Joshua Koffman and IJCR members in front of the 'Synagoga and Ecclesia In Our Time' statue at Saint Joseph's University

Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time

Meaning “Synagogue” and “Church” in Greek, Synagoga and Ecclesia refer to a pair of female figures found in medieval Christian art that personified Judaism and the Church. In that era Ecclesia was portrayed as a majestic, crowned and triumphant figure, far superior to Synagoga who was depicted as defeated, uncrowned, her staff broken, and her vision blinded. This adversarial contrast was repudiated in 1965 by the Second Vatican Council declaration, Nostra Aetate (“In Our Time”). To mark that document’s 50th anniversary, in 2015 Saint Joseph’s University commissioned a new artwork to reflect Catholic teaching that both communities can learn about God by studying their sacred texts together. This remarkable sculpture, which can be found outside of the Chapel of Saint Joseph’s, was created by Philadelphia-based sculptor Joshua Koffman and blessed by Pope Francis.


“This statue is exactly a demonstration of two sisters of the same dignity, the Church and the Synagogue.” – Rev. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office.


“I have no doubt it will become a turning point in the History of Art.” – Prof. Mariano Akerman, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.