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Do you remember the Patron Saint you chose at Confirmation? Or why you chose the Saint you did? My husband, a cradle Catholic, can't exactly recall which Saint Joseph he chose so long ago, but he's almost certain he would have had an affection with the Saint Joseph that so loved God's creatures. My husband is an animal lover and this makes perfect sense to us both.
As a convert at age 40, I feel I was given a special Grace in that at this age, the decisions I've made along the way in becoming a Catholic Christian are more of a personal one. And, the benefits, if you will, of having to go through the process of R.C.I.A., not only gave me the information for learning the Faith but more importantly produced absolute certainty in the Truth of the Faith, the Church and it's teachings. For it was this seemingly simple decision in choosing a Patron Saint's name that led me to the Truth of the Holy Eucharist.
The story of how I came to find my Patron Saint in all the maze of Saints, some more known than others, made the journey of my conversion more blessed than I could ever imagine. The task of finding my chosen one seemed to have taken on a life of it's own as I felt almost drawn to a daily search. I had a sense of confidence that someone was waiting to be found. And, it wasn't long before I noticed some Saints were listed as Saints and some were only listed as Blessed. And, at the time, I didn't know the reason for this and I found myself reading about the process the church takes in naming Saints. I then wondered if it was possible to choose a Blessed instead of the more well known Saints and inquired about this possibility. It took a letter to our local Bishop for the answer and the affirmative answer came many weeks later, enough time to have already found who I felt I was led to find.
As I learned of the Faith and the Church, I found the most precious story: the story of Blessed Imelda. I was so deeply moved upon reading how she died in a loving state of ecstasy upon receiving her First Holy Communion. She was only 11 years old! On May 12, 1333, in Bologna, Italy, a young Imelda continued to kneel in prayer after Mass. She had been in the convent preparing a life as a devout Nun and the one thing she most wanted was to receive Communion. Having been sent to the convent by pleading to her loving parents, she was admired by all of her pious devotion. But, church law did not allow her to receive the Holy Eucharist, due to her young age. But, on this day, the vigil of the Ascension in 1333, her prayers were finally and infinitely answered.
A beautiful Light of the Host shown above her as she knelt in peaceful prayer. Everyone but the Sacristan had left the church and when she saw this Light above Imelda, she hurriedly ran to get the Priest. Upon seeing this miracle, the Priest had no alternative but to give Imelda her First Communion. Immediately, Imelda fell into ecstasy upon receiving her Lord. No one could have known what would happen next, perhaps not even Imelda. But, our Lord knew. At the altar where she had been praying and had just received Christ in the Eucharist, surrounded by Nuns and onlookers, God took her home to be with Him. This sweet child who loved God so very deeply in her heart was taken up immediately! And, her uncorrupted body still lies in a church in Bologna, Italy to this day.
In my search for more information on Blessed Imelda, which took me to bookstores far away in London, Internet searches, and Catholic bookstore shelves, I was disappointed to find there was not to be much more information available. I even wrote to the Church in Bologna and received a small pamphlet, however, it arrived in Italian. I've not had it translated just yet. This may seem amusing however it only manifested the desire to look further. Many people had suggested Saint Thérèse, the little flower, as a Patron Saint. I had a deep fondness and thankful heart for Saint Thérèse after I experienced an answered prayer from her intercession during the annulment requirement of a previous marriage. I struggled trying to decide whether to choose Saint Thérèse, who had been so good to me, or Blessed Imelda, who touched my heart.
It had been about 2 months since my mother-in-law passed away. In a room full of boxes, she had saved hundreds of books. A dear friend and I were preparing them for donation to a local in-home library. Out of the blue, my friend handed me one of the books and said, "This looks interesting." I had exhausted myself for a number of days looking at so many boxes of books in that room that I wasn't really much interested in stopping to look at another. I just wanted to get this huge and sad task completed. But, I took the book and carelessly flipped it open, not even mindful of the title. To my amazement, my hand opened and stopped right to the story of Blessed Imelda!! We both stood in silent and joyful wonderment, for my conversations with this friend were always of Blessed Imelda and what little information I had found. That day was a true blessing for us both. The book is by Bob and Penny Lord, Book I, "This is my Body, This is my Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist."
I was, at that time, still not certain which Patron Saint to choose. Then, one day, it dawned on me! Of all the Saints, surely Saint Thérèse, who blesses us all in her "little way", would understand "my" little way (here on earth) to take young Imelda's name. I wondered how many Catholics had taken Blessed Imelda as their Patron Saint. I imagined a "system" of sorts; all the Saints standing with golden stars for each one of us who chooses them. I had pictured Imelda, with maybe just a few while others had many. I wanted to choose Imelda, whose love is so deep and who so few know. It was this picture in my mind which brought flitters of peace and love to my heart. And so, at the moment I knew and felt St. Thérèse would understand, I confidently chose Blessed Imelda as my Patron Saint.
Choosing this precious child has graced me with the most beautiful knowledge of Christ in the Eucharist. And at every Mass, I'm reminded of Blessed Imelda's deep love for Christ in the Eucharist. I pray that my heart always holds dear, precious, and sacred that same love and desire for our Lord as it was that first time I received Communion. It is Blessed Imelda, a sweet child of God, who has led me, with the Grace of our Lord, closer to Him in the most Blessed Sacrament of all. I thank God every day for giving me this story of her life and death as my very own personal outward sign of His love for us.
God couldn't have made the Truth any clearer to me but by this beautiful Blessed! Of all the many beautiful aspects of my journey, the story of Blessed Imelda heightened the fire in my heart to believe, please, and love my God. How wondrous is the Church that gives us this amazing and fruitful gift!! The Saints and their examples are but one part of His Divine plan. Ultimately, He left the Holy Eucharist for us that we may believe and willfully submit our lives.
May God bless you in your faith journeys.
-- by Deborah Kay
This article is © Copyright 2000 by Deborah Kay