Infant Jesus Shrine – Infant Jesus Church, Sacramento, CA

One of the most beautiful images in the church is the Shrine for the Infant Jesus. The lovely statue is modeled after the traditional Infant Jesus of Prague image. The devotion to the Infant Jesus is a tribute to God becoming human for the purpose reflected in this verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The Kingship of the Holy Child is shown with His dress of a royal robe, a cross-topped crown on His head and a cross-topped blue globe in His left hand. His right hand is raised in blessing with His first two fingers upright to symbolize the dual nature of Christ and the thumb to represent the Holy Trinity. The colors of the royal vestments and crown of the Infant Jesus are changed periodically. The photo here shows the statue in the resplendent colors of white and gold with a jeweled cross on a string of pearls around His neck. The statue is housed in a regal dark-wood shrine with decoratively carved columns and a colorful cloth covering. A kneeler is available in front of the shrine for the faithful to seek comfort, respite and intercessions from the King behind the sacred image.

After rededication in 2017, the Church is named after Infant Jesus, a figure depicting both the innocence and kingship of Christ. The significance of the Nativity and the Infant Jesus is apparent throughout the Syro-Malabar Church as the worship rite, the Holy Qurbana, begins with the angels’ hymn at the birth of Jesus, “Glory to God in the highest”.

The origin of the devotion to the figure of the Infant Jesus depicted in the shrine at the church starts with the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. The 500-year history of the Infant Jesus of Prague devotion starts in the mid-16th century in Spain (not Prague) when a small wax-over-wood image of Jesus, as a child of 4-6 years of age, was made by a monk based on a miraculous vision. The image came under the care of the Spanish Princess Maria Maximiliana Manrique de Lara y Mendoza who took the statue with her to Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) when she went north to marry Vratislav, Chancellor of the Czech Kingdom (1530-1582). She later gave the precious statue to her daughter, Princess Polyxena of Lobkovic, who venerated the statue and received much consolation and help.

Princess Polyxena donated the statue, in 1628, 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. 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. The more you honour Me, the more I will bless you.” Father Cyril repaired the statue and placed it in the Carmelite Chapel, and after receiving multitudes of 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. See more information about the church at the Official Site of the Infant Jesus of Prague – http://www.pragjesu.cz/en.

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.

The devotion to Infant Jesus is notably strong in India and particularly the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church which has many parishes dedicated to the sacred Infant. There are several shrines to the Infant Jesus including the large and famous Infant Jesus Church and Shrine in Bangalore. The Philippines also has many followers of Infant Jesus where He is called Santo Nino de Cebu or Sto. Nino (The Holy Child of Cebu, or Baby Jesus). In Cebu, Philippines, the Infant Jesus is honored each January during the Sinulog Festival, one of the most popular celebrations in the country. The Sinulog Festival, fills Cebu with devotees who celebrate for up to two weeks before the Feast Day occurring on the third Sunday in January. Read more about Infant Jesus and the Infant Jesus Church and Shrine in Bangalore at https://churchwonders.com/india-churches/infant-jesus-church-and-shrine-bangalore-india/

References:

All websites referenced were accessed on or about 1-25-2021
All links and/or references to websites were found to be useful and active at the time of publication and are provided for information only. Churchwonders.com and/or the author are not responsible for the content or code of other linked or referenced websites and users should view those sites at their own discretion.

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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