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The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
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Giant puppet in St. Peter’s Square draws attention to plight of migrants

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 09/10/21

The figure represents a 9-year-old Syrian girl named Amal.

A nearly 12-foot (3.5 meter) puppet greeted pilgrims to St. Peter’s Square on September 10. Called “Little Amal,” the puppet represents a 9-year-old Syrian girl named Amal, who stands for all displaced children.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, the under-secretary for the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, welcomed the creation.

The puppet is made by Handspring Puppet Company and is at the heart of “The Walk” project, an itinerant theater festival, that seeks to draw attention to the plight of millions of displaced refugees.

“Little Amal” will travel more than 8,000 kilometers, from Gaziantep, near the Turkish-Syrian border, to Manchester, England. 

“She immediately reminds us that meeting vulnerable migrants, insecure workers and asylum seekers in our midst requires more than just a glance,” Cardinal Czerny said, according to Vatican News. “Each of them, with their own baggage of suffering and dreams, needs and talents, is waiting for us to open our ears, our minds and our hearts as well as our eyes and stretch out our hands.”

As part of the celebrations surrounding the puppet’s visit to St. Peter’s, some children had a tent-making workshop.

The tent recalls Abraham’s invitation to the three strangers at the oaks of Mamre, who turned out to have been sent by God.

“This teaches us that offering hospitality to unexpected and unknown guests opens up the possibility of an encounter with God,” the Cardinal said, adding that this biblical passage teaches us that “hospitality generates life.”

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