Sunday, December 5, 2010

Temple Star Doors

At the top of this post I've included three pictures of temple doors, all with stars.  On the left are the Portland Oregon Temple doors.  In the middle are the Manhattan New York Temple doors.  Finally on the right are the Bern Switzerland Temple doors.  These are the three temples I found with just stars on their doors.  There are probably some I've missed.  Please tell us about them in the comments.  The Washington D.C. Temple also has a star panel and a panel with the big dipper and north star on its doors.  I'd like to focus on the three doors pictured above.

The Portland Oregon Temple is breathtakingly beautiful.  It has a lot of symbolism (borrowed from the Salt Lake Temple) and adds the symbolic star doors. So what do they mean? Well to figure this out we should first notice that these stars are the same style as those on the eastern three spires (no stars are on the western three spires).  This means the stars are high on the temple.  On the Salt Lake Temple, the star stones can represent heaven.  High on the eastern three spires of the Salt Lake Temple there are forty 5 pointed stars which "may refer also to God's gift of priesthood to guide us, in that they may represent the great and noble spirits in premortality whom God assigned to be rulers in his kingdom." according to the book Sacred Walls by Gerald E. Hansen Jr.  Because the Portland Oregon Temple door stars match those on the three eastern spires I would interpret them to mean that the temple is heavenly, the path to heaven, and a place of priesthood.  They also sort of remind me of depictions of The Star of Bethlehem so they could also signify that the temple leads us to Christ.

The star doors on the Manhattan New York Temple and the Bern Switzerland Temple look a little different but probably have a similar meaning of representing heaven and heavenly guidance.  The stars are eight pointed however so they may have an additional meaning.

Well there you have a little discussion about LDS Temple star doors.  Please comment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

LDS Temple Earth Stones and other Earth Representations

In my last post I mentioned "earth stones" and received a comment from Jon saying that he hadn't heard of them.  This really shouldn't have surprised me as they are somewhat obscure.  In any event, the comment prompted me to write about earth stones.

The Salt Lake Temple as currently built has moon stones and sun stones at two different levels of the buttresses around the building.  Originally it was also planned to have earth stones on the bottom level of the buttresses, just above the ground.  These were planned to have continents carved.  Each stone would show the earth rotated slightly so the stones would be going through the hours of a day.  Symbolically these stones would represent:
1. The current telestial earth (with the moon and sun stones representing the terrestrial and celestial kingdoms of God respectively)
2. Time (hours and days).  These show a progression to eternity.  Reading symbols going up the temple you get:
     earth stones = days and hours
     moon stones = days and months
     sun stones = days and seasons and years
     star stones = seasons and years (certain constellations come up at different times of the year)
     star stones representing planets = years - planets move in patterns taking years
     Saturn stones (originally planned) = years
     North Star (Implied by big dipper) = Eternity
3. Earth as the celestial kingdom of God.
There are probably other interpretations such as the gospel going to all the world, or creation.

When it was decided to make the Salt Lake Temple out of granite it became impossible to add the desired details to the earth stones.  They are still on the Salt Lake Temple, but they are blank spheres seen here.

When the Washington D.C. Temple was built the church added earth medallions on the doors.  This is the first time I am aware of that earth stones with actual details of continents appeared on a temple.

The only other temple I am aware of with earth stones is the Edmonton Alberta Canada Temple.  It has earth stones on the outer gate wall complete with continents.


I should recognize that other temples have circles in squares at their bases which could be considered blank earth stones like those on the Salt Lake Temple; however, I don't know that any of those are actually intending to be earth stones.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Washington D.C. Temple Doors

Temple doors tend to be nice, but a few excel.  For instance, the Salt Lake Temple doors are more ornate than most and include symbols.  I was going to write about all temple doors with symbols, but have decided to just write about the Washington D.C. Temple doors.  

Washington D.C. Temple southeast doors.
Washington D.C. Temple northeast doors
Washington D.C. Temple main entry doors
I'll start with a little background.  When the church decided to build a temple in Washington D.C. (started 1968, completed 1974) they decided that it needed to be easily recognizable as an LDS temple.  They decided that mimicking elements of the Salt Lake Temple would accomplish this.  To the church's credit, it didn't just make a copy of the Salt Lake Temple but rather made a very modern interpretation of it.  So while the temple has 2 sets of 3 symbolic towers with tiers, they don't look like those on the Salt Lake Temple.  Similary, the temple has a priesthood assembly hall which echos the form of the Salt Lake Temple assembly room while being unique.  The Washington D.C. Temple was also given a statue of the Angel Moroni (This wasn't standard then as only L.A. and Salt Lake had these statues at the time) but the statue wasn't a copy of the Salt Lake statue but instead a unique sculpture.

Looking at the Washington D.C. Temple from afar you'd think it lacked most of the symbolism seen on the salt lake temple - namely sun, moon, star and earth stones, the big dipper, etc.  Indeed the stone facade lacks these ornaments; however, they are still present on the Washington D.C. Temple.  They show up on the doors.

