I can remember from early in my life going to our parish church and noticing this little statue, located in the sanctuary of the church, and it was “dressed” in vestments. Even for a small child it was easy to recognize the difference and so spurn the question “Who is that?”. The Infant Jesus of Prague was the answer. Ok, perfect, why does that statue have clothes on, like real clothing, no other statues have fabric clothing? AND as I began to pay more attention, they changed his clothes! Different colors for different times in the Church. This was something that grabbed my attention!
Devotion to the Infant of Jesus of Prague began around the 1300’s OR the 1600’s…. Yeah that’s right this devotion is quite interesting as many places celebrate and honor devotion the the Infant Jesus of Prague, but no one is absolutely certain when or how the devotion began.
Devotion to the Infant of Jesus of Prague 1st Legend
The legend of the 1300’s theory is that around the year 1340 the statue was carved but by whom it is unsure. The original statue was carved with a bird in it’s hand (representing either a soul or the Holy Spirit), today we often see the Infant with a globus cruciger in his hand. A part of this legend goes that a monk had a vision of a little boy telling him to pray, after praying for several hours he then carved the original statue. This could be true, however we also see many representations of the statue beginning to show themselves from other carvers in the time, adorned with precious vestments, because of the aristocratic nature of the time. Can you imagine if the Infant was clothed according to today’s fashion?!
Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague, Legend 2?
Is this really the 2nd legend or a continuance of the first? No one is positive, but there is evidence both by word of mouth and historical data support all the above.
Appearing in 1556 Maria Maimilianna was given the statue by her mother, when she wed Czech nobleman Vratislav of Pernstyn. Family records records the events and that her mother actually received the statue from St. Teresa of Avila. Maria then gave it to her daughter Polxena, as a wedding present on event of her marriage.
A wedding tradition begins
As a result of this passing on of the original Infant during each marriage, it has become a custom of the Church to give an Infant Jesus of Prague as a gift to a new bride and groom for their home. Some old customs hold that an image of the Infant is not to be purchased by oneself, but must be a gift to a family.
As the legend goes, Princess Polxena then donated the original statue to the Discalced Carmelite friars. It is not really known why she donated it, research does not show any children born to her, as she had two husbands, remarrying after the death of her first husband. Regardless, when she handed the statue onto the Carmelite friars she told them: “Venerable Fathers, I bring you my dearest possession. Honor this image and you shall never want.”
The Journey of the Infant Jesus
When the friars received the statue they placed it in the oratory of the monastery of Our Lady of Victory in Prague. There they began special devotions to Jesus, twice a day. The novices would even profess their vow of poverty in the presence of the Infant! When Ferdinand II of the House of Habsburg sent them 2,000 florins and a monthly stipend for their support. However, in 1630 they moved the novitiate to Munich.
Additionally to the Thirty Years’ War that eventually brought an end to the special devotions. In 1631 the city was taken by the army of the King of Sweden and the friary plundered, the image thrown into a pile of trash behind the altar and there remained. In 1637 the statue was found again by a friar and placed back in the church’s oratory. The image had its hands broken off when it was tossed in the trash pile. One day while praying before the statue, Father Cyrillus heard:
“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.”
The Infant made one more move in 1741 to the Epistle side of the church of Our Lady of Victory of Prague. From there devotions sprung up and many have donated to elaborate vestments, crowns and even a ring to place on the two raised fingers of the infant.
Dressed for the occasion
The infant has an assortment of vestments in which it is dressed throughout the year. Even special vestments for the Easter season. He wears Green for ordinary time, Red or Gold for Christmas and Easter, Purple for Lent and Advent, and Blue for the Assumption and for Immaculate Conception. Some of it’s vestments are made with costly gems, ornaments, even thread of pure Gold, the finest Lace and the costliest silk. You can purchase these infants and their more affordable vestments Here
Celebrating the Divine Infant
The Infant’s main celebration falls throughout the Christmas season with it’s feast falling on the Holy Name of Jesus. A yearly Novena is celebrated during the Season of Christmas for the infant. Many miracles are attributed to devotion to the Divine Image. Even for monetary reasons, peace in the home, good weather and all sorts of other blessings.
We could really use some of these devotions in our families and communities. We don’t have to hear from the Vatican, we don’t need permission to participate, to host them, to ask our parish if we can have small prayer group which we can host things like Devotion to the Infant of Jesus of Prague, or the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Fire begins with a spark and that divine spark can be you!
Prayers to The Divine Infant Jesus of Prague
Chaplet – 12 mysteries of Jesus‘ childhood
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
And the Word became flesh. The Lord’s prayer… (three times)
And the Word became flesh and lived among us. Hail Mary… (twelve times; the following mysteries of Jesus’ childhood are added gradually)
- … who was for eternity the expected Messiah
- … who was proclaimed to the Virgin Mary
- … with whom Mary visited Elizabeth
- … who was announced to Joseph in his dream
- … who was born in Bethlehem
- … to whom the shepherds and the wise men bowed
- … who was circumcised on the eighth day
- … who was brought to the temple
- … who had to flee to Egypt with his family
- … who lived a hidden life in Nazareth
- … who was found again in the temple
- … who prospered in spirit and body and was beloved by God and also by the people
Glory to the Father…
Novena Prayer to the Infant Jesus
Jesus, Who said: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” through the intercession of Mary, your Most Holy Mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.
(Make your request)
O Divine Jesus, Who said: “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” grant me the simplicity and wonder, the tenderness and gentleness of a child. Fill me with innocence, hope, and love.
(Make your request)
O Divine Infant, help me to know how close You are to me and how powerful is Your embrace. Help me to trust that You do hold the whole world in Your hand. I place my every need and care in Your hands.
(Make your request)
Prayer to Honor the Infant Jesus of Prague
Divine Infant Jesus, I want to give You my hands today. I want to serve You with all my heart and make You known and loved. Doing Your will is the source of my inner peace and joy.
Divine Infant, I give You my hands to touch those I meet with Your love and peace. I ask You to heal those in pain, to encourage the hopeless, to console the sorrowing, and to provide for those in want. I ask You to reach out to the lonely. I especially plead for the many people suffering from great poverty and injustice.
Miraculous Infant, I believe that You love me and know all of my needs. I place them in Your hands, especially my present concerns (mention here). I trust in Your love and care. I want to honor and praise You, now and forever. Amen.