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A brief history of the legendary statue of the Infant of Prague

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The statue remains an extremely popular depiction of Jesus around the world.

The Infant of Prague statue is one of the most popular Christian statues in the world and yet relatively few people know the origins of it. The statue’s history is fascinating, associated with various legends and miracles.

Most historians believe that the original statue was carved in Spain around the year 1340 in a Cistercian monastery. Some traditions claim that a monk had a vision of the child Jesus and fashioned the statue after what he saw.

The statue remained in Spain for several centuries and a pious tradition claims that St. Teresa of Avila possessed the statue in the 16th century.

Whatever the case may be, the statue found its way to Prague during the reign of the House of Habsburg in 1556. At this point it was given by Dona Isabella Manrique as a wedding gift to her daughter Marie Manrique, who married Vratislav of Pernstyn. Some traditions claim that Dona received the statue from St. Teresa of Avila.

The statue was passed down through the family and by 1628 was given to a local Carmelite monastery by Princess Polyxena von Lobkowicz. She reportedly said to the monastery, “I am giving you what I most esteem of my possessions. Keep the sculpture in reverence and you will be well off.”

Soon after this gift, Prague was invaded and the statue was almost lost forever. A priest discovered it in the rubble of a church and enshrined it in a new oratory. While cleaning the statue the priest heard the Infant Jesus say to him, “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.” When the priest needed more funds to repair the statue the Infant Jesus said to the priest, “Place Me near the entrance of the sacristy and you will receive aid.” What was needed was miraculously provided and the statue was restored.

Since then pilgrimages to the statue have been the source of countless miracles. The statue was copied and disseminated throughout the world and remains to this day an extremely popular statue of Jesus in places such as Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Philippines and South America.

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