BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It has been turned away by cities around the world, such as Paris, but the life-size sculpture “Homeless Jesus” was welcomed to its new home Tuesday afternoon at Cathedral Park in downtown Buffalo.
Rev. R. William Franklin, the bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York unveiled the controversial sculpture at the park which is adjacent to St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral, at Main and Church Streets.
“Homeless Jesus” has been offered at other sites around the world and Canadian sculptor Tim Schmalz, who created the piece depicting a shrouded Jesus lying on a park bench, said it has been rejected by many churches, such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and a church in London, but it has also been accepted in other places.
“It is an eternal reminder of some of the most fundamental ideas of Christianity, and that is when we see the most marginalized people in our community, we should see Jesus,” said Schmalz.
A 5 ft. model of the sculpture was blessed by Pope Francis, and the bronze statue has also found a fan in Bishop Richard Malone, who said he was brought to thoughts of Holy Scripture.
“You think of Matthew 25: ‘when I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me to drink, when I was naked you clothed me.’ When I was on a city bench in the cold, you noticed me.”
For church member Nadene Miller, “Homeless Jesus” is an inspiration, a call to arms for Christians.
“He came for the less, he came for the homeless, he came for the hungry,” Miller said. “I think it gives us motivation to get out there and do what we are supposed to be doing as Christians.”
Tim Schmalz offered the bronze sculpture as a gift to the City of Buffalo, and “Homeless Jesus” will remain in Cathedral Park as a reminder that the homeless are among us.
St. Paul’s members believe “Homeless Jesus” might have some company once it warms up. Cathedral Park is often a refuge for Buffalo’s homeless, especially in the warmer months.