These doors have eight symbols.  (Please click on the links to see the full doors)  On the left side from bottom to top we see a star, a planet, concentric circles representing eternity, and the sun complete with a face.  On the right side we have from bottom to top: the big dipper and north star, the earth, seven concentric pentagons representing seven dispensations, and the moon.  I really like these doors because they are beautiful art done in a unique style.  Each of these symbols have special symbolism. 

The sun medallion essentially combines the Nauvoo Temple sun stone (which had a face) and the Salt Lake Temple sun stone style (which incidentally was shown to have a face at one point) while at the same time being a unique symbol.  The moon medallion is round like the Salt Lake Temple’s but it has a crescent shape vaguely reminiscent of the Nauvoo Temple moon stones.  The concentric circles is an adapted form of similar Salt Lake Temple symbols.  The Salt Lake Temple doesn’t have the pentagons or planets, but early plans did call for Saturn stones.  The Salt Lake Temple does have earth stones, however the decision to make the temple out of granite means that they have no detail, so it is nice to see an Earth medallion with details on the D.C. Temple.  The bottom two symbols are also borrowed from the Salt Lake Temple which has many stars (which can represent heaven, a degree of glory, Christ as the morning and evening star, people who rely on the light of Christ, and several other things depending on context) as well as the big dipper which is used to imply the north star or us getting our bearings on life and charting a course for eternity.  It is nice that these doors have the north star included. (The north star can also be a symbol of eternity as it is unchanging).

I really appreciate the detail, symbolism, beauty, artistry, artistic style and uniqueness of the Washington D.C. Temple doors.  I like how they adapt (and add) symbols and brought them from stone to metal.  Another advantage of these doors is that the symbols are brought to a level where you can see and contemplate them easily (In other words they are at eye level).  Other temples have been given symbolic doors and I hope we will from time to time see these unique details in temple designs.

This is an addition to the original post
The artist who created the Washington D.C. Temple doors is Franz Johansen.  He also made the large relief sculpture on the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City.

Here is a new picture of the door handles.  The interior doors have door handles made to look like the east and west sides of the temple with a central tower and two flanking towers, but the exterior door handles look like this.

Washington D.C. Temple exterior door handles
Here are pictures of each of the door medallions.  Each set has the medallion from the main entry doors on the left and the medallion from either the northeast or southeast doors on the right.  I noticed that the symbols are organized.  The top level has the sun and moon, major sources of light in day and night.  The next level has concentric circles and concentric pentagons in circles, so it is where shapes are put.  The next level has the planets and the earth, so it is dealing with planets.  The bottom level has stars on one side, and the big dipper and north star on the other (in an eight pointed star).  So the bottom level is filled with stars.  The organization is nice and suggests that considerable thought went into these doors.
Washington D.C. Temple door sun medallions
Washington D.C. Temple door moon medallions
Washington D.C. Temple door concentric circle medallions
Washington D.C. Temple door concentric pentagon medalions
Washington D.C. Temple planets medallions
Washington D.C. Temple door planet Earth medallions
Washington D.C. Temple door star medallions
Washington D.C. Temple door Big Dipper and Polaris medallions

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Celestial Room Murals

Today's brief post is about murals in celestial rooms of LDS Temples.  Although many temples have murals, there are really only two with murals in their celestial rooms.  Here are the details:


Idaho Falls Idaho Temple.  I've only been in this temple once, but I really liked the celestial room mural.  As you can see in the photos the mural shows green fields and mountains with people dressed in white socializing.  It is a very nice image of celestial life.  People are reading and one man is giving flowers to a woman.  This reminds us of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 which reads: And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.  The mural also shows part of the Book of Revelation.  One wall has John the Revelator writing as an angel shows him the city of New Jerusalem descending out of heaven as written in Revelation 21:2.




Los Angeles California Temple. This temple has a celestial room mural shown in the picture (Sorry about the quality, it is the only picture I have of this temple's celestial room).  It looks to me like an nice nature scene.





These temple celestial room murals are interesting and unique. It is interesting to note that the Idaho Falls and Los Angeles Temples were planned at the same time and completed about 10 years apart due to World War II.  This probably explains the fact that both have celestial room murals.  I'm guessing that the idea didn't catch on with future temples because deciding what to use as a mural in a celestial room is a little difficult, and because the church started building more temples rapidly after these temples.  Also, after the L.A. Temple was completed, temples switched to using film for the endowment.  This meant that murals weren't included in future temples (until about the last 10 years).  I would like to see celestial room murals in some new temples.  I think they were an interesting experiment that unfortunately died when the endowment switched to film.  I still think they can work and would make wonderful Celestial Rooms and add a lot of variety to temples.  For now just I'll just have to enjoy these two special temples.  I hope to some day see the Los Angeles California Temple celestial room mural.  I have actually seen other paintings in temple celestial rooms.  For instance, the four corner columns in the Logan Utah Temple celestial room have a hilly landscape painted on them, although it is on such a small portion of the room that I don't really consider it a mural.  The Vernal Utah Temple (and I'm sure several other temples) has a painting of Christ on a wall in the celestial room, which is nice.  I should also note that a few temples have stained glass scenes in their celestial rooms.  The most notable examples are the San Antonio Texas, Palmyra New York, and Winter Quarters Nebraska Temples which have stained glass windows depicting the Tree of Life.

