Saint of the Day – 2 January – Feast of the Infant Jesus of Prague – the 16th Century wax-coated wooden Statue of the Child Jesus, holding a globus cruciger (the Orb and Cross) with the right hand being raised in benediction, is of Spanish origin and is just under half a metre in height. It is now located in the Discalced Carmelite Church of Our Lady of Victories in Malá Strana, Prague, Czech Republic, see the Church at the bottom (one where I have been immensely blessed to attend Holy Mass before the Infant each day for a week some years ago). The Statue is venerated on 2 January, on 14 January and on the first Sunday of May.
In 1556, pious legends claim that the Statue once belonged to St Teresa of Ávila and was donated to the Carmelite Friars by Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz in 1628 upon her marriage to Czech nobleman.
The image is routinely clothed by the Carmelite Nuns in luxurious fabrics often in the Liturgical Vestment colours relevant to the Seasons and with imperial regalia and a golden crown. In thanksgiving for the numerous graces and cures received, the miraculous Statue at Prague , was solemnly crowned when Pope Leo XII signed and granted its first Pontifical Decree of Canonical Coronation on 24 September 1824.
St Pius X granted authorisation via the Decree “Significat Nobis” to erect a namesake cCnfraternity.
Disturbances in Bohemia due to the Thirty Years’ War brought an end to the special devotions and on 15 November 1631 the army of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden took possession of Bohemia’s Capital City. The Carmelite Friary was plundered and the image of the Infant of Prague was thrown into a pile of rubbish behind the Altar. Here it lay forgotten for seven years, its hands broken off, until in 1637, it was found again by Father Cyrillus and placed in the Church’s oratory. One day, while praying before the Statue, Cyrillus heard a voice 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.”
Copies of the Infant Jesus arrived in Poland in 1680 and it has been popular in Polish homes and Bohemia in general, where the copies are typically placed in glass-enclosed cases. After the start of the Counter-Reformation era of the 17th Century, the Statue spread among Catholics all over the world, with particular devotion developing in South Africa, Australia, Caribbean, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
So many graces have been received by those who invoke the Divine Child before the original Statue that it has been called “The Miraculous Infant Jesus of Prague.” We read the following in an old book printed in Kempt: “All who approach the miraculous Statue and pray there with confidence, receive assistance in danger, consolation in sorrows, aid in poverty, comfort in anxiety, light in spiritual darkness, streams of grace in dryness of soul, health in sickness and hope in despair.”
From small beginnings, this devotion has grown to great proportions. The Divine Child attracts an ever increasing number of clients, who appeal to Him in every need.