I wish my many Dominican friends throughout the world special blessings on this important day, the feast of their founder, St. Dominic! Blessings, good health, long lives – and continue being great preachers!
A PRAYERFUL VISIT TO THE INFANT OF PRAGUE
The celebrated statue of the Infant of Prague is known all over the world and countless faithful, and many curious tourists, come to see this statue of Jesus as a child and to say intercessory prayers before it.
On my recent trip to Prague, I spent quite some time in the church of Our Lady Victorious where the statue has its home, attending Mass, taking some photos and then praying before the statue, in particular for families, for people in need and all who asked me to pray for them. The story that follows is that told by the Discalced Carmelites.
The Church of our Lady Victorious was built between 1611 and 1613 in Renaissance and early Baroque style. It was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and was used by German speaking Lutherans.
After the battle of White Mountain that resulted in the victory of the Imperial and Catholic side in the Czech lands, Emperor Ferdinand II bestowed the church on the Order of Discalced Carmelites. The church was then consecrated to our Lady Victorious and a large monastery of Discalced Carmelites was built in the southern part of the church.
The statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague was permanently placed in the church in 1641.
This altar is a genial theological picture that symbolizes that Jesus is God and human being at the same time. We see the heavenly Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the Spirit above him as dove.. There is also a statue of Our Lady, Jesus’ Mother on the left, one of St. Joseph on the right and Jesus between them this time as a human being, as a child.
The appearance of the church in the 18th century followed a uniform and well-thought-out concept and was furnished with the works of the best available artists. By decree of Emperor Joseph II, the monastery was dissolved in 1784. The Carmelites were forced to leave and the parish of the Church of Our Lady in Chains was transferred here.
Plaques expressing gratitude for favors received through the intercession of the Infant line the walls on both sides of the altar:
At the request of then Prague Archbishop Miroslav Vlk, the Discalced Carmelites returned to the church after 200 years on July 2, 1993. Since then, this pilgrimage place has been revived.
The Carmelite Sisters of the Child Jesus have been helping Carmelite brothers with the care of the church and the gracious statue of the Infant Jesus. This Infant of Prague, that is, Jesus represented as a child, comes, according to sources, from Spain. It was made there in the second half of the 16th century or earlier. It is made of wood covered with fabric and wax and is 47 cm (18 and half inches) high.
The Infant Jesus was brought from Spain by the Duchess Marie Manriquez di Lara who married Vratislav of Persnstein in 1556. Later she gave the statue to her daughter Polyxena as a wedding gift. After the death of her husband she donated it to the monastery Discalced Carmelites at the church of our Lady Victorious in 1628.
The statue is dressed in royal robes that were once decorated with precious jewels given as gifts by worshippers. The most valuable jewel (since lost) was a copy of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The crown that adorns the Infant Jesus is a gift from Pope Benedict XVI, who crowned the Infant Jesus during his visit to Prague in 2009.
The Infant Jesus blesses with his right hand, while in his left he holds a symbol of his rule over the world – an imperial orb topped with a cross.
Pope Benedict XVI visited the church in 2009. In his speech he stated that the infant Jesus of Prague demonstrated God’s closeness and mercy through his child’s tenderness. He prayed for children who are victims of violence and for broken families. As a gift, he brought the crown you see today on the Infant Jesus.
Dressing the statue of the Infant Jesus is an ancient custom and one of the manifestations of veneration. Most of the robes are gifts of gratitude. One of them, for example, was personally embroidered and given by Empress Maria Teresa.
The dozens of robes are displayed in the church museum. The Crown and the Imperial orb show Jesus’ divinity and his royal dignity. The color of the robe the Infant wears is guided by the color of the liturgical seasons. At Christmas time, to remember Jesus in his self-giving, we can see the Infant Jesus without his role in its original simplicity and beauty.
Prayer to the Infant of Prague:*
O Miraculous Infant Jesus! We beseech Thee to cast a merciful look on our troubled hearts, prostrate before Thy sacred image. Let Thy tender heart, so inclined to pity, be softened at our prayers, and grant us that grace which we ardently implore (here make your request). Take from us the affliction and despair, the trials and misfortunes with which we are laden. For the sake of Thy sacred infancy hear our prayers and send us consolation and aid that we may praise Thee with the Father and Holy Ghost forever and ever. Amen
(*50 days indulgence for each recitation)
A guide to the church and altars: https://www.pragjesu.cz/en/church-guide/