[Church of Ireland] A striking seven foot wide Homeless Jesus sculpture outside Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral has been dedicated and blessed by the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, the Most Rev. Michael Jackson and the Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin. The sculpture has been presented to the people of Dublin by an anonymous North American benefactor and the sculptor, Timothy Schmalz, flew in from Canada to unveil it.
The bronze sculpture depicts a park bench with a faceless cloaked figure lying on it. Passers by realize that the sculpture depicts Jesus only when they notice the holes in the feet. The sculpture is located in front of the cathedral in full view of the public.
Speaking during the short service in the cathedral before the unveiling, Jackson said that the people of Dublin were both honored and chastened to receive the Homeless Jesus sculpture. Honored, he said, because of the beauty of the craftsmanship and the trust expressed in the location of Christ Church Cathedral, and chastened because of the “scandalous fact that the relentlessness of homelessness and the statistics of individual homeless people in Dublin in 2015 still merit such a sculpture as a reminder and as a memorial.”
The archbishop said that Scripture spoke of Jesus saying: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” The sculpture gives everyone who passes an opportunity to reflect on this facet of the narrative of Christianity, the birth, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he said.
“Throughout the world of today human beings are subjected to indignity, homelessness, trafficking and death simply for being alive and getting under the ideological skin of their oppressors,” Jackson said. “Every day for them is a Good Friday. They wait for the day of resurrection in hope and in fear, in trust and in betrayal, in darkness and in light. Homeless people draw us into their world – and rightly; we dare not abandon them here or abroad. The 21st century is not yet an improvement on the 20th century. The Homeless Jesus is a reminder of their plight and terror, whatever their nationality or creed – and an icon of solidarity with them. Evil and exclusion make few distinctions of subtlety as they sweep forward in giddy destructiveness.”
Martin said that for Christians, the homeless were not just statistics. Their plight is our plight, he said, adding that the image of the Homeless Jesus reminds us of the demands of belief in Jesus Christ. He said that the sculpture was not just a normal statue; it was not created to be looked at and admired, it was an image which should draw the viewer’s glance to the many park benches, doorways and sheltered corners where Jesus lay homeless every day and every night.
Casts of the much-talked-about Homeless Jesus sculpture have been installed in cities in North America, Canada and Europe. The Homeless Jesus first received international attention in early 2014 when a sculpture was installed outside St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in downtown Davidson, North Carolina.
Following a competition among prospective Dublin sites, Christ Church Cathedral was chosen to be the location by sculptor Schmalz.