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.

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”

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.

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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