A replica of the Vatican sculpture of migrants and refugees arrives in the U.S.

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On September 27th, a replica of “Angels Unawares”, the sculpture depicting a group of migrants and refugees, was unveiled in Washington D.C. 

The large statue created by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, was presented near the National Basilica in the campus of The Catholic University of America. 

“I was told they wanted a brand new sculpture that really featured the idea of migrants.”
“How I envisioned it was a raft or boat with angel and a crowd of migrants all around it.”

Pope Francis unveiled the “Angels Unawares” monument in St. Peter’s Square last year. The inauguration took place precisely on the 105th World Day of Migrants of Refugees.

One year later, during the Angelus, the pope recalled the unveiling of “Angels Unawares” and invited everyone to reflect on the current migrant and refugee situation.

“This year I wanted to dedicate my message to the internally displaced persons, who are forced to flee, as happened also to Jesus and his family. ‘Like Jesus Christ forced to flee,’ so are the displaced persons, the migrants.”

The silicon bronze sculpture depicts a group of 140 migrants and refugees from different racial backgrounds and periods of time. Angel wings can be seen emerging from the center of the statue, suggesting the sacred presence. 

Timothy Schmalz says the idea for “Angels Unawares” came after he read Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

“In a sense, all the people on that ship, become an angel.”
“It's fascinating because at a glance, you see contemporary refugees, shoulder to shoulder against some of the historical movements of people, like the Jews escaping Nazi Germany, like the Irish, with the potato famine leaving to North America.”

That sculpture also depicts contemporary migrants. The artist used photos of actual people while modeling certain figures. This work of art is a reminder that all life is sacred, and the migration process has existed historically since the beginning of time.

Christian Campos

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