Well, Those are my thoughts on celestial room murals in LDS temples.  If you know more, have questions, or just want to discuss something, please comment.  You could write about what you'd put in a celestial room mural.

This is an addition to the original post:
Original Logan Temple Celestial Room With Murals
The Logan Temple also originally had celestial room murals (well, they were added in 1929).  They weren't wrap around murals, but rather huge paintings.  They were of Joseph Smith Jr. heading by the Hill Cumorah and Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receiving the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist.  For more information see The Logan Temple The First 100 Years by Nolan P. Olsen.

I have also noticed that the Vernal Utah Temple technically has a mural of the second coming of Jesus Christ in its celestial room.  See part 5 of my temple murals post for that image.  I say that it technically has a mural, because the picture is attached to the wall and the room is planned around the piece, although it isn't a mural covering all the walls like those in Idaho Falls or Los Angeles.

The Hamilton New Zealand Temple Celestial Room also has murals seen below.
Hamilton New Zealand Celestial Room With Murals

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

LDS Temple Assembly Halls

Today I want to write about assembly halls in LDS temples.  These are also known as solemn assembly halls, assembly rooms, priesthood assembly halls, priesthood assembly rooms, or priesthood rooms and were a part of the first 5 temples built and several built since.

Kirtland Temple Lower Court
The Kirtland Ohio Temple (1836) was essentially two assembly halls, one on top of the other.  The only other rooms were a few small ones in the attic area.  The lower room was designated for sacrament, preaching, fasting and praying.  The upper room was used for the school of the prophets, a school for LDS apostles dealing with secular and religious subjects. Both assembly halls had very unique architecture.  The rooms had pulpits in the front and back.  One set was for the Melchizedek Priesthood leadership and the other was for the Aaronic Priesthood leadership.  The pulpits on each side consisted of 12 pulpits arranged in 4 rows of 3 pulpits.  Each pulpit had three letter initials on it designating who sat there.  The three pulpits on each row had the same initials.  These initials on the western Melchizedek Priesthood side are from top to bottom:

M.P.C. (Melchizedek Presiding Council) – First Presidency of church or stake
P.M.H. (Presiding Melchizedek High Priesthood) – Quorum of 12 Apostles or Stake High Council
M.H.P. (Melchizedek High Priesthood) – High Priests Quorum
P.E.M. (Presiding or Presidency Elders Melchizedek) – Elders Quorum Presidency

On the eastern Aaronic Priesthood side the initials are from top to bottom:

B.P.A. (Bishop Presiding over Aaronic Priesthood) – Presiding Bishopric of the church or local Bishopric
P.A.P. (Presiding or Presidency Aaronic Priests) – Priest’s Quorum Reps
P.T.A. (Presiding or Presidency Teachers Aaronic Priesthood) – Teachers Quorum Presidency
P.D.A. (Presiding or Presidency Deacons Aaronic Priesthood) – Deacons Quorum Presidency

The bottom pulpits on both sides included collapsible sacrament tables so the sacrament could be administered.

In the Kirtland Temple the assembly halls were extremely important because they are where Jesus Christ appeared, stood on the breastwork of a pulpit, and accepted the temple.  Then Moses, Elias, and Elijah came as angels and gave the priesthood keys of the gathering of Israel, the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham and “this dispensation”, and the sealing keys that allow ordinances to have power even beyond death allowing baptisms for the dead and eternal marriages to be performed, among other things.  See Doctrine and Covenants Section 110.


The Kirtland Temple assembly halls are also notable because each could be divided into 4 sections by dropping curtains allowing for 8 meetings to take place simultaneously.  The pulpits could also be separated from the rest of the room by curtains, functioning as a sort of Holy of Holies.  The seats were also reversible so the congregation could face either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood side depending on who was speaking or if the room was divided by curtains.  About 900 to 1000 people could fit in the lower assembly hall.  I’ve been in the Kirtland Temple and the craftsmanship is incredible.  Some people notice that the pews have doors on the row ends.  This isn’t unique to Latter-day Saints, but is actually a common feature of New England architecture.  The doors cut down on drafts in the room in winter time.


Nauvoo Temple Assembly Hall
The Nauvoo Temple (1846) was essentially a larger version of the Kirtland Temple, again with two assembly halls.  The upper assembly room may not have ever been finished (In the rebuilt temple this floor is filled with the endowment rooms and celestial room).  In the original Nauvoo Temple the endowment was presented in the attic level with the space divided into endowment “rooms” using curtains.  Baptisms for the dead were performed in the basement font.  The rebuilt Nauvoo Temple includes the first floor assembly hall, although it is a little smaller width wise.  I’ve seen the assembly room in the Nauvoo Temple on my visits there and it is beautiful.  The pulpits are very similar to those in Kirtland.  The original assembly room could seat about 3,500 people, although in the rebuilt temple the room is smaller and seat less people.  The words "The LORD Has Seen Our Sacrifice - Come After Us" were originally inscribed in gilded letters along the ceiling arch behind the east Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits on the first floor assembly hall.  I've noticed that the new temple has transmitters in the ceiling like those used for headsets used to listen to the endowment in another language.  I assume from this that meetings are broadcast to this temple with translations when needed.
 
