Communion of children


In ancient times in the Eastern Church infants received Communion immediately after Baptism; in the West it was common to communicate them in the hour of death. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the Council of Trent laid the precept of Paschal Communion and Viaticum on children after attaining the years of discretion. Responsibility for the fulfilment of this precept by younger children rests mainly on their parents or guardians. Before the age of discretion (about seven years) they are not to be given Communion. Yet in danger of death they may receive, if they are able to distinguish the Holy Eucharist from ordinary bread and reverently adore it. Outside the case of the danger of death, it is necessary that they have a deeper knowledge of Christian doctrine, and that they approach Holy Communion with due reverence. The judgment on their sufficient disposition is left to the confessor and parents or guardians. The parish priest is to watch that children be neither admitted too soon nor kept back too long from the reception of Communion. It was the intention of Pope Pius X that the First Communion be received privately with parents; then after fuller instruction and more complete preparation all children, who have already received privately, be admitted to solemn Communion, held once or twice a year.

MLA Citation

  • “Communion of children”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 December 2010. Web. 24 January 2019. <>