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Brief information about the Santo Niño de Praga

(This article expired 30.04.2010.)

The Church of Our Lady Victorious (Panny Marie Vítězné) in Lesser Town (Malá Strana) of Prague has a world-famous small wax statuette of the Santo Niño de Praga at the side altar. The statuette is considered one of the most sacred religious objects of Kingdom of Bohemia

Santo Niño came to Prague from Spain sometime after 1555 as a wedding gift for one of the Spanish princesses who married a prominent Czech nobleman Vratislav of Pernstejn. Her daughter Polyxena, who married Vilem of Rozumberk, received the statuette again as a wedding gift. Later, Polyxena took the statuette with her to her second marriage with Zdenek Vojtech of Lobkowicz. After his death she donated the statuette of the Infant Jesus to the church in 1628 during the Thirty Year War.

These are some legends about the miraculous Infant:

In 1639, the Swedish general Banner was planning an attack against Prague. In every church in Prague monks were praying day and night, and in this church, the Carmelites held special services in front of the altar with Infant Jesus. The small figure had previously been known to help people who had prayed before it, but this time it was asked to save the entire city. Just a few days before the attack, Banner unexpectedly withdrew his armies. The rumor was that a secret messenger visited and threatened him with an unknown disaster. A similar event occurred two years later near Regensburg, where Carmelites were praying in front of the copy of Infant Jesus. In both cases, people attributed the armies´ withdrawal to the son of God, mediated via the small statuette.

Santo Niño de Praga is a work of an old Spanish monk. It is believed that it is a copy of a venerated wooden sculpture. Copies of the Infant Jesus were exported by the missionaries to Mexico and other countries that were conquered by the Spanish crown. The missionaries with the famous Legazpi brought the statuette to the Philippines. There copies of it had emerged in Cebu and spread further around the islands.

The poetic image of a small vulnerable child traveling through a perilous world who overcomes danger and obstacles by gentleness and forgiveness was as powerful in Prague as well as among the people of the Philippines.

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