Published: Apr 01, 2011 5:38 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 01, 2011 2:38 PM EDT

AVE MARIA, Fla. - Two years ago artist Márton Váró took the first chip out of what would become one of his most important works of art. He began sculpting what he calls the greatest project of his life: one of the largest bas-reliefs in the world of the Virgin Mary. On March 25, 2011, Ave Maria University officials unveiled his masterpiece and crown the facade above the front doors of the campus Oratory with the sculpture.

“This is undoubtedly one of the most significant works of art Mr. Váró has ever created in his illustrious career. The scene of the Annunciation has special significance to us and he has captured its brilliance in this work,” said Tom Monaghan, Chancellor and Founder of Ave Maria University. ‘Ave Maria’ (Hail Mary in Latin) is derived from the Archangel Gabriel’s visit to The Blessed Virgin Mary announcing with her consent that she would be the mother of Jesus. “It really is an honor to have this statement of faith standing tall on the front of our Oratory.”

The statuary is made from 15 blocks of Carrara marble from the quarries of the Italian city for which it is named. Widely regarded as the finest material in the world a sculptor can work with, it has been used since the time of Ancient Rome. Later, during the Renaissance, renowned artists used it to carve famous works of art. Michelangelo's Pieta and David were carved from Carrara marble. Michael Gene Windfeldt, owner of Galerie du Soleil, an art gallery in Naples, represents Mr. Váró and has been instrumental in the project.

“From the engineers to everyone involved, no one has ever seen anything like this before and it is destined to be an international landmark just because of what it is and the scope of what’s involved,” said Windfeldt. “Mr. Váró is dedicated to creating this sculpture as a destination for people to come and see The Annunciation of Ave Maria.”

Mr. Váró’s sculpture of the Annunciation stands 35 feet high and has a width of 31 feet. It weighs more than 54 tons.

“The Oratory has always inspired students, residents and visitors in Ave Maria, but now with the addition of Márton’s signature piece, it is truly breathtaking,” said Monaghan. “He has captured this scene of unparalleled importance with the most exquisite detail ever crafted.”

Mr. Váró is recognized internationally for his work and his artistic technique stems from the Greek style of art prominent in the mid-fifth century B.C. He claims inspiration from the sculptures associated with the name of Phidias, the architect of the Parthenon and has said the Ave Maria project is the most important of his life.