Five years ago a young Slovakian artist set out to create a statue that would offer hope and healing to post-abortive women suffering from pain and regret — and the project would touch hearts around the world. The statue portrays a suffering mother in imitation stone. She is grieving with her face buried in her hands. She is approached by her aborted baby, depicted in a young child’s transparent form. The child reaches up to touch the woman’s head in a tender gesture of forgiveness and healing. Sculptor Martin Hudacek, the statue’s creator, has seen its impact. “Many people said ‘wow, it is me.’ They were crying, so many people said that sculpture touched their heart,” he told CNA. Hudacek created the sculpture, named “Memorial for Unborn Children,” while still a student. He hopes the piece will help to heal men and women suffering after an abortion. The monument, located in Slovakia, has been praised for its depiction of the pain, sorrow and regret felt by women who have had abortions. Hudacek presented a replica of the original statue to Pope Francis during the Pope’s Oct. 21 general audience. He was assisted by the Wisconsin-based Family Life Council, Inc. He told CNA that a friend inspired the project. “It all began when on my way back home from my friend’s place who prays and meditates a lot, (and) he told me I have to carve a statue” that depicts the effects of post-abortion syndrome, “a big problem and there is no such statue regarding this issue.” Hudacek said that he was “touched in such way that I wanted to make a monument for the unborn children,” but he had no idea where to start. He asked people to pray. “I was praying and many people came to me and said I need a picture of forgiveness,” he said. As time passed, the image became clearer and clearer in his mind: “it looked like a crying mother and a child who forgives her.” Many people have come to him to tell how the statue speaks directly to their problem. When they look at the statue, “they see and experience what they needed to see and experience,” the artist said. In the end, Hudacek said the statue seeks to fulfill the need for mercy. It speaks about healing by way of a child that comes to a mother who “really needs forgiveness, she needs the mercy of God.” Despite the success of his sculpture, the artist said that it’s not really his work, but God’s. He said he often asked people to pray for him while he was working on it. For him, their prayers made the long process a bit easier. “It is not my work, I am only a sculptor and I must work with the material,” he said. When he prayed and asked others to pray for the statue, “the work was not so hard.” Two weeks ago Hudacek completed a third version of the “Memorial for Unborn Children” statue. This edition is seven feet tall. But there is an addition: it shows a father alongside the grieving mother and their aborted child. This statue now sits inside a cemetery in Wroclaw, Poland, where it has been placed above the crypt of a child who died before birth. This particular statue was done “only for the people in Wroclaw,” explained the artist, who currently lives in the small Slovakian village of Telgárt. He said that while Jesus is the only one who can heal, he hopes that his sculpture can offer “a small healing” for post-abortive women. He hoped that when they look at it, they think about forgiveness more. “It is interesting to see my statue on the internet or in many places being presented in diverse ways,” Hudacek said, explaining that he can tell the sculpture is bearing fruit in reports from around the world. “I see it is a world issue, thus I am personally impressed and I am glad I can participate in God’s work,” he said.