I have always loved looking for temples wherever I’m traveling and I love seeing the golden angel Moroni at the very top. But did you know that the angel Moroni is not on top of every temple? Here are some fun facts and a short history of the Moroni statue found on top of most temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
History of the Angel Moroni Statue
The original Nauvoo temple had an angel placed on top of it when it was built, but it was actually a weathervane. This was common during that time period. When the saints began building the Salt Lake Temple, there were sketches of a similar type of weathervane planned to go on top of the temple. However, when the temple was completed, trends had changed and it was more common to see statues on top of important buildings. So the church hired Cyrus Dallin (who was not a member of the church) to create an angel statue that would go on top of the Salt Lake Temple. Most angels placed on top of churches were named Gabriel and the sculptor also referred to his statue as Gabriel. But before the statue was placed on the temple, an apostle saw the sculpture and suggested that they call him Moroni instead. That name stuck and he has been Moroni ever since.
It wasn’t until the 1950’s when the Los Angeles, California temple was built, that the church commissioned another Moroni to be sculpted. The Moroni on the Los Angeles Temple and then the Washington, DC temple are a bit different from one another as they were each sculpted by different artists. After the Washington, DC temple was dedicated, the church began building temples more quickly and wanted something to unify them. The architects felt that the angel Moroni would be a great piece to unify the temples. The statue was redesigned a few more times and created with fiberglass rather than heavy bronze so it would be lighter and also more cost efficient.
Fun Facts About the Angel Moroni Statue
- Since the angel Moroni statue didn’t become a standard until the 1970s, there are some temples that do not have the statue. Currently, 11 operating temples do not have the angel Moroni statue on top, but of the temples announced, 32 additional temples do not have the angel Moroni statue in their renderings. The statue is sometimes added as temples are remodeled and rededicated, but it depends on building codes and the area cultures are considered to see if the statue can be placed on top of each temple.
- The angel Moroni statues act as lightning rods and are replaced when lightning does hit and damages the statue.
- The statues vary in size, but the tallest angel Moroni statue is on the Washington, DC temple at 18 feet tall.
- The only temple that had a completely white angel Moroni statue was the Monticello Utah Temple. However, the statue was too difficult to see and so the statue was replaced by a gold-leafed one about a year later.
The angel Moroni statue continues to be a symbol for members of The Church, one that binds us together across the world. It’s a symbol of the restoration and it’s a beacon of light that reminds us of the covenants we make when we enter the Lord’s house.
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Alexis Tanner is a mother of five, podcaster, and writer. She loves reading, family history work, taking her kids on adventures, and podcasting with her husband at the Parenting In Real Life Podcast. You can find Alexis on Instagram @alexistannerlane.