In preparation of the upcoming Feast of the Infant Child Jesus on January 19, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, along with all other Catholic churches in The Bahamas and worldwide, is making special preparation to celebrate this sacred feast day.
This special celebration is due in part to the kind generosity of a devoted Bahamian husband and wife who have donated a statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague to that parish community. The wife, a devoted Catholic and noted Bahamian citizen, has herself been making daily, personal devotions to the Infant Jesus of Prague.
" I have been making devotions since I was 15 years old and through my daughter and her family we were able to make the trip to Prague to visit the Church of Our Lady of Victory where the original 16th century statue is located," she said.
The devotion to the Holy Child Jesus has long been a tradition of the Catholic Church for a very long time. This devotion is a veneration of our Lord's Sacred Infancy. Many saints had a strong devotion to the Devine Child, notable St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua and St. Teresa of Avila.
The statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague will be presented to the Pastor, Father Saju Vadakumpadan CMI, and parishioners on Sunday, January 12 at the 9 a.m. Mass. Parishioners and worshippers alike are encouraged to continue the tradition of veneration of the statue which is associated with a miraculous history in the Czech Republic.
History has it that the original statue made by a Spanish monk who had a vision from the Christ Child, was brought as a special family heirloom to that country by Maria Manriquez de Lara who married a Czech nobleman.
Records show that after many miracles attributed to the statue, devotion spread throughout Prague and the world, and many communities which have endured hardships prospered as the people participated in the special devotions to the Infant Jesus.
Later, the Holy Infant statue was again given to Marie's daughter Polyxena as a wedding gift in 1587.
In 1628, Lady Polyxena presented the statue to the Carmelites at the Church of the Virgin Mary the Victorious in Mala Strana, saying, "I am giving you what I most esteem of my possessions. Keep the sculpture in reverence and you will be well off." The statue then became known as the Infant Jesus of Prague.
Shortly after 1628, the Saxons and the Swedes took turns to invade Prague, and the Carmelites had to flee and the veneration of the Holy Infant ceased. It was not until 1638 that a young priest named Fr. P. Cyril, a Matre Dei, returned to Prague and found the Holy Infant buried in the ruins of the Lady of Victory church. Fr. Cyril cleaned the statue and placed it in the oratory for worship. While he was praying before the Infant Jesus, he heard the Infant Jesus say, "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."
Coincidently, just as the original statue was given to a Carmelite priest then, it is, again, being presented to Fr Saju who is also of the Carmelite order, CMI. Fr. Saju will lead St Vincent in its own devotion, a nine-day Novena which commences on Thursday, January 9 until Friday, January 17, two days before the Feast day of the Infant Jesus which will be commemorated on Sunday, January 19.
The entire community is invited to join with the parish with Holy Mass
At 9 a.m. A procession with the Infant Jesus of Prague statue will be taken to its final resting place at the Shrine of Mary of Perpetual Help, St. Vincent de Paul original church at the rear of the parish compound. The statue will be placed in a prepared place to the right side of the altar for veneration for all who may come to show sincere devotion. Fr. Saju, Pastor, joins with the entire parish to offer thanks to the family for their thoughtful generosity.