SOMI Magazine visited a traveling exhibit newly installed at Bayfront Park. The traveling bronze, life-sized sculpture by Canadian artist and sculptor Thomas Schmalz called “Angels Unawares,” which honors migrants.

Angels Unawares was installed in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican since September 29, 2019, the 105th World Migrant and Refugee Day. At its inauguration Pope Francis said he wanted the sculpture “to remind everyone of the evangelical challenge of hospitality.” 

Like the original, the replica weighs 3.5 tons and is 20-feet long.  It features indigenous people, Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, people from war-torn countries, among many others. Above the 140 refugees crowded on the raft are the wings of an angel, a reference to the sculpture’s name and to the New Testament’s Hebrews 13:2: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels unawares.”

The artist noted that “You can see throughout the piece, despair, sadness, but also joy and hope, I believe it will resonate, especially this year when you have so many displaced people (and) a pandemic that is taking the least of our brothers and sisters and smashing them and grinding them deeper into the ground.”

Sponsored by the Archdiocese of Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski noted “This is a great location for it.  It’s right along Biscayne Boulevard; people can see it and they can walk by and take pictures of it as they visit Bayside.”

“The statue is a work of art that has traveled the world,” Wenski said. “It represents the story of the human family, which is a story of migration. And here in South Florida, really Miami, is the Ellis Island of the south. And so the story of migration is the story of Miami. So this is a very apt statue to have visit with us and allow people to reflect on that story and to see themselves and the story of migration.”

Wenski concludes: “This sculpture really puts the whole human family in the same boat.”

The sculpture will be on display through Thursday April 8, 2021.


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