In Communion with Nellie

Nellie Organ was born in Waterford, Ireland on August 24, 1903. Nellie's father, William, wrote of his daughter, “When only two, she would clasp my hand and toddle off to Mass, prattling all the way about Holy God. That was the way she always spoke of God, and I do not know where she could have learned it.”

Poor Nellie was afflicted with severe scoliosis and would spend much of the nights coughing and crying. The toddler's comfort came, amazingly, from visits to church to see the Eucharist. She would point to the monstrance and whisper, “Mudder, there He is, there is Holy God!” Nellie desired to receive communion, but she was too young, as the age for First Communion at the time was twelve. Instead she would ask those who had just received communion to give her a kiss so she could have some contact with Jesus.

When Nellie's death was approaching—she had tuberculosis—her local priest asked permission from the bishop to give her Holy Communion. The four-year-old had arrived, he argued, at the use of reason. More importantly, the little girl possessed an extraordinary degree of love for Christ. Permission was granted and Nellie Organ received her First Holy Communion. Several weeks later, on February 2nd, 1908, the Little Violet of the Blessed Sacrament went home to God.

Two years later, Pope Saint Pius X lowered the age of First Communion to seven. He had been told of Little Nellie Organ and this was the sign he had been waiting for. The pope would ask for a relic of Nellie and in a letter to the Bishop of Cork write, “May God enrich with every blessing Father Prevost and all who recommend frequent communion to young boys and girls, proposing Nellie as their model.”

May all those who receive their First Communion this time of year remember in their prayers of gratitude Little Nellie of Ireland.

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