I spoke briefly about my most cherished possession in my last “Go Fish” Friday Blog. For as long as I can remember, on a corner shelf in the dining room of my maternal Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Niles, Ohio there was a statue. He was wearing a jeweled crown and wore a yellow lace and silk gown. His right hand was giving the peace sign and the other one was holding a round ball. (Sounds similar to an Alanis Morisette song, right?) He was always there, for as long as I can remember. I always thought he was a doll to be played with when I was very young. He was haunting, beautiful and comforting. I would just stare at him. He always stared back at me and I knew he really wanted to hop down from that shelf and play with me. He was my baby. My Grandpa passed away before my Grandma did and when she was gone we all got to go to her house after her funeral an choose some things to take with us. I chose some of her handkerchiefs, a nightgown, some scarves, an antique table, her green rosary and the baby boy that was on the shelf…the Infant of Prague. The Infant came from a raffle at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel festival. Grandma won him. I have been trying to do some research on whether or not those Infants were made by the Infant of Prague guild at the church or if they bought them to be raffled off. I don’t know the answer to that, but I believe that the ladies at the church actually made these Infants or at least their vestments. There was always a booth at the festival with tons of Infant of Prague’s on display to be raffled. That booth along with the “pull tab” booth were always very busy. (Pull tabs is a game you play. You buy these cards and you peel off the windows to see if you win. It’s similar to the slot machine concept. Yep, gambling at a Catholic Church…oh the shame! LOL!) Funny how you remember things like that. I don’t have the best memory, but I do remember vividly the FESTIVAL at Mount Carmel and my love for that baby boy Jesus.
For more information on The Infant of Prague, check out THIS WEBSITE.
History of the Infant Jesus of Prague
The Infant Jesus of Prague originally came from Spain. The legend tells that the Infant Jesus appeared miraculously to a certain monk, who modeled the statue based on the appearance of the apparition. According to another legend the statue belonged to St. Teresa of Avila, the founder of the Discalced Carmelites, who was aflame with a great love for the Child Jesus. She is said to have given the statue to a friend of hers, whose daughter was setting out to travel to Prague.
When the Duchess Maria Manrique de Lara came to Bohemia to marry a Bohemian nobleman in 1556, she received the statue from her mother as a wedding gift. When her daughter Polyxena of Lobkowicz was widowed, she gave the precious statue to the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites attached to the church of Our Lady of Victory in 1628.
The Carmelites placed the statue in the novitiate chapel, so that the young monks could learn from the virtues of the Child Jesus. At that time the Thirty Years’ War was raging through Europe and even the Infant Jesus was not spared when the Saxon army occupied Prague in 1631. It was only after his return to Prague in 1637 that Father Cyril of the Mother of God, originally from Luxemburg, discovered the statue, abandoned in a corner. To his sorrow, however, he found that the Infant Jesus had had both hands broken off. At this moment it seemed to him that the Infant Jesus was saying to him:
Have mercy on me and I will have mercy on you.
Give me hands and I will give you peace.
The more you honour me, the more I will bless you.
Eventually Father Cyril had new hands made for the Infant Jesus. The gold coin invested in this was returned many times over, as the Child Jesus began to bless the monastery, the local people, and the whole of Prague. Miraculous healings were attributed to him, as was the protection of Prague when it was laid siege to by the Swedes in 1639. In 1651 the statue was carried as a pilgrim round all the churches in Prague and in 1655 it was solemnly crowned by the Bishop of Prague. This event is still remembered today on the anniversary feast-day, falling on the first Sunday in May.
Devotion to the child of Jesus is very popular in Catholicism, just like devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart, devotion to his Holy Face, devotion to Jesus’ Wounds and devotion to the Divine Mercy.
The Roman Catholic tradition includes a number of devotions to Jesus Christ. Like all Catholic devotions, these prayer forms are not part of the official public liturgy of the Church but are based on the popular spiritual practices of Roman Catholics. Many are officially approved by the Holy See as suitable for spiritual growth but not necessary for salvation.
Some devotions arise from private revelations, or personal religious experiences of saints. The Church has a tradition of thorough investigation of such private revelations and the lives of candidates for sainthood to assure that no natural or scientific explanation can, at the time of investigation, account for any miracles involved. Often an approved devotion of the Church has a particular prayer form, an image and sometimes specific promises for those who follow the devotion.
Novena Prayer to the Miraculous Infant of Prague
Dearest Jesus, Little Infant of Prague, how tenderly You love us! Your greatest joy is to dwell among us and to bestow Your blessing upon us. Though I am not worthy that You should help me, I feel drawn to You by love because You are kind and merciful.
So many who turned to You with confidence have received graces and had their petitions granted. Behold me as I come before You to lay open my heart to You with its prayers and hopes. I present to You especially this request, which I enclose in Your loving Heart: (Mention your request).
Rule over me, dear Infant Jesus, and do with me and mine according to Your Holy Will, for I know that in Your Divine Wisdom and Love You will arrange everything for the best. Do not withdraw Your hand from me, but protect and bless me forever.
I pray You, all-powerful and gracious Infant Jesus, for the sake of Your Sacred Infancy, in the Name of Your Blessed Mother Mary who cared for You with such tenderness, and by the greatest reverence with which Saint Joseph carried You in his arms, help me in my needs. Make me truly happy with You, dearest Infant, in time and in eternity, and I shall thank You forever with all my heart. Amen.