Since 2013, Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz has been placing a particular sculpture depicting a homeless man sleeping on a bench in cities across the globe. The life-size bronze statue appears to be anonymous with his face and hands hidden under a blanket, but the gaping wounds on his feet reveal that the person is actually Jesus.
Surprisingly, the statue has appeared in front of many churches that have shown extraordinary tolerance for the controversial sculpture. When it was installed at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in the middle of an upscale neighborhood in Davidson, North Carolina, one woman called the police and the another wrote a letter of complaint to the editor of a local newspaper. Many felt that it was an insult to the son of God. Some churches have even refused to have the sculpture installed in front of their institution.
‘Homeless Jesus’ statue near Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. Photo credit: Fabianodp / Shutterstock.com
Timothy Schmalz, a Christian himself, says the inspiration for the sculpture came from an actual homeless person he once saw on a bench in Toronto.
He named the statue Matthew 25, in reference to a quote from that gospel —”Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Rev. David Buck of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson feels that the sculpture gives authenticity to their church. “This is a relatively affluent church,” he says, “and we need to be reminded ourselves that our faith expresses itself in active concern for the marginalized of society.”
“We believe that that’s the kind of life Jesus had,” Buck says. “He was, in essence, a homeless person.”
Replica of the “Homeless Jesus” sculpture at the Dominican Order Church and Convent Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo credit: Mariordo/Wikimedia
Photo credit: Mariordo/Wikimedia
‘Homeless Jesus’ statue in front of the Cathedral of Madrid. Photo credit: kristof lauwers / Shutterstock.com