HOLY INFANT OF PRAGUE
Christians have always had a great devotion to the Infant of Prague. It makes present the great mystery of the Incarnation: The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
The particular devotion to the Infant of Prague started at the beginning of the XVII Century. Princess Polyxenia of Lobkowitz received as a wedding gift from her mother, a beautiful statue of the Infant Jesus that came from Spain. The wax statute was 48cm. The Infant Jesus is standing with his right hand lifted as if to bless, while his left hand holds a golden globe that represents the earth. His face is tender and beautiful.
After the death of her husband the princess dedicated herself to works of charity. The Religious of the Carmelite Order in Prague were especially blessed by the princess’ generosity. In 1628 war broke out in Prague and the monk’s monastery was left in extreme poverty. In those days Princess Polyxenia came to the door of the monastery with her statue and said:
“I bring you the most precious possession I have in this world. Honor and respect the Infant Jesus and you will never be in want.”.
The beautiful statue was placed in the convent oratory. The tunic and mantle had been fixed by the princess. Soon her words turned out to be prophetic. While the religious maintained their devotion to the Infant of Prague, they enjoyed prosperity. In 1631 Sajonia’s army entered Prague and the Carmelite Fathers were transferred to Munich. Since they did not take the statue with them, it ended up in the hands of the heretical invaders who ended up throwing it into the rubble.
In1635 the war ended and the Carmelites returned to their convent in Prague, but living conditions were very poor. One of the monks, named Father Cirilo returned to Prague after seven years. He found the living conditions abominable. The citizens of the city where at risk of even losing their faith. That is when Fr. Cirilo, who had previously received great spiritual help through his devotion to the Infant of Prague wanted to again restore devotion. With much diligence he began to search for the miraculous statue. After some time, the Father found it in a pile of debris behind the altar, where the invaders had discarded it. It was covered by a mantle. In ecstatic joy, Fr. Cirilo forgot to place the Infant in his place- in the oratory where the Carmelites had venerated him with great devotion and confidence. One day, while Fr. Cirilo devoutly prayed before the miraculous statue he heard a voice that said: “Have pity on me and I will have pity on you. Return to me my hands and I will give you peace. The more you honor me the more I will bless you.”
Surprised to hear these words, Fr. Cirilo meticulously examined the statue. As he removed the mantle that covered the Infant, the Father discovered that both his little hands where broken. Yet, the Superior refused to restore them because of the extreme poverty they were still living in the convent. Fr. Cirilo was called to the aid of a dying person named Benito Maskoning and he received 100 “florines.” He took them to the Superior and he had hope that they would be used to repair the statue. But the Superior instead thought it best to buy a new one. The very same day that the statue was inaugurated a candelabrum hanging on the wall fell on top of the statue breaking it in pieces. At the same time the Father Superior became ill and could not finish his term of authority.
After the new Superior was elected, Fr Cirilo once more begged for the statue to be restored, but he was unable to receive permission. One day as he prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary he was called to the Church where a lady gave him a substantial donation before disappearing. Filled with joy, Fr. Cirilo went to the Superior with the money but the superior used it for something else. Soon new calamities and poverty befell them. Before these circumstances all of them turned to the Infant Jesus. The Superior humbled himself and promised to celebrate 10 masses before the statue and to propagate its devotion. The situation considerably improved, but still the statue was not fixed. One day Fr. Cirilo, who did not cease to intercede before Jesus, heard him say:
“Place me at the entrance of the sacristy and you will find someone who will have pity on me.”
A stranger came up and noted that the beautiful Infant did not have hands, so he spontaneously offered to repair them. Soon afterwards the stranger won a legal judgment where he recovered a fortune. Innumerable benefits were received by the devotees. That is why the Carmelites wanted to build a public chapel, keeping in mind that the specific spot they needed to place the Infant was the spot the Blessed Mother had indicated to Fr. Cirilo. But they did not have money and the situation with the Calvinists made it difficult to erect new Churches.
Finally in 1642, Princess Lobkowitz built a sanctuary that was inaugurated in 1644, on the feast day of the Name of Jesus. Devotees of varying backgrounds came from all over. In 1655, Count Martinitz, Bohemia’s Great Marquis, donated a beautiful gold crown adorned with diamonds and pearls. The Reverend Jose de Corte placed it on the Infant in a solemn coronation ceremony.
They call the Divine Infant the “Great Small One,” and his miraculous reputation spread throughout all the nations. In innumerable schools, parishes and homes the Divine Infant entered to pour out His blessings, above all the grace of faith.