St. George Temple Assembly Hall
The St. George Utah Temple (1877) was constructed similar to the Nauvoo Temple with two assembly halls.  Originally the lower hall was divided with curtains to make endowment "rooms".  In 1938 the lower assembly room was converted with walls dividing the space into endowment rooms and a celestial room.  The upper assembly hall is left intact and has Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits but instead of permanent pews it has removable chairs.



Logan Temple Assembly Hall
The Logan Utah Temple (1884) was build with endowment rooms on the lower floors and a single assembly hall on the top floor.  This one also has chairs instead of pews.  Although the Logan Temple was gutted and a new steel frame temple was built inside the stone exterior destroying the original pioneer craftsmanship and layout, it is my understanding that the assembly hall was left intact during the remodel and still occupies the top floor.  I know for a fact that you can see all the way through the temple on the top row of windows, so if they removed the assembly hall, they can't have replaced it with anything.
 
Manti Temple Assembly Hall
The Manti Utah Temple (1888) is similar to Logan with an assembly hall on the top floor.  This time pews are present.  The room has a seating capacity of 1,500 people according to the Millenial Star volume 50 printed in 1888.  Because the temple is on a hill, the east doors of the temple lead into this room whereas the west doors enter the endowment and sealing section of the temple several floors below.

  


Salt Lake Temple Assembly Ha
The Salt Lake Temple (1893) contains a large assembly hall on the top two floors which seats about 2,200 people.  The top two rows of windows on the temple main body (an arched row and an elliptical row) give light to the room.  The pulpit design breaks away from the Kirtland model (curved breastwork) and instead has podium style pulpits with 12 on each side.  Above the pulpits there is a canopy labeled "Aaronic" and "Melchizedek" on the respective sides (I think it also says Priesthood).  The hall also has a large balcony with spiral staircases.  This room is regularly used for meetings of General Authorities of the church (every Thursday I’ve heard) as well as occasionally for special temple worker meetings and meetings for bishops, etc..  The assembly hall was also temporarily used as a studio to film the endowment when it was first converted to a film format for the Bern Switzerland Temple.  Before the Missionary Training Center was built in Provo, missionaries were trained in Salt Lake City and had special devotionals usually led by an apostle or member of the first presidency in the temple assembly room before leaving on missions.  Here's a cool picture of the room under construction.
 
After the completion of the Salt Lake Temple, temples were built without assembly halls to save money as most temples don’t need them.  This was new as every temple up to this point had an assembly hall.  Another temple wouldn’t be built with an assembly hall for 63 years.


Los Angeles Temple Assembly Hall
The Los Angeles California Temple (1956) was a very large temple with more square feet than the Salt Lake Temple at the time of its construction (additions have made Salt Lake larger) and it included a priesthood assembly hall (because WWII delayed the groundbreaking an assembly hall was added to the plans).  The assembly hall has a very sleek modern design and is a very large room occupying the entire top floor of the temple. It is 300 ft long so the same length as a football field.

For 18 years after the LA Temple was completed temples were built without assembly halls.

Washington D.C. Temple Priesthood Room
The Washington D.C. Temple (1974) again had a priesthood assembly hall.  This one is a modern interpretation of the Salt Lake Temple priesthood assembly room with podium style pulpits.  This temple calls the room "the priesthood room" and it is located on the top floor of the temple.





The Portland Oregon Temple (1989) was the next temple containing an assembly hall.  According to ldschurchtemples.com the top floor contains an assembly hall and sealing rooms.  I’ve been in this temple and the celestial room has a staircase and upper level.  The upper level has a door that apparently leads to the sealing rooms and assembly hall.  I don’t know other details and I don’t have any photos so I don’t know if it follows the Kirtland pattern of 24 pulpits like every other assembly hall. 
Portland Temple Assembly Hall
* addition - I have a picture of the assembly hall that I got from a Friend Magazine from 1993. It labels the picture as the temple chapel; however, I've been to the temple and know the chapel is downstairs and has a flat roof and pews.  This is clearly at the celestial room balcony level.  Although it doesn't use the 24 pulpits, I like it.
The Boston Massachusetts Temple (2000) was originally designed as a much larger structure complete with an assembly hall.  I talked with someone involved in the construction and was told that the plans were changed so the basement cafeteria rooms can be used as an assembly hall.  I don’t think there are pulpits there (I’ve been in the cafeteria but haven’t seen all the rooms in it) so I assume this hall would simply have solemn assemblies broadcast from other temples with pulpits.  I did notice that the cafeteria ceiling contained transmitters like those used for headsets used to listen to the endowment in another language, so I assume meetings are transmitted to the temple and translated if needed.

I should explain, temple assembly halls are used for solemn assemblies which are special meetings (usually priesthood meetings) held in the temple.  Meetings are regularly held for general authorities in the Salt Lake Temple.  I’ve heard that the church occasionally holds meetings in temple assembly halls for stake presidents or bishops around general conference and at other times, although I’m not sure how often these meetings are held.  One reason to include assembly halls in temples would be to allow for these special meetings.  Temple assembly rooms are also occasionally used for temple worker devotionals.  These meetings are held about once a year but they don't necessarily have to be held in an assembly hall.

