Angels Unawares

Angels Unawares


August 2021, Basilica Plaza
This powerful sculpture will be on display in front of The Basilica of Saint Mary Summer 2021. Look for more information about programs to highlight this important work. 

The sculptural work interprets this belief that there is to be found the sacred in the stranger, in terms of the refugee and migrant people. 

The work depicts migrants and refugees from all cultural and racial backgrounds and from all historic periods of time together—shoulder to shoulder on a raft or boat. Within this diverse crowd of people, angel wings are visible in the center, suggesting that within the migrant and refugee is the sacred.


The inspiration of the work arises from a passage from Hebrews 13:2 

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


Angels Unawares Opening Celebration
Sunday, August 1 at 3:00pm, Basilica Plaza


Angels Unawares Pope












The Angels Unawares sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz depicts more than 140 refugees.

Schmalz, who also created the Homeless Jesus sculpture, was commissioned by Pope Francis to call attention to the lives of migrants and refugees and their many contributions to society. 

On World Day of Migrants and Refugees, September 29, 2019, the large bronze version was installed in St. Peters Square Rome and the smaller bronze was installed in St. Paul’s Basilica, Rome.



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The Migrants & Refugees Section is a small pastoral office of the Holy See, personally directed by Pope Francis, working to help the Church worldwide to accompany vulnerable people on the move, including those who are forcibly displaced by conflict, natural disaster, persecution or extreme poverty, refugees and victims of human trafficking. More information at: