Francis blessed “Sheltering”, a sculpture that promotes the Vincentian Family’s “13 Houses Campaign”

by | Nov 10, 2022 | News

He did so at his usual Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square. “Sheltering” seeks to promote the “13 Houses Campaign” to provide material and spiritual help to people experiencing homelessness around the world.

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(Vatican City, Nov. 9, 2022) – As part of the Sixth World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated next Sunday, Nov. 13, Pope Francis today blessed “Sheltering”, a sculpture depicting the plight of the homeless.

The work was given to the Vincentian Family’s, FamVin Homeless Alliance (FHA), with the goal of ending homelessness and changing the lives of the 1.2 billion people who live without a place to call home around the world.

The celebration was attended by the Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization – Section for Fundamental Questions of Evangelization in the World, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, who anticipated that next Sunday there will be a luncheon for the poor, which will be attended by Pope Francis.

13 Houses Campaign

The “Sheltering” sculpture was conceived to shed light on the problem of homelessness in the world and to promote practical solutions in line with the mission of the 13 Houses Campaign, an initiative of the worldwide Vincentian Family. The Vincentian Family is a movement of different religious congregations, lay associations and, charitable organizations inspired by the life and work of St. Vincent de Paul, who “called together as many as he could, rich and poor, humble and powerful, used every means to inspire them with a sense of the poor – a privileged image of Christ – and urged them to help the poor directly and indirectly” (CM Constitutions. Rome, June 29, 1984).

The Vincentian Family has joined together to form the FamVin Homeless Alliance (FHA) to end homelessness and change the lives of the 1.2 billion people without a place to call home around the world.

After participating in the blessing of “Sheltering”, Mark McGreevy, FHA coordinator and President of the Depaul International Group, said that the goal of the 13 Houses Campaign “is to house 10,000 people around the world, in the 160 countries where the Vincentian Family works.  This is just the first step in an ambitious plan to change the lives of many of the 1.2 billion people who are currently homeless around the world through practical projects and pressure for systemic change”.

For Father Tomaž Mavrič, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission of St. Vincent de Paul and the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, « it is remarkable that 400 years after our founder St. Vincent de Paul provided 13 houses for abandoned children in Paris, the Vincentian Family Homeless Alliance can commemorate this past initiative by building similar houses for homeless people in different countries around the world. As Vincent said – “we must put our words into action” ».

The sculpture

“Sheltering” is a life-size bronze sculpture depicting the figure of a homeless person covered by a blanket pulled by a pigeon in flight. The sculpture is the work of Canadian artist, Timothy Schmalz.

“With Sheltering I wanted to highlight the plight of the homeless, offer them comfort and promote practical solutions such as the Vincentian Family 13 Houses Campaign”, Schmalz said of his reasons for creating the sculpture. He added: “It is everyone’s job to provide the homeless with a roof over their heads. To make them visible and address their needs”.

Schmalz already has an established track record in religious statues around the world. His work “Angels Unawares”, about migrants and refugees, was installed in St. Peter’s Square in 2019, when it was also blessed by the Holy Father.

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About the World Day of the Poor
The World Day of the Poor was established by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, published on November 20th, 2016 to celebrate the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Since then, it has been celebrated every year on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time since 2017.
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About Famvin Homeless Alliance and 13 houses Campaign
The Famvin Homeless Alliance (FHA) is a Vincentian Family initiative supporting established and emerging homelessness programs across the globe. We understand homelessness as those living on the street, refugees and those displaced from their home, and slum dwellers in inadequate housing. Our vision is a world where everyone has a place to call home and a stake in their community. The FHA was set up in 2017 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian Charism and is managed by Depaul International. The Vincentian Family is a global Catholic movement rooted in the spirituality and example of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac, with a membership of over two million people. Currently, the 13 houses Campaign is present in 60 countries, with 92 projects, 2311 houses built and 8643 people supported.
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About Timothy Schmalz
For over 25 years, Timothy (Angels Unawares, Homeless Jesus) has been sculpting large scale sculptures. He is a figurative artist, with his pieces installed worldwide. Some of his most reputed pieces are installed in historical churches in Rome and at the Vatican. Timothy describes his most important work as visual translations of the Bible. Although most of his work is based upon a spiritual theme, he also creates large, complex public sculptures in bronze. Some of these include monuments that honor veterans and firefighters. Timothy strives to create epic artwork that connects with viewers through design and details that not only touch the viewer on an emotional level, but also allow them to feel somewhat a ‘part’ of the piece.
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World Day of the Poor – FamVin Homeless Alliance – Sheltering by Timothy Schmalz Vatican (Credit_ Timothy Schmalz)

World Day of the Poor – FamVin Homeless Alliance – Sheltering by Timothy Schmalz Vatican (Credit_ Tim Schmalz) 01