Pope Francis Unveils Refugee Statue on St. Peter's Square
Pope Francis recently unveiled a sculpture dedicated to refugees and migrants that also suggests angels could be hiding among the displaced.
The pope revealed “Angels Unawares” to the world on Sept. 29, which was also World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Mounted on St. Peter’s Square, the work of art was unveiled after the gathered crowd celebrated Mass.
The unveiling ceremony itself, including the massive crowd that gathered to watch, was captured on video, as seen below:
According to The New York Times, the statue came at the request of the Vatican’s Office of Migrants and Refugees.
The artwork depicts migrants and refugees from different periods of history.
The displaced people are portrayed on a boat — some with suitcases and some with nothing at all. The group includes Jewish fleeing Nazi Germany as well as what appear to be more modern refugees from war-torn Middle Eastern countries.
In the center of the piece, a pair of angel wings can be seen sticking up from the crowd.
The website of sculptor Timothy Schmalz explains the meaning behind the piece.
“The inspiration of the work arises from a passage from Hebrew 13:2 found in the New Testament: ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,'” the site reads.
“The sculptural work interprets this belief that there is to be found the sacred in the stranger,” it continues, “in terms of the refugee and migrant people.”
Schmalz is also the artist behind a state of “Homeless Jesus,” a sculpture of a “Christ figure” dressed as a homeless man and sleeping on a park bench.
The fact that the Vatican requested the “Angels Unawares” statue should not come as a surprise, especially considering that Pope Francis has pressured European countries to take in as many migrants as they can.
While some of the people travelling to Europe from the Middle East and Africa are refugees, a large number of those moving are economic migrants. Some leaving war-torn places like Syria even cross multiple stable countries to find a nation with social welfare programs.
Germany, France and Sweden have felt the brunt of the modern migrant movements, with tensions skyrocketing as displaced people often fail to assimilate to native cultures.
There’s no official word on how long “Angels Unaware” will remain at St. Peter’s Square, but like Schmalz’s other pieces, it may soon end up travelling the globe.
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