Within 20 minutes of its installation on a park bench in a suburban Cleveland churchyard, police got a call about ‘Jesus the Homeless.’
The bronze statue, depicting Jesus Christ as a homeless person lying under a blanket, was installed Monday on a bench on the grounds of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, Ohio.
When police from the wealthy suburb came to respond, the officer was ‘very kind’ and wanted to learn about the statue, said Fr. Alex Martin, pastor of the church.
‘[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is a not a significant problem in our immediate neighborhood, we don’t have to drive far to find those in tremendous need,’ Martin told Cleveland Scene.
Within 20 minutes of its installation Monday outside St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, Ohio, someone called police about ‘Jesus the Homeless,’ the pastor said
The caller wasn’t sure if the figure on the bench, which is near a public park, was a real person or a statue, Bay Village Police told Cleveland Scene.
‘If this was a person laying on a bench, the officer would have made sure the person was not in any sort of medical distress,’ Chief Kathy Leisure wrote in an email. ‘If the person was, the officer would have been able to radio for an ambulance to respond and start rendering first aid.’
If the theoretical person on the bench refused aid, he or she would have been left alone, she explained.
The churchyard is set to host the statue until December 1.
Pastor Alex Martin said that when police responded, the officer was ‘very kind’ and wanted to know more about the sculpture, which is designed to raise awareness about homelessness
Alex Martin is pastor of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, which is set to host ‘Jesus the Homeless’ by Timothy Schmalz on its grounds until December 1
For years, people have been calling police or paramedics about ‘homeless’ Jesus.
A woman called the cops on a version of the statue when it was ‘sleeping’ in Davidson, N.C., in 2014, NPR reported at the time.
Someone called EMS to check on a ‘homeless person’ in 2015 when they saw the sculpture in Indianapolis, reported USA Today.
In 2016, the paramedic service in Hamilton, Ont., got several calls about ‘Jesus the Homeless’ from concerned citizens, according to CBC.
Timothy Schmalz, the Canadian sculptor of ‘Jesus the Homeless’ and a devout Catholic, has said that these reactions were all part of the plan.
The wounds on the feet are the only way to distinguish the figure depicted in the bronze sculpture as Jesus Christ
‘That’s essentially what the sculpture is there to do,’ he told NPR. ‘It’s meant to challenge people.’
Churches on five continents have installed copies of the sculpture as a way to raise awareness about homelessness. The statue has inspired both debate among neighbors and prayer from the faithful.
When the statue was installed in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2015, people left offerings of food and books, plus a Buffalo Bills cap and a scarf.
Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz is shown with his sculpture ‘Jesus the Homeless’ in front of the University of Toronto’s Regis College. He’s said the statue is ‘meant to challenge people’
Though some churches have declined to host the sculpture, the Vatican welcomed ‘Jesus the Homeless.’
In 2013, Schmalz traveled to Rome to present a miniature version of ‘Jesus the Homeless’ to Pope Francis at the Vatican before the statue was installed there.
‘He walked over to the sculpture, and it was just chilling because he touched the knee of the sculpture, and closed his eyes and prayed,’ Schmalz told NPR. ‘It was like, that’s what he’s doing throughout the whole world: Pope Francis is reaching out to the marginalized.’
Pope Francis touched and prayed at a miniature version of ‘Jesus the Homeless’ in 2013 before the sculpture was installed at the Vatican