Technically any temple with a chapel could use the chapel as an assembly hall for meetings not requiring the 24 pulpits.  With slight modifications these temples would allow for viewing solemn assemblies broadcast from other temple assembly rooms with the 24 pulpits.  Endowment rooms in other temples could also be modified to allow solemn assembly broadcasts if needed.  Also, although I love the symbolism involved with 24 pulpits showing the two priesthoods and the order in priesthood offices and presidencies, I’m not sure if there is any special ceremonial use of them during solemn assemblies or if a single pulpit would be acceptable.

Well I hope you've enjoyed this post.  Please post a comment or any questions you have.
I love the usage of assembly halls in LDS Temples.  Although not necessary, they are great rooms with wonderful symbolism and I hope assembly halls are added in other temples from time to time.  I notice that all the current halls are located in the United States, although they do go coast to coast.  An assembly room in a foreign temple would be interesting.  Based on the history of these rooms I wouldn't expect them to be added very often, so we might be waiting a while.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Temple Statues (other than those of the Angel Moroni)

Most Latter-day Saint temples have statues of the Angel Moroni on their tallest spire, and I wrote about that a few posts ago.  I have also written about relief sculptures on temples.  I mentioned that there is only 1 temple I know of that had a non-Moroni sculpture on the temple.  In this post I’m going to talk about that temple’s sculptures and other statuary on LDS temple grounds.

The Salt Lake Temple is the only temple I know of that used to have statues other than of the Angel Moroni on the temple.  I wrote “statues” because there were 2 of them and I wrote “used to” because they have since been moved to elsewhere on temple square.  Have you ever noticed those little covered spaces just to the sides of the doors of the Salt Lake Temple (seen in the picture on the right of the door)?  Brides love to get pictures standing underneath them.  Well these aren’t just wedding picture locations, they are statuary niches.  The top covering would keep rain off statues, slowing corrosion while framing the statue at the same time.  While there are 4 places for statues, there were only ever 2 statues placed in them.  Originally bronze statues of the martyrs Joseph Smith Jr. and his brother Hyrum Smith were placed in the statuary niches on the east side of the Salt Lake Temple.

Some years after the completion of the Salt Lake Temple the church moved the statues to another spot on temple square south of the temple so you can still see them there.  I am confused why they did this.  Articles I’ve read discussing this say that the niches are loved by brides getting pictures, but the west niches never had statues so brides could still use those.  Also, these were in the temple design and are symbols of sacrifice, testimony, and priesthood (a prophet and patriarch) among other things.  I think they should be put back in the niches.  Maybe the reasoning was that having 2 of 4 niches empty was silly, but having 4 of 4 niches empty is even sillier in my opinion.  Maybe they wanted them to get noticed more on temple square; however, with the general public now allowed to walk right up to the doors this isn’t an issue.  Placing statues in the niches should also attract more attention.  Moving the statues would also be really easy and would provide more protection to them.

Well, this post isn't just about these statues of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on the Salt Lake Temple, but before I leave that topic I'd like to propose a discussion for the comments.  If the church put the statues back in the niches on the east side of the temple and they wanted to fill the two empty west statuary niches, who's statue would you place there?  I know a few of my nominations, but I'll save them for the comments.  There are a lot of factors to consider - the symbolism, importance of the people, how the statues will match the other two, etc.  PLEASE COMMENT

Other temples also have statues on their grounds.  Here is a list I've compiled (very incomplete):

Many temples have visitors centers with replicas of Thorvaldsen's Christus statue.  Although I really like this statue, I would like to see the church commission Christ statues or make replicas of other artist’s Christ statues for some variety.  I can always see the Christus replica when I visit Temple Square in Salt Lake.

Manti Utah Temple – this temple actually has a statue of the ancient American prophet Moroni, only not as an angel and not on the tower or temple itself.

Salt Lake Temple – Temple Square has many statues on the grounds.

Laie Hawaii Temple – Multiple statues by the Fairbanks brothers ore around the temple including:
  A fountain statue dedicated to motherhood with a mother holding a giant clam shell and pouring water over children as a symbol of mothers pouring love, hope and care on their children. 
  A statue of Joseph being blessed by his father.
  A statue of the The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi

Oakland California Temple – The courtyard has a sculpture of children (and a cute dog) and quotes 3 Nephi  17

Nauvoo Illinois Temple – Grounds to the west have a statue of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on horseback.

Rome Italy Temple – This planned temple has a plaza between the visitors center, stake center, patron housing, family history center and temple that includes statues.  You can clearly see in the rendering bronze statues showing the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.  In addition there are 2 other statues.  One looks like it has women, the other I’m not sure.

Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple – shares grounds with a pioneer cemetery with statues and bas-relief sculptures.

I also notice that the Manti Utah Temple has a bunch of empty statuary niches.  I don't think these were ever planned to contain statues.  In the Logan Utah Temple the same places have windows.

