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heaven. (Mark 10: 14) -The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)
But, of course, life is not all made up of summer holidays, and when it was time for school, Peter took his books under his arm and went off to do a little struggling himself with the mysteries of reading and writing, often asking his much-loved Guardian Angel to help him.
First Holy Communion
When Peter was seven years old, a mission was held in the parish church shortly after the feast of the Purification. Because the missionary wanted many prayers said in order to obtain the conversion of sinners, it was decided to give some of the children who were ready their first Holy Communion. So it was that Peter received Our Lord for the first time. Every morning from that time he went to the altar-rail and Jesus came to him, filling his heart with a joy Peter could not find words to tell even his mother. In his own little way, then, Peter also preached a kind of mission. Of course, he did not wear a surplice or stole like the priest, but his daily going to the altar spoke louder than the most beautiful sermon. His small friends, seeing his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, chose Peter as the secretary of their First Communion League. As secretary he wrote many letters to the missionary, letters which tell the story of his life better than we could. Believing that his letters will help many souls to be more fervent and devoted in their love for Jesus, we give them here.
Letters to the Missionary
Dear Father: April, 1912
Monday was the last day of vacation, and now my teacher tells me that he is better pleased with me. He says I have learned to work harder. I have to, because I am going to Holy Communion every morning. But even so, I do not always know my lessons and still make mistakes in spelling. But I am going to try to do better and be more careful so that you will see I am improving and trying to be a good member of the League.
Dear Father, Our Lord will bless me if I love Him very much, won't He? I love Jesus with all my heart and tell Him so every day. Since you left, there was one day I did not receive Holy Communion, but, please forgive me, as it was not my fault. I went to church early enough, but they were having a funeral Mass, and no one paid any attention to me.
My older brother Jack is now in the first section of the League, too. I got him to join and I am very glad of it, for I know the Child Jesus is happy when many children go to Holy Communion every day. I am not quite so bad at home as I used to be. But sometimes Daddy is angry with me because I often get up from table without permission and because I quarrel with Odette, my little sister. They were going to spank me, but they didn't do it and I hope they won't! ---- Your little secretary, Peter D'Airelle
Dear Father, April, 1912
I have learned the morning offering by heart. I say it as soon as I wake up so that the whole day may be spent for the Sacred Heart and for the poor souls. At Mass I say the beads: the first decade for the Apostleship of Prayer, the second for the Pope, the third for my father; the fourth for my mother, and the fifth for Jack, Odette and myself. After each mystery I say the little prayer mother taught me: "Little Child Jesus, make me good and obedient and guard and bless my father, mother, Jack, Odette and all of us." --- Peter
P.S. Every day more children ask to join our League. I have all their names in my book. Ten go to Holy Communion daily; eight, twice a week; and thirty, every Sunday.
|The Small Missionary
Dear Father: May, 1912
In the morning I get up all by myself. Jack helps me put on my shoes. Then we go to Mass. We don't make any noise on the way downstairs so that Daddy doesn't wake up. I always ask Daddy to go to Holy Communion at Easter, but he never will and he never says any prayers. But each morning I ask Our Lord to convert him. When I am all by myself I often cry because I don't want to go to heaven without Daddy. Because you told us once that everyone who does not receive Our Lord at Easter time commits a mortal sin and is a scandal to others. I told this to Daddy, but he ordered me to hold my tongue. Dear Father, please pray for him. With much love, -- Peter
Dear Father: June, 1912
Dear Father: July, 1912
Oh, I was so glad! You told us once that all we do for the poor, we really do to the Child Jesus. So I jumped for joy and called Mamma and shouted: "Hurrah! I gave half my marbles and a piece of bread and my old shoes to the Child Jesus! Daddy will be converted!"
But now I will tell you a secret. One month after the mission when I went up to Holy Communion I remembered your sermon about sin and the little martyr who wanted to die rather than commit a mortal sin. Then I asked the Child Jesus to let me die also rather than commit a mortal sin. It seemed to me that Jesus liked my prayer and now every night after the Rosary for Daddy, I say: "My Jesus, please let me die rather than commit a mortal sin." Is this all right? -- Peter
Happy Near Jesus
Dear Father: October, 1912
Now for a few secrets. Father, I like to be alone in church with Jesus and speak to him. Sometimes He answers me; sometimes He doesn't. I always ask Him to convert Daddy. When I have to go, I say: "Little Child Jesus, I would like to stay longer with You, but I have to study my lessons. I will not forget You, though. I will do my homework for You, as Father said that we are praying when we are working for You."
During recess at school I try to slip into chapel to say hello to Jesus, and when we go for a walk I keep on the lookout for a church to do the same. At night I turn toward the church and say to Him: "Good night, Jesus! How beautiful it must be in heaven when we are always with You... but where will my Daddy be?" Please pray for him. --- Your Peter
Sacrifices for Conversion
Dear Father: November, 1912
Dear Father: December, 1912
"To Give Jesus Joy"
Dear Father: February, 1913
P.S. We got an invitation from the General's wife. Tomorrow we are going to her place to tea. So Mamma is getting me a little soldier's uniform.
