Jacqueline Mars Gifts $1.25 Million Towards Angels Unawares Plaza


Image Courtesy of The Catholic University of America

By Anna Harvey

On Monday June 1, The Catholic University of America announced that Jacqueline Mars of Mars, Incorporated made a gift of $1.25 million to support the development of Angels Unawares Plaza at The Catholic University of America. Previously, Mars contributed a gift to the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art in order to support the arts program.

Upon learning about the Angels Unawares statue, Mars became inspired to make a second donation to the University. 

“I find it personally very moving, and it really reminds me of what this country is about. This country was founded on immigrants, and isolationism is not possible in this world today,” Mars said. “When you turn away someone, you don’t know who you’re turning away.”

Created by artist Timothy Schmalz, the 3.5-ton, 20-foot statue was originally gifted to the University by an anonymous donor. The statue toured the United States after its debut at the University on Sept. 26, 2020. After its tour, Angels Unawares will return to the University to remain on permanent display in Angels Unawares Plaza.

In late 2020, Schmalz approached the University to request that a second casting of the statue be installed on campus. As the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States, The Catholic University of America was considered by both the artist and his patron to be a fitting home for Angels Unawares in Washington, D.C. 

Mars’ pledge will help to create a fitting home for the statue in the plaza between Father O’Connell Hall and Gibbons Hall, just beside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. With the conclusion of the statue’s tour in late 2021, the statue will permanently be installed on campus. As a pilgrimage site for thousands of Catholics each year, the Basilica proved to be the perfect location for the statue to inspire all who visit it.

“I believe in the power of the visual arts, and what this sculpture represents,” Mars said. “I think it really is an important piece of art and has the ability to inspire people, so I’m truly hopeful it will have the same effect on other people that it had on me. And I’m very proud to have it as part of Catholic University, a place where it can speak to a lot of people, both young and old, from this country and elsewhere.”

Echoing Mars’ sentiments, President John Garvey saw the development of the plaza as an opportunity to accentuate the importance of the statue.

“I am thankful to Jacqueline Mars for her gift, which will help create a site where visitors can contemplate this important work,” Garvey said.Angels Unawares will serve as a constant reminder to make space in our hearts, thoughts, prayers, and actions for the immigrant, refugee, and persons who are displaced or homeless.”

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