The worldwide devotion to the Infant Jesus has touched the lives and hearts of many who pray to, and contemplate, the all-powerful God appearing in the form of a young boy. This is the story of childlike confidence in an image of a God-Child.
Story of the Statue
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.” 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.
See photos below of the precious image in churches across the world.
Description, Dressing and Colors of Statue (from The Official Site of the Infant Jesus of Prague – http://www.pragjesu.cz/en)
The statue is made of wood with a molded and colored wax surface. The statue is approximately 45 centimeters high and represents Jesus at age 4 to 6. He blesses with His right hand with his first two fingers upright to symbolize the dual nature of Christ and the thumb to represent the Holy Trinity. When decorated, the Infant wears a royal robe and crown, and His left hand holds an imperial orb (the Earth) signifying the worldwide kingship of Jesus. There would also be two rings on the fingers of the statue placed there by a noble family in 1788 in thanksgiving for a miraculous cure of their daughter.
The Infant Jesus, like the priests at the altar, is dressed in robes in the color of current liturgical season according to the church calendar. Generally, four basic colors are used:
WHITE – The color of glory, purity, and holiness – for celebrations, Christmas and Easter
RED – The color of blood and fire – for Holy week, Pentecost and Feasts of the Holy Cross
PURPLE – The color of penance – for Lent and Advent
GREEN – The color of life and hope – for ordinary time (the most common color)
Layers and Dressing Procedure of the Statue
The first layer is an under-gown – the alb. It is a gown from white linen with openings for the arms or with short sleeves. The under-gown is put on over the head and is buttoned up or tied at the back.
Over the alb, a colored gown is put on. Its design resembles a child’s gown and it is also done up in the back. The front of this gown is richly decorated with symbolic patterns.
The top layer is a cloak identical to the gown in color and pattern. The left side is loosely placed over the shoulder, while the front right is folded over the blessing arm so that the bottom part of the cloak is visible.
Finally, ruffs are put on the arms and around the neck – if it is not part of the under-gown, lace is also used on the ruffs. The Imperial orb is placed in the Infant Jesus’ left hand and a crown is positioned over his head.
The wardrobe of the Infant Jesus consists of approximately a hundred robes, most of which are gifts of gratitude.
Prayer to Infant Jesus of the venerable Father Cyril of the Mother of God
Discalced Carmelite (1590–1675)
Jesus, you decided to become a child, and I come to you full of trust. I believe that your attentive love pre-empts all my needs. Even for the intercession of your holy Mother, You can meet my needs, spiritual as well as material, if I pray according to your holy will.
I love you with all my heart, and all my strength. I beg your forgiveness if my weakness makes me sin. I repeat words from the Gospel “Lord, if you want, you can heal me.” I leave you to decide how and when. I am ready to accept suffering, if this is your will, but help me not to become hardened to it, rather to bear fruit.
Help me to be a faithful servant and for your sake, holy Child, to love my neighbor as myself. Almighty Child, unceasingly I pray for you to support me in my necessities of the present moment (you can mention them here).
Grant me the grace to remain in you, to be possessed and to possess you entirely, with your parents, Mary and Joseph, in the eternal praise of your heavenly servants.
See more prayers to Infant Jesus at https://churchwonders.com/devotions/litanies/prayers-to-infant-jesus/
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