The Most Beautiful Day in the Lives and Deaths of Little Girls
This chapter focuses on first communion, the rite of the church that marked children's arrival at the age of reason and welcomed them as full members into the community of Christ's church. It examines the communion experiences of Léopoldine Hugo, daughter of the writer Victor Hugo, and Marguerite Guyon, heroine of Victorine Monniot's best-selling novel, Le Journal de Marguerite. Léopoldine and Marguerite represent the two poles around which stories of girls' communions circulated. Where the Eucharist prepared Léopoldine for an early death, it invited Marguerite into a world of adventure. This chapter considers children's fiction as a point of access into the cliché of first communion as the most beautiful day of one's life. It also looks at Olga de la Ferronnays and Lina Ravaschieri, who never met on earth but whose lives were imaginatively linked by their pious acceptance of the Eucharist and their early deaths.
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