JANUARY 22, 2020: This Saturday, people in many parts of the world will be celebrating the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. In Kuala Selangor, there is a different kind of celebration which is also celebrated around the world.
The nine-day celebration of the Holy Infant Jesus Feast at the Holy Infant Jesus Chapel in Jalan Tanjung Keramat starts on Jan 25 and ends on Feb 2.
It may be one of the lesser-known feast days in Malaysia but is celebrated grandly in different parts of the world like Praque in Cech Republic, Cebu and other cities in the Philippines, and Bangalore in India.
This annual feast day which falls on Jan 14 has long been a devotion to the Child Jesus and appreciation of His humility and love for humankind.
The Statue of Holy Infant Jesus
The home of the famous Child Jesus statue which is called the Infant Jesus of Prague is at the Church of Our Lady Victorious, also known as the Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague. The church is governed and administered by the Discalced Carmelites.
The statue, which is more than 400 years old, created as a royal wedding gift from a Spanish princess to her Austrian (some say he was a Bohemian/ Czech) royal cousin and eventually given to the Discalced Carmelites in Prague. Churches and homes around the world have the replicas of this statue.
The statue of the Holy Infant Jesus is one of a three-year-old boy that is 48cm high and is made out of wood with a thin wax coating. The statue has thick curly hair and is clothed in an elaborately embroidered ceremonial dress with a white tunic underneath. Only the tip of his left foot is visible under the tunic. The white tunic denotes the priesthood of Jesus and the ceremonial royal dress denotes his kingship. He is both King and High Priest.
The statue has many ceremonial dresses and they are regularly changed by the Carmelite nuns according to the lithurgical seasons of the year and various feast days. There are more than 60 such dresses and they were donated by the faithful from around the world.
The left hand holds a miniature globe with a cross on top of it, signifying the kingship of Jesus over the world. The right hand is extended in blessing with two fingers and the thumb touching each other to denote the Holy Trinity.
History of the statue of the Holy Infant Jesus
In 17th century Spain, the popularity of Child Jesus grew and it is likely due to the visions St Teresa of Avila had been getting. This resulted in sculptures of Child Jesus being made. She then gave the statue to her friend who was a Spanish duchess. This is one version. Another version is that the Infant Jesus appeared to a monk who made a statue modelled after the image he saw. In any case, the duchess gave the Holy Infant Jesus as part of the dowry for her daughter who was marrying a nobleman from Bohemia (now called Czech Republic).
The daughter then gave the statue to the Carmelite nuns at the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague soon after. Foreign invasions caused the nuns and others to flee the city. Years later, a priest, upon his return to Prague, found the statue but the arms were broken.
Fr P. Cyril, a Matre Dei, fervently prayed for the statue to be repaired and one day a passer-by came and miraculously fixed the statue. Since then, many more miracles happened and a chapel was built to house the statue. Hordes of people started coming to venerate the Holy Child.
There were numerous wars that tore through Prague but the statue and the chapel were miraculously in tact. During the years of communism, the chapel and the Church of Our Lady of Victories were boarded up, but after communism fell they were officially returned to the Carmelite nuns and the tradition of the Holy Infant Jesus procession continues to this day.