Infant Jesus of Prague, a Confluence of Contradictions…and Blessings

St. Mary's Church, Lincoln, NE

The Feast of Infant Jesus is January 14th and relates to the devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague that reaches far beyond the Czech Republic. In fact, the story revolves around a statue that originated in Spain rather than central Europe. The image, itself is a confluence of seeming contradictions: of kingship and innocence, of parochiality and worldwide veneration, and of waxing and waning devotion. These contradictions are also attractions, and devotion to Infant Jesus has touched countless lives with countless blessings.

The story of the statue of Infant Jesus of Prague started in the innocence and austerity of a monastery in Spain in the mid-16th century where a small wax-over-wood image of Jesus, as a child of 4-6 years of age, was molded by a monk based on a miraculous vision. The young King of Kings, made His way to royal circles in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic) when the Spanish Princess (Maria Maximiliana Manrique de Lara y Mendoza) possessing the statue went north to marry Vratislav, Chancellor of the Czech Kingdom (1530-1582). She later gave the statue to her daughter, Princess Polyxena of Lobkovic. Thus, the innocence of the Baby born in Bethlehem came to be seated in the influential court of the Lobkovic Palace in Prague. Princess Polyxena of Lobkovic venerated the statue and received much consolation and help.

Princess Polyxena didn’t keep the precious image for only royal benefit, rather in 1628, she donated the statue to the monastery of Discalced Carmelites at the church of Our Lady Victorious, a group with roots in Spain, the same as the heritage of her mother and of the holy statue. Although it took some years, the Princess effectively launched a worldwide veneration of the image of Jesus communicated by the object. While in the Carmelite monastery, young monks learned of, and appreciated, the virtues of the young Jesus. One of the young novitiates, Father Cyril of the Mother of God, returned to Prague in 1637, a few years after leaving, to find the holy statue discarded in the rubble of the monastery which was desecrated and plundered during the 1631 invasion by the Saxons. As Father Cyril was viewing the armless statue of the Infant Jesus and contemplating, in awe, the mystery of the all-powerful God becoming a child; the statue spoke to Father Cyril saying, “Have mercy on me and I will have mercy on you. Give me my arms and I will give you peace.” Father Cyril repaired the statue and placed it in the Carmelite Chapel, and after receiving innumerable adoring visitors, and the occurrence of many miracles, in 1741, the statue was relocated to its present, more spacious, location in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague.

Veneration of the Infant Jesus in Prague ceased during the latter part of the 18th century, and, again with the occupation of Prague by the Nazi’s, then Communists from 1939 to 1989, but eventually returned to stay, not only in Prague, but worldwide. The global devotion initially took root to the greatest extent in Spain from where the Infant Jesus image originated, and in Portugal; then the practice spread with missionaries, colonizers, and immigrants to India, China, the Philippines, and North and South America. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague and offered a crown as a present for Infant Jesus.

For nearly 500 years, a statue less than one and one-half feet high, of a young boy dressed as a king, has captured the hearts of devotees starting in Spain and spreading to millions worldwide. With childlike confidence, prayers are submitted to the wonderful power of the kingly Child, who depicted only a few years after being born in a humble manger, continues to provide mercy and assistance to all who venerate, and ask of, Infant Jesus. Countless miracles have occurred and requests granted. As the inscription over the Infant Jesus Shrine in Bangalore, India reads, “The More You Honour Me, The More I Will Bless You”.

See more photos and more about the Infant Jesus of Prague at https://churchwonders.com/mary-saints/infant-jesus-of-prague/

See prayers to Infant Jesus at https://churchwonders.com/devotions/litanies/prayers-to-infant-jesus/

References
Websites accessed on or about 1-12-2021 (see information about Links at https://churchwonders.com/about/)

Infant Jesus Shrine in Bangalore, India – https://www.infantjesusshrine.com/

The House of Lobkowicz – https://www.lobkowicz.cz/en/lobkowicz-palace-history

The League of the Miraculous Infant Jesus of Prague – https://www.infantprague.org/the-story-of-the-infant-of-prague/

The Official Site of the Infant Jesus of Prague – http://www.pragjesu.cz/en

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