From Catholic Standard:
A monumental work of art depicting migrants and refugees seeking a home has found a permanent home in Washington, D.C., as the Welcome Plaza at The Catholic University of America was blessed and dedicated as the setting of artist Timothy Schmalz’s dramatic “Angels Unawares” sculpture.
Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Catholic University’s chancellor, blessed the plaza on April 22, with philanthropist and arts patron Jacqueline Mars pushing a button that initiated water flowing around the base of the sculpture, forming a reflecting pool. The dramatic sculpture depicts 140 diverse migrants and refugees from different countries and historical eras huddled together on a boat as if seeking a safe harbor, with the flowing water in the reflecting pool seeming to represent the tides carrying the boat’s occupants toward a new life.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” said Mars, who made a gift of $1.25 million for the plaza. Speaking in a ceremony before the blessing, she said, “…I believe that this statue so personifies exactly what we should be doing, welcoming the stranger.”
The co-owner of Mars, the world’s largest candy company, said the sculpture reflected how the United States was founded by immigrants, and she said it was very meaningful to her that the refugees in the artwork included the Holy Family, shown on their flight into Egypt with Joseph holding carpentry tools and Mary cradling the baby Jesus in her arms.
Noting the sculpture and plaza’s location, surrounded by the Catholic University campus and with the nearby Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception forming a majestic backdrop, Mars said, “I chose to support Welcome Plaza because I felt this location was a place where the statue could speak to a variety of people: young and old, from this country and elsewhere.” She pointed out that the basilica draws pilgrims and Catholic University attracts students from across the country and around the world.
Below is a video produced by Catholic News Service when the statue was blessed at the Vatican in 2019.
Also of note: you can purchase small replicas of the statue. Check out Timothy Schmalz’s website for this and more.