Prague Top Attraction – The Infant Jesus of Prague
Who made the little 19 inch wooden wax covered doll is not known but we do know that The Infant Jesus of Prague originally came from Spain and was given as a wedding present to Duchess Maria Manrique de Lara in 1556 on her marriage in Bohemia. On her death the statuette passed to her daughter Polyxena. After her first husbands death she married into the powerful Lobkowicz family and in 1628 she decided to give the precious statue to the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites attached to the church of Our Lady of Victory.
The Miracle of the Infant Jesus
The Thirty Years’ War was raging through Europe at that time and in 1630 many of the Carmelite followers moved to Munich but the statuette stayed in Prague. The Swedish Army occupied Prague between 1631 and 1637 bringing devastation and looting of many of the city churches. Carmelite Father Cyril (in Czech Cyrillus) returned to Prague in 1637 to assess the damage and discovered the little doll abandoned in a pile of rubbish with both arms missing. At that moment it seemed to him that the Infant of Prague 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.
Father Cyril had new arms and hands made for the Infant of Prague. Miraculous healings began to be attributed to the statuette and in 1651 the it was carried as a pilgrim around all the churches in Prague. In 1655 it was crowned by the Bishop of Prague and this event is remembered on the anniversary feast-day which falls on the first Sunday in May. Clothing (Regal vestments) were given to the church for the Infant Jesus and these are changed regularly in accordance with religious festivals.
More recently, Pope Leo XIII who instituted the Sodality to the Infant of Prague in 1896. Pope Saint Pius X organised the Confraternity of the Infant Jesus of Prague in 1913 and Pope Benedict XVI donated a golden crown to the statue during his Apostolic visit to the Czech Republic in September 2009.
You can walk to the Church of Our Lady Victorious in 5 minutes from Malostranska Namesti. Entry is free, donations welcome. Also check the shop which is to the left of the main entry. The website below is useful for a more in depth history, getting service times, learning when and why the Prague Infant Jesus wears certain colours and even print your own prayer texts.