Students walking past the steps to the Daniel and Grace Tully Dining Commons might have noticed the almost nine-foot-tall marble statue of Pope Francis waving at them. The statue was installed in the John A. Barone Campus Center the morning of Feb. 12, before the snow hit campus.
The statue features prompts related to the Pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si”, for those that walk by to reflect on the relationship between social justice and care of the environment.
The sculptors of the statue, Joan Benefiel and Jeremy Leichman of Figuration Limited Liability Corporation, were inspired by the history of “talking statues.” These were statues in 16th century Rome that people would post writings on such as poems or impassioned speeches. Since the statues were located in public squares, writings posted to the statue would inspire conversation in the public.
The hashtag #hopeofpope, encourages students to tweet their responses to the prompts printed on the statue. There is also a pen and paper, as well as a slot for students to hand write their responses.
Benefiel said the responses written and placed in the slot will be collected by her and Leichman after Earth Day and the author of the best response will be given a miniature Pope Francis statue. All of the written responses will be scanned and posted online for others to view.
Benefiel and Leichman also created the statue of St. Ignatius in front of The Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Director of Campus Ministry Father Mark Scalese S.J. hopes that the statue will inspire conversation in the Fairfield community about climate change. “If we care about social justice, about the environment, we should do something about it,” said Scalese.
Scalese added that he had originally considered placing the statue in the lobby of the Egan Chapel but BCC was chosen instead because, “more people would be able to see it and interact.”
The statue has also been displayed in St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York City, NY, and the Our Lady of the Lake Parish Center in Leominster, Mass. The statue is only here temporarily and will be transported to another location after this year’s convocation in May.