In April 1992, I was in Prague in the Czech Republic to attend an Executive Committee Meeting of the International Union of the Catholic Press (UCIP). During the afternoon on the second day of the meeting, I made a quick visit to the Carmelite church of Our Lady of Victory to see the Infant Jesus of Prague. Devotion to Infant Jesus is popular in Kerala, India, where I come from. Hence, the thought of visiting the statue of Infant Jesus was an added incentive for me to attend the meeting in Prague.
According to a legend, the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague once belonged to St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). Later it came to the possession of a Spanish noblewoman known as Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz. In 1628, she donated the statue to the Carmelite friars of Prague, saying, “Venerable Fathers, I bring you my dearest possession. Honor this image, and you shall never be in want.”
With the statue’s arrival, the Carmelites started special devotions to Infant Jesus. Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, the king of Bohemia, Hungary, and Croatia, heard about this devotion and sent a monthly stipend for the support of the friars. However, during the Thirty Years’ War, the Carmelite friary was plundered in 1630, and the invaders threw the statue into a pile of rubbish. Seven years later, it was found by Fr. Cyrillus with its hands broken off, and he placed it in the church again.
One day, while praying before the statue, Fr. Cyrillus 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.” Soon Fr. Cyrillus got the statue repaired, and devotion to the Infant Jesus resumed. People who prayed before the Infant Jesus began to receive all kinds of blessings, including help with their financial needs. Slowly the devotion spread to other parts of the world.
The devotion to the Infant Jesus is focused on the mystery of the Incarnation. The statue emphasizes the humanity of Jesus and God’s closeness to us and His love for us. The statue is 19 inches tall, carved out of wood, and dressed in royal robes. The Infant Jesus wears a crown and holds a miniature globe in His left hand. The right hand is raised in blessing. The globe has a cross on its top, symbolizing His kingship over the world.
Let me now come back to the story of my visit to Prague. Since Our Lady of Victory Church was 25 miles away from the conference center, I took a bus to go there. When I saw the statue of Infant Jesus, I was mesmerized by it. After spending some time in prayer before the statue and enjoying the church’s beautiful architecture, I came out looking for a bus.
As I saw a young man standing nearby, I asked him where I could get a bus to the conference center. He said the last bus to that area would leave within a few minutes from the bus station and that I would have to take the subway to reach the station. Then, to my pleasant surprise, he offered to take me there so I would not miss the bus.
We took the subway, and within minutes, we reached the bus station. At that time, the last bus to my destination on that day was getting ready to leave. Thanking my unknown helper, I ran to the bus and got in before it left the station. As I sat down, I could not believe that a stranger would come to my rescue in a foreign land. However, that is what happened. To this day, I believe the stranger was an angel sent by Infant Jesus to help me!
When miracles happen, they happen one after another. A few minutes after I boarded the bus, I dozed off. Then I woke up to the noise of passengers talking and found out the bus had broken down. The driver warned that the dilapidated bus would need a mechanic to get it started again. Immediately, I began to worry about how to get to my place before sundown.
Getting out of the bus, I looked around. To my pleasant surprise, I could see my conference center within walking distance! Another miracle from the Infant Jesus of Prague! Imagine what would have happened to me if the bus had broken down several miles away from the conference center! Yes, when we pray to Infant Jesus, He answers our prayers in more ways than we can imagine. The more we honor Him, the more He will bless us. That is why when a parishioner suggested that we get the help of Infant Jesus for our Capital Campaign, we placed the statue of Infant Jesus in the church sanctuary.
This statue of Infant Jesus will be a reminder for us to pray to Infant Jesus for the success of our Capital Campaign. It will also be a reminder for us to participate in the Campaign wholeheartedly. If anyone cannot participate in the Campaign because of financial problems, please remember to pray faithfully to Infant Jesus for help, and you will see miracles happening.
The goal of our Capital Campaign is to raise $7 million. By the grace of God, we have reached $3.5 million with the participation of 13 percent of our registered families. Suppose the rest of the families also join in this Campaign to raise money for the maintenance work and renovation of the church, maintenance work of the school buildings, and the construction of a much-needed Family Life Center. In that case, we will soon reach our Campaign goal and complete the project as planned.
Hence, please trust Infant Jesus for all your needs and make your pledge and initial payment as soon as possible if you have not already done so. The Infant Jesus, in His love and mercy, will bless you abundantly.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Jose Panthaplamthottiyil, CMI
Prayers to Infant Jesus of Prague
Dearest Jesus, little Infant of Prague, how tenderly You love us! Your greatest joy is to dwell among us and to bestow Your blessing upon us. Though I am not worthy that You should help me, I feel drawn to You by love because You are kind and merciful. So many who turned to You with confidence have received blessings and had their petitions granted. Behold me as I come before You to lay open my heart to You with its prayers and hopes. I present to You especially this request, which I enclose in Your loving Heart (state your request). Rule over me, dear Infant Jesus, and do with me and mine according to Your holy will, for I know that in Your divine wisdom and love You will arrange everything for the best. Do not withdraw Your hand from me, but protect and bless me forever. I pray You, all-powerful and gracious Infant Jesus, for the sake of Your sacred infancy, in the name of Your blessed Mother Mary who cared for You with such tenderness, and by the greatest reverence with which St. Joseph carried You in his arms, help me in my needs. Make me truly happy with You, dearest Infant, in time and in eternity, and I shall thank You forever with all my heart. Amen.