Even though we have long since moved on from Prague, I still have some stories and photos that are worth recording; and perhaps those planning a trip may find something of interest. For instance, our short visit to see the Infant Jesus of Prague.
Regular readers of this blog will realise that we are not on a religious pilgrimage in Europe, even though we started our trip in Assisi. However, a friend (you know who you are :-)) had brought this attraction to my attention, so Bill and I set off on foot across the Charles Bridge in search of the Church of our Lady of Victory in the Lesser Town area.
Thousands of people come to this church specifically to worship and pray at the statue of the baby Jesus. The nuns who care for the statue change his clothes regularly. The small adjoining museum displays vestments that have been donated from all around the world, and photographs of the statue dressed in various outfits adorn the walls on the staircase to the museum.
The reason for this adoration is probably best explained by this extract that I have drawn directly from the church’s website on the subject:
“The statue was given to the Carmelite nuns attached to the church of Our Lady of Victory in 1628. The Carmelites placed the statue in the novitiate chapel, so that the young monks could learn from the virtues of the Child Jesus. At that time the Thirty Years’ War was raging through Europe and even Infant Jesus was not spared when the Saxon army occupied Prague in 1631. It was only after his return to Prague in 1637 that Father Cyril of the Mother of God, originally from Luxemburg, discovered the statue, abandoned in a corner. To his sorrow, however, he found that Infant Jesus had had both hands broken off. At this moment it seemed to him that Infant Jesus was saying to him:
Have mercy on me and I will have mercy on you.
Give me hands and I will give you peace.
The more you honour me, the more I will bless you.
Eventually Father Cyril had new hands made for Infant Jesus. The gold coin invested in this was returned many times over, as the Child Jesus began to bless the monastery, the local people, and the whole of Prague. Miraculous healings were attributed to him, as was the protection of Prague when it was laid siege to by the Swedes in 1639. In 1651 the statue was carried as a pilgrim round all the churches in Prague and in 1655 it was solemnly crowned by the Bishop of Prague. This event is still remembered today on the anniversary feast-day, falling on the first Sunday in May.”
The belief in the miraculous healings carry forward to this day, and prayer cards in a multitude of languages are left on the balustrade in front of the statue, for the assistance of worshippers.
Garrulous Gwendoline, Prague, July 2013