Home > The Bonds of Unity (1917-1925) > Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague

Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague

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During the period of the foundation of the church, while three statues of Franciscan saints graced the altar: St. Anthony of Padua (donated by Mrs. Heytens), St. Margaret of Cortona, and St. Colette (donated by Peter DeCleene), a statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague, was the one which received much devotion.

Given to the parish by Mrs. Cole, with the help of eight donors: Mrs. Want, Mrs. VadenBerghe, Mrs. Powels, Mrs. Gotelaere, Mrs. Leeman, Mrs. Meys, and Mrs. Vergauwen), the statue depicted Jesus as an infant, dressed as a king, standing with his right hand extended in blessing, and holding in his other hand, a miniature globe featuring a cross signifying the world-wide kingship of Christ. The first two fingers are upraised to symbolize the two natures of Christ.

Although some people object to Jesus being depicted as small child (after all he reigns today as the risen Christ), the statue is a symbolic representation of Jesus’ humility. It was God who humbled himself to become man choosing to be born in a manger instead of a palace. Divine, yet human, at no time, nor place, did Jesus ever wear a beautiful jeweled golden crown or don royal garb. The only crown put on him was a crown of thorns. There was nothing unusual about his appearance. Therefore, why dress him up as a little king? For those who had “eyes to see” like his mother, Mary, this is what they saw. For Jesus as the second person of the Trinity was indeed sovereign king.

During World War I, when Fr. Rudolph and the parish’s dream of building a school had been put on hold, the statue was a reminder to the parish that no matter what happens, Jesus is ruler. Although he had come into this world as a helpless infant, he was nonetheless King of the Universe!

Devotion to the Divine Child originated with the Carmelites in the city of Prague, Bohemia, after a Spanish princess brought the statue to their monastery in the early part of the seventeenth century with these words: “I give you what I prize most highly in the world; honor and respect the Child Jesus and you shall never be in want.”

However, in 1628, during the Thirty Years War, their Monastery had been reduced to poverty, and plunderers threw the statue of the infant Jesus onto a heap of rubble behind the high altar. For the next seven years the statue lay forgotten by all.
On the feast of Pentecost in 1637, Cyril of the Mother of God, an ordained priest, found the statue with both of Jesus’ hands missing, and returned it to the monastery.

Fr. Cyril reorganized devotions to it. One day, while 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.” He also heard the words: “Place Me near the entrance of the sacristy, and you will receive aid.”

When this was done, the full cost of the repairs was promptly donated. Thereafter, the needs of the community were always met through the continued devotion to the Child Jesus, and such were the favors granted that replicas of the statue were made for those who likewise wanted to benefit from the generous favors of the holy Child.

 

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