Divine Child Jesus
The devotion to the Divino Niño in Bogota, Colombia, started with Father John Rizzo, a Salesian priest from Italy. Father John came from the region near Arenzano, Italy, a region which already had a great devotion to the Infant Jesus.
In 1914, the Salesians were building a great church in Barranquilla, Colombia, in a very impoverished area. The Superior asked Father John Rizzo to beg for donations from the local people for the construction of the new church. Father John was very embarrassed to ask for monetary donations because of the immense poverty of these people. He was so embarrassed, he returned to the rectory without having collected even one cent. The next day, the Superior asked him to go out again and collect the necessary donations. This time, Father John knelt in front of the Blessed Mother to ask her help in this difficult assignment. In seeing the Child Jesus in the arms of His Mother, Father John thought to himself that up to now, he had asked for favors through Mary’s intercessions, but he had not brought his prayer requests directly to the Child Jesus. Father John decided that he would entrust all his efforts to the Child Jesus. He felt at that moment a great calm and went out to fulfill the work entrusted to him by his Superior. Father John came home that day with the donations he had collected and he felt his trust and confidence in the Child Jesus growing stronger. From that moment on, he trusted in the Child Jesus and prayed to Him before going out to ask for any donations.
On the 25th of December 1937, the cornerstone was blessed for the new church in Bogota. Father John had desired this new church to be very large, but, the Superiors did not want anything too extravagant. Father John would often lament that the plans for the new structure were too small. Due to his vow of obedience, Father John had to resign himself to the plans for the new church. As he had predicted, the large number of people that attended the Sunday services proved all too quickly that the new church was too small. More than on hundred thousand people visit the church every Sunday. By 1989, plans were undertaken to construct a new church, much larger than the one built before. The new structure was inaugurated in 1992, thanks to the generosity of the many faithful that frequently visit the church. This new church is called a Sanctuary, a place where many, many miracles have taken place. In these Sanctuaries miracles take place due to the faith of the people, and, that causes even more miracles to take place.
Father John Rizzo died in 1957 but it was his devotion to the Child Jesus that sparked the miracles that take place there everyday. His entire life was dedicated to propagating devotion to the Child Jesus. Every morning, Father John donated chocolate and bread to the poor people in the region. Due to the generosity of the people, hundreds of poor children continue to visit the Sanctuary every morning to receive chocolate and bread. In all this time, even to his day, there has not been any necessity to purchase the chocolate or the bread that is distributed, all of it is obtained through the generosity of the faithful. The statue that we see today in Bogota, was one which Father John himself purchased in Bogota from a local artisan. This beautiful statue of Jesus as a Child, dressed in a pink tunic, with His arms wide open to receive us, and His innocent and loving smile is probably one of the most dear representations of Our Lord’s Infancy; it invokes in us a desire to embrace Him and entrust all our cares into His loving arms.
For information regarding the Sanctuary of the Child Jesus in Bogota, please write:
Santuario Del Divino Niño Jesús
c/o Parroquia del Divino Niño Jesús
Calle 27 Sur, No. 5A-27
Barrio 20 de Julio