lived she would never forget the happiness of her First Communion day. Until she was fifteen she always went to Holy Communion three times a week, which was very often for a little girl in those days. All during those years she never forgot how she had once grieved her dear Jesus by her vanity, and soon after her fifteenth birthday was past she gave herself entirely to Our Dear Lord by becoming a nun. Perhaps it was in memory of her happy First Communion day that she took the name of Sister Mary of the Angels.

The above image is not part of the book, which has black and white illustrations.