Devotion to the Infant 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.
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 cherished 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 Jesus 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, 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.
Infant of Prague – Forgotten
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 departed. 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 Catholicism, invaded Germany. Many fled from Prague, among them all but two of the members of the Carmelite monastery.
On November 15, 1631, over eighty Protestant preachers took possession of the churches of the city. The Carmelite monastery was plundered, and the “Popish superstition”, as the Protestants called the image, 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 not otherwise damaged. Here the Miraculous Infant lay for seven years, forgotten by all.
When the Carmelites returned to Prague, the miraculous image was entirely forgotten in the continual struggle for the means of subsistence. Want and misfortune were the lot of the community as long as this neglect lasted. A novice happened to find the image one day, but without any consideration cast it aside. .strange to say, a remarkable change came over him. Though he had been promising in every respect, he now showed such signs of a want of vocation that he was dismissed.
As long as the miraculous statue remained neglected, a peculiar misfortune rested on the monastery. This state lasted seven years.
Infant of Prague – Found
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 the Protestant 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 every nook and corner of the monastery until he found the long-lost treasure, almost buried in dust. Full of joy and gratitude, he covered the disfigured statue with tears and kisses 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.
Infant of Prague – Veneration Revived
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 repaired. 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 grew restless and resigned his office. This was generally considered as a punishment inflicted by the Divine Infant.
The prior’s successor, Father Dominic of Saint 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 alter of Our Lady of The Holy 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 and shed many a tear of sorrow before the beloved image. On one of these occasions 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 new hope, recommending all to his dear Heavenly Mother. Soon a stranger came to the sacristy, who offered to have the little image repaired at his own expense. The prior gladly accepted his offer, and in a few days the repaired statue was exposed for veneration in the church. The Infant Jesus 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 call to the Divine Infant, he vowed to say Holy Mass before the image for nine successive days, if he recovered. He at once 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 ordered 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 lady 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 tabernacle for public veneration.
Its many benefactors, who donated various adornments for the shrine, were abundantly blessed; but persons who treated the miraculous image unworthily were severely punished, and usually without delay.
In 1642, a noble lady had an elegant chapel built for the Divine Infant. This chapel was dedicated on the feast of the Holy Name in 1644, and Holy 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. Amazing favors are continually reported.