A SCULPTURE of a ''homeless Jesus'' sleeping rough has been installed in Glasgow city centre.

The statue, by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, is a life-size bronze of a shrouded person sleeping on a bench, with only the crucifixion wounds on his feet indicating he represents Jesus.

Glasgow is the first location in the UK to house the statue, which is found in about 50 locations across the globe including the Vatican, Madrid, Chennai and several cities in the US.

Schmalz approached Father Willy Slavin, former parish priest in St Simon's Church in Partick and former chair of Glasgow Emmaus, to bring the message to the city.

The sculpture has been installed on the pavement in Nelson Mandela Square beside St George's Tron church.

Father Slavin said: "Christmas is a time when people are more likely to show concern, kindness and generosity towards the rough sleepers in our society.

"But the homelessness issue is with us all year round. This thought-provoking work of art can act as a daily reminder."

He organised the installation of the statue along with the inter-faith Glasgow Churches Together.

Catholic Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, Church of Scotland Glasgow presbytery moderator Rev Ian Galloway and Bishop Gregor Duncan of the Scottish Episcopalian Church, along with representatives of Glasgow's homelessness agencies, were present at the unveiling ceremony.

A painting by Peter Howson inspired by the "homeless Jesus" concept will be on display inside the church until Christmas.

The £25,000 cost of the initiative has been met by donations from individuals and pro bono work from architects and other contractors, organisers said.

The sculpture has met with controversy elsewhere, with some people in the US protesting against it as they felt it might encourage the homeless to gather nearby.