Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The First Communion of Princess Marie-José

In her memoirs, Queen Marie-José of Italy relates, in touching terms, that her father, King Albert I of the Belgians, amidst the pressures and preoccupations of World War I, nonetheless found time to instruct her personally in the catechism, prior to her First Communion.  Here is a beautiful account of the occasion from a contemporary youth journal: 
The First Communion of the little Princess Marie Jose, the only daughter of the royal house of Belgium, took place within the little strip of Belgian territory still held by the Belgian army, in which Queen Elizabeth had erected a temporary refuge for orphaned and destitute Belgian children. In the plain and humble chapel of this refuge, and in company with some of the orphan children, the little Princess received her First Communion at the hands of the Bishop of the diocese. The tiny chapel was crowded with orphans, officers and poilus.
On a prie-dieu in front of the altar knelt King Albert in uniform and the Queen in plain white coat and skirt. The little princess, in traditional white dress and veil, and wearing a gold medal, knelt a little in front. She looked very lovely and very simple on this beautiful day, and at the close of the Mass, after a pious thanksgiving, in which her royal parents, who had also received Holy Communion, joined, she came forth in sunshine to greet her companions of the hours of misfortune, the staff officers of her father's entourage, the ladies of the Queen's tiny household, and then busied herself the rest of the day with the orphans.
The little Princess had made the journey to Belgium from her English convent school that she might in her native land, receive for the first time her Divine King in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.


Matterhorn said...

Odd..I've always seen the date of the First Communion given as 1916 (most sources seem to say August 15, 1916, to be precise), but that postcard says 1915.

MadMonarchist said...

What a great story, and what a scene that must have been in the surroundings of the day.

Matterhorn said...

She also tells in her memoirs of playing with a pet sheep, named Yser, after the ceremony. So she went from the Mystic lamb to the pet lamb, to so speak.

Anonymous said...

I read in a book King Albert bought Queen Elisabeth a pet lamb, to replace one that had accidentally been killed in La Panne.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, I think Yser himself was a present from King Albert to Queen Elisabeth. But the children, especially M-J and Charles, loved to play with him.

First holy communion invitations said...

Absolutely one of the best stories I have ever read!