Brussels, the 11th of december 2023
On the 25th of October, in Brussels, during the FAFCE Board Meeting, a statue of St Joseph with Christ Child was inaugurated in the chapel of the Commission of the Bishops´ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and blessed by its President, Bishop Mariano Crociata. FAFCE donated this statue to be placed in the chapel St Benedict and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, within the COMECE building, as “a symbolic contribution to this ongoing synodal period, where Catholic families see in St Joseph, patron of the universal Church, not only the fatherhood they experience in their lives, but also the fatherhood they seek in their pastors. Together with the pastors, families are protagonists in the life of the Church and work for peace and to rebuild our wounded communities, in Europe and beyond”.
The blessing ceremony took place in the presence of the artist Jesús Arévalo, winner of the European Art Contest organized this year by FAFCE, where artists were invited to reflect on the figure of St Joseph. The call for artworks embodied two of the directions set by Pope Francis: the Year of Saint Joseph and the Role of Fatherhood in our society today. This reflexion also inspired the sculptor Jesus Arévalo, who explained: “St. Joseph is represented as a Jewish father with the kippah and the sidelocks. His dress is made by straight lines, as a sign of the law and of the old testament. He takes his son by the hand and teaches him to make his first steps – so that in the future he would stand on his own and walk freely to make his own endeavors. His Son, Jesus, is dressed with soft curves that shows the innocence of the child and represent the New Testament.” The important part of the sculpture, for Arévalo, is the point where Jesus and Joseph shake hands, and one notices “the tenderness of the father who lovingly observes his son, the confidence of the son, who imitates him in his steps and yet begins to direct his gaze beyond”.
This statue, together with the others artworks which were part of the Art Contest, was exhibited at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, last June. The statue, after a period at the Redemptoris Mater International Seminary, in Strasbourg, was moved to the chapel of the COMECE building, where also the offices of FAFCE are located.
The journalist Andrea Gagliarducci, who also attended the ceremony, noted: “St Joseph, depicted as a pious Jew, teaching the baby Jesus to walk. This is how the statue of St Joseph by sculptor Jesús Arévalo Jimenez presents itself, with simple lines, a precise concept and a strong sense of fatherhood.” Vincenzo Bassi, president of FAFCE, touched by the beauty of the artwork, added: “Saint Joseph is an example for me personally and for all of us, in fatherhood, as an answer to taking one’s responsibilities. We hope to fully live this experience, together with our pastors, and to propose it with confidence to today’s world.”