This story happened years ago, when there was a war between Germany and France in 1870. The Germans had brought their large armies into France and many battles were fought there.
One night when the Germans were near a village called Dijon they sent scouts on to say that their soldiers would rest in that village for the night, and would sleep in the church, which was the only large building there.
When the people of the village heard this they were in great distress. The priest was not at home and many of these soldiers were perhaps faithless men, and it would not have been right to leave Our Lord in the tabernacle of the church where the soldiers might insult Him. Yet they could not prevent the German soldiers from doing that what they said they would do.
Now you know that no one but a priest or deacon should take the Blessed Sacrament in his hands except in cases of necessity. No one should touch the ciborium or sacred vessl in which It is kept without special permission. But when soldiers were going to sleep in the church it was of course "a case of necessity." Yet not one of the villagers dared to take the coborium away. First they asked the sacristan who cleaned the church, but he said "No." Then they asked one man after the other, but each was afraid, or said he was not worthy. What was to be done? Soon it would be too late.
At last one of the men said: "I know what to do. My little daughter Marie is four years old. She is good and innocent, just like an angel. I will take her up to the altar. She shall take Our Lord from the tabernacle, and then we will carry her to the priest's house. While she holds the ciborium in her baby hands.
All were very pleased with this idea. So Marie was sought for. Her mother washed her, especially her little hands that were so soon to carry Our Dear Lord, and dressed in her best white frock, while she tried to explain to ther the great honour she was to have.
Mary seemed quite able to understand. Since she was a tiny baby her mother had taken her to visit Little Jesus in the tabernacle, and many a time she had blown Him kisses from the church door. Now she was to carry him in her arms.
Slowly and reverently her father carried her up the altar steps, and unlocked the tabernacle door. Lovingly Marie drew out the ciborium which held her dear Jesus and pressed it to her breast. Her little heart beat fast while she whispered to Jesus how pleased she was to have Him in her arms, for was she not bearing in her tiny hands the Lord and God who bears us all in the hollow of His Hand, and yet loves us so much that He hides Himself in the Blessed Sacrament just to be always with us when we need Him?
After Marie's father walked all the villagers, making quite a long procession, until they came to the priest's house. There Our Lord remained safely all night, the good villagers taking it in turns to kneel on guard in front of Him.
Now you will want to know why Marie was chosen instead of one of the men for this great honour. It was because she was so innocent and pure: she had never committed any sin and so had never offended dear Jesus. It is into pure and innocent hearts like hers that Jesus loves to come in Holy Communion.
Very soon, when the priest came back, the villagers told him all that they had done, and he was very pleased, and told Marie that she must always remember what a great honor she had had, and that she must begin to prepare her heart to become a home for the same dear Jesus whom she had carried in her hands.
True Stories for First Communicants