King’s University College is hoping that their new statue depicting Jesus as a homeless man will incite discussion among students and visitors alike.
Displayed outside the King’s College Library, the statue depicts a homeless person in a blanket with crucifixion scars on his feet.
While a replica of the statue was denied display by St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto, the replica will soon be put on display near St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.
The statue was received by King’s as a gift from Christ the King University Parish. The two institutions have actively worked together to bring forth positive change in communities.
“The Parish and the college are actively engaged in the Hospitality Centre on Dundas-East and we try to raise money and awareness around various issues of poverty and justice here and in the global community,” Reverend Michael Béchard of King’s affirmed.
The artist of the statue, Timothy Schmalz, graduated from Ontario College of Arts and resides in St. Jacobs, Ontario. He was inspired to sculpt the statue after seeing a homeless person wrapped in a blanket in Toronto.
“The statue is intended to unsettle the viewer,” David Sylvester, the King’s principal, said.
The affiliate college received much feedback from students and visitors concerning the statue.
“For the most part, the response to the statue has been very positive. Whether or not people are Christian, the call to minister to the poor and work for justice is common to all faith traditions,” Béchard affirmed.
The college expects that the statue will provoke insightful discussion among its viewers.
“Our hope is that people will stop, look at it, and reflect upon what it means to be privileged,” Sylvester said.
Sylvester affirmed that there is a deeper meaning behind the statue depicting as a homeless person.
“The homeless are around us everywhere, yet we tend to not take them into account, they’re really invisible in some ways,” Sylvester asserted.
When asked about why the university college wanted to display the statue, Sylvester stated, “A big part of what we do is break down barriers between people, economic barriers, social barriers and ethnic barriers. So having this kind of statue made sense to us.”
Even Pope Francis himself expressed his admiration to the statue and its message. According to Sylvester, this is reflective of the new pope’s views and opinions.
“The statue reflects very closely to Pope Francis’ vision for, not just the church, but for humanity,” Sylvester said.