Vatican News has reported that following the celebration of Mass and the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis unveiled on Sunday a sculpture entitled “Angels Unawares” by Canadian artist, Timothy Schmaltz, in St Peter’s Square.
“Angels Unawares” is a life-size sculpture in bronze and clay, that depicts a group of migrants and refugees from different cultural and racial backgrounds and from diverse historic periods in time.
The figures stand together, shoulder to shoulder, huddled on a raft. Within this diverse crowd of people, angel wings emerge from the centre, suggesting the presence of something sacred among them. In fact, the sculptural work interprets the belief that the sacred is to be found in the stranger, in this case, in refugees and migrants.
The inspiration behind the work is taken from a biblical passage, St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”. (Hebrews 13:2)
The presence of the sculpture in St Peter’s Square is meant to commemorate the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Canadian artist, Timothy Schmaltz, has spent 25 years sculpting large-scale works in bronze. They are installed all over the world, including Rome and the Vatican.
The artist describes his creations as visual translations of the Bible. He says he tries to create epic artwork that connects with viewers through design and details that are not only touching on an emotional level, but also allow people to somehow feel “part” of the piece.