Would You Notice Jesus?

Jeremy Polacek notes a new and disruptive sculptural incarnation of Jesus Christ:

Lying blanketed and forlorn on a [Davidson, North Carolina] bench, “Homeless Jesus” has inspired a conversation about homelessness in general, appropriate depictions of Christ and at least one call for his arrest. The life-size statue is the work of Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz who in his artist statement says he’s “devoted to creating artwork that glorifies Christ.” His “Homeless Jesus” is controversial for many reasons; most importantly because of the pose. The figure depicts Jesus as a man under a blanket, with only his exposed feet, wounded by crucifixation, to give away his identity — a starkly different image than the images Christ on the cross, Christ at the nativity or Chris the redeemer that we are used to seeing.

The idea seems to be catching on:

Davidson’s “Homeless Jesus” is the first “Jesus the Homeless” statue on display in the U.S., but more might be on the way. While not entirely a unanimous opinion (St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York rejected installing the works largely due to cost), a number of religious officials and bodies have expressed interest and support for the work.

Long before it came to Davidson, Pope Francis was presented with a wooden model of the work, which he blessed and prayed over. Catholic Charities of Chicago intends to install the work later this year, while the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the city of Rome have also discussed the possibly. If it so, it would appear on Via della Conciliazione, in sight of St. Peter’s Basilica.