Cardinal Parolin to unveil a sculpture of St. Bakhita to highlight the problem of human trafficking

The work of the artist Timothy Schmalz, which evokes the figure of St. Josephine Bakhita, will be blessed on the morning of June 29 in Schio, Italy

The sculpture Let The Oppressed Go Freewill be installed near the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Schio on Thursday, June 29, on the occasion of the Italian city’s patron saint festivities. The day before the inauguration event, the artist and creator, Timothy Schmalz, and the benefactor of the work, Christopher Bratty, are scheduled to be received in a private audience by Pope Francis at Saint Martha’s House in Rome.

“Let The Oppressed Go Free” alludes to the figure of Saint Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947), a Sudanese nun who lived and died in Schio. The work is inspired by the biblical passage Isaiah 58:6 and aims to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery, evoking the figure of St. Bakhita, the Canossian Sister chosen as the patron saint of victims of human trafficking for the kidnapping and slavery she suffered.

In addition to the artist, the inauguration ceremony will be attended by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin; the mayor of Schio, Valter Orsi; the Superior General of the Canossian Daughters of Charity, Sister Sandra Maggiolo (F.d.C.C); the parish priest and moderator of the St. Bakhita Pastoral Unit, monsignor Carlo Guidolin; the president of the Bakhita Schio-Sudan Association, Gianfrancesco Sartori; and the benefactor of the work, Christopher Bratty.

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About Timothy Schmalz

Timothy Schmalz has been building large-scale sculptures for more than 25 years. Schmalz is a figurative artist with pieces installed all over the world. Some of his most recognized works rest in historic sites in Italy, Canada, the United States and the Vatican and have been blessed by Pope Francis. These works include: Homeless Jesus, Angels Unawares, Homeless Jesus, Mary, Untier Of Knots, Sheltering, and Let The Oppressed Go Free. Timothy describes his most important work as visual translations of the Bible. Though 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. More information: 

About St. Josephine

Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000, and her feast is celebrated every February 8. She is the patron saint of Sudan and of victims of human trafficking. Also known as “Mother Moretta”, she suffered 144 scars from her abduction and degradation to slavery at the age of 9. For years, violence and mistreatment were part of her daily life. During her years of slavery, she was the victim of physical and moral humiliation. In 1882, her suffering was alleviated when she was acquired by an Italian consul who restored her freedom. She moved to Italy, and during her first years there, while in the care of the Conossian Sisters, she converted to Catholicism. She was baptized and became a novice in 1896. She settled in Schio in 1902 where she remained until her death in 1947. She died at the age of 78.

About Schio
Schio is located in the province of Vicenza at the feet of the little Dolomites. The city is famous for its rich industrial archaeological heritage, with buildings like Fabbrica Alta, Lanificio Conte, and Giardino Jacquard representing just a few of the treasures of an industrial past. Schio has also been given the name “Manchester d’Italia” for its textile production on both national and international scale. Among these buildings, along the streets, and in the city’s squares, appear many historical palaces: the “Nuova Schio” working-class district, Teatro Civico, San Pietro’s Dome, and Santa Bakhita’s Church where the Saint’s relics are preserved. In the green fields near the historic center is the Church of St. Francis, a religious building from the 15th century of remarkable value. More information: