A stunning and thought-provoking bronze sculpture, titled “Advent,” was unveiled and dedicated at The Catholic University of America’s Theological College in Washington, D.C. The monument, known as the “National Life Monument,” portrays the Blessed Virgin Mary as pregnant with the Christ Child. Designed by acclaimed Canadian artist Timothy Paul Schmalz, this larger-than-life sculpture serves as a powerful symbol of beauty, the celebration of new life, and a resolute pro-life statement in the heart of the nation’s capital.
Present at the dedication ceremony were Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada, along with the artist himself. Cardinal Gregory offered a special blessing and prayer for the monument, recognizing its significance. He praised the sculpture, stating, “Advent, as a pregnant Madonna, transcends bronze, revealing deeper truths of God and of us, and his love for each of us, graced as we are in his image and likeness.”
The sculpture, predominantly cast in bronze, features a unique element—the Blessed Virgin’s womb, which is crafted from reflective stainless steel. With a serene and peaceful countenance, Our Lady gently cradles her womb, showcasing the unborn Jesus. The stainless steel forms a halo-like structure around the unborn Christ Child, creating an ethereal effect. Schmalz describes the steel as a “mystical material.”
In an interview with Catholic News Agency, Schmalz explained that the sculpture aims to convey a positive affirmation of life and serve as a permanent, physical symbol. He expressed the desire for the monument to signify that all human life is splendid, wonderful, and mystical. The artist hopes the installation of the sculpture in the nation’s capital will serve as a compelling statement, inviting celebration and reverence for the value of all human life.
Crafting a pro-life sculpture presented Schmalz with a challenge, as he sought to create a piece that goes beyond highlighting the horrors of abortion. The artist intended to offer a peaceful yet persuasive message in a culture that, as Pope John Paul II stated, has become a “culture of death.” By placing the monument in a prominent public setting in Washington, D.C., Schmalz aims to touch not only those who already support the pro-life cause but also individuals who are undecided on the issue.
Schmalz hopes that the monument’s presence will captivate the hearts of passersby and maybe even those who may support abortion. He envisions people encountering the sculpture, appreciating its beauty, and reflecting on the profound meaning it represents. By touching even one person, the sculpture, in his view, fulfills its purpose.
For Schmalz, each sculpture he creates is a form of prayer. As a Catholic artist, he believes in the power of art to serve as visible ambassadors of faith, particularly in a culture that tends to marginalize Christianity. Through his work, Schmalz strives to counter the dwindling presence of positive life symbols in contemporary society, noting that the celebration of new life has become increasingly minimalized.
The shift in cultural perceptions surrounding motherhood, Schmalz believes, has led to negative attitudes toward having children. This anti-life mindset is detrimentally impacting society. Pope Francis and Elon Musk, who have both expressed concerns about declining birth rates and emphasized the need to celebrate human life.
Timothy Paul Schmalz’s artistic contributions extend far beyond the National Life Monument. His renowned works, including “Angels Unawares” at the Vatican and “Homeless Jesus” in the Holy Land, have captivated audiences worldwide. A smaller version of the National Life Monument is also on display in Rome’s Church of San Marcello al Corso. With ambitious plans, Schmalz aims to place life-sized replicas of the National Life Monument in every state across the United States.
Father Daniel Moore, provincial superior of the U.S. Society of St. Sulpice, who presided over the dedication ceremony, expressed his hope that Schmalz’s statues will awaken a sense of the sacredness of life and foster a commitment to supporting pregnant women, mothers, and those in need. He compared the artist’s work to the masons who built magnificent cathedrals and installed stained glass to convey God’s message and love, emphasizing the profound value bestowed upon humanity by God.