If you want to discuss other temple statues, talk about adding statues to future temples, or anything else, PLEASE COMMENT.
I personally think that one of the new 2 towered temples would look good with a statue of the Aaronic Priesthood restoration in front of the Aaronic Priesthood side (baptistery entrance) and a statue of the Melchizedek Priesthood Restoration in front of the Melchizedek Priesthood side (main entrance).  These could either be in niches above the doors or just have a path around them.  Bas-relief sculptures would also be an option.  Either way the art would strengthen temple themes and teach.
I also like the idea of putting other statues on temples.  For instance, John the Baptist would look great on a temple west spire.  He already shows up in a lot of temple baptistery paintings and stained glass.

-The following is an addition to the original post

My brother-in-law reminded me of a few statues inside the Salt Lake Temple.  In the celestial room, in front of a Tiffany glass window there is a statue of a woman with two babies on either side.  She is holding something, I think laurels or flowers, or another plant.  I have been unable to find the reference on this, but I thought the statue is supposed to represent something and not a specific person.  It represents love or innocence or some ideal like that.  I find several blog entries claiming it is Aphrodite which in 1890s neoclassicism means love, beauty and fetility.  I also have found some people who say it is the Virgin Mary (one even claimed the Catholic church had donated it to the LDS church) but I'm not sure about that because the statue is flanked by 2 children, not holding one infant Jesus.

There is also a statue of a Cupid or Eros or a cherub on a railing on a staircase that leads up to a sealing room where couples are married for time and all eternity.  The statue is only a foot or so tall and includes a quiver of arrows.  This is clearly a symbol of love.  Neoclassical statues like these were common in 1893 and even earlier.  Many cathedrals in Europe are filled with similar statues representing ideals or showing Greek and Roman gods in a symbolic Christian way (like having Cupid for love).  The other statues in the Celestial Room( if you want to call them statues) are a few birds and a lot of fruits and flowers carved into the walls and ceiling.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

LDS Temple Relief Sculptures


This entry is about temple sculptures other than Angel Moroni statues or other statues.  There are or rather were 2 other statues I know of on one temple.   If you know what I’m talking about, feel free to post a comment.  Either way  I’ll get to that in another blog post about statues on temples and on temple grounds.  For this post I’, focusing on Friezes or bas-relief or any type of relief sculpture for that matter.  Although Nauvoo, Salt Lake and many other temples have sculptures of suns, moons, stars, trumpets, clouds, constellations, earths, tree of lifes, flowers, etc., this post isn’t about them.  I’m writing today about the Laie Hawaii Temple, Mesa Arizona Temple, Oakland California Temple, Newport Beach California Temple and the Cardston Alberta Temple although it is a little different.

 The first temple relief sculpture was on the Laie Hawaii Temple in 1919.  On the four sides of the temple there are friezes that are relief sculpture planned by J. Leo Fairbanks and  built by him and Avard Fairbanks, his brother.  These depict Christ in 4 dispensations, or perhaps more accurately in 4 scriptural periods.  These are:

West - Old Testament
South - New Testament
North - Book of Mormon
East - Latter-day Dispensation (Doctrine and Covenants)

If you live in (or visit) Utah you can see smaller bronze copies of these sculptures (by another artist, I can’t find his name but it was one of the big mormon names, like Knaphus) in the lobby of the new Church History Museum.  During the recent renovation of the Laie Temple they added a waiting room with copies of the sculptures so patrons inside the temple could appreciate the scenes and not just those outside.

The next relief sculpture was at the Cardston Alberta Canada Temple in 1923.  I say “at” because I don’t think this relief is actually on the temple but just the grounds, although I am unsure.  It was originally in front of a pool which has since been removed.  The sculpture by Torlief Knaphus depicts Jesus Christ talking to the woman at the well and even quotes scripture.  If you live in Utah you can see a plaster casting of this sculpture in the lobby of the Provo Utah Temple (with added color!). 

With the previous 2 temples including relief sculptures, a relief frieze was included on the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1927.  This sculpture, also by Torlief Knaphus includes 8 panels, 2 on each corner of the temple, depicting the gathering of Israel from the 4 corners of the earth.  The panels depict gathering scenes of:

Early Latter-day Saints crossing the plains to the Salt Lake Valley
A ship landing with English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish immigrants
Handcart pioneers
Mexicans travelling to Zion
Native Americans gathering
Pacific Islanders (who actually aren’t travelling unlike every other panel)
French, Swiss,  Italians travelling
Continued with Germans and Dutch leaving their homes and heading to Zion

The Mesa Temple also has a lion head on the east side by the baptistery entrance.  It is a fountain.

After the Mesa Temple it took 37 years before the Oakland California Temple included relief sculptures in 1964.  It has a sculpture of Jesus teaching the people in and around Jerusalem during his mortal ministry on the north side of the temple.  On the south side of the temple there is a sculpture of Jesus Christ appearing to the Nephites in the Americas after his resurrection.  I can’t seem to find out who sculpted these scenes, but if you know please tell us in the comments on this post.  This temple also has tree of life sculptures, but they are more of an architectural detail so I might discuss them in a later post.

Most websites and articles say that the Oakland Temple is the last with relief sculptures, but they are simply wrong.  The Newport Beach California Temple built in 2005 has a relief sculpture of Christ appearing to 10 of the 12 apostles after his resurrection.  The sculpture looks like bronze and is above the front doors.  Although smaller than the other sculptures in this article, it is a welcome return to relief sculptures and I hope we see more scenes on new temples.  I don’t know who sculpted the Newport Beach Temple frieze and would really like to know.  LeRoy Transfield sculpted this beautiful sculpture.  If you know any information on this PLEASE COMMENT.

