The devotion to the Child Jesus
Fr. Alban Cras, FSSP – Conference
The devotion to the Child Jesus goes back to the very origins of Christianity. There are somewhat legendary depictions of the Child Jesus in the Apocryphal Gospels (cf. Infancy Gospel of Thomas, that presents a super-hero Child Jesus). We then see the Child Jesus appear notably to Saint Jerome, and also to Saint Catherine of Alexandria.
In the Middle Ages, the entire world is aware of the closeness between Saint Anthony of Padua and the Child Jesus. But it was in the 16th century that the devotion to the childhood of Christ received a great boost thanks to the Theresian reform; therefore, it was mainly the Carmelite spirituality that favored it. In all her travels, Saint Teresa of Avila took with her a statue of the Child Jesus, and she placed a new one in each new Carmel. It was thus that the Child Jesus was considered the true founder of each new monastery.
You are aware perhaps of the famous apparition of the Child Jesus to Saint Teresa of Avila, whose name in religion was Teresa of Jesus. The Child Jesus appeared to Teresa on a staircase in the monastery of the Incarnation, and told her: “You, you are Teresa of Jesus, and I am Jesus of Teresa.”