The Catholic Southern Front

Chapter 9/42 – Our Lady of Prague

In the early seventeenth century in Prague, conflicts between the Protestant and Catholic factions intensified. When an heir to the Imperial throne was sought, Protestants, Lutherans and Catholics all had their favorite candidate. Finally, Ferdinand II was elected and he was quick at suppressing anything, which was not Roman Catholic. This caused rage amongst the Protestants, who marched onto Prague in the hundreds. This tension caused the ‘First Defenestration,’ when two Catholic men were thrown through a window and fell for seventeen meters. They suffered only minor bruises and this miracle was attributed to the Virgin Mary’s intercession.

A devout Catholic Emperor, Ferdinand II, nurtured a great devotion to the Mother of God; he was now the ruler of the Austrian Empire. At Loreto, Italy, the Emperor placed his entire Empire under the protection of Our Lady and later renewed his special vow at the Shrine of Our Lady at Mariazell in Austria. The Emperor’s vow was to restore the Roman Catholic Faith throughout his Empire. The occasion for the people of the Empire to renew their Faith would soon arrive during the Thirty-Year War. At the start of the thirty year conflict, the Battle at the White Mountain, witnessed Ferdinand II and his forces fighting against the Protestant armies of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and King of Bohemia. The Catholic devotions to Our Lady and to the Infant Jesus, were instrumental in bringing about a victory for Ferdinand II. At the White Mountain, the battle cry on November 8, 1620, was “Sancta Maria!”

The Carmelite Father Dominic of Jesus and Mary, confidently encouraged the Catholic troops. He urged them while holding high in hand a picture of the Lord’s Nativity, portraying the Infant Jesus, surrounded by the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph and the shepherds. Apart from the Infant, all the figures had perforated eyes. This picture was referred to as the ‘Icon of Our Lady of Strakonic.’ Father Dominic of Jesus and Mary carried the picture as he followed the troops, before battle he blessed the troops with this picture. When the armies met in battle, the Protestants immediately buckled beneath the Catholic forces. Soon afterwards, a cavalry charge by the Protestant, Christian of Anhalt, turned the situation in favor for the Protestants. At this point Father Dominic blessed the Catholic troops with the Icon of Strakonic and a counter-attack defeated the brave Protestant charge. Many of Frederick V Elector Palatine’s troops took to their heels. The Carmelite’s encouragement was well founded and victory did result for the Catholic troops.

Following this victory, amongst the army’s Catholic standards and the captured standards of the enemy, the Icon of Our Lady of Strakonic was presented to the Pope. The Icon was then taken to the Carmelites of Saint Paul on the Quirinal a church, which following Ferdinand’s triumph, was renamed for Our Lady of Victory. In 1624 as an act of gratitude for the priest’s instructions, the Emperor built a Carmelite Monastery in Vienna also dedicated to Our Lady of Victory. A Protestant church in Prague, which was firstly dedicated to Jan Hus, then to John the Baptist and then to the Holy Trinity, was converted to a Catholic church and monastery and also named for Our Lady of Victory. The Emperor donated a golden crown to adorn the Icon of Strakonic, however the Icon was destroyed in a fire in 1853. Today a copy of this picture can be seen at the Church at Mala Strana in Prague.

In later years the admonition of Father John-Luis of the Assumption, helped the Carmelites of the Monastery of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, to renew their devotion to the Infant Jesus. Soon the Princess Polissena of Lobkowitz donated to the monastery a Statue of the Infant Jesus. In 1631, when the Swedish armies invaded the region churches and religious houses were ransacked and destroyed. The Monastery of Our Lady of Victory was ransacked and the Statue’s hands were broken off and the Statue itself abandoned for seven years on a rubbish heap. In 1638, the Statue was restored by Father Cyril who while praying before it, heard a voice saying: “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.”(1) After the restoration many miraculous healings occurred, especially during the years when the plague raged in Prague.

In 1737, the Superior General Father Idelphonsus of the Presentation, placed the Carmelite Order under the protection of the Infant Jesus, the shrine was enlarged and the Empress donated a green silk robe woven by herself. The Superior General was surprisingly called to lead the Austrian army and with the Statue of the Infant Jesus in hand, the Catholic Austrian army was victorious over the Prussians. The Statue of the Infant Jesus was venerated by the entire City of Prague and many foreigners, including the Queen of Poland, visited the Monastery of Our Lady of Victory in honor of the Christ Child. Finally, the Holy See recognized the devotion and the Statue of the Infant Jesus, was solemnly crowned.

The monastery was under the care of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John the Baptist of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta for a while, this due to the Order’s devotion to Our Lady of Victory. In 1993, the Carmelites were invited back and the veneration and devotion to the Infant Jesus at the Monastery of Our Lady of Victory, is fervently being spread once again throughout formerly Catholic countries and the whole world.



1 Comment »

  1. Apparently I am missing something, but I find no reference to “Our Lady of Prague” except in the caption. Thank you.

    Comment by Nicholas Santoro — October 14, 2010 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

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