The miraculous statue of the Infant of Prague is a wax-coated wooden statue of the Child Jesus approximately 19 inches tall which dates back to the mid 1550s. “The Little King,” another popular name given to this statu, wears a crown, and in the left hand holds an orb and cross, which signify Christ’s universal kingship. Two fingers of the right hand (symbolizing Christ’s divine and human natures) are raised in blessing, as the folded thumb touches the last two fingers, representing the unity of the Blessed Trinity. The Infant is clothed in a simple white garment, similar to the priest’s alb. Covering this is a dalmatic made of silk or velvet, over which is worn a mantle which can have a stand-up collar.
A pious legend holds that the statue once belonged to Saint Teresa of Ávila. In 1556, a young Spanish noblewoman, Maria Maximiliana Manrique de Lara y Mendoza brought the statue with her to Bohemia upon her marriage to a Czech nobleman. Maria received the statue as a wedding gift from her mother, Doña Isabella, who in turn had received it from Saint Teresa herself. Years later, Maria would pass the family heirloom on to her own daughter, Polyxena. In 1628, Polyxena donated the statue to the Discalced Carmelite friars of the monastery of Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague, telling them, “Honor this image and you shall never want.” The friars placed the statue in their chapel, and special devotions were offered to Jesus before the statue twice a day.
During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), repeated attacks on Bohemia ended the twice-daily devotions as the populace, including the Carmelite friars, were forced to flee, Prague. In November 1631, when the army of Sweden’s King Gustavus Adolphus occupied Prague, the Carmelite monastery was pillaged and the statue of the Infant was thrown onto a pile of rubbish, where it lay for seven years, forgotten.
The friars returned to their church in 1637, and the statue was discovered by Father Cyrillus. Sadly, the hands of the statue had broken off. Nonetheless, Father Cyrillus fixed up a small shrine in the monastery chapel, placed the statue in it, and re-established the twice-daily devotions to the Infant of Prague.
While praying his devotions before the statue one day, Father Cyrillus heard a voice coming from the statue say: “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.” Funds to repair the statue came in the way of an unexpected donation from a wealthy benefactor. An elaborate shrine in the Church of Our Lady of Victory was built to house the statue, where it can still be venerated today.
The statue of the Infant of Prague has since drawn many pilgrims who come to place their petitions before the merciful Infant Jesus. Over the centuries, the Infant of Prague has been a source of many miracles and blessings, such as the healing of the terminally ill and paralyzed, restoration of hearing and sight and countless more who in humble simplicity and sincerity entreat the intercession of the Divine Child.