“Angels Unawares” is a bronze life-size sculpture that depicts a group of migrants and refugees from different cultural and racial backgrounds and from diverse historic periods of time. They stand together, shoulder to shoulder, huddled on a raft. Within this diverse crowd of people, angel wings emerge from the centre, suggesting the presence of the sacred among them. The inspiration behind the work is taken from a biblical passage:

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hebrew 13:2

The sculptural work interprets the belief that sacredness is to be found among the refugees and migrants who arrive as strangers in our midst. According to its creator, sculptor Timothy Schmalz, the seed of the artwork was sown by Fr. Michael Czerny S.J., under-secretary of the Migrants & Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery of the Promotion of Integral Human Development. While speaking with the priest (now Cardinal) in Rome in 2017, “he suggested that I start thinking about creating a sculpture on migrants and refugees,” said Schmalz, “not just as a crisis today, but as always important throughout human history.”

Timothy Schmalz

About Timothy Schmalz

For over 25 years, Timothy Schmalz has been creating large-scale pieces in bronze; they can be found worldwide as well as in historical churches in Rome and at the Vatican. This Canadian figurative artist describes his most important work as visual translations of the Bible.
Timothy strives to create monumental artwork that connects with viewers through design and details that are not only compelling on an emotional level, but also allow anyone to feel somehow a “part” of the piece.

This is as true of “Angels Unawares” as of his most famous previous work, the “Homeless Jesus”. By the end of 2020, more than 90 copies of this compelling and literally approachable piece had been installed all over the world.
The artist describes his sculptures “as visual prayers. When I create a three-dimensional sculpture in bronze, I am quite aware that it will last longer than myself. I realize I am between two things that are much more durable than myself: Christianity and bronze metal. It is between these that I have developed a subtle appreciation for what Saint Francis meant by ‘instrument.’”

About The Patronage

The sculpture “Angels Unawares” came to life thanks to the financial contribution of Rudolph Peter Bratty and his wife, Carolina. The family’s support of the sculpture serves as a testament to their vision, commitment and the spirit of hope embodied by all new beginnings.