While the ladies were all talking at once, I looked at Mamma. She was flushed and very near crying. So was I. But when they had finished, Mamma answered them calmly: "I cannot answer all your difficulties; I leave that to the priests and theologians. My only theology is obedience. Our Holy Father the Pope wants children to receive Holy Communion as soon as they reach the age of reason. He makes it our duty to allow them to go as often as possible after that. I obey him and do not worry about the rest. It is not my business to be criticizing the Pope and asking reasons from the Church."
"Bravo, Madame D'Airelle!" cried the General, who had just joined us. "That is the way I myself understand the Church and our Faith. If we want to discuss and criticize everything, we might just as well leave the Church-- then we may believe and say whatever we like!" Then he turned to me: "You, little Peter, come here and give these good ladies a lesson in catechism." "Now, who commands the Church?" "The Pope." "Exactly, my small friend. You see, ladies, this is the answer to all your objections. Where would we end if from now on every simple solider could discuss my orders and teach me tactics? And yet, I am not infallible as the Pope is, nor do I have, as he does, the special assistance of the Holy Spirit. Little Peter, you are a fine fellow; come and shake hands!" We shook hands very heartily and later in the hall when the officers were putting on their cloaks, I heard the General say to Daddy: "Captain, I congratulate you! You have a fine little son-- one who will never shame you." Daddy pressed my hand when we got outside; he was very pleased. And that night I said half my Rosary for the General because he was so good to me. --With much love, Peter
Holy Communion at Any Cost
Since that day I have been getting up fifteen minutes earlier every morning and we go to a different church each day. It is awfully hard for little ones to come to Jesus, Father. Every one tries to keep them away from Him. --- Your Peter
For His Father
I am all alone in my little blue room. After Communion last Friday it seemed to me that Jesus was saying again: "Little Peter, would you like to die to convert Daddy?" "Oh! Yes, yes!" I cried. Then I asked Our Lord to let me suffer very much for Daddy's sins. After school that afternoon, I vomited blood. The next day and the day after I did it again. The doctor came. When he had left, Mamma kissed me and cried. Then she told Jack to begin a novena with her for my recovery. But I do not want to get better. I want to die in order to see Jesus and convert Daddy. I am suffering a good deal, but I do it gladly to convert the sinners, as Our Lord did. Please pray for me when I am dead. May we meet again in heaven. -- Your little Peter
The pastor of our parish came to see me. He asked me if it was true that I went to different churches every day to receive Holy Communion, as he had been told. I said: "Yes." "And why did you do it, little Peter?" "To give joy to Jesus and the Holy Father and to convert Daddy. Yes, and for this I've asked Jesus to let me die." Then the priest wept and said nothing more before he left. I did not dare to ask him to bring me Holy Communion; but I asked the Child Jesus to tell him this for me. --- Peter
Next day he came very early. Mamma put flowers everywhere. Jack and Odette knelt down and prayed; they had burning candles in their hands. Daddy was there, too; he was deeply moved and it seemed to me that even he was praying. Father prepared me for Holy Communion. He said the prayers with me; then he helped me to thank Our Lord. When he said: "Let us pray for our parents," I looked at Daddy. He had his handkerchief to his face. In the afternoon Father came again. He asked me: "Peter, what can I do so that all the children will go to Holy Communion more often, like you?" "Father, found a Communion League like the one where I used to live." "I shall start right away. Pray for me. Tomorrow I will bring Our Lord to you again." Mamma said: "Father, do not put yourself to so much trouble; your assistant is young and he could do it quite easily." "No, no Madam. I have to give the good example. I want everyone to know that I wish to nourish the souls of our little children just as Christ did and as the Holy Father desires that they be nourished. Yes, I understand now the special love of Our Lord for the little ones." He kissed my forehead, then he went away. --- Peter
Peter's Last Letter
This will probably be my last letter to you. I cannot sleep any more and I cough all night long. May we meet again in heaven. ---Your little Peter
P.S. When I am in heaven I will pray for you and the Communion League.
Letter from Peter's Father
On the morning of his last day on earth, his mother told him we were beginning a novena for his recovery, but he cried out: "Oh, no Mamma! You must not try to make me get better. I want to die to convert Daddy!"
He died the morning of Holy Thursday. Odette had just returned from making her first Holy Communion. Peter embraced her for a long moment, then he prepared to receive his last Communion. Father came with Holy Viaticum. Peter knelt on his bed, folded his hands, his whole face shining with joy. He asked my pardon for his disobedience. I wanted to say: "My poor child, I should rather ask your pardon!" But I could not speak because of the tears which choked me. His mother, Jack and little Odette were all weeping. Father was also in tears. Peter alone was serene and consoled us all.
