With Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1919
by a Sister of Notre Dame, author of First
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
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
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.
above image is not part of the book, which has black and white