Imelda Lambertini was born in 1322 in Bologna, the only child of Count Egano Lambertini and Castora Galuzzi. Her parents were devout 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 14. Imelda would sometimes exclaim: “Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?”
At the age of nine, though her wish for receiving Holy Communion had not been granted, Imelda was allowed to enter the Dominican convent as a young postulant in Valdipietra, near Bologna, which was unusual to do for a girl at her age.
One night on May 12, 1333, the day of the vigil of the Ascension, the now eleven-year-old Imelda stayed late in the chapel to pray after Mass. She had begged to be allowed to make her First Holy Communion on this feast, but was again denied. Each denied request increased her love and desire for the Real Presence of Jesus in her soul.
Later that day, a scent of roses drew the nuns back to the chapel, other accounts cite a bright light. Imelda was kneeling in prayer and the “Light of the Host” was witnessed above her head by the Sacristan, who then fetched the Priest so he could see.
Quickly understanding God’s will for the child to receive, the Priest took the Eucharist and gave Imelda her First Holy Communion on the spot. As she took Jesus into her heart, Imelda entered into a state of ecstatic prayer. The child remained kneeling as the nuns left chapel to allow her more time to pray.
Later when her holy sister came to get Imelda for supper, she found Imelda still kneeling with a smile on her face. Her sister called her name, but she did not stir, so she lightly tapped Imelda on the shoulder, at which Imelda collapsed to the floor dead. Imelda, after receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, proving her early words to be prophetic, died of pure love and joy.
Her remains are kept in Bologna at the Church of San Sigismondo, beneath the wax effigy of her likeness.