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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1924)

Son of the founder of the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pier Giorgio Frassati grew up in a bourgeois family in Turin. A student, mountaineer, and member of the Dominican Third Order, Pier Giorgio was fascinated by God from childhood. On June 19, 1911, he and his sister Luciana received the sacrament of First Communion. At the age of 12, he decided to take communion daily, which he would do until his dying day. Throughout his life, Pier Giorgio drew from the Gospel his concern for justice and his desire to care for the poor and the sick. "Jesus visits me every day in the Eucharist, and I humbly visit Him by visiting the poor," he wrote.

Blessed Sister Marie-Cécile of Rome (1897-1924)

Dina Bélanger's parents, Octave and Séraphia, were very similar to those of St. Therese of Lisieux. They were a middle-class family with a deep faith and Christian virtues that permeated their house on Rue du Roi in Quebec City. Dina Bélanger, who would become a mystical nun, made her First Communion on May 2, 1907, at the age of 10. The graces of the sacrament inspired in her a firm desire for conversion. On the following March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, she heard the voice of God. "It was a grace of making a choice," she wrote in her spiritual diary. “At once, Jesus, in his golden monstrance, captured my whole being; I stared at him, without moving; I told him inside: Jesus, I know it is you who are there, in the host ... "

St. John Paul II (1920-2005)

Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II in 1978, was born in 1920 in Wadowice, a small town about 30 miles from Krakow. Accompanied by his father (his mother had already died in April of that year), he received his First Communion at the age of 9 in his parish church, on May 29, 1929. In a letter to children, John Paul II remembers this day: "I remember as though it were yesterday when, together with the other boys and girls of my own age, I received the Eucharist for the first time …” He recalls the “purity and joy experienced in that meeting with Jesus, the One who out of love became the Redeemer of man.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897)

Young Thérèse, who would become a great Carmelite nun, received her First Communion on May 8, 1884, the day of her sister Pauline's religious profession. During Mass, 11-year-old Thérèse cried tears of joy. She would later describe it thus: "Ah ! How sweet was Jesus' first kiss to my soul! ... It was a kiss of love, I felt loved, and I also said: I love you, I give myself to you forever.” It was also after receiving Communion at Christmas 1886 that she said she had received the grace of a great conversion: "I felt charity entering my heart, the need to forget myself to please others, and since then I have been happy," she wrote later in her manuscripts.

Blessed Brother Christophe Lebreton (1950-1996)

Born in Blois (central France) into a family of 12 children, Brother Christophe was touched by faith very early on. He is one of seven Trappist monks from Our Lady of the Atlas of Tibhirine who were kidnapped during the night of March 26/27, 1996, and murdered on May 21 of the same year. It was in 1957 that he made his First Communion. "We were raised as Christians, but in great freedom — and above all, I believe, we each perceived something profound in our parents’ faith, in their lives, a concern for truth, discretion ... and courage in the trials that are not lacking when raising twelve children (there are also many joys)," he noted in his writings.

Servant of God Carlo Acutis (1991-2006)

This Italian teenager, known as the cyber-apostle of the Eucharist, died at the age of 15 from a devastating leukemia. He aroused great admiration in those who knew him for his great maturity and his authentic Christian testimony. From the time he received his First Communion on June 16, 1998, at the age of 7, he went to Mass every day. Carlo always tried to spend some time in front of the tabernacle before or after the Eucharistic celebration. "If we approach the Eucharist every day, we go straight to Heaven," he often said.

Venerable Chiara Badano (1971-1990)

The life of this Italian girl, who died of bone cancer at the age of 18, can be summed up in this simple sentence that she pronounced from her early childhood: "I still want to say 'yes' to Jesus.” Chiara was born on October 29, 1971, in Liguria. Her parents welcomed her as a grace from the “Madonna delle Rocche” (Virgin of the Rocks) for which they had prayed for 11 years. On May 27, 1979, she made her First Communion. On that day, a priest offered her a book of the Gospels. Shortly afterwards, she wrote: "It’s so easy for me to learn the alphabet; it should be the same for the Gospel.” In 1988, suffering from bone cancer, she learned that her diagnosis was fatal. Accompanied by her mother, the young girl remained prostrate for 25 minutes in absolute silence. It was time to say "yes" to Jesus again.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906)

Born Elizabeth Catez, this French Carmelite nun made her First Communion at the age of 11, on April 19, 1891. She later wrote that since that day she "only aspires to give Him her life.” On the evening of her First Communion, Mother Mary of Jesus, the local Carmelite superior, gave Elizabeth an image with an explanation of her first name, which in Hebrew means "my God is my subsistence.” One day, after receiving Holy Communion, the young girl said she heard the word "Carmel" in her soul. She then understood that her vocation, which seemed to be taking shape by giving her immense joy, was monastic life in Carmel.

Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko (1947-1984)

Chaplain of the Solidarity Polish trade union, and assassinated for his faith, he is one of the emblematic figures in the fight against the communist regime in Poland. A mediocre pupil, but with a very sensitive heart, he traveled 3 miles every day from his village to the church to participate in Mass. He never desisted, despite mockery from his school teachers. Jerzy received his First Communion at the age of 9 and his confirmation on the same day in 1956, flanked by his parents.

Blessed Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri (1916-1975)

The anniversary date of the First Communion of this Spanish researcher and teacher, a lay member of Opus Dei, has become a very special day. The fourth child of a wealthy and pious family in Madrid, Guadalupe received the sacrament on May 18, 1923, at the age of 7. This day marked her childhood from a spiritual point of view. In October 2018, Pope Francis announced the date of her beatification: May 18, 2019, the anniversary of her First Communion.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-2004)

Thanks to her maturity and a religious education given by her parents and her older sister Amelia, this Italian saint, a doctor who died of a cancerous tumor — after refusing treatment that would lead to the death of her child — received her First Communion at the age of 5. She received the sacrament on April 4, 1948, in the parish of Santa Grata in Bergamo. From that date until her death, Gianna went to Mass and received Communion daily, regardless of the weather, her class schedule as a student, or later, her duties as both a doctor and a mother.

Venerable Anne de Guigné (1911-1922)

Little Anne, who died at the age of 11, left behind an astonishing reputation for holiness. Born in Annecy (southeastern France), Anne was a very lively and educated child. The tragic death of her father caused the beginning of her conversion when she was only 4 years old. The lighthouse that lit her way was her First Communion. On March 26, 1917, at the age of 6, Anne entered a chapel in Cannes, visibly filled with deep joy. On the same day, she wrote: "My little Jesus, I love you, and to please you, I resolve to obey always.” The way she looked after receiving the Lord amazed those around her; every time, Anne seemed to be transfigured. Suffering from meningitis, which would take her life at the age of 11, she kept repeating: "My God, I want everything you want.”
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