Sr. Renee Kittelson, MSC shares that the Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, the Archbishop of New Orleans, recently welcomed the statue entitled “Angels Unawares” to New Orleans. The sculpture, cast in bronze and weighing nearly four tons is on a tour of American cities before going on permanent display at the Catholic University of America.
statue is a replica of that which was commissioned by Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2019 and on permanent display at the Vatican.
The statue shows a 20-foot-long boat crowded with migrants and refugees from various lands. Among the 140 sculpted faces are Italians and Germans seeking a better life in a new country; Irish immigrants escaping the 19th century Potato Famine; Africans who were forced onto slave ships; Vietnamese boat people fleeing a Marxist regime; a Cherokee on the Trail of Tears; Jews scarred by the Holocaust; Syrians seeking a more peaceful home than their homeland, and many others. All figures and faces are from photos of real people or modeled in studio. Even the Holy Family is in the crowd, identifiable only by St. Joseph’s toolbox. Above the figures, stretching 11 feet high, are the wings of an angel meant to symbolize Hebrews 13:2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”