In Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican stands a new sculpture commissioned by Pope Francis entitled Angels Unawares. The work, crafted by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, depicts immigrants and refugees from every corner of the world on a boat. One of two exact replicas of the sculpture was recently installed and blessed at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada, on November 3. The other replica for the United States is currently at Catholic University.
Timothy himself chose Saint Joseph’s Oratory as the site for sculpture in Canada. As he explained to the more than 250 people gathered for the blessing on a beautiful November afternoon, he believed that there was no better place than St. Joseph’s Oratory to have his work dedicated in Canada.
During the blessing ceremony, six members of the Oratory staff were invited to unveil the sculpture, which is over 12 feet high, over 20 feet long, and weighs over three tons. Representing the internationality of the staff, as well as the many pilgrims and visitors, each of the six arrived in Montreal as immigrants or refugees. They represent their immigrant and refugee histories having arrived from Colombia, Haiti, Senegal, Lebanon, Vietnam, and Bulgaria.
Additionally, one of the Oratory’s benefactors gave his testimony of his arrival many years ago to Montreal after an arduous journey from Cameroun, and how the Oratory gave him and his family much hope and peace.
As visitors reflect on this piece of art, they are encouraged to continue to pray for all those immigrants across our world seeking a better life, and for all who are refugees forced to leave their home countries. To welcome the stranger, the poor, and the marginalized has been a part of the mission of the Oratory since the time of Br. André and continues to be so today.