Miniaturized sculpture of Blessed Carlo Acutis Photo courtesy Timothy Schmalz

Schmalz to unveil latest work, an homage to Carlos Acutis

  • May 10, 2024

When thousands gather this summer in Indianapolis for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, they’ll be able to view the creation of another in the long line of Christian art by renowned Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz.

Schmalz will be among the attractions as he crafts one of his sculptures live and on-site. He will render an immersive monument to Blessed Carlos Acutis, the late Italian Catholic web designer poised to become the first millennial canonized as a saint.

Schmalz is enthusiastic about celebrating Catholicism’s present and future with the sculpture.

“I think it is so alive and creative to be right in the centre of this area during this historical moment, creating something new,” said Schmalz. “That is the great thing about the Catholic Church: We are always looking forward and on the move. We’re not a museum. We’re not something from the past. We’re in the now and in the past.”

Schmalz, from St. Jacob’s Ont., said Acutis, who died in 2006 of leukemia at just 15 years old, is an aspirational figure for Catholics young and old because of his age and because “he is not even a saint yet.” He is also visionary because he “embraced technology and brought our tradition and spirituality to the people today.”

The 55-year-old Schmalz has already clay-moulded a miniaturized version of the sculpture. It depicts Acutis holding out his computer at the foot of a crucified Jesus. The screen of his open-facing laptop displays the monstrance. This symbolic image is a salute to Acutis’ deep-rooted passion for building a website that catalogued Eucharistic miracles and approved Marian apparitions. Schmalz will also carve streaks that bridge the laptop’s Eucharistic Host to Christ’s hands and stomach. This linkage signifies transubstantiation, the bread becoming the Body of Christ. 

Fittingly, Schmalz will fashion a QR code into one of the sculpted laptop keys. The link will redirect users “to everything Blessed Carlos loved about the Holy Eucharist.”

“Here you have the patron saint of technology, and this tech is built within the sculpture,” said Schmalz. “Just as the angel on the bench in (my sculpture) Be Welcoming invites you to sit down and become immersed artistically and spatially with Hebrews 13:2, the sculpture of Blessed Carlos is welcoming you to get your phones out and use that to learn about Christianity, Catholicism and the Holy Eucharist.” 

Though not yet canonized, Acutis’ supporters herald him as a future patron saint of the Internet, technology or web designers. 

As for the congress, starting on May 17, over 100,000 American Catholics and visitors from other countries will embark upon a 60-day pilgrimage to Indianapolis for the Eucharistic Congress, the first since 1941. 

Regardless of the path they follow, be it the Marian Route from the Mississippi Headwaters, the St. Juan Diego Route from Brownsville, Texas, or any other designated passage, all pilgrims will unite in prayer, hoping that the July 17-21 assembly at Lucas Oil Stadium will invigorate and deepen the Catholic Church’s commitment to its Eucharistic mission. 

The conference features an impressive slate of speakers, including Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire, Fr. Mike Schmitz, the presenter of the Bible in a Year podcast, and Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, who founded the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth in the Archdiocese of Boston. All will impart forward-looking and optimistic messages that prepare hearts and minds for the 2025 Jubilee.

Meanwhile, Be Welcoming — the sculpture that from the back shows a cloaked pilgrim with a cane in his hand, but from another perspective reveals an angel outstretching his hand — is being permanently installed at the endpoint of the famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage outside St. John the Evangelist Church. Last year this sculpture was inaugurated in Melide, Spain, a key crossroad along the famed Camino de Santiago — Way of St. James in English — network of pilgrim routes.

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