Urges those gathered for midday Angelus to consider the expressions on the faces of those in the sculpture.
Pope Francis urged pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Sunday midday Angelus to take a close look at a statue just some feet behind them, the work of Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz.
The large bronze statue is called “Angelus Unaware” and is based on Hebrew 13:2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Pope Francis pointed out the artwork because Sunday was the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
“It is necessary to walk together, without prejudice and without fear, beside those who are most vulnerable,” he said in addressing the pilgrims after the Angelus, “migrants, refugees, displaced persons, victims of human trafficking, and the abandoned. We are called to build an ever more inclusive world, that excludes no-one.”
He thanked those leading various initiatives to mark the day, and then said:
And before leaving the Square, I invite you to go over to the monument over there – where Cardinal Czerny is – the boat with the migrants, and to look closely at the expressions of those people and grasp in that look the hope that every migrant has, to start living again. Go over there and look at that monument. Do not close the doors to their hope.
The sculpture depicts 140 migrants and refugees throughout history, traveling together on a boat. In an interview with Crux, Schmalz explained that he chose to depict 140 people when he learned that there are 140 colonnades at St. Peter’s.
“Knowing that the first bronze cast of the piece would be placed in the square, I wanted to create that symmetry between the new and the old, and the idea of the saints and the precious sacredness of all human life,” he told Inés San Martin of Crux.
In the Pope’s message for this year’s World Day, he reflects on the meaning of the word “catholic,” that is, “universal.”