Jesus the homeless: Controversial sculpture unveiled outside Manchester church

A sculpture of a homeless Jesus sleeping on a bench has been unveiled outside St Ann's church in Manchester after a service of dedication by the bishop of Manchester.

The sculpture by Timothy Schmalz depicts a figure lying on a bench, with its pierced feet indicating it is Jesus.

The 'Homeless Jesus' sculpture with creator Timothy Schmalz.

It was unveiled on Monday by Dave, himself a homeless person, and is designed to highlight the problem of homelessness both in the city and globally.

St Ann's rector Rev Nigel Ashworth said: 'For many people homelessness is not simply about having no place to call home, but about living with some kind of emotional trauma. By giving the homeless Jesus space outside our church we are showing that we stand in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, in the same way that Jesus had compassion on them in His earthly ministry.'

Rt Rev Dr David Walker, who chairs the Manchester Homelessness Partnership, said: 'Jesus is very explicit in the bible; when we offer or refuse care to those in need, we will be judged as though he himself were the needy person before us. This sculpture casts Christ's words into metal. It links them directly to one of the most visible expressions of human need. Its identical twins can be found in other great cities around the world; a reminder that Manchester today is a truly global city.'

Churches across Greater Manchester are active in caring for homeless people and St Ann's itself is working on a pilot project that will provide a warm space, hot drinks and toast early in the morning before any of the city's day centres open.

A plan to install one of Schmalz's Homeless Jesus figures outside Methodist Central Hall Westminster was blocked by Westminster Council. However, a smaller version that did not require council permission has been placed in the church's entrance.