Documenting the American South

Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Homeless Jesus, Davidson

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Historic Religious Figures

  • Creator

    Timothy P. Shmalz, Sculptor

  • City


  • County


  • Description

    This life-sized sculpture depicts a figure sleeping on a New York-style bench, shrouded in a blanket. The figure is unrecognizable as Jesus except for the stigmata visible on the feet. The sculpture is 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide, and 7 feet long. There is room on the end of the bench for visitors to sit alongside the sculpture.

  • Inscription

    HOMELESS JESUS / “Truly, I say unto you, as you / did it to one of the least / of these my brothers, / you did it to me.” / (Matthew 25:40) / Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz / A visual prayer for / Kate MacIntyre / (1952 - 2007) / February 2014

  • Custodian

    St. Alban's Episcopal Church (Davidson, N.C.)

  • Dedication Date

    February 21, 2014

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.493580 , -80.832610 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Boraks, David. “‘Homeless Jesus’ finds a home, in front of St. Alban’s,”, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Burnett, John. “Statue of a Homeless Jesus Startles a Wealthy Community,” NPR, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Dawson, Jerry. “‘Homeless Jesus’ has no place in our neighborhood,”, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Grenoble, Ryan. “‘Homeless Jesus' Sculpture Continues to Divide Wealthy Community in North Carolina,” The Huffington Post, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Grisham, Lori. “Homeless Jesus Statue Stirs Emotions in N.C. Town,” USATODAY, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Remy, Ruane. “Canadian Artist’s Homeless Jesus Finds Shelter at the Vatican,” The Catholic Register, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Remy, Ruane. “‘Jesus the Homeless’ Home at Last,” The Catholic Register, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Rumsey, Mark. “Homeless Jesus Sculpture Makes Impression in Davidson,”, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      Swan, Michael. “Seeing the Homeless Among Us,” The Catholic Register, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      “'Homeless Jesus' Sculpture Sparks Controversy,”, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      “Homeless Jesus Statue,” St. Alban's Episcopal Church, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      “Homeless Jesus,” Atlas Obscura, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

      “Large Religious Statues | Homeless Jesus,” Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz, (accessed February 14, 2014) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques


  • Sponsors

    Martin McCoy, a private donor, pledged $20,000 for a public art project in memory of Kate MacIntyre (1952-2007), a patron of the church. As Davidson’s downtown director, she helped start the town’s public art program.

  • Monument Cost


  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    A small crew installed the sculpture.

  • Subject Notes

    The Catholic sculptor was inspired to create the work after seeing a homeless man on the sidewalk in winter of 2011. The monument is a reference Matthew, Chapter 25:31-46, when Jesus tells his disciples that when they help the sick, the tired, and the homeless, they also help Him.

    In February 2013, the first cast of the sculpture was installed at Regis College, the Jesuit school of Theology at the University of Toronto. It had been rejected previously by St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto--both churches were being renovated, and there was a lack of unanimous appreciation for the sculpture. In November of that year, Pope Francis blessed the original five-foot model of the sculpture when the sculptor donated it to the Vatican Archives. Vatican City is considering putting a copy of the sculpture on Via della Conciliazione, the avenue leading to St. Peter's Basilica.

  • Controversies

    Upon the statue’s installation, a passer-by mistook the figure for a real homeless person and called the police. Others in the community expressed distaste for the statue; detractors say it is an insulting depiction and a blight on the largely affluent neighborhood. However, the church stands by the statue and its message that faith should manifest itself in active concern for those who are marginalized by society.

  • Location

    The statue is located to the left of the entrance of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, near the intersection of St. Albans and Caldwell Lns at 301 Caldwell Lane, Davidson, NC 28036

  • Landscape

    The statue rests on the edge of the well-kept grounds of the church. There is plaque with an inscription on the brick fence immediately to the sculpture’s right.

  • Post Dedication Use

    People often sit on the bench next to the sculpture and pray.

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