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Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums Brings Timothy Schmalz’s “Angels Unawares” Sculpture to Holy Spirit

January 7, 2021 – February 3, 2021
Holy Spirit Prep Upper School Quad
4449 Northside Drive, NW
Atlanta GA 30327

“Be welcoming to strangers, many have entertained angels unawares.” - Hebrews 13:2

Beginning on January 7th, 2021, the Patrons of the Arts Georgia Chapter, along with Holy Spirit Preparatory School and Holy Spirit Catholic Church, will be sponsoring Timothy Schmalz’s Angels Unawares sculpture exhibition in Atlanta. The sculpture will be on display at Holy Spirit Preparatory School from January 7th through February 3rd and will be open to the public daily.

The 3.5-ton, 20-foot-long sculpture, is a second casting of a piece commissioned by Pope Francis and created by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, who has received broad attention for his Homeless Jesus sculpture. The original casting was installed in St. Peter’s Square and unveiled by Pope Francis on Sept. 29, 2019, the 105th observance of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The sculpture that is on tour is a gift to Catholic University. It was part of the 2020 observance, and the statue’s return to campus and permanent installation will be part of the 2021 World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

This sculpture embodies the Church’s teachings on immigration, particularly the importance of welcoming the stranger and celebrating the many contributions of migrants and refugees to our society. Angels Unawares depicts more than 140 immigrants from across history densely packed onto a boat with the Holy Family. It is based on Hebrews 13:2: “Be welcoming to strangers, many have entertained angels unawares.” Through this national tour, people across the country will have the opportunity to share in its message of welcome and hope.

The migrants depicted in the sculpture reflect the number of saint statues on the colonnade in St. Peter’s Square and represent all historical time periods of time. A wide range of migrants are featured alongside the Holy Family, include a Jew escaping Nazi Germany, an Irish boy escaping the potato famine, a Cuban leaving for America, a Syrian departing that country’s civil war, a Pole escaping the communist regime, a Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, a Protestant escaping the Reformation, and an Italian immigrant coming to North America, among others. All figures/faces are from photos of real people. Many photos are from the Ellis Island archives. Additionally, modern African refugees were modeled live in the artist’s studio. Also represented in the sculpture are the parents of Cardinal Czerny, Pope Francis’ undersecretary. All faiths are represented, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Eastern Orthodox Christians. At the sculpture’s center, angel wings are visible, alluding to the sacredness of the migrant and refugee – all human life.

The sculpture’s visit to Atlanta was made possible by the Patrons for the Arts in the Vatican Museum Georgia Chapter and is a collaborative effort with Holy Spirit Prep and Holy Spirit Catholic Church. Msgr. Edward J. Dillon, J.C.D., Pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Rector of Holy Spirit Prep, and alumnus of Catholic University states, “Holy Spirit Preparatory School has a highly diverse student body. Holy Spirit parish is the same, with something over 20 different nationalities and ethnic groups represented. When we built the present church in 1995, the saints depicted in the stained glass windows were selected because they were patrons of the various countries represented in the parish population at the time. So, when the opportunity arose to have this sculpture on campus here, I felt it was very appropriate and would continue to emphasize the point that we are a diverse Church, but still one Church.”

The statue was transported to the first stop on its tour in November, spending the month at Boston College. In December, the statue moved to its second location, Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, N.Y Future stops include Miami, Minneapolis, and Chicago. The sculpture will return to its permanent home at the University in 2021.

While in Atlanta, the sculpture will be open to the public daily January 7 through February 3, 2020.

Pandemic protocols will need to be followed carefully during visits.

• Scheduled Events
  • Unveiling | Thursday, January 7 at 10:00 a.m. with Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums and Catholic Charities | Holy Spirit Prep Quad
  • A Conversation with Timothy Schmalz | TBD
    *Timothy Schmalz was scheduled to be in Atlanta but, due to Covid travel restrictions, is unable to join us in person. We will livestream his talk. Details to follow.
  • Inauguration & Blessing with Archbishop Hartmayer | Tuesday, January 12 at 1:30 p.m.
    Holy Spirit Prep Quad

• When To Visit
The sculpture is available for viewing from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and 2:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

• Where to Park

Learn more about Angels Unawares

Learn more about Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums Georgia Chapter