The Child of Prague

Last Friday we got this lovely statue and other items donated to us by a lovely lady called Mary. This is the Child of Prague.

Image: If you look closely you can see the repair done as the head previously had broken off.
If you look closely you can see the repair done as the head previously had broken off.

The Child of Prague is basically a statue of the child Jesus in decorative clothing, dressed as a king. This imagery was introduced to Ireland by a bishop in the 18th century, during Penal times. This small statue became a very common item. Throughout the 20th century, most Catholic households would have had a Child of Prague in their houses. Usually placed in the window or on the dresser.

This statue has some superstition or folklore in Ireland. It is believed that if you placed the Child of Prague outside in your garden on your wedding day, it would help hold off the rain and bring good weather. If the statue blew down and the head was broken off, then this was meant to be a really good sign that there would be sunny, dry weather. However the head had to accidently fall off so any tricks or deliberate knocking the statue off in order to try to behead him didn’t count! This accounts for some families holding on to their headless Child of Prague statues or seeing repair jobs done by reattaching the head.

These statues were inexpensive and mass produced, often just made from plaster of Paris or other cheap ceramic.

Image: Mary donating this statue to us last Friday
Mary donating this statue to us last Friday

Pierce Bronson once stated in an interview talking about his wedding in Ireland that he brought a Child of Prague statue with him and placed it in the garden on the eve of his wedding.

 

As you can see no one left the Child of Prague out for my Wedding Day and we had thunder and hail stones!

Image: PSNI G8 Submit cap
PSNI G8 Submit cap

You may be wondering what the connection between a PSNI G8 Summit cap is and the Child of Prague statue? The G8 Summit was held in Northern Ireland in June 2013 and was hosted by the Lough Erne Resort. In attendance were US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other global leaders. Thousands of PSNI providing security for this event wore these caps.

According to regional press at the time of the G8 submit in Northern Ireland, the manager of the Lough Erne Resort placed a statue outside in the garden of the resort on the eve of the G8 summit. He did this in the hope that it would bring good weather and that the rain would hold off. 

This highlights that this folklore is being conducted today and modified for any special occasions and not just weddings.

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The donor of the statue was sharing her story with us that her mother was actually christened in our Drumcree Church so we were happy to facilitate a visit for her to see this church.

Read more about our Drumcree Church here.

If you have any family stories about any of our folk museums buildings please get in touch as we would love to hear from you.

So we had to find an appropriate place for the Child of Prague statue and we have placed it in a window in our Folk Museum. Who can spot it? We will be sure to put it out in the garden before our Donkey Day coming up in August.

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