By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published November 16, 2021
DARIEN—Bishop Stephen D. Parkes of the Diocese of Savannah blessed a new bronze sculpture of the five venerable friars, who are known as the Georgia Martyrs, on Saturday, Oct. 9.
A work of Timothy Schmalz, the sculpture is situated on the grounds of Nativity of Our Lady Catholic Church in Darien. The statue is based on a painting depicting Friar Pedro de Corpa, and his companion friars, Blas, Miguel, Antonio and Francisco.
In the late sixteenth century, six Spanish Franciscans came to what is now the Georgia coast to minister to the native people called the Guale. Between Sept. 14-17, 1597, all but one were murdered.
Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., of Atlanta attended the afternoon blessing. During his time as Bishop of Savannah, Archbishop Hartmayer worked to advance the canonization cause of the Georgia Martyrs, first promoted by his predecessors Bishop Raymond Lessard and Bishop Kevin Boland.
A Mass followed the dedication at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Savannah.
Schmalz is best known for his homeless Jesus installed in several cities worldwide and for “Angels Unawares,” a life-size sculpture depicting migrants and refugees crowded on a boat installed in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.
To learn about the cause, go to www.thegeorgiamartyrs.org. Materials on the Franciscans, who worked for the spiritual well-being of the Guale people, are also available for children on the site.