M980.37.3 | Communion ribbon and armband

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Communion ribbon and armband
1902, 20th century
34 x 5.5 cm
Gift of Mrs. Mariette O'Shea and Mrs. Gabrielle O'Shea
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Armbands (24)
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Keys to History

Until the beginning of the 20th century, children did not take First Communion before the age of 10 years for girls and 11 years for boys. There were exceptions, of course; this communion ribbon and armband were worn in 1902 by a nine-year-old boy.

The ribbons are decorated with religious symbols. The symbols on these ones make reference to the Holy Eucharist; the dove symbolizes the Holy Ghost present at the sacrament, while the chalice and host are the central objects of the communion service and the prayer book and rosary are reminders of the need for daily devotions.

For this important event, the ribbons, one worn on the lapel and the other tied about the upper arm, are traditional wear for boys - the equivalent of the white dress and veil for girls.

  • What

    These communion ribbons are hand-painted with religious symbols and inscribed with the phrases: "Souvenir de Première Communion" and "C'est aujourd'hui le plus beau de mes jours."

  • Where

    The communion ribbon and the arm band were worn at the St-Vincent-de-Paul Church, one of the Montreal parishes established by Bishop Bourget in the 1860s.

  • When

    Traditionally, most children celebrated their First Communion in the spring.

  • Who

    These were worn by Daniel Wilfried O'Shea, aged 9, for his First Communion in 1902.