Imelda Lambertini was born in 1322 in Bologna, the only child of Count Egano Lambertini and Castora Galuzzi. Her parents were devout Roman Catholics and were known for their charity and generosity to the underprivileged of Bologna. On her fifth birthday, she requested to receive Holy Eucharist. However, the custom at the time was that children did not receive their first Holy Communion until age fourteen.
At age nine, she went to live with the Dominican nuns at Val di Pietra, near Bologna. Lonely and longing to be fully accepted by the community, Imelda spent her time meditating and reading about the saints. According to legend, Saint Agnes took pity on her and began appearing to Imelda regularly. Since Agnes was martyred at the age of thirteen, the two little girls became close friends and spent most of their time together whispering about heaven
On the twelfth of May, 1333, the day of the vigil of the Ascension, Imelda once again pleaded for the Eucharist, but the officiating priest refused her. Imelda would not take “no” for an answer this time, so she fervently asked Jesus for the grace to receive him. As she knelt in prayer the “Light of the Host” was reportedly witnessed above her head by the Sacristan and within the glow, a eucharistic host appeared. The sacristan fetched the priest so he could see. After seeing this miracle, the priest felt compelled to admit her to receiving the Eucharist. Immediately after receiving it, Lambertini went back to her seat and decided to stay after mass and pray. Later when a nun came to get Lambertini for supper, she found Lambertini still kneeling with a smile on her face. The nun called her name, but she did not stir, so she lightly tapped Imelda on the shoulder, at which Imelda collapsed to the floor dead. Those who tell the story say her heart broke from the greatness of Jesus’ love.
Her body never decomposed and her remains are kept in Bologna at the Church of San Sigismondo, beneath the wax effigy of her likeness.
She is the patron saint of First Communions.