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Canadian Artist intends to welcome crowds that rival those at Disney World & Universal Studios with his new Orlando-area attraction

in Artwork, Featured, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

timothy p. schmalz sculptor

Credit: Timothy P. Schmalz

A Canadian artist with an affinity and talent for sculpting in bronze has long labored on a project that he hopes will bring peace, hope, and meaning to the more than 50 million people who visit the Walt Disney World Resort every year.

Ontario-based Catholic artist and sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz set out to discover and bring to life something that is of great meaning and importance to him so that he could share it with millions: “I wanted to create a sculpture project that would be the heart of Christianity.”

He chose, as his subject, the condemnation, sentencing, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, also known as The Passion of the Christ.

man sculpting Mother Mary
Credit: Timothy P. Schmalz

Schmalz says he’s sculpting 14 beautifully different, detailed, and ornate depictions of Jesus, his death, burial, and resurrection. He refers to each of the 14 sculptures as a “station,” as the Catholic Church has so named them.

According to Britannica, “Stations of the Cross” is a series of 14 different pictures, carvings, or the like, that portray events that took place as Jesus journeyed from being condemned by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who ordered His execution, to Mount Calvary where he was crucified and then to the place where His body was entombed before His resurrection.

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The series includes depictions of the following: Jesus is condemned to death, Jesus is made to bear his cross, Jesus falls down the first time, Jesus meets His mother Mary along the way, Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross, Saint Veronica wipes Jesus’ face with her kerchief, Jesus falls to the ground a second time, the women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus, Jesus falls a third time, Jesus’s garments are ripped from Him, Jesus is nailed to the cross, and Jesus dies on the cross. The series concludes with Jesus’s body being taken from the cross and then entombed in Jerusalem.

Images from the Stations of the Cross can usually be found inside churches and cathedrals along the inside walls, or free-standing in places like cemeteries, hospitals, and even on the mountainsides.

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Credit: Angelus News

Renowned sculptor and artist Timothy Schmalz has undertaken the painstaking task of sculpting the 14 stations, each of which will be installed at the Basilica of Our Lady Queen of the Universe in Orlando, Florida, just 1 1/2 miles east of the Walt Disney World Resort along Vineland Road.

“When you see Jesus in the front, you’re going to see a scene from the Passion,” Schmalz explained. “But in the distance, you’re going to see the parables that He taught us. So it might be in the distance, you’ll see a camel trying to get through a little hole in the wall or the eye of the needle.”

Once the sculptures are completed, they will be erected at the Basilica, each one standing 12 feet tall and 11 feet wide.

“It’s right in the center of a place that desperately needs a spiritual oasis,” Schmalz says. 

And according to the Catholic News Agency, Schmalz has set a very high standard for himself when it comes to sharing his works, which combine mural painting with sculpture, with the public.

“I hope to rival Universal Studios, Walt Disney (World), and every other feature in Orlando by creating what has never been done before,” the seasoned sculptor explained.

Schmalz says it’s his hope that those who come to view the stations will feel immersed in them.

“We know there’s a lot of kids going to Walt Disney (World) in Orlando every year,” he said, giving one example. “I’m putting a lot of children within them so they can see themselves in the scenes.”

Schmalz says he becomes a part of the stations as he’s working to complete them.

“It evolves, and it grows as you’re working on it, and it’s almost like it tells you what to do in a sense where I don’t necessarily know exactly how the piece will end up,” the gifted artist said.

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While his current project is something he’s not done before, Schmalz is well-versed in sculpting. His works can be found in locations around the globe, from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City to the Campus of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C. One of his most famous pieces is a statue titled, “Angels Unaware,” which depicts migrants and refugees seeking their new home.

Timothy Schmalz, the artist who covers Rome in “visual prayers”
Credit: Aleteia.com

To his credit, he has created scores of religious and non-religious sculptures. One of his most creative pieces was sculpted to honor Canadian Veterans, and it was installed at the Canadian Veterans’ Memorial in the City of Windsor, Ontario.

canadian veterans sculpture
Credit: Timothy P. Schmalz

Although Disney World doesn’t publish or discuss the number of visitors that walk through the gates at its four theme parks annually. Pre-pandemic estimates set that number at more than 50 million Guests each year, with Magic Kingdom hosting the majority of them. And the Walt Disney World Resort is just one of the major tourist attractions in the Orlando area.

The Basilica in Orlando is mostly attended by visitors to the Orlando and Central Florida area, and Schmalz is hopeful that his carefully created renditions of the Stations of the Cross will serve as a means of ministry to those who visit.

At the time of this post, Schmalz has completed the first four stations, from the time of Jesus’s condemnation by Pontius Pilate to the time when he meets his mother along his journey to the cross, and he says he still has another year of work to do in order to finish all 14. On his YouTube channel, Schmalz takes viewers into his world where he is hard at work, creating each piece–from drawing them out on paper to sculpting them in bronze.

timothy schmalz
Credit: Timothy P. Schmalz

“When I create a three-dimensional sculpture in bronze, I am quite aware that it will last longer than myself,” Schmalz reveals in the biography on his website. “I realize I am between two things that are much more durable than myself: Christianity and bronze metal.”

“Saint Gregory the Great wrote that ‘art is for the illiterate’; the use of images was an extremely effective way to educate the general population. Our contemporary culture is in the same state today, not because of illiteracy, but because people are too busy to read. In this world of fast-paced schedules and sound bites, Christian art creates “visual bites” that introduce needed spiritual truths in a universal language.”

The video below shows the first three stations created by Schmalz.

Schmalz’s sculptures, once completed, will be on display at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, at 8300 Vineland Road in Orlando.

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