A quick history behind the origins of the devotions to the Infant of Prague.
|Ecclesia Bytes Catholic Podcast
Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, many devotions to Jesus have risen. One of the most popular and dear to people’s hearts is the devotion to the Infant of Prague. The Child Jesus was venerated from the earliest times in the Church and can be found in odd sources such as the apocryphal gospels of James and Thomas (note: these writings are not considered to be divinely inspired). The Church Fathers, St. Augustine and St. Jerome had these devotions in the 4th Century. There are many other saints who were devoted to the Child Jesus, among them were St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Anthony of Padua. The devotion did not become widespread until St. Theresa of Avila had visions of the Child Jesus.
The current and most popular devotion to the child Jesus began with the Carmelites in the city of Prague in Bohemia (the Czech Republic today). The statue was a wedding gift to Princess Polyxenia of Lobkowitz from her mother, which she had purchased from Spain. When war brought poverty to the Carmelite Monastery in 1628, Polyxenia gave her highly prized statue to the Carmelites with the words, “I give you what I prize most highly in this world; honour and respect the Child Jesus and you shall never be in want”.
The statue was placed in the monastery’s oratory and the Carmelites prospered as long as they were devoted to the Child Jesus. Unfortunately, war came to their country and the Carmelites were forced to flee their monastery, leaving behind their statue. The occupying forces did not see the value upon finding the statue and threw it in the garbage.
As with all wars, they eventually end and peace returned to Bohemia. The Carmelites also returned and a devotee of the Infant of Prague, Father Cyril, looked for the statue and found it in the garbage. He placed it once again in the monastery’s oratory.
One day while praying before the statue, Fr. Cyril heard Jesus say, “Have mercy on me and I will have mercy on you. Return my hands to me and I shall give you peace. The more you honour me, the more I shall bless you”. Surprised by this, the good priest examined the statue and found that both hands were broken off. He restored the statues hands and Jesus kept the promise He made: peace and prosperity came to the Carmelites.