VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2009 (VIS) - At 12.30 p.m. today the Pope arrived at the church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague, which was built by German Lutherans between 1611 and 1613 on a site once occupied by a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Trinity. Following the victory of the Counter Reformation in Bohemia, emperor Ferdinand II gave the building to the Order of Discalced Carmelites and it was consecrated to Our Lady Victorious.
The church houses the famous image of the Infant Jesus of Prague. The statuette, made of wax over a wooden frame, comes from a convent in southern Spain and was given to the Carmelites by princess Polyxena von Lobkowitz in 1628. The cult of the Infant Jesus spread during the Baroque period and is associated with the visions of St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelite Order.
Benedict XVI was greeted by the rector as he arrived at the church, which was crowded with families and children. He adored the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel of the Infant Jesus then placed a golden crown on the statuette before moving on to the main altar to greet those present.
"The image of the Child Jesus calls to mind the mystery of the Incarnation, of the all-powerful God Who became man and Who lived for thirty years in the lowly family of Nazareth", he said. "My thoughts turn to your own families and to all families ... as we call upon the Child Jesus for the gift of unity and harmony. ... We think especially of young families who have to work so hard to offer their children security and a decent future. We pray for families in difficulty, struggling with illness and suffering, for those in crisis, divided or torn apart by strife or infidelity. We entrust them all to the Holy Infant of Prague, knowing how important their stability and harmony is for the true progress of society and for the future of humanity".
"In the Holy Infant of Prague we contemplate the beauty of childhood and the fondness that Jesus Christ has always shown for little ones. ... Yet how many children are neither loved, nor welcomed nor respected! How many of them suffer violence and every kind of exploitation by the unscrupulous! May children always be accorded the respect and attention that are due to them: they are the future and the hope of humanity!"
The Holy Father concluded by thanking all the children who had come to greet him and he asked them to pray for their parents, teachers, friends, and for him.
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