Museum of the Infant Jesus of Prague
The Infant Jesus of Prague is a 45-centimeter high wax figure that works miracles. As some mysteries could not be explained, they were attributed to the Infant Jesus of Prague and the statue was venerated. The Infant Jesus produced a record crop of grapes in the vineyards on Petrin Hill. The infant prevented Prague from being set on fire by the Swedish King. When a plague epidemic broke out in Prague, the monastic community was spared. No wonder the statue has a place of honour in the Maria Victoria Church in the Mala Strana district.
Museum Infant Jesus of Prague
The Infant Jesus stands on a side altar inside the church. The Museum is on the first floor. The museum collection comprises some hundred robes, including one donated by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. A number of items, including the crown, are a gift from the Bishop of Prague in the seventeenth century. The Infant also received gifts during the communist period. North Vietnam donated a set of jewelry. Several times a year, on religious holy days, the Infant Jesus gets dressed in different garments. The Carmelites of the monastic community of the Monastery of the Infant Jesus do this behind closed doors, but you can watch a video of this ceremony in the museum.
Infant Jesus of Prague: Spanish of Origin
The Infant Jesus is a Spanish figurine. Polyxena of Pernstein, Princess of Lobkowicz (1567-1642) inherited the statue of her Spanish-born mother and donated it to the Maria Victoria Church in 1628. When it turned out that the Infant had miraculous powers, believers showered the Infant with gifts, mainly costly robes to wear on his holy days.
Infant and Liturgical Colours
The Catholic liturgy uses four colours: white, red, pars and green.
* White – symbol of purity and holiness. The Infant wears white robes during Easter and Christmas time
* Red – symbol of blood and fire. The Infant wears red on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Pentecost Sunday.
* Purple – symbol of mourning. The Infant wears purple during Advent and Lent
* Green – symbol of hope. The Infant wears green on all days when no specific colour is prescribed
The Infant also has robes in pink, symbolizing inner joy, and is worn on the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent. Gold is the colour of ceremony and sometimes substitutes another colour. Blue is for weddings.
What is the origin of the Infant Jesus of Prague?
Legend has it that the Infant Jesus appeared to a monk in a Spanish monastery in the 16th century. The monk made a figurine to the likeness of his vision. It is a fact, that the Spanish Duchess Marie Mariques Lara, wife of Vratislav of Pernstejn, brought the figurine to Prague. She gave it to her daughter, Polyxena, who later donated it to the Discalced Carmelites of the Maria Victoria Church.
During the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), the Protestant Saxons destroyed many monasteries and churches in the Holy Roman Empire, to which the present-day Czech Republic belonged. The Carmelite monastery in Prague was also a target. The monks fled, the monastery was looted, the Infant Jesus was damaged and thrown away as rubbish.
After the war, a monk found the figurine back but both arms had broken off. During prayers he heard the Infant Jesus say to him, “Have mercy on me” and “I will have mercy on you. Give me arms and I will give you my peace”. The monk managed to give the Infant new arms. from that moment on, the Infant Jesus worked miracles and was venerated in Prague and in all other countries of the Holy Roman Empire.
By the early 20th century, the adoration of the Infant Jesus had spread to many parts of the world, especially Spain, from where the Infant Jesus originated. Spaniards and Portuguese traveled to South America with photos and figurines of the Infant Jesus. Missionaries and European immigrants spread the word, and the Infant Jesus became also known in India, China, the Philippines and North America.
During the fifty years of German occupation and communist regime, the Infant Jesus was almost forgotten as the regimes did not allow religious symbols. After the Velvet Revolution, mainly Spanish-speaking pilgrims come to Prague to adore the Infant Jesus in the Maria Victoria Church.
How to get there
Finding the church is no problem. When you are in Karmelitska Street, follow Spanish speaking tourists and you will get there. Every year, thousands of tourists and pilgrims flock to the Maria Victoria Church to pray and light a candle for the Infant Jesus of Prague. Miracles are still attributed to the Child.
Address: Museum of the Child Jesus of Prague in the Maria Victoria Church, Karmelitska 9, Mala Strana, Prague
Monday to Saturday 9 am-5pm, Sunday 1 pm-6 pm
Photos Marianne Crone
More places of pilgrimage in Prague
Loreta monastery and the Santa Casa for pilgrims and tourists