Published November 17, 2021
ATLANTA—Marist School hosted a blessing and dedication of a new sculpture celebrating the journey of friendship between Catholics and Jews on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 56 years after the landmark Nostra Aetate declaration by Pope Paul VI. The new sculpture, “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time,” reimagines Christian-Jewish relations.
Created by Joshua Koffman, a Philadelphia-based artist known for expressive and dramatic large-scale bronze sculptures, the work embodies what Pope Francis describes as the “rich complementarity that allows [the Church and the Jewish people] to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another mine the riches of God’s word.”
Koffman shared at the Marist dedication that he is the son of a Catholic mother and Jewish father.
The Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time sculpture depicts a reimagined relationship between Ecclesia (Church) and Synagoga (Synagogue), the two allegorical figures that have historically been shown as separate in manuscripts, woodcuts, statues, stained-glass windows and other places. Ecclesia was traditionally seen crowned and triumphant, while Synagoga appeared rejected and defeated. In Koffman’s sculpture, the two are seated together, leaning toward one another as if to study each other’s sacred texts, exemplifying a deepening appreciation of the divinely given mission for people of both faiths to bear witness to God’s love.
Members of the Marist School community, the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Jewish community in Atlanta attended the blessing.
The sculpture’s presence on Marist’s campus will inspire students to embrace an understanding between Catholics and Jews and will promote an innate sympathy for different peoples, religions and cultures.
Marist School President Father Bill Rowland, SM, said, “The Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time sculpture is a welcome addition to Marist School’s campus and brings inspiration to our classrooms. The religious truths voiced in Nostra Aetate are received with reverence and taught with care. We devote our highest efforts to its study so that its lessons will become a lived reality for present and future generations of Marist students.”
To lean more about the sculpture blessing and the history of “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time,” visit the News and Events link at marist.com.