This painting endeavors to make visible two theological paradoxes.
We see the Christ Child at about the age of reason, and yet already His Precious Blood trickles down His forehead, and His hands, raised in blessing, reveal the wounds of the Cross. This apparent incongruity depicts the unity of the Incarnation and the Passion in the economy of salvation: the Son became man in order to suffer and die.
Likewise Christ is depicted in regal splendor: robed in scarlet, caped in ermine, His neck and hands encircled in courtly ruffs. Yet these splendid vestments, from the tradition of the Infant of Prague, are paired not with a crown of state, but with the Crown of Thorns. For Our Lord is at once the Man of Sorrows and the King of Kings.
Moreover, in God’s inscrutable wisdom, strength is made perfect in weakness and glory is the crown of suffering. In the course of our pilgrimage on earth, and especially in this season of Lent, we must never forget Our Lord’s teaching that it is only by denying ourselves and taking up our crosses that we may follow Him into His Kingdom.
On view at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis during Lent 2023, The Passion of the Infant King is now available for purchase framed and ready for hanging.