he’s become a prominent, and controversial,
figure at two separate Ontario university
campuses: a life-sized statue cast in bronze of
a homeless man lying on a bench. The figure is
wrapped in a blanket; the only parts of his body
showing are his feet, which bear the stigmata
associated with Jesus Christ.
The sculptor, Timothy Schmalz of St. Jacobs, Ontario, named his creation Jesus the
Homeless. According to the Catholic Register, Mr.
Schmalz, a graduate of OCAD University, was
moved to create the statue after seeing a home-
less man lying on the sidewalk in Toronto in
2011. His desire, he says, is that passersby, from
a distance, will think the sculpture is a real per-
son and approach it.
Jesus the Homeless was first installed at Regis
College, the Jesuit school of theology at the University of Toronto, in February 2013. A second
cast was installed this past fall at King’s University College, federated with Western University.
Before that, the statue was twice rejected – by
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St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and by St.
Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
One person who has not turned away Jesus
the Homeless is Pope Francis. In late November,
the original wooden model of Mr. Schmalz’s
sculpture was brought to St. Peter’s Square to
present to the Roman Catholic leader. After his
weekly general audience, the Pope blessed the
David Sylvester, principal of King’s University College, says public art “should challenge
people to think about who they are and how
they interact with others.” He hopes Jesus the
Homeless will be “a catalyst of discomfort and
generate some interesting and challenging conversations among faculty, students and visitors
to campus.” – léo charbonneau
Twice-rejected statue now a fixture on two campuses – and receives a blessing from the Pope
Visitors to King’s University College in London, Ontario, may be forgiven for
mistaking the statue for a homeless person sleeping on a park bench.