WASHINGTON — If you’ve walked down G Street in Chinatown lately, you may have found yourself doing a double-take at a bench outside Catholic Charities.

What appears to be a homeless person wrapped in a blanket and sleeping on a park bench is actually a bronze statue of “Homeless Jesus.”

“I’ve heard some people say it’s a reminder that homelessness exists and it’s very sad and I’ve heard other [homeless] people say this is our monument. In a city full of monuments, this is one for them,” says Erik Salmi, a spokesperson for Catholic Charities.

One homeless man says he sat on the bench one day before realizing it was a sculpture.

“When I looked at the holes in his feet I started rubbing his feet because he washed our feet,” Michael says. “So I come here every day and rub the holes in his feet and look what he done for me.”

“He looks very fragile. Any of us could end up in this state – anyone,” says Sylvina who touches the statue every time she passes by.

Created by Canadian artist Timothy Schamlz, Homeless Jesus sculptures are in several cities throughout the country and have sometimes caused controversy, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Pope Francis gave a blessing to one of the statues in front of thousands at the Vatican in 2013, the Toronto Star reports.

D.C.’s Catholic community is hoping he might do the same during his visit next week to Catholic Charities.

“I hope when he spots it here he can come over and bless or, you know, a sacred moment of prayer with it,” Salmi says.

WNEW’s Kris Ankarlo explains more about the pope is expected to do during his visit to Catholic Charities in the video below.

WNEW D.C. Bureau Chief Kris Ankarlo contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.


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