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7ft 'homeless Jesus' takes up residence in Christ Church

This sculpture of a "homeless Jesus" has been installed in Dublin city centre.

The bronze image is of a faceless, cloaked homeless man sleeping on a bench and is only identifiable as Jesus due to stigmata on the feet.

The seven-foot-long statue aims to highlight the plight of people sleeping rough on the streets.

Sculptor Tim Schmalz said he had passed by three homeless people on his way to the unveiling ceremony in the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral.

His search for an Irish location for his work began in the very week in which Jonathan Corrie died a few metres from the Dail in December 2014.

"It was a horrible irony but just confirmed the need for awareness," Mr Schmalz said.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Michael Jackson of the Church of Ireland criticised the ongoing homeless crisis as "scandalous" at the service to unveil the sculpture.

Dr Martin said the homeless Jesus was a reminder that public opinion and political commitment must never become complacent.

"The problem is that when a challenge is complex, it can easily end up as a challenge answered with plans and promises that are never fulfilled," he said.

Criticising the "relentlessness of homelessness" in Ireland, Dr Jackson said the new sculpture was a testimony to the human spirit of homeless people and to their capacity for life in the midst of "danger, distress, degradation and deprivation".

The original statue was installed in Toronto, Canada, in 2013 and casts have been put in place in cities across the United States and Europe.