New sculpture in Charm City meant to be a reminder of the needs of the homeless in the area

Statue called Homeless Jesus unveiled Wednesday
Posted at 5:32 PM, Mar 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-01 20:37:46-05

They're all around us, often overlooked. People less fortunate then ourselves.     

A visual reminder of that was unveiled Wednesday at the Baltimore Basilica. Near the back, under a bright window sits a powerful sculpture. The work is called Homeless Jesus. It's about 8-feet in length, with a life-sized person laying on a bench, the wounds Christians believe Jesus suffered during crucifixion visible on the feet poking out.

"When I first saw it I was very unsettled, it's meant to be a striking statement,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori. “You don't see the face as you look at the statue and I think that kind of reminds us of the facelessness of poverty in our city, and I think what we need to do it see the face of Christ in that person."

The sculpture was made possible by an anonymous donation. However, it's not unique to Baltimore. Replicas of the sculpture are now in about 60 cities worldwide.           

Usually it takes the artist around three-months to form, mold and cast the work in bronze. But Charm City’s copy isn't made of metal.

"In an effort to make it available to as many people as possible we asked for a lighter weight version, one that could be more easily transported," Archdiocese of Baltimore spokesperson Sean Caine said.

The plan is to have this wood and fiberglass resin replica make the rounds in the city, spending a week at local schools, parishes and institutions.

At the end of Ash Wednesday mass, the statue was blessed.  It will stay inside the Basilica through March 10 and then start traveling.           

People like Kay Adler was moved by the artwork, remembering a similar scene she photographed years ago.

"And he had a dirty blanket covering his body, and I peered down and I could see him looking at me,” she said. “So this is what this represents to me."

"It represents all that is good, all that is bad, all that can be made better in the world as a whole," Baltimore resident Henry Jackson said.

The Canadian sculptor tells ABC2 News that's exactly the reminder he hopes people take away, that all life is sacred.

"It's almost a visual translation of one of the hardcore ideas of the Gospel Matthew:25 where Jesus explains that whenever you help the needy, the marginalized, you are directly helping him," said Tim Schmalz over Skype.       

Once the statue is finished touring the Archdiocese, a permanent bronze version of Homeless Jesus will be on display at St. Vincent de Paul Parish. Officials expect it to be in place sometime this fall.