These youngsters have a lot to teach us, no matter how old we are.
Many of the great saints in the Church were not illustrious bishops or popes, but were, in fact, just children.
They teach us that the key to holiness is becoming little and having a child-like trust in our Heavenly Father. Adults can get puffed up by pride and have greater difficulty accepting the will of God but children do not have that impediment and can show awe-inspiring faith.
Here are five such saints who, from a very early age, dedicated themselves to God and entered the heavenly kingdom before reaching maturity.
Saint José Luis Sánchez del Río
Little José was attending school when the Cristero War broke out in 1926. His brothers willingly joined the rebels and José wanted to join them. He said he wanted to give his life for Jesus Christ and realized that he could easily die on the battlefield. The general eventually allowed José to be the flag bearer of the troop. During one battle he was captured and pressured by the soldiers to renounce his Christian faith. José staunchly refused and his refusal enraged the soldiers. They cut off the soles of his feet and forced him to walk to the cemetery. He continually shouted “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live Christ the King!) and was eventually shot by the commander for not renouncing his faith. José died at the age of 14.
Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto
Illiterate shepherd children, Francisco and Jacinta were witnesses to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. They were deeply affected by the apparitions and quickly dedicated themselves to offering their lives as a living sacrifice to God for the poor sinners in the world. After the apparitions both siblings were victims of the Spanish flu pandemic after World War I and greatly suffered. Jacinta responded to the suffering by saying, “Oh, how much I love to suffer for love of Our Lord and Our Lady, they greatly love those who suffer for the conversion of sinners.” Francisco died at age 10, while Jacinta died at age 9.
Saint Dominic Savio
Taught by Saint John Bosco, Dominic grew in sanctity at an early age. Already at age 4, he said his daily prayers with devotion and reminded his parents when they forgot to pray. He learned how to serve Mass when he was 5 and was permitted to receive Holy Communion at age 7, which was a novelty at the time. Dominic later said about his First Communion, “That was the happiest and most wonderful day of my life.” He greatly desired to follow God’s will and said, “I can’t do big things. But I want all I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God.” He was very frail and his health quickly worsened; he died at age 14.
Blessed Imelda Lambertini
Attracted to religious life at an early age, Imelda asked to enter the Dominicans when she was 9 years old. Her parents were surprised, but seeing the devotion and love for God that she had, they permitted her to live at the nearby monastery. While there she was permitted to wear the Dominican habit and follow the way of life of the sisters. Her greatest longing was to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, but at the time the age for reception of Communion was 14. However, she persisted and said, “Can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?” She was again denied, but after the feast of the Ascension, Imelda was seen kneeling in the church in front of a host suspended in the air. The priest, seeing the miracle, saw it as a sign and gave Imelda her First Communion. With a smile on her face, Imelda died moments afterwards. She was only 11. Her feast day is marked May 13 and she is a patron of First Communicants.