January 2 – The Infant of Prague

January 2, 2014

Infant Jesus of Prague given by Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz to the Discalced Carmelites in 1628, in the Carmelite Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague. Photo by Jayarathina

Infant Jesus of Prague given by Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz to the Discalced Carmelites in 1628, in the Carmelite Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague. Photo by Jayarathina

Its earliest history can be traced back to Prague in the year 1628 when the small, 19-inch high, wooden and coated wax statue of the Infant Jesus was given by Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz (1566–1642) to the Discalced Carmelites, to whom she had become greatly attached. The princess had received the statue as a wedding gift (1603) from her mother, Maria Maximiliana Manrique de Lara y Mendoza, wife of Vratislav of Pernstyn, Chancellor of the Czech Kingdom (1530-1582), who also had received the statue as a wedding gift (1555) and who had brought It from her homeland of Spain to Lobkowicz Palace in Bohemia. An old legend in the Lobkowicz family insists that Doña María had been given the statue by Saint Teresa of Avila herself.

Doña María Maxmiliana Manrique de Lara y Mendoza

In 1628, Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz presented the statue to the Carmelite friars. Upon presenting the statue, the pious Princess Polyxena is said to have uttered a prophetic statement to the religious: “Venerable Fathers, I bring you my dearest possession. Honour this image and you shall never want”. The statue was placed in the oratory of the monastery of Our Lady of Victory, Prague, where special devotions to the Infant Jesus were offered twice a day. Upon hearing of the Carmelites’ devotions and needs, the Emperor Ferdinand II of the House of Habsburg sent along 2,000 florins and a monthly stipend for their support.

Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz entrusting the Statue to the Carmelite Friars.

Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz entrusting the Statue to the Carmelite Friars.

The Statue remains on display in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague, where It attracts thousands of visitors each year. A copy of the Infant Jesus of Prague is on permanent display in the Lobkowicz Palace Museum.

Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz

Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz

The Infant had always been dressed in splendid gowns, decorated with precious jewels. The oldest extant gown was presented to the Infant Jesus by the Emperor Ferdinand III. In His collection the Infant Jesus has more than a hundred precious dresses and some of them can be seem in the Cathedral’s museum. The Infant Jesus is dressed in the royal dress with an ermine mantle only during coronation ceremonies.

Links to two pictures of the Infant of Jesus of Prague’s gowns are below.

Picture 1

Picture 2

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