Vatican City, Dec 17, 2019 / 12:56 pm
In 2019, Pope Francis unveiled a new bronze sculpture in St. Peter’s Square, “Angels Unawares,” a depiction of migrants throughout history crammed together on a boat with the holy family.
The sculpture’s artist, Timothy Schmalz, told CNA Tuesday that a second cast of the “Angels Unawares” sculpture will be touring different cities around the U.S. before being permanently installed in a yet-to-be-disclosed location in the United States.
The 20-foot-tall bronze statue is based off of Hebrews 13:2, “Be welcoming to strangers, many have entertained angels unawares.”
“Most of the time when I sculpt, I turn on the Bible. Actually I have it on unabridged tapes read by Steven B. Stevens,” Schmalz told CNA. “Just listening to the Bible as I sculpt … turns my studio into a sort of a chapel and a very spiritual place when the sound is being filled up with Biblical texts.”
For this work, Schmalz also had refugees from Africa visit his studio in Canada to model for some of the 140 different people depicted in the sculpture. He also collected vintage photographs of people’s grandparents, who crossed the Atlantic as immigrants.
“What I wanted to do is create a sculpture that is really inclusive of all migration,” he said. “It exemplifies all historical, all cultures, all races that have ever moved throughout the world.”
“You have a Jew escaping Nazi Germany right beside a Muslim from today escaping Syria and … you have a Polish woman leaving communist Poland right beside an Irish boy escaping from the potato famine,” Schmalz said.
“They're actually sculpted out of one big mass of clay which is to symbolize unity … in it you have Mary and Joseph being worked within this tapestry of people,” he said.