Artist Tim Schmalz says Homeless Jesus statue 'becoming a movement'

Tim Schmalz, the St. Jacobs artist who sculpted "Homeless Jesus" says the statue that depicts Jesus as a homeless person wrapped in a blanket and sleeping on a park bench is quickly becoming a movement.

Artist talks about his iconic statue the day after a visit from the Pope in Washington, D.C.

The Pope blesses a sculpture of Jesus as a homeless person by St. Jacobs, Ont. sculptor Tim Schmalz. The artist's sculptures are turning up around the globe.

The St. Jacobs, Ont. artist who carved a statue depicting Jesus as a homeless person sleeping on a park bench says his iconic "Homeless Jesus" is quickly becoming a global movement. 

American media has been abuzz about the statue, which resides outside the offices of the Catholic Charities Association in Washington, D.C., where some people hope the Pope might bless the statue as he did to another version of the statue at the Vatican in 2013 in front of thousands of pilgrims. 

It's taken little time for the bronze statue to become a symbol of hope to homeless people and the poor in Washington, D.C., who have compared the work of art to a de facto national monument for homeless people. 

"When they see the son of man looking like one of the most marginalized people in our community hopefully they will be reminded that all life is sacred," Tim Schmalz said in an interview with Craig Norris on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition on Wednesday.

"That's exactly what I want, I want people, when they see the marginalized in our community to realize that these people are sacred." 

And, it seems, Schmalz is getting his wish, as more and more institutions are requesting versions of his work be placed outside public institutions, charities and houses of worship around the world. 

"It's more a movement than a sculpture, what's happening," said Schmalz, noting his statue is already in Toronto, the Vatican and is soon to be placed in Montreal, Chile and Ireland. 

"A patron has come up to petition one for Belfast and it's both the Catholics and the Protestants that are petitioning the city of Belfast to put it right in front to the city hall," he said.

Schmalz called the prospect of statue being commissioned in Ireland by two denominations that fought each other for centuries "exciting."

"So this is another amazing thing the sculpture is doing is bringing different denominations together," he said. 

Schmalz said he thinks the message of the statue is resonating with many people around the world for the same reasons that make Pope Francis one of the most popular popes in generations. 

"I think this sculpture, like Pope Francis brings out the positive things that Christianity gave to us, like loving each other," he said. 


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