Northern Ireland

Belfast City Council to consider 'Homeless Jesus' statue

Jesus the homeless Image copyright Tim Schmalz
Image caption Tim Schmalz's full-size bronze status of Jesus the Homeless

Belfast City Council is to consider a request to install a statue of a "Homeless Jesus" on a bench outside the City Hall.

The People and Communities Committee is to discuss a request for support on Tuesday evening.

Canadian sculptor Tim Schmalz was inspired by a chance glance sideways as he drove along a busy Toronto street.

"I was driving into the biggest city in Canada and along the biggest street," he said.

"I turned and saw a human form shrouded in blankets in the middle of the day. It just shocked me. In that initial moment my experience was of seeing Jesus there."

The image stayed with him and he went home and created Jesus the Homeless.

It depicts Jesus as a homeless man sleeping on a bench. At closer inspection, the figure can be identified as Jesus by the marks on his feet.

Since 2013, copies of the statue have been placed in locations all over the world - including Madrid, Singapore, Dublin, and Glasgow.

Image copyright Tim Schmalz
Image caption Sculptor Tim Schmalz meets Pope Francis in Rome

Its purpose is to raise awareness about homelessness.

One "Homeless Jesus" currently lies outside Centenary House on Victoria Street, Belfast, which is run by the Salvation Army.

In several cities, the statues have been funded by anonymous benefactors, local churches, homeless shelters and charities.

The council is being asked to support a procession from the Morning Star Hostel to City Hall in November at an annual event to highlight homelessness.

The new sculpture would then be placed on a bench outside City Hall.

The Homeless Jesus statue has not always been welcomed.

In 2016, an application to place the life-size bronze cast in front of a Methodist Hall in London was rejected.

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