The Doll Statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague in OLP’s Archives

The Doll Statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague in OLP’s Archives

By Dr. Melinda Blade, Director of Mission Integration and Historian

Tucked away in the OLP Archives is a gift from the collection of Elsie L. Mettlach, formerly of 4445 Hamilton Street in San Diego. The gift from Mrs. Mettlach was sent to her in 1945 from an American soldier following the conclusion of World War II. He felt as though she “would like to add (it) to (her) collection.” The recovered artifact is a doll statute of the Infant Jesus of Prague.

The gift was recovered from the debris of a Catholic Cathedral located in Arual Alsweiler, Germany. The town was located on the outskirts of a concentration camp. The soldier admits in a letter that he was hoping to find a Nazi flag, but instead found a doll. The Infant’s provenance prior to the soldier’s discovery of it in the Cathedral’s rubble is uncertain.

The Infant Jesus of Prague statue, also referred to as the Child of Prague, has a 16th century origin. The original statue was wood covered in wax and depicts the baby Jesus holding a globe. It is currently located in the Discalced Carmelite Church of Our Lady the Victorious (sometimes referred to as the Lady of Victory Church or Church of the Lady Victorious). The Carmelite Church is in Mala Strana, Prague, in the Czech Republic.

Legend maintains that St. Teresa of Avila (declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI) once possessed the original statue. The original statue is studded with diamonds and topped with a gold crown. In his left hand, he holds a golden orb representing His Kingship. His right hand is raised in a position of blessing.

The OLP statue was brought legally into the United States following the conclusion of the War. It is referred to as a “bona fide gift from a member of the armed forces,” and the orders indicating its legal entry in the United States are signed by a Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army. Also present in the box in which the statue is kept is a 1945 book regarding the Devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague.

If anyone has any background information on Elsie L. Mettlach or OLP’s acquisition of the Statue, please let me know at [email protected] Two letters accompanied the gift, but their author, the soldier who sent it to Mrs. Mettlach, is unclear.