Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz alongside his piece depicting Padre Pio hearing confessions. One of four of these statues will be placed in Limerick city
A NEW nine-foot sculpture depicting Padre Pio hearing confessions is due to be unveiled outside a Limerick city church next week.
The statue, called ‘I Absolve You’, has been carved by renowned Canada-based bronze worker, Timothy Schmalz.
His latest figurative bronze piece will take its place outside Limerick’s Dominican Church, St Saviour’s, from next Friday.
Schmalz is one of the world’s premium Christian sculptors, whose work is installed in dozens of holy sites around the globe and has been admired by Pope Francis.
The statue depicts Catholic saint Padre Pio doing what he was perhaps best known for throughout his life: hearing confessions.
The tall statue is anchored by a large crucifix, with Padre Pio hearing confessions below on one side. Visitors to the statue can sit at the other side of the ‘confessional window’, where they will actually see the face of Jesus instead of that of Padre Pio.
The piece is designed to depict and explain how, in the church tradition, Jesus ‘absolves’ the faithful of their sins through confession. The artist has described his work as a “visual sermon”, an interpretation of religious themes.
Schmalz has created four of these statues, one of which is due to be placed in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, where Padre Pio worked for most of his life.
Sr Mara Grace, a Dominican Sister at Limerick’s St Saviour’s, explained where the statue is due to be installed.
“It’s going to be outside the church on the corner of Dominic Street and Glentworth Street. It’s nine feet tall, so it’ll be a big outdoor sculpture. There’s a little bench there so you can sit right next to it. It will be inside the gate, in the church yard, but anyone can go to it at any time,” said Sr Mara Grace.
It will be officially unveiled on Friday, May 25. At 12.30pm, a relic of Padre Pio — one of his famous gloves — will be at St Saviour’s, and members of the public will be invited to venerate the relic. A Mass at 1pm celebrated by Bishop Brendan Leahy will follow, after which the statue will be blessed. Refreshments will be provided for those in attendance.
And the new bronze work of art is not the only special statue at St Saviour’s: a statue of Our Lady of Limerick was gifted to the city in 1640 by Patrick Sarsfield and his wife Eleanor.
During the siege of Limerick in 1651, the statue of the Madonna was removed and, according to tradition, was buried for safekeeping. It is now on display inside the city church.
The event on May 25 coincides with the beginning of a Triduum in honour of Our Lady of Limerick at St Saviour’s, which will go on all weekend.
“We are inviting people to bring a picnic lunch to have in the park after Mass on Sunday,” said Sr Mara Grace.
At last year’s triduum, the fun-loving white-cloaked Sisters gained viral fame after Sr Rose Miriam was captured on video playing football with a Henry Street garda. St Pio died in 1968 and was declared a saint by Pope John Paul II (who is now a saint himself) in 2002.