The Christ Child
The Iconography
Most sculptures of the Christ Child are produced in the context of a Virgin-and-Child work, but there are a few traditions involving the child alone.

One of the most notable is the Santo Niño de Atocha, widely venerated in Latin countries. The traditional story is that the Christ Child came to the assistance of the besieged town of Atocha, in 13th century Spain, with a basket of food and gourd of water, both of which proved inexhaustible. Images of the Santo NiƱo have him dressed as a pilgrim, with a basket in one hand and in the other a staff that holds a gourd (example).

In early modern and modern times, the most common solo image of the Christ Child is the Infant Jesus of Prague. The original is a Spanish statue from the 17th century that was donated to a Carmelite convent in Prague, where still today it is dressed in elaborate garments that are changed regularly. Numerous miracles were ascribed to the statue, and by the 20th century copies of it were common in Catholic churches throughout the world.

Narratives of the enfances of Christ, thought to be originally from Gnostic sources, passed into the Middle Ages by way of the Catholic revisions of the 3rd or 4th century Gospel of Thomas and the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior. These gave rise to some medieval artworks, but I have none to show at this time.

Prepared in 2017 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.

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Christ Child with Cross and Globe, Barcelona (See the description page)

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ALSO SEE

  • the Madonna and Child
  • The film Historia de un Gran Amor ("Story of a Great Love"), a classic of Mexican cinema, takes place against the backdrop of festivals in honor of the Christ Child.