A bronze sculpture titled Jesus the Homeless, which has been rejected by cathedrals in New York and Toronto, may have finally found a home in the Vatican, reports the Catholic News Service.
The pontiff touched the knee of the sculpture and prayed for a few moments.
Afterward, he told Schmalz he thought the sculpture was a 'beautiful piece of art.'
When Schmalz saw Pope Francis touch the sculpture, he said, 'I thought well that's just it, this sculpture is symbolically representing what he's doing. He's out there touching the homeless people; he's reaching out to them every single day.'
Appropriately, 'Jesus the Homeless' may have found a permanent home in Rome, very close to the Vatican. The plan is for the sculpture to be placed close to the Vatican Radio offices near the Tiber River in memory of a homeless woman who slept there every night before dying outside in the cold.
Schmalz grew up outside of Toronto, and his interest in producing religious sculptures was born when he became 'disenchanted' by the abstract artwork he saw being produced at Ontario College of Art, where he studied for several years.
After undergoing a religious conversion, the artist realised he wanted to produce artwork that would 'contribute to the world.' Inspired by the work of great religious sculptors like Michelangelo and Bernini, the sculptor opened his own studio and began producing his own religious artwork. Schmalz says that Christian artwork has provided him with an 'endless well' for creativity.
'I realized, if you wanted to make a great epic sculpture or painting, you needed a great epic subject matter,' Schmalz said.