A life-sized sculpture of Jesus Christ can be found in downtown Vancouver, but he isn’t displayed prominently on a cross, or standing in solemn prayer.
This depictions of Jesus is curled up, huddled under blankets too short to cover his feet, laying on a bench in front of the Holy Rosary Church at Dunsmuir and Richards Streets.
The “Homeless Jesus” sculpture was erected in the spring of this year, according to a plaque placed on a pillar beside the bench.
The sculpture was created by internationally renowned artist Timothy Schmalz, and is one of many ‘Homeless Jesus’ sculptures at religious sites around the world, including the Papal Charities Building in Vatican City, Rome, and the Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.
“I am devoted to creating artwork that glorifies Christ. The reason for this devotion, apart from my Christian beliefs, is that an artist needs an epic subject to create epic art,” Schmalz wrote on his website.
“I describe my sculptures as being visual prayers. When I create a three dimensional sculpture in bronze I am quite aware that it will last longer than myself.”
Shirley Cameron, who was meeting a friend at the the Holy Rosary Cathedral to attend service together, said that when she first arrived at the church she thought there was a homeless person asleep on the bench.
“When I walked up the stairs I thought it was a real person,” she told Daily Hive. “The sun was in my eyes and I thought ‘oh my,’ and then when I took my glasses off and I looked down I saw that it was kind of metallic.”
She only realized that it was a depiction of Jesus Christ when she looked a little closer: “You can see the wounds in the feet,” she said.
The sculpture seems to be a welcome addition to the entrance of the church in Vancouver, and during the interview with Cameron a man was seen giving the sign of the cross and gently touching Jesus’ shoulder before walking into the cathedral.
Cameron said that she is also in favour of the artwork.
“It’s touching. My mother always used to tell me that if you saw a poor person, or a homeless person, or somebody begging in the street, don’t turn your nose up on them because she says ‘what if it was Jesus pretending to be a pauper or something? Would you treat him the same way?'”