So there you have my discussion of relief sculpture on LDS temples.  We have scriptural scenes (Laie Hawaii, Cardston Alberta, Oakland California and Newport Beach) and latter-day gathering (Mesa Arizona) represented in these fascinating works of art.

If you know of any other temple sculptures (not statues, I’ll deal with them later) please tell us in comments.

-The following is an addition to the original post
I noticed that although the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple doesn't have relief sculptures on it (unless you count the doors), the grounds are shared with a pioneer cemetery with some nice relief sculptures of Christ, etc. in a style I really like.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Angel Moroni Statues

Wow, I have not written on this blog in a long while. This is mainly because nobody ever commented on my posts. So please comment on my posts and if you like the content in this blog, link it to your web pages/ blogs, it helps get more readers here.

So today's post is about Angel Moroni statues. The Angel Moroni was an angel who appeared to Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon or LDS church).  To quickly summarize, the angel gave Joseph Smith the record that The Book of Mormon is translated from  For a complete account click here.  Verses 30 on in particular deal with the Angel Moroni.  These statues are on most LDS temples as a symbol that revelation still exists, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, and of the angel mentioned in Rev 14:6.  Eight temples don't Angel Moroni statues because they lack a spire (Laie Hawaii, Cardston Alberta Canada, Mesa Arizona) or because they were built before the statues were traditional (St. George Utah, Logan Utah, Manti Utah, Hamilton New Zealand, Oakland California). Originally the Idaho Falls Idaho, Bern Switzerland, London England, Ogden Utah, Provo Utah, Sao Paulo Brazil, Tokyo Japan, and Freiburg Germany Temples lacked statues, but have since had them added. The Boston Massachusetts Temple and Manhattan New York Temple both had spires added shortly after their dedications (due to a court case for Boston).

The image at the top of this post shows 5 Moroni statues and a proto-Moroni weather vane. This shows some of the diversity in Moroni statue design. The first picture shows how the angel weather vane on the Nauvoo Temple would have originally looked. This was the only flying angel statue on a temple and wasn't specified as Moroni. Notice that he is holding a book and not gold plated. This may imply that he was a general angel and not Moroni specifically, or that he was someone such as Joseph Smith (as one institute teacher of mine theorized). Regardless of the intended identity, this weather vane represented the angel in Revelation 14:6

The next temple with an angel was the Salt Lake Temple. Originally it was planned to have 2 angel weather vanes (Nauvoo style) with one on the east center tower and one on the west center tower (scroll down in the link for the drawing). By the time the temple was completed 40 years later in 1893, styles had changed and statues were more common on the tops of buildings (think U.S. capitol building). So Cyrus E. Dallin was commissioned to make a standing angel statue, now identified as Moroni. This is the second picture on the image above (from the left).

63 years after the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, the Los Angeles Temple was the next temple with an Angel Moroni statue. This statue (3rd from left in above picture) is quite unique
because Moroni is Native American and dressed in Mayan clothing. Also, this is one of the few Moroni statues holding gold plates and not just a trumpet. The Washington D.C. Temple also has an Angel Moroni statue holding plates and replicas of this statue are found on the Jordan River Utah (pictured 4th from left), Seattle Washington and Mexico City Mexico Temples. These are the only temples with Angel Moroni statues holding plates.

As all temples began to include Angel Moroni statues several styles have been used. When the small temples first began to be built, the Monticello Temple was given a white Angel Moroni statue holding a trumpet and a scroll. Unfortunately the white statue disappeared in the clouds so it was replaced with a gold leafed one shortly thereafter and now all Moroni statues are gold leafed. Five temples have Moroni with a scroll (5th from left in picture). These are the Anchorage Alaska, Bismarck North Dakota, Columbus Ohio, Kona Hawaii, and Caracas Venezuela Temples.

It should also be noted that Angel Moroni statues are not exclusive to Temples. The Washington D. C. ward chapel had a replica of the Salt Lake Temple Moroni sculpted by Torlief Knaphus (this replica is now in the Church Museum of History and art and castings of it were added to the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple and Atlanta Georgia Temple (since replaced)).  The Hill Cumorah Monument (far right in picture) also has a Moroni Statue without a trumpet, but with gold plates (and a beard!).

I also want to note that there is a lot of lore about Angel Moroni statues having to face east. This simply isn't true. While most do, because many (not all) temples face east, at least the following do not face east: Seattle Washington (west), Dallas Texas (South), Nauvoo Illinois (West), Spokane Washington (West, although originally East), Taipei Taiwan (West), and Manhattan New York (Southwest).

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you've learned something. Please post a comment to encourage me to keep this blog up to date. Also if you know any interesting Angel Moroni Statue trivia, please comment.

