Devotion to the Infant Jesus as a child and yet King of Heaven is a theme to contemplate in prayer. The seemingly opposed virtues of humility and powerful authority are joined in this view of Jesus Christ. We are drawn to imitate His humility and to trust in His sure providence and care over us: this “Great, Little King”.
As far back in Old Testament times the prophet Isaiah spoke: "There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness." (Isaias 11:1-2) The Christ Child is given to us, He who "being rich, became poor for your sake, in order that by His poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9). Our Eternal Father ordained that His Son, Jesus, should know all life's stages: infancy, childhood, youth, and that He should be like us in everything, except sin. And above all, we have Our Lord’s own instruction about spiritual childhood and its necessity for salvation: “Amen I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever, therefore, humbles himself ... he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Most historians believe that the original wax statue known as the Infant of Prague was carved in Spain around the year 1340 in a Cistercian monastery. Some traditions claim that a monk had a vision of the child Jesus and fashioned the statue after what he saw. The statue remained in Spain for several centuries, and a pious tradition claims that St. Teresa of Avila possessed the statue in the 16th century. Whatever the case may be, the statue found its way to Prague during the reign of the House of Habsburg in 1556.
In 1631, when enemies of the Church sacked Prague, they mocked the Holy Infant and threw the statue into a heap of trash in an obscure place. Some years later, a Carmelite in the Prague Monastery, found the statue. One day, while praying in reparation before the damaged holy image, he heard the consoling words,"Have pity on Me and I will have pity on you; restore My hands and I will give you peace; the more you honor Me, the more I will bless you." The image indeed was, through a series of trials and difficulties, repaired and restored.
In the ensuing centuries, so many graces, blessings, and miraculous cures came to those who embraced this devotion, that it spread throughout the Catholic world and continues to be a source of much grace to this day.
Read more about this devotion in our past newsletter Holy Simplicity.
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