Devotion to the
Infant Jesus of Prague
“The more you honor Me the more I will bless you.”
Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague is devotion to the Child Jesus. It is veneration of the Son of God, who in the form of an infant chose a stable for a palace, a manger for a cradle, and shepherds for worshipers. Our Savior grants special graces to all who venerate His sacred Infancy.
The image of the Child Jesus known as the “Infant Jesus of Prague” was in reality of Spanish origin. In the 17th Century, this beautiful statue was brought by a Spanish princess to Bohemia and presented to a Carmelite monastery. For many years this statue has been enshrined on a side altar in the Church of Our Lady of Victory in the city of Prague. It is of wax, and is about nineteen inches high. It is clothed in a royal mantle, and has a beautiful jeweled crown on its head. Its right hand is raised in blessing; its left holds a globe signifying sovereignty.
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.
In thanksgiving for the numerous graces and cures received, the miraculous statue at Prague was solemnly crowned on the Sunday after Easter, in 1665.
What is said of the original statue may be applied also to the images of the “Little King” which are venerated the world over. 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.
Origin of the Devotion
As previously mentioned, the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague was brought to Bohemia by a Spanish princess, whose mother had given it to her as a wedding gift. This noble lady, in turn, presented the image to her daughter. When the latter’s husband died, in 1623, she resolved to spend the remainder of her days in works of piety and charity.
She was particularly generous to the Carmelites of Prague who, after Emperor Ferdinand II, their founder, had removed his residence to Vienna, fell into such utter destitution that at times they had scarcely enough to eat. Accordingly, she presented her beloved statue to the religious with these prophetic words: “I hereby give you what I prize most highly in this world. As long as you venerate this image you will not be in want.”
Her prediction was verified. As long as the Divine Infant was venerated, God showed Himself a kind helper, through His Son, and the community prospered both spiritually and temporally. But when the devotion to the Infant was relaxed, God’s blessing seemed to depart from the house.
The statue was set up in the oratory of the monastery, and twice a day special devotions were performed before it. Here the religious sought relief in their bitter need from Him who for love of mankind had become poor.
The novices were particularly devoted to the Holy Infant. One of them, Cyrillus a Matre Dei, who was most devoted to the Holy Infant, found sudden relief from interior trials through this devotion.
However, the devotion to the Divine Infant was short-lived. On account of the disturbances of the Thirty Years’ War, the novitiate was removed to Munich, Germany, in 1630. With Brother Cyrillus and the other novices, the most fervent worshipers of the Infant of Prague had de-parted. The special devotions held before the image were gradually neglected. The prosperity of the community declined, and need and distress were again felt.
Then, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, the inveterate foe of Catholi-cism, invaded Germany. Many inhabitants fled from Prague, among them all but two of the members of the Carmelite monastery.
On November 15, 1631, the enemy took possession of the churches of the city. The Carmelite monastery was plundered, and the image of the Infant of Prague was thrown upon a heap of rubbish behind the high altar. Both hands were broken off by the fall, but, though made of wax, it was other-wise undamaged. Here the Miraculous Infant lay for seven years, forgotten by all. During this period the monastery suffered many reverses.
On the feast of Pentecost, 1637, Father Cyrillus a Matre Dei, the very one who, while a novice, had been delivered from a most annoying dryness of soul through his fervent devotion to the Holy Infant, returned to Prague. Unfortunately, Prague was again overrun by hostile armies. The distress was indescribable. In this extremity the prior assembled the community to offer humble prayers to appease God’s wrath.
Father Cyrillus now remembered the favors formerly received through the Infant of Prague, and with the prior’s consent searched the monastery, until he found the long-lost treasure, almost buried in dust. Full of joy and gratitude, he kissed the disfigured statue and then placed it on an altar in the oratory. The long-forgotten devotions were now revived with renewed vigor. The religious disclosed their needs to the Divine Infant, and with Him they found strength and consolation.
