Devotion History

Devotion History

The statue is forgotten for Seven Years. It is found again, And honour is once more paid to it

Scarcely had this devotion taken root, when it began to diminish, nay, even to fall into oblivion. Owing to political disturbances, the novitiate was removed in 1630, to the new Carmelite monastery of Munich and thus the miraculous statue was abandoned by those who had vowed to venerate it. Indeed after the departure of the novices this devotion ceased, and at the same time the blessings of heaven on the monastery diminished in a most striking manner and the former misery and distress returned once more. The fury of the war carried on but King Gustavus Adolphus us of Sweden raged also Bohemia; a Saxon army of 18000 men forced the city to surrender on 16th of November 1831 and over 80 protestant preachers took possession of the churches in the town, many of the nobles and priests, among whom were Carmelite Fathers, being compelled to take flight. Two only of the latter remained and were confined in close imprisonment, the monastery being give up to plunder. In the confusion of their hasty flight the Fathers had forgotten to take with them the statue of the Infant Jesus. On coming across it, the protestant soldiers cast it disdainfully behind the altar on a heap of rubbish as being an object of Popish superstition. Both hands were broken off in the fall, but the statue remained otherwise uninjured.

When at last the Carmelites returned to Prague, the many difficulties they met with in the restoration of the monastery made them quite forget the treasure which the Princess Polixena de Lobkowitz had given them with such solemn words and thus the holy Image remained seven years in the dust, mutilated and deprived of all honour. And all this time the Convent of Prague was deprived of happiness and prosperity; the Emperor Ferdinand III failed to continue the assistance granted by his father, so that the Fathers were reduced to extreme want and bitter poverty. “Venerate this Image, and nothing will be wanting to you,” such were the words uttered by the princess; but this very Image was now lying in a dark corner behind the alter, and truth everything was a wanting to them. Yes, it seemed as though some terrible malediction overshadowed the house. No Prior would consent to continue three years in the exercise of his charge on account o the many difficulties and trouble she had to contend with. The Fathers were so depressed, that after a time, the greater number of them solicited their removal to other monasteries of the Order. The blessings which the Infant Jesus had brought with Him had ceased, and the seven years during which the Image remained forgotten, may well be compared to the seven years of famine in Egypt during the lifetime of Joseph.

How happy was Father Cyrillic to have recovered this Image which was so dear to him; after his brethren had long left the oratory, he would spend hours before it on his knees in fervent prayer. One day as he was kneeling there, he thought he distinctly heard the words: “Have pity on me, and I will have pity on you; restore to me my hands and I will restore peace to thee. The more thou with honour me, the more Father Cyrillus went sadly back to his cell and implored of god to send to the prior the alms requisite for repairing the statue.

His earnest petition was soon granted. Shortly afterwards he was called to give the last sacraments to a pious and wealthy man, to whom he related the whole history of the miraculous image. Deeply touched by his account, the sick man presented him with 100 Florins to have new hands put on the little statue. But the prior, to whom Cyrillus delivered the money, thought it better to have another wax statue made, which was no sooner erected than it was broken to pieces by a falling candle stick. It thus became evident that the statue which had been dishonored and multiplied by the protestant was destined to be veranated in this Carmelite monastery. Soon afterwards the prior was obliged to resign his charge, and then new superior, Father Dominicus, showed his good will to have his statue mended, but deferred doing so, because at that time necessary means were wanting. Once more the good father Cyrillus had recourse to prayer, and implored the Infant Jesus to send help to the prior. No sooner had he risen from his knees, when he was called to the church where an unknown lady presented him with a considerable sum of money. After having poured out his grateful heart before an altar of our Lady, he went and related to his superior what had taken place; but the latter only contented that the repairs might be done on condition that the expense should not exceed a certain sum. Unfortunately such was the case; and again Father Cyrillus did not obtain the fulfillment of his longed-for wish. Once more he confided to the Infant Jesus with bitter tears the sorrow of his heart, and behold. He thought he heard interiorly these words: “Place me at the entrance of the sacristy, and you shall receive help.” Jesus wished to be called upon three times by him who loved Him so much, before final help was given in quite an unexpected manner.

A stranger soon after came to the sacristy, and seeing the statue, offered to have it repaired at his own expense. The Prior gladly accepted the offer and soon after the good Father Cyrillus had the consolation of seeing his abandoned little Infant Jesus exposed in the church for public veneration. Not long after, the monastery was again reduced to great misery, and the Prior assembled the whole community before the miraculous statue. Three days afterwards they were delivered from their distress an abundant and unexpected alms. The veneration of the Infant Jesus of Prague now began to spread and the devoted servant of God, Father Cyrillus did his utmost to contribute towards it. He had the happiness of surviving the translation of the miraculous statue to the chapel, specially erected for it, and it was not till the age of 85 years (on February 4th 1675), that he left this earth to receive the crown of eternal life from the hands of Him, for whose glory he had done so much. And so this new devotion flourished, as we shall see later on, especially after the removal of the statue (January 13th, 1741), to the altar where it remained until the icy wind of modern times under the Emperor Joseph II, chilled catholic fervour and threatened completely to destroy the devotion. – On July 3rd, 1784 the Carmelite monastery in Prague was suppressed, the numerous offerings and exvotos were remove from the church, but the statue was often left on its altar under a costly glass shade surrounded by 20 angels wrought in silver. This Church was not closed and profaned like so many others, but, Being destined to be the parish church, Was placed in the hands of the priest of the order of Malta, therefore the devotion the infant Jesus of Prague did not entirely die out even in those times which were so hostile to all such devotions. It decreased indeed considerably though only to flourish more abundantly in our days. When, in the years 1878 and 1879, the church was restored and all the convents of Prague vied with one another to have this precious treasure for sometimes in there keeping and to honor it to the utmost of their power. Since that time thousands upon thousands of the faithful throughout the whole catholic world, have taken part in the veneration paid to the infant Jesus of Prague.