Recently, the Cathedral welcomed a new addition to the forecourt, a life-size bronze statue titled “Homeless Jesus.” In January, Cathedral Council gratefully accepted Bishop John Chapman’s offer to have the statue installed there.
The Bishop had arranged to have the statue given to the diocese by generous donors, and felt that the forecourt of the Cathedral was the very best place to install it— on the one hand to reflect the diocese’s extensive involvement in ministry with those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and, on the other hand, because the statue represents the voice and presence of people who are homeless or street-engaged.
The statue, created by Tim Schmalz, shows a person huddled under a blanket on a bench; only the wounds on his feet give an indication of who he is. "I saw this homeless man, and it was just a human form wrapped up in a blanket. And I thought, 'That is Jesus.' And I was so moved spiritually by thinking about this sensitive human being that is looking like a lump on the street," said Schmalz. "Really, it's a visual translation of Matthew 25, where Jesus says that whenever you see the most marginalized, broken people in our society, we should think of him."
The installation will make Ottawa one of many cities across the world which feature the statue. There is room on the bench for passers-by take a seat and reflect quietly for a few moments, rather than quickly passing by, as we do too often with street-engaged women, men and youth. After the installation his spring, the Bishop presided at a special service of dedication, including representatives from our community ministries and participants who face homelessness.