History Of The Shrine at Nashik

 AS REPORTED BY FR. PETER LEWIS, S.J. - FOUNDER OF THE SHRINE

Many a curious devotee has wondered as to why the Holy Shrine of the Infant Jesus came to be located at Nashik Road. The answer is simple. After my religious training, I was posted to St. Anne's Parish at Nashik Road where I had served for a considerable time. The Propagation of the devotion to the Infant Jesus which spread like wild fire was started by me here and I felt it very befitting that the location of the Shrine should be in the midst of these peaceful surroundings.

The early days of the missionary work in this parish were beset with financial difficulties. I had to visit the surrounding villages and, as there were no funds, I had to make frequent visits to Bombay trying to get some alms for my work in the Nashik District villages. It was during one of these rounds in Bombay, that a retired teacher, a great devotee herself now very old and feeble, suggested to me to start this devotion to the Infant Jesus. She herself gave me generously of her savings. I was greatly encouraged. As a child, I was aware of this devotion to the Infant Jesus. Faced with very grave financial difficulties, and with this initial amount from a devotee, I was encouraged to start this devotion. It was an uphill task to make this devotion known to others in Bombay and elsewhere. This was in 1962. Donations started coming in very small amounts - from 25 paise and 50 paise to a rupee and five and more. We started the school - St. Xavier's School, and I happened to be connected with it and that is why the Shrine is built in the School compound.

There was a time when I had not even a single paise for my work. I had to even to borrow a few rupees from my conveyance to the rural areas. By and by, things brightened, with the Infant Jesus leading the way. Since then a number of generous devotees of the infant Jesus- came forward to help in the work of the Shrine. Particular mention must be made of one family in Bombay , who made the Infant Jesus a partner in their business. With his blessings, they have made great strides in their business and today in their own line, they are a force to be reckoned with. This and various other instances go to prove that those who trust in the Infant Jesus are blessed spiritually and even materially.

Plans were made for the building of the Shrine. The location being In the proximity of the aerodrome, there were many difficulties with the Air Force Authorities. But miraculously, just before Christmas, the final green signal came as a big Christmas Gift. Permission was given and we were able to complete the Shrine building, with the inauguration held in February 1970. Thousand of people from Bombay and other places came, and it was very rewarding to see the faith and enthusiasm of the people and their love and devotion to the Infant King. Since then we have been having the annual feast in February and thousands flock to Nashik from all over India.

There has been a very great demand for the souvenirs of the Infant Jesus. Under the guidance and inspiration of the infant Jesus we have been able to manage somehow. We have been able to obtain good local articles. Novena booklets, pictures, medals etc are being sent to many parts of the world. Infant Jesus had worked innumerable miracles in India and abroad and it is very consoling to see the finger of God in this devotion. Thousands are being brought back to God through this devotion. Love him and make him known and love by others, and he will abide by his promises. “THE MORE YOU HOUNOUR ME, THE MORE WILL I BLESS YOU.”