The agony began. Meanwhile the bells of the town rang for Mass. For a moment it seemed to me that Peter wished to speak to me. I bent over him and he whispered: "May we meet in heaven, Daddy... this is for you." Then he breathed his last, pressing the mission-rosary between his thin little fingers. The moment after his death, Peter's face became radiant. It was as if a heavenly light transfigured it. A sweet smile rested on his lips. An inexpressible peace hovered over the little body, worn out and purified by sufferings. I believed that something of the Divine light was shining through this little angel, of whose presence I was not worthy.
I, who had not prayed for twenty years, who had been an unbeliever for twenty years (at least I thought I did not believe), I fell upon my knees beside his deathbed. I was praying, weeping, sobbing, not for his sake, but for my own. I asked God and our angel-child to pardon me the lazy cowardice in which I had spent my life. How utterly ashamed, how little, I felt before my son who was so great. I felt unworthy to embrace him, I, who was a sinner, a reprobate. The thought of staying beside him all the night long with my unclean soul was utterly unbearable. I think I felt something of the awful shame the damned must feel in the presence of the Almighty at the Last Judgment. Finally I rushed away to find a priest and confess all the sins of my life. Only then did I feel less unworthy to be near my child.
He slept there in his First Communion suit, amid white lilies. I knelt beside his body, asking him to obtain God's blessing and protection for me. On Holy Saturday we took the little coffin to the cemetery. It was more a triumphant procession than a funeral, as the bells were ringing out to announce the Resurrection. All the children of the parish were present in their First Communion clothes. I was weeping, but for joy, not sorrow-- a new, deep, comforting joy.
In the churchyard the little ones, girls in their white dresses, boys with their white arm bands, arranged themselves around the grave. When the first shovel of earth was thrown upon the coffin, the parish priest began to speak: "My dear children, I am too deeply moved to preach a long sermon. Instead, let us say a prayer of thanksgiving to God that He did such great things in the soul of our little friend. God's grace does not always wait for age to lead chosen souls to holiness. Daily Holy Communion made a hero and an apostle of our little Peter. May he be an apostle for all of us now in heaven. May he pray for us and for me, your pastor, that we may better understand our Divine Savior's desire in the Blessed Sacrament to guard you and make you good and holy by daily Holy Communion."
Please pray, Reverend Father, especially for me, that I may be less unworthy of him to whom I gave earthly life, but who obtained for me the life of my soul. -- Captain D'Airelle
In Peter's Footsteps
Today when I took my morning walk I saw a beautiful white lily in the garden. I stopped to admire the lovely petals which had opened over night. At the foot of this lily, near the earth, a tiny pansy peeped up. I would like to be this humble pansy under the protection of our angel-child and so close to him.
Please pray, dear Father, for my poor soul. --- Captain D'Airelle
Little Peter now asks our Father in Heaven to remember the little ones on earth. A plea like this comes from his loving heart: "O Father, You who give the swallows the water they need in the summer heat, who gather grain into Your storehouses for the hungry birds... do not let Your little ones die of hunger! Your little ones who cry to You for their souls' food. You know how to clothe the lilies in a glory of white and to freshen their lovely petals daily with the morning dew... Keep the splendor of innocence in the souls of children by the Divine glory contained in the Daily Bread of souls. Give them fathers and mothers who will see that they receive this Bread of Life daily. Send them good priests who are zealous in distributing it. O Master of the world, listen to the cry of the little ones and hear them crying for Bread; let it not be said again: "There was no one to give it to them!"
This is what little Peter begs of Our Lord in heaven. And all the Guardian Angels of the little children answer in one voice: "Let it be so, Lord! Amen!"
Little Peter -- Download PDF
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Saint Therese's Request
St. Therese of Lisieux wrote: "I entreat thee to choose, in this world, a legion of little victims." Her weakness was not an obstacle: "I am but a weak and helpless child, yet it is my very weakness that makes me dare to offer myself, O Jesus, as victim to Thy love." (Autobiography, p. 100). "In olden days pure and spotless holocausts alone were acceptable to the omnipotent God. But the law of fear has given place to the law of love, and Love has chosen me, a weak and imperfect creature, as its victim. Is not such a choice worthy of God's Love? Yes. In order that Love may be fully satisfied, it must stoop even unto nothingness." (Autobiog., p. 100). "I am too little for great things, and my folly it is to hope that Thy Love accepts me as VICTIM; my folly it is to count on the aid of Angels and Saints, in order that I may fly unto Thee with Thine own wings, O my Divine Eagle!" (Autobiog., p. 201). "In the year 1895, I received the grace to understand how much Jesus desires to be loved. ... I think that if my Divine Master should find souls offering themselves as victims of holocaust to His Love, He would consume them rapidly; He would be well pleased to suffer the flames of infinite tenderness to escape that are imprisoned in His Heart." (Autobiography, p. 72) After St. Therese's death, her desires were granted.
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Saint Therese of Lisieux
Her last petition was that God would choose a legion of little victims.
If we suffer with him, we will be glorified with him. Please send comments or questions to: A free prayer card is also available upon request.
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