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Pope Francis waves to members of the Vincentian religious orders and lay communities on Wednesday after blessing the new sculpture, Sheltering (CNS/Vatican Media)

A dove in flight lays a blanket over a homeless person in a new sculpture blessed by Pope Francis on Wednesday. Source: Crux.

The Pope blessed the Sheltering sculpture as its sculptor, Canadian Timothy Schmalz, looked on with about 60 representatives of the Vincentian religious orders and lay communities. The statue will help raise funds to build houses for some 10,000 people in the more than 160 countries where the Vincentian Fathers, the Daughters of Charity and their collaborators work.

The “13 Houses Campaign” is a homage to St Vincent de Paul and his decision in 1643 to use an endowment from French King Louis XIII 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 the problem of homelessness is shocking”. The artist already has a large sculpture featuring migrants in St Peter’s Square and another of the “Homeless Jesus” sleeping on a bench outside the Dicastery for the Service of Charity.

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

Schmaltz referred to the piece as his first “begging statue.”

“People don’t carry cash with them anymore,” which makes life difficult for people asking for a handout from passers-by, he said. His statue and copies of it will have a QR Code that people can scan not only for information about Sheltering, but also “to give a dollar or two” to the Vincentians’ project to help the homeless and to build houses.


Pope blesses ‘begging statue’ that will help Vincentians build homes (CNS via Crux)