PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A special dedication of a sculpture designed to raise awareness about the homeless in Philadelphia was conducted Monday outside the headquarters of Saint John’s Hospice on Race Street.
“Homeless Jesus,” by artist Timothy Schmalz of suburban Toronto, now lies on a bench in the 1200 block of Race Street.
Schmalz says the sculpture’s inspiration came a few years ago in Toronto when he passed a homeless man shrouded in a blanket, lying on a bench.
He describes the encounter as spiritual and felt Jesus’ presence and inspiration to create the model in his studio.
“This sculpture is going into cities around the world as a constant, perpetual reminder that when we see the least in our society, we should see Jesus,” Schmalz said.
Some 75 cities around the world now display a “Homeless Jesus.” Pope Francis even ordered a cast bronze copy be placed in the Vatican in front of the papal charities headquarters.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, who blessed the Philadelphia “Homeless Jesus,” says he hopes those who pass it will recognize the powerful message.
“It’s a very visual challenge for us to maybe reorder our priorities,” Chaput said, “and not just care for ourselves, but to place others and God in that central part of who we are.”