Townsville’s Homeless Jesus sculpture finally has a permanent position in the forecourt of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, the Townsville Bulletin reports.
Townsville Bishop Timothy Harris said was happy the sculpture had been installed after two years without a resting place.
“I just think it’s a wonderful image,” Bishop Harris said.
“By putting it here you’ve got the link to the Cathedral and the city so he is not hidden, and he is a permanent reminder to all of us that this is where the church should be.
“We’ve got lots of people in need and this is an example of where our focus should be. It’s anyone who’s lying on a park bench or anyone in need, that’s who it’s symbolising.”
The Christ figure is wrapped in a blanket, with the only indication that the figure is Jesus being the visible wounds on the feet.
Sculptures of Homeless Jesus (also known as Jesus the Homeless) can be found in Madrid, Washington, Dublin, New York and outside the Vatican, but Townsville is home to the only one in Australia.
Catholic Diocese of Townsville Vocations Coordinator Neil Helmore said people have already been flocking to take photos with the sculpture.
“There are actually people in the world doing pilgrimages to locations where Homeless Jesus is,” Mr Helmore said.
“As the Bishop said, it connects the Cathedral to the city, where a lot of our homeless occupy. It’s a physical reminder that we are the face of Jesus.”
Townsville Catholic Education and the Catholic Diocese of Townsville commissioned Canadian Sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz to create a copy of his famous piece for Townsville for the Year of Mercy in 2016.
The statue has kept police and paramedics busy this week, with worried passers-by reporting a ‘dead body’ lying on a bench in the cathedral's forecourt.
Emergency services attended on Tuesday evening and yesterday morning only to find the sculpture.
Mr Helmore said a woman who parks in the Cathedral car park contacted police yesterday to report a dead body on a bench.
“A QPS car screamed up Stanley Street, sirens blaring and pulled up in the car park,” he said. “They went to the lady and bench to discover Homeless Jesus was the dead body.”
A Queensland Ambulance spokesman said paramedics also attended the scene just before 6pm on Tuesday night, but left after being unable to locate any human bodies in the area.
“Jesus the Homeless” installed at Townsville City cathedral (Townsville Bulletin)
Worried residents report statue of Jesus to police with ‘deady body’ fears (Townsville Bulletin)
'Homeless Jesus' remains homeless (CathNews)