St. Josephine Bakhita Sculpture at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Brings Attention to Human Trafficking

| 03/20/2023

By: The Good Newsroom

“Let the Oppressed Go Free” raises awareness of human trafficking’s global impact on all societies and the vulnerability among Latino communities

Sculptor Timothy Schmalz (left), Father Enrique Salvo, rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral (center), and Cardinal Timothy Dolan (right) look at the new human trafficking statue installed at St. Patrick's Cathedral, March 17, 2023.
Sculptor Timothy Schmalz (left), Father Enrique Salvo, rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral (center), and Cardinal Timothy Dolan (right) look at the new human trafficking statue installed at St. Patrick's Cathedral, March 17, 2023. Photo by Tony Correa.

The Archdiocese of New York unveiled Timothy Schmalz’s sculpture, “Let the Oppressed Go Free,” a statue of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron of human trafficking victims.

The statue was revealed during Mass on St. Patrick’s Day, as St. Patrick was also a victim of human trafficking. Cardinal Timothy Dolan blessed the sculpture depicting St. Josephine freeing some 100 figures of trafficking victims of all ages and ethnicities.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral has around six million visitors a year, making it an important place to create awareness. It also serves as a reminder that St. Patrick, the patron of the cathedral and the Archdiocese of New York, was a victim of human trafficking himself when he was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland at a young age. “As with St. Josephine Bakhita, St. Patrick is someone we can pray to on behalf of all victims,” explained Father Enrique Salvo, Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “Through prayer and advocacy, the Church is committed to ending this tragedy.”

6″This sculpture will be situated beside the Virgin of Guadalupe statue since Latin America is a common place where human trafficking tragedies occur,” explained Father Salvo. It is hoped that the statue will serve as a reminder of the ongoing struggle against human trafficking and inspire people to act to prevent this crime.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral has around six million visitors per year, making it an important place to create awareness. It also serves as a reminder that St. Patrick, the patron of the cathedral and the Archdiocese of New York, was a victim of human trafficking himself when he was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland at a young age. “As with St. Josephine Bakhita, St. Patrick is someone we can pray to on behalf of all victims,” explains Father Salvo. “Through prayer and advocacy, the Church is committed to ending this tragedy.”

Sculptor Timothy Schmalz is Canadian and renowned for his powerful and thought-provoking sculptures that address social issues.

The Archdiocese of New York serves the pastoral and spiritual needs of 2.5 million Catholics in nearly 300 parishes throughout its three boroughs of New York City and seven counties to the north. The archdiocese includes 172 Catholic schools serving more than 53,000 students, helps more than 400,000 individuals each year through Catholic Charities, and provides compassionate care to patients and families through ArchCare, the healthcare ministry. The Good Newsroom™ is the digital news outlet of the archdiocese with daily updates and stories about the good works of the Catholic Church in our area. Learn more at thegoodnewsroom.org.

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