As in former years, Father Cyrillus was the most zealous disciple of the Holy Infant. One day, when praying before the statue, he distinctly heard these words: “Have pity on Me, and I will have pity on you. Give Me My hands, and I will give you peace. The more you honor Me, the more I will bless you.”
Father Cyrillus was awestruck at these words, for he had not noticed that the hands of the Divine Infant were missing, owing to the mantle in which the figure was clad. Hastening to the prior he begged him to have the image repaired. But the prior considered the community too poor to incur this seemingly needless expense.
Then Father Cyrillus, through the Blessed Virgin, begged the Heavenly Father to send sufficient alms to have the statue re-paired. His confidence was rewarded. Three days later, he was called to the sickbed of a wealthy man, to whom he related the history of the remarkable statue. The sick man at once gave a generous sum of money for the purpose of having it repaired. The prior, however, decided to buy an entirely new statue. But the Divine Infant soon manifested His displeasure. Scarcely had the new statue been put in place when it was shattered by a falling candlestick. The old and mutilated image was destined to continue as an object of veneration in the monastery.
The prior’s successor, Father Dominic of St. Nicholas, owing to lack of funds found it impossible to fulfill the wish of Father Cyrillus. Again the disappointed Father Cyrillus, through the Mother of God, begged the Divine Infant to send his superiors the necessary funds to repair the image.
One day a woman gave him a large sum of money. When he wished to thank her, she had disappeared; no one had seen her come or go. The happy friar then knelt before the altar of Our Lady of the Scapular and offered gratitude to Heaven.
The prior, however, assigned to him only a very small part of the sum for the repairing of the statue. This proved to be insufficient, and Father Cyrillus found himself as far as ever from attaining his object. Once more he took his troubles to the Divine Infant. On this occasion he heard these words: “Place Me near the entrance of the sacristy and you will receive aid.” He did so and returned to his room, filled with hope, recommending all to his Heavenly Mother. Soon a stranger came to the sacristy, who offered to have the image repaired at his own expense. The prior accepted his offer and in a few days the repaired statue was exposed for veneration in the church. The Infant richly repaid the stranger for this good deed.
Meanwhile, new afflictions visited the community. A pestilence broke out in the city. The prior, too, became dangerously ill. When his attention was called to the Divine Infant, he vowed to say Holy Mass before the image for nine successive days, if he recovered. At once he felt relief and in a few days was completely restored to health. He fulfilled the vow and from that time forward fervently promoted veneration of the Miraculous Infant.
Some time later there again was great need in the monastery. The prior then led prayers to the Divine Infant, in which all the members of the community took part. After three days. a generous donation was given to them unexpectedly. The statue of the holy Infant was then removed to the church so that the people could also venerate the miraculous image.
In 1641, a woman donated a large sum of money to the monastery, expressing the desire that an altar be erected to the Most Holy Trinity. This was done, and the miraculous image was placed in a magnificent gold-plated shrine for public veneration.
In 1642, a noble woman had a chapel built for the Divine Infant. This chapel was dedicated on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus in 1644, and Mass was then celebrated in it for the first time. The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus thus became the principal Feast of the Miraculous Infant of Prague.
Devotion to the Holy Infant has continued to spread throughout the world. Favors are continually reported.
From the prayer booklet, Devotion to the Infant of Prague.
Novena Prayer to the Infant of Prague
O Dearest Jesus, tenderly loving us, Thy greatest joy is to dwell among men and to bestow Thy blessings upon us! Though I am not worthy that Thou should behold me with love, I feel myself drawn to Thee, O dear Infant Jesus, because Thou gladly pardon me and exercise Thy almighty power over me.
So many who turned with confidence to Thee have received graces and had their petitions granted. Look upon me as I kneel in spirit before Thy miraculous image on Thine altar in Prague and lay open my heart to Thee, with its prayers, petitions and hopes. Especially the affair of......I enclose in Thy loving Heart.
Govern me and do with me and mine according to Thy holy will, for I know that in Thy Divine wisdom and love Thou will ordain everything for the best. Almighty, gracious Infant Jesus, do not withdraw Thy hand from us, but protect and bless us forever. Amen.