Tim Schmalz, the sculptor of the work of art depicting Jesus as a homeless person on a park bench, is giving a talk in London this Thursday about his art and his faith. ‘Homeless Jesus’ was recently installed inside Farm Street Church and was formally blessed in January by the Papal Nuncio. The artist’s talk is at 6.45pm in Farm Street Church Hall (following 6pm Mass). All are welcome. Admission is free. Refreshments to follow.
The artwork finally found a home in London after Westminster City Council refused permission for one to be installed outside Westminster Central Hall near the Houses of Parliament. It is already installed in the Vatican, Glasgow, Singapore, Dublin, Madrid and elsewhere.
At the blessing in January, a message from the sculptor was read out: "The Homeless Jesus in London spent years trying to find a place to lay his head. The same streets that were closed to him are open to statues of politicians, abstract art and visual puns continually planted in the urban setting of your city, but this work that challenges us to see the holy in the least in our community was not allowed outside. You brought him inside. You welcomed him, giving him a beautiful permanent spot in the centre of the city. May this sculpture become a symbol of how we all should let the stranger and the least in our community inside our hearts."
The artist added : "My heart, the work of my hands, and all of my spirit are forever mixed with the bronze that created this sculpture."
Parish Priest Fr Dominic Robinson said: "The Homeless Jesus statue can be found in cities throughout the world, and we are honoured to provide a space for it within our walls. The statue is a reminder that we are called to see the face of Jesus in all people, especially the impoverished. London is home to many people who find themselves forced to live on the streets. Farm Street Church, like many other organisations, both religious and secular, is committed to doing what it can to alleviate their suffering."
The Homeless Jesus is in the side chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Dolours at Farm Street. Fr Dominic added: "It is fitting that Homeless Jesus should be inside the church and alongside his mother. He lies on the bench watched over by his mother, who shares in the suffering of her son. So we are invited to share in her suffering and especially in her compassion for those who suffer, and to recognise her son in those who suffer and those who are weakest in society."
Timothy Schmalz was inspired when he saw a homeless person on a bench in Toronto. He named the statue Matthew 25, in reference to a quote from that gospel - "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."