I have vivid memories of our family gathering at my Abuela’s house to dress the Infant Jesus (Santo Niño). Everyone would gather around the Christmas tree to pray, sing hymns, and witness the chosen “Godparents” of that year dress the little babe of Bethlehem. This is a tradition Mexican households participate in, especially during the Christmas season.
Devotion to the Infant Jesus is centuries old. In Spain, He is known as Santo Niño de Atocha, (click here for a little more background). In the Philippines, He is known as Santo Niño de Cebu. Although each culture has its own rich traditions and celebrations, at the heart of the Devotion is the opportunity to increase our relationship with the Father with humbled hearts.
Devotion to the Infant Jesus is widespread, but the most promulgated in Western Culture is the Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague.
History and Origin of Devotion to the Infant Jesus
Devotion to the Infant Jesus 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, manger for a cradle, and shepherds for worshippers. Our Savior grants special graces to all who venerate His sacred Infancy.
According to sources, the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague originates in Spain. It was probably made in Spain sometime in the second half of the 16th century or earlier.
Legend says that the Infant Jesus miraculously appeared to the monk who molded the statue based on his vision. A different legend tells us that the statue was owned by Saint Teresa of Jesus who greatly venerated Jesus’ childhood and spread the veneration of the Infant Jesus throughout Spain. She is said to have given the statue to a friend whose daughter was getting married in Prague.
The statue of the Infant Jesus was brought to Prague by the Spanish Duchess Marie Manriquez de Lcara, who married Vrastislav of Pernstejn in 1556. She gave the statue to her daughter Polyxena of Lobkovic as a wedding gift. She greatly venerated the statue and received consolation and help from it many times.
Polyxena of Lobkowicz donated the statue as a precious gift to the monastery of Discalced Carmelites at the Church of Our Lady of Victory. 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” (Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague).
Blessings poured forth in the community, but once the devotion became relaxed, the abundant blessings went away.
Father Cyrillus a Matre Dei was very devoted to The Infant Jesus because of the consolation he had received from Him. Suddenly the devotion ceased altogether because the Carmelites fled the monastery as Prague was seized from the Saxons. The Infant Jesus was damaged and discarded as junk.
When the Carmelites were able to return to Prague, Father Cyrillus remembered the powerful intercession of The Infant Jesus and found the statue. With great sorrow he discovered that both its arms had been broken off. During prayer he heard the Infant Jesus say: “Have mercy on me and I will have mercy on you. Give me my arms and I will give you my peace. I will bless you as much as you will venerate me!”
It is in this repair of the statue that the real story takes place. Father Cyrillus had to persevere in finding a way to acquire the funds for it to be restored. When he had the funds, his superior suggested purchasing a new statue all together.
For a more in depth history and timeline of events visit The History and Veneration of the Prague Infant Jesus.
Today, the statue is enshrined on a side altar in the church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.
Description of the Statue
The statue is made of wax and is about nineteen inches high. The Infant Jesus is clothed in a royal mantle, and has a beautiful jeweled crown on His head. The Infant Jesus’ right hand is raised in blessing; His left hand holds a globe signifying sovereignty. This website offers a great description about the appearance of the statue.
How the Infant Jesus is Dressed
The Infant Jesus, like the priests at the altar, is dressed in robes in accordance to the color of the liturgical season. The robes change accordingly for special feast days as well. Follow this interactive link to see the robe changes on The Infant Jesus.
The Carmelite Sisters of the Child Jesus are in charge of dressing the Infant Jesus. The Sisters help the Discalced Carmelite Brothers to look after the pilgrimage site of the Infant Jesus.
Heart of the Devotion
The heart of this devotion is a humbled heart. A heart with confidence such as that of a child. It’s knowing that whatever we ask of Jesus, as long as it benefits us, He will grant to us. Just like when our own children come to us we do what they ask of us out of love. This littleness in prayer helps us grow in our spiritual lives and helps us to see just how much we depend on having a steady relationship with the Lord.
The Infant of Prague is pictured wearing a crown, with a globe in one small hand, and this is not without meaning. “The government is on His shoulder,” we sing in the Introit of the third Mass for Christmas day. The Child of Bethlehem was born with a mission of salvation. Being a flower of Christ demands courage, decisive action, maturity., But coupled with these must always be humility candor, confidence – those virtues of childhood. It is these virtues that Jesus is recommending. A child accepts himself for what he is. Undismayed by falls and setbacks, he gets up again and begins over.
Devotions and Prayers to The Infant Jesus
Powerful Novena in Urgent Need
(In cases of great urgency, a novena of hours may be made instead of days. The prayers should, if possible, be repeated at the same time every hour for nine consecutive hours).
O Jesus, who said, “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” through the intercession of Mary, Your Most holy Mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.
(Mention your request)
O Jesus, who said, “All that you ask of the Father in My Name He will grant you,” through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother, I humbly and urgently ask Your Father in Your name that my prayer be granted.
(Mention your request)
O Jesus, who said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass,” through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.
(Mention your request)
Prayer of Thanksgiving for Graces Received from the Infant Jesus
I prostrate myself before Your most holy image, O most gracious Infant Jesus, to offer You my most fervent thanks for the blessings You have bestowed on me. I shall incessantly praise Your ineffable mercy and confess that You alone are my God, my helper, and my protector. Henceforth my entire confidence shall be placed in You! Everywhere I will proclaim aloud Your mercy and generosity, so that Your great love and the great deeds which you perform through this miraculous image may be acknowledged by all. May devotion to Your holy infancy increase more and more in the hearts of all Christians, and may all who experience your assistance persevere with me in showing unceasing gratitude to Your most holy infancy, to which be praise and glory forever. Amen.
The above prayer is from the Devotion To The Infant Jesus of Prague published by TAN books.
For other online prayers, devotions, and pilgrimage sites, check out the following:
- Prayers to The Infant Jesus from the church of Our Lady of Victory.
- Novena to The Infant Jesus from the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague.
- Pray More Novenas also has a novena to The Infant Jesus.
- The United States also has a National Shrine of The Infant Jesus in Prague, Oklahoma that is worthy of putting on the list of churches to visit.
- Mother Angelica, the foundress of EWTN, received inspiration from the Divino Niño to build a chapel in His Name (but that’s another story!).
Do you have a devotion to the Infant Jesus? If so, what title? How has the littleness of heart in this devotion increased your trust in the Lord?
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