Schmalz cast "Jesus the Homeless" as a hooded figure sleeping on a bench, his only identifying feature being the crucifixion wounds in his feet.
Despite the message of the sculpture it was rejected by two prominent Catholic churches, St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, reports The Toronto Star.
Rectors of both cathedrals liked the bronze sculpture, but both the New York and Toronto archdiocese turned it down, he says.
“It was very upsetting because the rectors liked it, but when it got to the administration, people thought it might be too controversial or vague,” he says. He was told “it was not an appropriate image.”
Now the sculpture stands outside Regis College at the University of Toronto, a Jesuit school of theology where priests and lay people are trained with an emphasis on social justice.
Schmalz, 43, trained at the former Ontario College of Art and used his expereince with the homeless in Toronto to inform his sculpture.
“I was totally used to stepping over people. You’re not aware they are human beings. They become obstacles in the urban environment and you lose a spiritual connection to them. They become inert, an inconvenience.”