‘Jesus the Homeless’ attracts prompt police action

Within minutes of being installed outside a US church, a statue called ‘Jesus the Homeless’ attracted attention and a police call-out.

The bronze statue, depicting Jesus Christ as a homeless person lying under a blanket, had only been installed in the Cleveland churchyard for 20 minutes before the police were informed.

The church’s pastor Fr Alex Martin says when the police arrived, the officer was ‘very kind’ and wanted to learn about the statue.

“[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is a not a significant problem in our immediate neighbourhood, we don’t have to drive far to find those in tremendous need,” Martin says.

The local police also commented on the call-out, saying “If this was a person laying on a bench, the officer would have made sure the person was not in any sort of medical distress.”

“If the person was, the  officer would have been able to radio for an ambulance to respond and start rendering first aid.”

Police Chief Kathy Leisure says if the theoretical person on the bench refused aid, they would have been left alone.

St Barnabas is hosting the statue until 1 December, when it will then be passed on to another host.

The original sculpture was installed at the University of Toronto, in 2013. Other casts have since been installed and blessed in many places across the world.

For years people have been calling police or paramedics, concerned about the ‘homeless’ Jesus.

Timothy Schmalz, the Canadian sculptor of ‘Jesus the Homeless’ and a devout Catholic, says these reactions are all part of the plan.

“That’s essentially what the sculpture is there to do,” he says.

“It’s meant to challenge people.”

Copies of the sculpture have been installed Churches on five continents as a way to raise awareness about homelessness, inspiring debate and prayer.

It has also attracted gifts. When the statue was installed in Buffalo in 2015, people left offerings of food and books, a Buffalo Bills cap and a scarf.

Pope Francis is one of many who have welcomed ‘Jesus the Homeless’.

In 2013, Schmalz travelled to Rome to present a miniature version of ‘Jesus the Homeless’ to Francis at the Vatican before the statue was installed there.

“He walked over to the sculpture, and it was just chilling because he touched the knee of the sculpture, and closed his eyes and prayed,” Schmalz says.

“It was like, that’s what he’s doing throughout the whole world: Pope Francis is reaching out to the marginalized.”


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