Life-size statue of homeless Jesus lying on a bench appears in capital’s Old Town
A life-size statue of a homeless Jesus lying on a bench has appeared in the capital, Warsaw.
The work of Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, the idea to put the bronze statue outside the Capuchin Monastery in the city’s Old Town, was reportedly hatched three years ago in recognition of the Order’s assistance to the homeless and people in need.
Brother Szymon Janowski from the monastery told Gazeta Stołeczna: “People do not like the fact that there are so many homeless people around the monastery, we often hear that we should chase them out.
“We try to convert them, but it's not easy. In our church, there are situations where homeless people spend the night.
“The faithful then call the police, but the police cannot do anything. And we will not chase them out.”
Schmalz told the National Catholic Reporter that he hopes the statue will evoke the same feeling in others that he had when he spotted a cold homeless man shivering under a thin blanket on a bench during Christmas in Toronto in 2011.
Due to be officially unveiled next week on June 24th, the statue is the latest in a series of similar statues to appear from the artist.
With over 100 of them around the world, arguably the most famous version sits outside the Papal Office of Charities on the Via della Conziliazione, the street leading to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
There are also two copies in Israel, at least 13 in America, a further three in Canada as well as copies in Argentina, Colombia, Singapore, England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, Spain and Australia.
This is the first version in Poland.
Schmalz, who is a devout Catholic, born in St. Jacobs, Ontario in 1969, has said that he is happy that his sculptures are often used as a starting point in a conversation and used to make people think.
Revealing how Pope Francis reacted when presented with a scaled down version of the artwork during a visit to Vatican City, Schmalz said: “He walked over to the sculpture, and it was just chilling because he touched the knee of the Jesus the Homeless sculpture, and closed his eyes and prayed.
“It was like, that's what he's doing throughout the whole world: Pope Francis is reaching out to the marginalized.”
The Capuchin Church in Warsaw is part of a larger complex that was built between 1683-1694, under the order of King Jan III Sobieski who personally laid the cornerstone of the construction.