Controversial 'Homeless Jesus' sculpture finally to be displayed in Westminster

A 'Homeless Jesus' sculpture will be displayed inside the entrance to the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, central London, after a larger version of the display was controversially blocked from appearing outside the building by the local council in 2015.

The Homeless Jesus is a bronze sculpture by the Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, which is displayed in prominent locations around the world including in Toronto, Washington DC and Madrid. It depicts Jesus as a homeless person, asleep on a park bench, his face and hands hidden by a thin blanket but the nail marks of crucifixion visible on his bare, exposed feet.

Methodist Central Hall in Westminster was offered a full-sized Homeless Jesus sculpture in 2015, and applied to Westminster City Council for permission to place it outside their building, a stone's throw from Parliament, Whitehall and Downing Street.

Westminster Central Hall / © Tim SchmalzThe sculpture as it would have appeared outside Methodist Central Hall in Westminster

The application was controversially refused, as was the subsequent appeal to that decision.

A petition to overturn the decision was launched and gained more than 1,500 signatures, but the Conservative-run Westminster council ruled that the statue fell within the 'monument saturation zone' in Parliament Square.

But this coming Good Friday 2018 (March 30), a smaller version of the Homeless Jesus will be dedicated by Revd Tony Miles, acting superintendent of Methodist Central Hall in the presence of the Dean of Westminster, Revd John Hall, the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Ian Adams, Canon Christopher Tuckwell of Westminster Cathedral and representatives from The Passage, a Homeless Charity based in Westminster.

© Tim SchmalzPope Francis blesses the 'Homeless Jesus' sculpture in 2013

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, superintendent minister of Methodist Central Hall said: 'The only other smaller sculpture of the Homeless Jesus was presented to Pope Francis in 2013. We hope that, despite not being able to place a full-size sculpture outside of our building, this smaller sculpture, placed in at the entrance of our building will cause our many thousands of visitors each year to pause for a moment and remember the millions of displaced and homeless people across the world.'

It is estimated that more than a quarter of a million people in England are homeless. The wealthy City of Westminster is regularly named as the worst hotspot of homeless people in the country.

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