'Angels Unawares' - Atlas Obscura

'Angels Unawares'

The first statue to be added to Saint Peter's Square in over 350 years is an ode to migrants and refugees around the world. 


Statues dating back as early as the 13th-century fill and surround Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Among the crowd is one piece much younger than the rest. In 2019, Angels Unawares, was the first statue added to the square in over 350 years. 

The 20-foot bronze statue depicts a life-sized group of 140 migrants and refugees. In Angels Unawares, the crowd huddles on a boat, surrounding a pair of angel wings. The group represents many migrant and refugee stories—from a young Irish boy fleeing famine to a Syrian refugee escaping civil war to Mary and Joseph. In September 2019, Pope Francis revealed the sculpture on World Migrant and Refugee Day.

The piece was sculpted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz and was inspired by the biblical verse Hebrews 13:2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”



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March 4, 2024

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