The cult of the infant jesus of prague
The cult of the childhood of Jesus is linked to the Baroque period. Its history starts in Spain where a number of statues of the Holy Child were made of wax, or ivory or bronze. They were dressed in garments reflecting the aristocratic fashion of that period. One such statue, the work of an unknown artist, was owned by the Dona Isabella Manrique de Lara Mendoza. She gifted the statue to her daughter Duchess Maria Maxmilliana Manrique de Lara, who married Vratislav of Pernstein, a Czech nobleman in 1556. Maria took this rare family statue to her new home in Prague, which is the capital today of the Czech Republic, at the very center of Europe, with German, Poland, Russia and Austria as its neighbours. Maria’s daughter, Polixena received this statue as a wedding gift when she married Vile of Ruzumberg. After the death of her second husband, Polyxena donated the statue to the monastery of the Teresina Carmelites near the Church of the Virgin Mary Victorious in Prague malana Strana, in 1628.
In 1631 the Saxons invaded Prague and among other structures, the Carmelite Monastery was destroyed. After the war, one of the Carmelites, Fr. Cyrillus a Matre Dei returned to the city and found the statue of the Infant Jesus amid the debits of the ruined monastery, slightly damaged. Fr. Cyril cleaned the statue and placed it in the Oratory for worship. While he was praying before the Infant Jesus, he heard the Infant Jesus say, “Have pity on me and I will have Pity on you. Give me my hands and I will give you peace. The more you honour me the more I will bless you. “Repairing the statue’s hands was a miracle, as Fr. Cyril and his peers had neither the skill to do it them nor the funds to get it done. Fr. Cyril asked Our Lady to provide the funds. The Divine Child spoke again saying. “Place Me near the entrance of the sacristy and you will receive aid”. Fr. Cyril did as he was told and few days later the statue was fixed by a man who came by the sacristy. With the statue repaired, miracles began to be reported, resulting in an increased veneration of the Child Jesus.
An altar was built in 1641; a chapel was constructed in 1644 and completed in 1654. A jeweled crown was presented by Bernard Ignatius in 1651 and the statue was solemnly crowned on 4th April 1655 by the Archbishop Josef Corta.
In 1741 the statue was moved to its final magnificent shrine on the Epistle Side, off the church of Our Lady of Victory. The statue of the Child is 18feet tall, carved of wood and thinly coated with wax. The left foot is barely visible under a long white tunic. The statue stands on a pedestal and there is waist-high silver case which holds it upright. The left hand holds a miniature globe surmounted by Cross, signifying the world wide Kingship of Christ the King. The right hand is extended in blessing… the first two fingers are upraised to symbolize the two natures in Christ, while the folded thump and last two figures touch each other to represent the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Infant of Prague depicts the Child Jesus at about three years of age. He is dressed as a King not because Catholic thinks that He actually Dressed this way while a child on earth (in fact the Holy Family was too poor to afford such garments). Rather this statue reminds us that even as an infant toddler; Jesus was truly Christ the King, the sovereign Lord of all creation. Like most religious art, the image conveys spiritual truth and not just an earthly historical reality.
The popularity of the Little King of Prague spread to other countries in the 18th century and Pope Leo XIII granted many indulgences to the devotion in 1896.the Infant of Prague is regarded as a patron of the following: children, schools, colleges, family, missions, freedom, health, peace, good finance, travelers, and vocations.