LITTLE NELLIE of HOLY GOD
By Larry Peterson
What follows is the miraculous and wondrous story about a little girl who was known as “Little Nellie of Holy God.” Her real name was Ellen Organ, but everyone called her Nellie. By the time “Little Nellie” was only two years old, she already knew what the Holy Eucharist was.
___________________________________________________________________________Ellen Organ was born in Ireland on August 24, 1903. Shortly after Ellen’s birth, she was baptized into the Catholic faith at the Church of the Trinity in the town of Waterford. No one knows why, but from that point on, Ellen Organ was called “Nellie.”
By the age of two, Nellie displayed a deep holiness rarely seen in a child, especially one so young. While walking into Mass, holding her dad’s hand, she would regularly talk about seeing “Holy God.” It was something she began saying without having heard such an expression. Her mom and dad had no idea why she said that. Even the priest could not figure it out.
Little Nellie had two brothers and one sister; she was the youngest child. In 1906, a great sadness entered their lives. Their mom, Mary Organ, became very ill with tuberculosis. Nellie stayed by her mom’s side day after day, but after a short time, her mom died. Nellie, who was only three, was hugging her when she passed on.
Nellie’s dad, since he was in the army, could not provide proper care for his children. He turned to his parish priest for help. The priest helped get her brothers located with the Irish Christian Brothers. Nellie and her sister, Mary, were taken in by the Good Shepherd Sisters. The nuns treated the girls kindly, and Nellie was happy to call all of the sisters, “Mother.”
Nellie had a young girl assigned to sleep in her room with her. Her name was Mary Long, and at night she would hear Nellie crying and coughing in her sleep. She told the sisters about it, and Nellie was transferred to the infirmary, which was like a small hospital at the school.
When the doctor examined Nellie, it was discovered that she had a crooked spine. They learned that when she was only a baby, someone had dropped her, permanently damaging her spine. Even sitting up was very painful for Nellie, but she never complained. The doctor was amazed that a child of three would attempt to hide such pain. But try as she may, Nellie could not “fake” being well. You could see the pain on her face because she kept trying to smile, but it was too hard to do. All the sisters could do was keep Nellie as comfortable as possible.
Nellie astonished the nuns with her insight and knowledge of the Catholic faith. The sisters and others that cared for her did not doubt that the child was not only humble but also saintly. These were qualities rarely seen in a three-year-old.
Nellie loved to visit the chapel, which she called “the House of Holy God.” The child fully understood the Stations of the Cross. Upon being carried to each station, she would burst into tears seeing how Holy God suffered for us. She also developed a clear understanding of the Blessed Sacrament.
Living on a military base, Nellie remembered how the jail was called a “lock-down.” She, therefore, referred to Jesus in the tabernacle as “Holy God’s lockdown.”
One day Nellie was given a box of beads and some string. Being a three year old she put some in her mouth and inadvertently swallowed them. People saw her gagging and choking and rushed her into the infirmary. The doctor present was able to remove the beads from Nellie’s throat.
They were all amazed how brave the little girl remained as the doctor probed into her throat, removing the objects. She never made a sound. At this time, it was discovered that, just like her mom, she had advanced tuberculosis. The doctor told the sisters there was no hope for recovery and gave Nellie only a few months to live.
Nellie loved the Holy Eucharist deeply. She desperately wanted to receive her First Communion. But she was only three years old and way too young. So she would ask the sisters to kiss her when they were coming back from Communion so she could share their Holy Communion. She told them she knew Jesus was in their mouth and that she could sense His presence.
When a priest, Father Bury, asked her, “What is Holy Communion?” she answered, “It is Holy God.” Then he asked her what would happen if she were allowed to receive Holy Communion. She answered, “Jesus will rest on my tongue and then go down into my heart.” Little
Nellie Organ knew exactly what Holy Communion was.
Nellie told of the visions she was having of “Holy God” as a child and the Blessed Mother standing nearby. Her faith was so pronounced that the Bishop agreed (since she was close to death) to confirm her. She received her Confirmation on October 8, 1907.
Then, on December 6, 1907, after considering all the facts, the local Bishop, in consultation with the priests, allowed Nellie Organ to receive her First Holy Communion. Nellie Organ died on February 2, 1908. She was three years and nine months old.
Nellie Organ’s story spread throughout Europe and reached the Vatican. It was presented to Pope Pius X. It was perfect timing because the Holy Father had been looking for a reason to lower the age of receiving First Communion from the age of twelve to the age of seven. However, he was not sure about doing it.
When Pope Pius X read the documents about “Little Nellie of Holy God,” he immediately took this as a sign to lower the age. The Pope immediately issued a Papal Decree called Quam Singulari, changing the age of receiving First Holy Communion from 12 years old to age seven.
After issuing Quam Singulari, Pope Pius X, took up his pen and wrote, “May God enrich with every blessing —all those who recommend frequent Communion to little boys and girls, proposing Nellie as their model.”
Pope Pius X. June 4th, 1912.”
Pope Pius X was canonized a Saint and became Pope St. Pius X on May 24, 1954
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