Ever wondered about the Infant of Prague statue and novena prayer? Where did it come from and does the novena really work?
We'll get into the history of both in just a minute, but it's important to remember that prayer isn't magic. We cannot bind God to do something simply by reciting magical words. In prayer, it is us who moves, we change, we unite our will more fully to God's will.
With that said, let's dive in an answer your questions.
What is the Origin of the Infant of Prague statue?
The Infant of Prague statue is a wooden statue of the Child Jesus holding an orb and cross (globus cruciger). It is covered in colored wax, and most historical sources believe it was made in the 16th century in Spain. It resides in the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in Prague, Czech Republic.
The story behind the Infant Jesus of Prague starts in Spain. The legend states that the Infant Jesus appeared to a monk who made the statue based on his holy vision. Another version of the story revealed that St. Teresa of Jesus originally owned the statue and spread the word of the Veneration across Spain.
Despite being of Spanish origin, the statue found its way to Prague in the hands of the Spanish Duchess Marie Manriquez de Lcara. She married Vratislav of Pernstein in 1556. The statue would then be given to her daughter Polyxena of Lobkovic as a wedding gift.
Polyxena would donate the statue to the monastery of Discalced Carmelites, which is where the shrine remains today.
Upon presenting the Infant Jesus of Prague statue, Polyxena declared, “I hereby give you what I prize most highly in this world. As long as you venerate this image, you will not be in want.”
For many years, blessings would pour forth across the community. When people lost their devotion, the abundance receded. Even during catastrophes like the Second World War and the occupation of the Soviet Union, the statue survived and continued to serve the faithful in their darkest hours.
Today, the faithful visit the statue to receive blessings. It is believed that when the flock venerates the statue, they will receive blessings in their lives.
Copies of the statue are also regularly venerated across Spain.
The statue itself is wreathed with meaning. Each aspect of the statue was crafted to signify something.
You will see that the Infant Jesus is dressed in a royal mantle and is wearing a jeweled crown. The crown was added in 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI offered it to the statue in symbolic submission to our Lord Jesus.
The right hand of the Infant Jesus is raised in blessing, with the left holding a globe to signify his sovereignty.
Like ordained priests, the robes of the Infant Jesus change based on the feast days. The Carmelite Sisters of the Child Jesus take responsibility for dressing the statue.
What is the Infant of Prague Prayer?
The Infant Jesus prayer is technically a novena. Novena is simply the Latin word for “Nine” and is one of the earliest forms of worship. Early Christians would regularly pray different novenas to make requests of God.
Christians often request a Saint’s intercession and pray for nine consecutive days to display their faith and ensure God hears them. The novena Infant of Prague works in much the same way. Typically, novenas correspond to the feasts of various saints.
But why should you pray the Infant Jesus of Prague novena for nine days?
The significance of the number nine in Christianity has many explanations. Firstly, we turn to the Acts of the Apostles. The Blessed Virgin Mary prayed with the Apostles for nine consecutive days between the Ascension and Pentecost.
It also symbolizes the nine months that Our Lady carried Jesus in her womb. During the Middle Ages, Christians would perform the novena in the nine days before Christmas each year. Here’s the basic novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague:
O Jesus, Who has said, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened," through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.
(State your intention)
O Jesus, Who has said, "All that you ask of the Father in My Name, He will grant you," through the intercession of Mary Your Most Holy Mother, I humbly and urgently ask your Father in your name that my prayer will be granted.
(State your intention)
O Jesus, Who has said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass away," through the intercession of Mary Your Most Holy Mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.
(State your intention)
Remember to repeat the Infant of Prague prayer for nine consecutive days. You should also remember that the Infant Jesus novena is different from the Infant of Prague.
With the former, the words of the prayer change for each day. Although you still state your intention or make your request of God, the second verse alters from day to day.
There is also the Prayer of Thanksgiving, which is much longer and is prayed across many countries to all statues of the Infant Jesus. Feel free to use the Prayer of Thanksgiving if you decide to make a pilgrimage to Prague.
Significance of the Infant Jesus of Prague Prayer Explained
Do not misunderstand the meaning behind the blessings provided by the Infant Jesus across Prague centuries ago. It is not physical wealth or meaningless possessions but spiritual salvation and small mercies.
The heart of the Infant of Prague novena is the humbled heart. All children display remarkable confidence in their hearts. We ask Jesus when we pray the Infant of Prague prayer out of love, in the same way children make requests of their parents.
The littleness displayed in the novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague helps us grow spiritually. Prayer to the Infant Jesus humbles us and reminds us of the importance of maintaining and cultivating our relationship with the Lord.
If you are in great need of the Lord’s mercy and salvation, turn to the Infant of Prague prayer and open yourself up to receive his blessings. Jesus loves us wills to save us from the evils and sin of this world through His own life, death and resurrection.
The Infant Jesus of Prague is just one of many ways that God makes his presence physically known to us. He understands that we need physical manifestations to focus us in prayer and to help us imagine the life of his Son on this earth. He knows we are physical beings with five senses which were created by Him.
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