Many visit the City of a Hundred Spires for its breathtaking architecture and treasure troves of European history and culture. With its scenic river, ancient bridges, Gothic-style cathedrals, and majestic castles, there’s no shortage of wonders to admire in this Bohemian capital. Of all its marvelous gifts, perhaps none is much more famous than the Infant Jesus of Prague.
The wax-coated wooden statue is a 16th century depiction of the child Jesus, with the left hand holding a globus cruciger and the right hand raised in a gesture of benediction. Located in Malá Strana, or the Lesser Town, the Infant Jesus of Prague has drawn in visitors from all over the world not only for its beauty, but also for its rich, miraculous history.
A Short History of the Infant Jesus of Prague
Also known as the Il Bambino di Praga, the Infant Jesus of Prague was brought to the city in 1556 from Spain. The Spanish princess Maria Manriques de Lara brought the image with her to Prague upon her marriage to the Czech nobleman Vratislav of Pernstyn.
Legend has it that the image was given to Princess Maria’s mother, Doña Elena, by Saint Teresa of Avila herself. Doña Elena then gave it to her daughter as a wedding gift. Princess Maria then gave it to her own daughter, Princess Polyxena, as a gift upon the latter’s marriage to Zdenek of Lobkovice. Upon being widowed, Princess Polyxena donated the image to the Carmelites of Prague and the Church of Our Lady Victorious.
Upon handing over the image, she was said to have uttered the words, “I hereby give you my dearest possession. As long as you honor this image, you will not be in want.”
These words proved to be prophetic as many miraculous instances were attributed to the protection afforded by the Infant Jesus. One such instance is the purported healing of the daughter of a noble Czech family in 1788. The family then offered a thanksgiving gift of two beautiful rings, which you can still see on the raised fingers of the Infant.
Visiting the Infant Jesus of Prague
You can find the Infant Jesus enshrined in a gilded altar inside the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana. It has become a world-renown pilgrimage site due to the reputation of the Infant Jesus. The church itself is a wonder to behold, with its architecture blend of the Renaissance and Baroque styles completed in 1613. There are souvenir shops inside if you want to buy something to remember your trip by. There’s also a little museum inside that showcase the various robes donated by different countries for the Infant Jesus of Prague.
The church is just a short walk away from the famous Charles Bridge. After your visit, you may want to explore the area for nearby museums, or head over to the other notable churches and cathedrals, such as the St. Thomas and St. Nicholas Churches and the St. Vitus Cathedral.