What strikes you when first confronted by Angels Unawares on the plaza of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is the weight of the thing. Timothy Schmalz’s bronze sculpture, 20-feet long and 12 feet high, weighs 3.8 tons and looks every ounce of it.
Solid, almost blocky, it appears lacking in subtlety and any discernible method of moving it, so much so that a likely first impression is, “How did that get here?”
But spend a moment, and the dark block quickly reveals itself; softening, splintering into a global collection of people packed aboard a simple raft. Call them immigrants or refugees, they comprise a range of races and nationalities, circumstances, and time periods, their faces reflecting the anxiety and fear that results when one’s humanity has been reduced to the “other.”
And just as suddenly, first impressions give way to realizations that here, Los Angeles, named after angels and reputed to be among the world’s most diverse cities, is the most natural place for “Angels” to land.
Archbishop José Gomez told Angelus that it is “fitting” that the North American casting of the sculpture has come to Los Angeles first….
Himself an immigrant to the U.S., the Mexican-born archbishop recalled the local Church’s role in providing a safe haven for Catholics escaping the anticlerical violence of the Mexican Revolution in the 1920s, and its continued efforts to welcome refugees and migrants up to today.
The first iteration of the statue was unveiled Sept. 29, 2019, at St. Peter’s Square in Rome — where it will remain indefinitely — during the 105th World Migrant and Refugee Day….
Angels Unawares will remain at the cathedral until arrangements are made for its transport to the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The statue will visit other cities and, there is a possibility that, one day, it will return to Los Angeles….
The above comes from an Aug. 28 story in Angelus News.