Pope blesses ‘beggar statue’ that will help Vincentians build homes

A flying DOVE lays a blanket over a homeless man in a new sculpture blessed by Pope Francis this week.

Francis blessed the statue, titled Sheltering, as Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz looked on with approximately 60 representatives of Vincentian religious orders and lay communities who use the statue in conjunction with a project to build homes for some 10,000 people in more than 160 countries. where the Vincentian Fathers, the Daughters of Charity and their collaborators work.

The “13 Houses Campaign” is a tribute to Saint Vincent de Paul and his decision in 1643 to use an endowment from King Louis XIII of France to build 13 small houses near the Vincentian headquarters in Paris to care for abandoned children .

Schmalz told reporters he hoped the statue would be “as shocking as homelessness is shocking.”

Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz is working on his new sculpture, Sheltering, which depicts a dove laying a blanket over a homeless person. Photo: SNC

Joining Schmalz for the blessing of the statue were: Mark McGreevy, DePaul Group President and Housing Project Coordinator; Father Tomaz Mavric, superior general of the Vincentians; and Sister Julie Kubasak, American member of the general council of the Daughters of Charity.

Schmaltz already has a large sculpture depicting migrants in St. Peter’s Square and another depicting the “homeless Jesus” sleeping on a bench outside the Dicastery for the Service of Charity.

Vatican officials and Vincentians are still discussing the best place to display the statue in the Vatican and where to place copies around the world, he said.

Schmaltz called the piece his first “begging statue”.

“People don’t carry cash with them anymore,” making life difficult for people who ask passers-by for money, he said.

His statue and copies will have a QR code that people can scan not only for accommodation information, but also “to donate a buck or two” to the Vincentians’ project to help the homeless and build buildings. houses.

McGreevy said donors can use the code to help address homelessness in their own city or anywhere in the world Vincentians work.

So far, he said, the project has raised $5 million and helped more than 8,600 people by building 2,311 homes in 60 countries. The project has no fundraising goal, he said; “as much as we raise, we will use it to build houses.”