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Life-size Stations of the Cross to be built right outside Disney World in Orlando 'to convert and inspire Christianity'
Image composite: YouTube video, Tim Schmalz - Screenshots

Life-size Stations of the Cross to be built right outside Disney World in Orlando 'to convert and inspire Christianity'

Orlando's increasingly woke Walt Disney World features various monuments depicting fictional characters thought up by men. Outside the walls of the corporate imaginarium, an artist is set to erect monuments depicting the historical figure whom billions of Christians understand not only thought up men, but saved them from sin and death.

Catholic artist Timothy P. Schmalz has labored for years on a series of life-sized bronze sculptures of the Stations of the Cross — fourteen representations of Christ's journey from his condemnation to his death and burial.

Schmalz, who previously created sculptures for St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, and for the Catholic University of America, recently told the Catholic News Agency that the stations, some 30 feet wide and others as high as 14 feet, will be installed later this year. He has, after all, completed his creative clay sculpting for the project, meaning they need only to be cast in bronze at a specialized foundry to be ready for installation.

The stations will be planted in the Gospel Gardens at the 2000-seat Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of the Universe, which was granted minor basilica status in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Diocese of Orlando originally broke ground on the current location with the intention of serving the multitudes of Catholics who would venture to Disney World in Lake Buena Vista.

"I hope to rival Universal Studios, Walt Disney, and every other feature in Orlando by creating what has never been done before, and that is one of the biggest, most complex Stations of the Cross," Schmalz said of the endeavor in 2022.

"It's right in the center of a place that desperately needs a spiritual Catholic oasis," he told the CNA, stressing the importance of "bringing the Gospels [to] where the people are."

Schmalz hopes the works will serve as "tools to convert and inspire Christianity." The nearby theme park may serve as a force multiplier granted that nearly 60 million people flock to it every year.

The ornate and massive installations, each of which weighs thousands of pounds, are replete with biblical references, not just to Christ's passion but to his teachings as well.

"Some of Christ's parables are embedded in the sculptures. In the foreground of each station is the principal scene, but in the background are the teachings of Jesus as well as symbols," said Schmalz. "It is an unusual version of the stations in the sense that it is filled with the New Testament. For instance, station 13 has more than 100 saints. It is unlike any other sculpture I have ever created."

According to Schmalz's artist statement, he is "devoted to creating artwork that glorifies Christ. The reason for this devotion, apart from my Christian beliefs, is that an artist needs an epic subject to create epic art."

"When visiting the great Cathedrals and museums of Europe, one is given many messages of the Christian faith through the great works of art. However, one message these great masterpieces convey to us in modern times is that the church was all important and glorious ... once, approximately five hundred years ago," wrote Schmalz. "Unfortunately, these create the impression that the themes represented are antiquated and should be viewed in a museum."

Schmalz is of the view that the production and proud installation of massive Christian artwork today would buck this notion and visually insist upon the understanding that the "church is all important and glorious ... today!"

"Unless you do something spectacular, it's going to be invisible," the sculptor told the CNA. "That's how we are today. We have a society today where the Catholic Church is competing with mainstream culture. We have to be tough and strong. Even though we are dealing with the Gospels, with eternal truths, the execution often falls short."

Schmalz's sentiment is shared by other Christian artists.

Blaze News spoke in November to the Norwegian team at Bible X, the game developer behind the Christian video game Gate Zero. Game designer Arve Solli stressed that quality often appears to be a secondary priority — if a priority at all — among faith-based developers because many "take it for granted that Christian people ... want to use it or see it because it's Christian."

"We want to create something great because we believe it's the greatest message ever told," said Solli. "So we should put everything we can into doing that. An undeniably great video game, not like 'How little effort can we put into this? People will play it anyway.' ... We tried to think of it the opposite way."

Schmalz, the official sculptor for the coming National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, has similarly gone to great lengths to create religious art "more intense than what is seen on film; so intense, that if you are not Catholic, you would want to become Catholic. You would want to learn more."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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