Child Jesus

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A 13th century Eleusa depiction in mosaic, Athens
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The Child Jesus (Divine Infant, Baby Jesus, Infant Jesus, Christ Child) represents Jesus from his Nativity to age 12. At 13 he was considered to be adult, in accordance with the Jewish custom of his time, and that of most Christian cultures until recent centuries.

A number of apocryphal texts, the Infancy Gospels grew up with legendary accounts of the intervening period, and these are sometimes shown.

The Child Jesus is frequently depicted in art, from around the third or fourth century onwards, in icons and paintings, sculpture, and all the media available. Common depictions are of Nativity scenes showing the birth of Jesus, with his mother, Mary, and his legal father Joseph.

Child Jesus (left) with John the Baptist, painting by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo

Depictions as a baby with his mother, known as Madonna and Child, are iconographical types in Eastern and Western traditions. Other scenes from his time as a baby, of his circumcision, Presentation at the temple, the Adoration of the Three Magi, and the Flight to Egypt, are common.[1] Scenes showing his developing years are rarer (these years are hardly mentioned in the Gospels).

The Scriptures and many apocryphal works were passed down either by word of mouth or through song, and later in works of art. The symbolism of the Child Jesus in art reached its apex during the Renaissance: the holy family was a central theme in the works of Leonardo da Vinci and many other masters.[2]

The canonical gospels say nothing of Jesus' childhood between his infancy and the Finding in the Temple at the age of twelve.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Signs & symbols in Christian art, George Ferguson, 1966, Oxford University Press US, p.76
  2. ^ Holy Family. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved February 05, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: