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115. The Angel Unaware

Updated: Mar 22

By Giulio D'Ercole


Last September 29th, during mass on the 105th #WorldDayofMigrantsandRefugees, #PopeFrancis unveiled Canadian artist #TimothyPSchmalz's sculpture #TheAngelUnaware. The art piece is placed in #StPetersSquare, the very pulsing heart of the #VaticanCity, visited every year by millions of Romans and tourists.


The sculpture, depicting 140 #migrants ranging from a Jewish man escaping Nazi Germany to a Syrian refugee fleeing the civil war, is a strong, moving and yet gentle call to empathy and compassion towards all those vulnerable people forced to leave their country of birth by war, hunger or persecution. In fact, Mr. Schmalz told the BBC that the piece was inspired by the passage: "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."


Keeping in mind that Pope Francis often described Jesus' parents Joseph and Mary as migrants forced to flee their land because of persecution, the artist included them in the piece, and is doing he recognized how the dramatic phenomenon of migration is far from being a modern one, but it is in existence since thousands of years, always displacing the innocent ones or breaking families apart.

As well as refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and Syria, there are dozens of other depictions including a boy fleeing the Irish Famine of the 1840s, Italians, Africans, and Asian people, regardless of their ethnicity or religion.


In a town like Rome, so reach of art, monuments and beauty, "Angels Unaware" has become one of the must stop of my Photo Tours, as well as the "Pietre di inciampo" (in German Stolpersteine sand in English Tripping stones) by the German artist Gunter Demnig (see Blog 105 ), in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust.




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