By Val D. Greenwood, director of special services and temple facilities, church Temple Department.
How long have statues of the angel Moroni appeared atop Later-day-day Saint Temple?
Is there a reason the statues donít appear on top of all temples?
Many members of the church have become accustomed to seeing a golden statue depicting the angel Moroni on the tallest spires of Latter-day temples. The gilded statues are so commonplace today that many people may not know that most temples built before 1980 had no Statues of Moroni.
The first Laterday Saint temple with a statue of an angel atop itís spire was the Nauvoo Temple. That figure, unlike those we are familiar with today, was a smaller weather vane in the shape of a flying angel in a horizontal position. The angel, which was not then identified as the angel Moroni, was intended to represent the angel described in the books of Revelation as flying "in the midst of heaven" (Rev 14.6)
The Salt lake Temple, dedicated in 1893, was the second temple to be adorned with a statue of an angel. The earliest architectural sketches of the temple show that a statue representing a flying angel was considered. Before the angel was sculpted, however, Church authorities accepted the suggestion of a young sculptor, Cyrus E. Allin, who was engaged for the project to sculpt the angel in an upright position. That statue-twelve feet, five and a half inches tall, also depicted the angel described in Revelation 14 and was formally identified as the angel Moroni ( See Improvement ERA, April 1968 P6.)
The third temple to have a statue of the angel Moroni on its spire was the Los Angeles Temple. Dedicated in 1956. The Washington Temple, dedicated in 1074, was fourth with a statue, followed by the Seattle Temple in 1980.
Nearly every temple dedicated since 1980 has been graced by a statue of the angel Moroni. A statue of the angel Moroni was added to the Idaho Falls Temple in the early 1980s, approximately forty years after its dedication. Only fifteen of the churchís forty five currently completed temples do not have a statue of the angel Moroni
Yet the church has no policy regarding the use of statues of the angel Moroni atop temples. The general practices its to use the statue, but there are reasons it may be absent,. In certain geographic locations, building codes or use permits restrict use of the statue. The Sydney Australia Temple, for example, originally had no statue because of building restrictions. The statue was added later after permission to do so was granted.
In some areas, a statue may give more ornamentation than desired. In other areas, the statue is absent because a wrong impression may arise from its presence (such as in areas where statues on church buildings are understood to relpresent object of warship.) Limits imposed by the architectural design of some temples may be another reason. Such is the case with the temple to be completed in vernal, Utah by converting the old Uintah Stake Tabernacle.
As the heavenly messenger who revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the location of the golden plates of the Book of Mormon. Moroni has became a symbol of the Restoration and the gospel being preached "unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." (Rev 14.6)