The Infant Jesus of Prague originally came from Spain. The legend tells that the Infant Jesus appeared miraculously to a certain monk, who modeled the statue based on the appearance of the apparition. According to another legend the statue belonged to St. Teresa of Avila, the founder of the Discalced Carmelites, who was aflame with a great love for the Child Jesus. She is said to have given the statue to a friend of hers, whose daughter was setting out to travel to Prague.
When the Duchess Maria Manrique de Lara came to Bohemia to marry a Bohemian nobleman in 1556, she received the statue from her mother as a wedding gift. When her daughter Polyxena of Lobkowicz was widowed, she gave the precious statue to the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites 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 the 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 the Infant Jesus had had both hands broken off. At this moment it seemed to him that the 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 the 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. http://www.pragjesu.info/en/
Now the tradition:
When my parents got engaged, my mom's Aunt Kitty gave them a statue of the Infant of Prague for an engagement gift. My mother's devotion to Infant Jesus began when she was six or seven. She shared a bed with two of her aunts and was in the habit of wetting the bed at night. Her aunt gave her a tiny statue of baby Jesus which she put under pillow, after praying that she would stop wetting the bed. In the night, she rolled over onto the statue which woke her up-before she wet the bed. So began a lifelong devotion. The engagement gift was an extension of this devotion.
When each of my siblings and I got engaged, our parents made sure we each had our own statue.
About a week ago, my mom and sisters and I got together for our monthly Ladies Night Out and we had a gown cleaning while we talked.
Each of our statues was fresh and ready for Christmas.
This year we continue the tradition. Our second oldest daughter, Caitlyn, got engaged on Christmas Eve. My dear one and I had a statue ready to be presented, and so, on the day of their engagement they received their own Infant of Prague.
Congratulations to Caitlyn and Jimmy. May Infant Jesus watch over you and bless you with a lifetime of graces, happiness and peace.