Due to comments I am adding the following:

Well there have been 5 sculptors (6 if you count LaVar Wallgren as distinct from Quilter). Read Ensign Jan 2010 article

The sculptors and corresponding Angel Moroni statues are:

Cyrus Dallin - Salt Lake, Copper, 12'5"

Torlief Knaphus - SL replica for D.C. Chapel, hollow Aluminum (now in the Church Museum of History and Art). Fiberglass castings of this statue by LaVar Wallgren were placed on the Atlanta Georgia (later replaced) and Idaho Falls Temples. Knaphus Also did the Hill Cumorah Moroni (10'4" bronze) He also helped Avard Fairbanks do the Laie Hawaii Temple Font and he sculpted the oxen for the Cardston Alberta, Mesa Arizona and Idaho Falls Temple Fonts.

Millard F. Malin - L.A., 15'5" Aluminum

Avard Fairbanks - Washington D.C. (18ft bronze) and 15'2" bronze castings of the same sculpture for Jordan River, Seattle Washington, and Mexico City Temples.

Karl Quilter - 1978 commission for a 10ft and 7ft Moroni. The originals were then cast in fiberglass by LaVar Wallgren and used on many temples. Quilter got a 1998 commission to make a 6'10" Moroni for small temples. Although the article doesn't mention it, he would have had to have made the Moroni w/ scroll used on 5 temples and then the Moroni w/ open hand used on all future temples. Fiberglass castings of these are used on many temples. Over 100 Karl Quilter/LaVar Wallgren Moroni statues are on temples. Quilter also made L.A. font oxen. Wallgren makes Moroni statues in his Kearns, UT studio.

LaVar Wallgren has generally worked with Karl Quilter and may be considered a sixth sculptor of Angel Moroni statues.  He did a casting of the Washington D.C. Chapel Angel Moroni statue that was used on the Atlanta Georgia Temple for a while and may have done other statues without Quilter, although I am not certain if Quilter was or was not involved with Wallgren on all of Wallgren's Mornoni statues. 

Addition to the original post (added 18 March 2011)
Here are articles on Angel Moroni statues if you want to read more here and here:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kansas City Temple design

I recently found an architectural rendering of the Kansas City Missouri Temple on ldschurchtemples.com (a wonderful site). The picture was just removed from the site today for some reason, but you can probably find it elsewhere.

The temple design showed a two towered (2 steeple) structure. I was very happy to see this. A lot of temples have the East side represent the Melchizedek Priesthood and the West side represent the Aaronic Priesthood. The Salt Lake Temple started this pattern, having 3 towers on the East and 3 on the West. Logan and Manti look like they have 2 towers (technically they have 2 smaller towers with staircases on either side of each main tower). The San Diego California Temple was the next two ended temple (technically 10 towered, but there are two main towers with 4 smaller towers around each main tower). Then the Vernal Utah Temple was made with 2 towers (I believe the original tabernacle the temple was made from had the two towers).

Recently the church has been building temples with a tower on one side and a small dome on the other end. I have thought that they should just add a second tower. I know building codes don't always allow two spires, but when possible, why not? I think two towers make a temple seem like a special building, not just a fancy church. It adds to the uniqueness of the architecture and adds symbolism.

The KC Temple design isn't perfect, but I like it. It reminds me of the Logan temple in several ways, with the 2 towers being the main one. I look forward to having it built

Monday, January 11, 2010

Temple Baptisteries

My brother and I have been going to a lot of different temples to do baptisms for the dead recently. I want to discuss some of my feelings about their architecture.

Ogden, Provo, Jordan River and Logan have essentially the same design with a chapel overlooking the font and confirmation rooms on the left hand side. I think Ogden and Provo work best, probably due to the obvious addition of stone tile flooring, light wallpaper, geometric ceiling designs and in the case of Provo small crystal chandeliers and sconces in the confirmation rooms. Jordan River has a lot of potential, although it is a bit dark due to off-white wallpaper and dark woodwork which I think could be redone while preserving the original architecture. Also, the confirmation rooms are cramped and feel like closets which isn't very fitting for a room set apart for an important ordinance. As for Logan, the baptistery has natural light but is essentially a clone of the other temples, including the font. I think this is a shame as we have the original temple font in the Church Museum of History and Art so I don't know why it isn't placed in the temple.

The Bountiful and Mount Timpanogos temples both have nice baptisteries. I prefer Bountiful but that is due to my tastes. I like that in these baptisteries there are two semicircular rows of pews on top of the oxen immediately next to the font.

The Salt Lake Temple baptistery has a wonderful font. The confirmation rooms are small and out of the way which is a downside. Also the entrance is hidden and the tunnels leading into the baptistery have a 60s or 70s feel. Still, I like this baptistery.

Utah's two newest temples, Draper and Oquirrh Mountain have wonderful baptisteries. Draper has stained glass behind the font letting light flood in. The confirmation rooms have glass doors making the rooms for this ordinance seem important and not an afterthought. Oquirrh Mountian has the best baptistery as a whole in my opinion. There the chapel has glass on all 4 sides. The front overlooks the font (with glass on 3 sides) and behind are the confirmation rooms with glass doors and wall. This allows the confirmations to be seen from the font and chapel and definitely makes the rooms for this ordinance important.

In general I liked tiled baptisteries better than carpeted ones because carpet (especially in locker rooms) tends to mildew causing a bad smell.

I love the variety in temple baptismal fonts listed here and others I have seen and hope to see many more.