Francisco and Jacinta received their First Holy Communion from an angel when they did not have access to the sacraments.
For many centuries in the Roman Catholic Church, the reception of Holy Communion was only permitted to children who were 12 years old and older. This was changed in 1910 when Pope St. Pius X lowered the requirement to the “age of reason,” typically around 6 or 7.
However, local parishes were slow to implement the change and in Fatima, visionaries Francisco and Jacinta had not yet received their First Communion by the time of the first apparition in 1916, even though they were already 8 and 6 years old.
Without access to the Holy Eucharist, the three little shepherd children were visited by an angel in 1916, a vision that preceded their encounters with the Virgin Mary the following year.
According to an account written by Lucia, they looked up and saw, “shining over us a strange light. We lifted our heads to see what was happening. the Angel was holding in his left hand a chalice and over it, in the air, was a host from which drops of blood fell into the chalice.” The angel then taught the children a prayer to be recited.
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.
Then Lucia records, “After that he rose, took again in his hand the chalice and the host. The host he gave to me and the contents of the chalice he gave to Jacinta and Francisco, saying at the same time, ‘Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ terribly outraged by the ingratitude of men. Offer reparation for their sakes and console God.'”
This episode would mark the first time Francisco and Jacinta received the Eucharist, albeit in a miraculous way. Francisco would later receive his “technical” First Communion shortly before he died. In a certain sense, it was a miraculous “spiritual communion” that bridged the gap between Heaven and earth.
The miracle reminds us that God cannot be limited in his generosity and how he can be present in our midst, even in the most difficult circumstances. Similar to how the resurrected Jesus appeared to his apostles when they locked themselves in a room, Jesus came to these children even though they did not have access to the sacraments.
May we never forget that God is present among us and will visit us if we open the door to him.