A near death experience leads artist to create trophy for last runner in the Rome Marathon

 | 
11/04/2023
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In 1971, Alfredo Bendefeldt was imprisoned for protesting against the Guatemalan government. 

He was facing death. 

ALFREDO BENDFELDT
Sculptor, “Cup of the Last Ones”

They took me and they shot me. They wounded me here in the head. I covered myself with the blood of those who were already dead and remained quiet.

His body was thrown into a mass grave, along with many corpses, until a miracle occured.

ALFREDO BENDFELDT
Sculptor, “Cup of the Last Ones”

A priest discovered me, carried me to his church and gave me shelter. Then he took me to the Mexican Embassy to be protected by the Mexican ambassador.

Since then, Bendfeldt has lived all over the world—from Argentina to Canada to Europe—and even spent 23 years living in the jungle. 

He moved to Rome in 2017, but was homeless for the first few weeks, sleeping in the Aqueduct Park. As an artist, he reflects on that difficult time with a canvas. 

His latest work is the “Cup of the Last Ones,” a trophy awarded to the last athlete of the Rome Marathon. It is presented by Vatican Athletics inspired by the famous phrase from the Bible: “The last shall be first.”

ALFREDO BENDFELDT
Sculptor, “Cup of the Last Ones”

The trophy has an image of a runner with prosthetic legs, running and waving to God, to the Father.

In honor of Pope Francis, Bendfeldt used simple materials and had the opportunity to present it to him. The Pope's reaction continues to make him smile. 

Holy Father, thank you. This is the second time I have given him a gift.

Thank you very much!

ALFREDO BENDFELDT
Sculptor, “Cup of the Last Ones”

He told me, “That's the cup! It's so beautiful.” He touched it. I told him it's 24 karat gold.

Alfredo trembles when he grips the paintbrush, but it is not from fear. He has Parkinson's disease. But he says his health complications do not scare him. His life and faith inspire him. 

ALFREDO BENDFELDT
Sculptor, “Cup of the Last Ones”

I am alive because God wants me to be. And while I'm here, I'm going to keep painting; I'm going to keep sculpting; I'm going to keep expressing myself to leave something for humanity.

With his artwork now recognized by the Vatican, Bendfeldt reflects on his life. Spontaneously, during the interview, he sings a Spanish song, illustrating his unique journey: “Traveler, there is no road: you make your own path as you walk.”

DA

TR: AT

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