(Vatican Radio) A well-known sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz has found a new home in the entry to the Office of the Papal Almoner in the Vatican. A press release from the Almoner’s Office explains that Homeless Jesus – a 2013 piece in the hyper-realist style that depicts Jesus as a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench, with his face and hands are obscured, hidden under a blanket, though his exposed feet bear the wounds they received in the Passion, revealing the figure’s identity.
The work has been described as a “visual translation” of the passage in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (25:40), in which the Lord looks forward to the Last Judgment and explains to the disciples that they shall be judged according to the way they treated the weakest and most vulnerable in society.
In November 2013, during a General Audience in St. Peter's Square, the artist had the opportunityi to present a reduced size copy of the Homeless Jesus to Pope Francis. “When the Pope saw the work,” Shmalz told journalists in the US, “he touched the knees and feet and prayed.” Schmalz added, “Pope Francis is doing just that, reaching out and approaching the marginalized.”
The statue, donated to the Apostolic Almoner by the initiative of the sculptor, is cast in bronze: the first copy of it was placed in 2013 in Toronto at Regis College, the Jesuit theological faculty.
Listen to Philippa Hitchen's interview with sculptor Timothy Schmalz following his meeting with Pope Francis in November 2013