8 Comments

History of Angel Moroni

I came across an article in the Church News detailing the history on the Moroni statue.  The print edition and web edition have some interesting pictures of the various incarnations of the statue, and the photos have some different captions.

In the print edition, the Nauvoo Temple has a flying angel.  The angel is part of a weather vane, which was typical of New England architecture.  The current Nauvoo temple has a standing Moroni.  I remember President Hinckley said he wanted to restore the original look of the Nauvoo Temple, but he changed the Moroni statue, because he thought it looked better.  I wish he had kept with the historical weather vane, because if its’ uniqueness in mormon history.

The Salt Lake Temple was originally designed with a flying angel, but was constructed with a standing Moroni.  The LA Temple was the second to have one, and the DC Temple was the third.  Extrapolating, that means that Manti, St George, Mesa, Ogden, Provo, and quite a few other early temples never had an angel statue that mormons are so accustomed to.

i was intrigued to learn that a ward meetinghouse in the DC area had a Moroni statue.  There was a time when ward buildings had stained glass, and other features than our more spartan ward buildings have now.  The sculptor of the DC Moroni, Torlief Knaphus was later commissioned to fashion a Moroni statue for the Hill Cumorah in 1934.  It is interesting to view the different incarnations of Moroni–some with golden plates, some with a horn, some childlike, some mature.

So do you agree with Pres Hinckley?  Would you prefer the standing Moroni, or a flying Moroni on the Nauvoo Temple?  Should Ogden/Provo/London temples have a Moroni statue to put them more in line with other temples?

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8 comments on “History of Angel Moroni

  1. That’s funny! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. flying Moroni. Besides the sunstones, the flying angel were the best known symbols of the Nauvoo Temple.

  3. I was a member of the Washington DC Ward from 1962 to 1964. The chapel on 16th Street was made from Utah granite, and, as you said, it had an Angel Moroni statue on it. The windows were stained glass and depicted the history of the church. My wife and I were Stake Missionaries, and we had people come in buses to see the building and the windows. We would explain the history of the church, using the windows as teaching aids.

    We left in the summer of 1964, just after the Washington Beltway was opened and before the Washington Temple was constructed. After we left, the Washington Ward was closed due to the area becoming quite dangerous. The Angel Moroni was removed and put, I think, on the Atlanta Geogia Temple, and the building was sold. While we were there, the Washingrton Ward was the singles ward of the area. Lots of singles came to DC to work in the government or attend college. Stake Missionaries at that time were teaching missionaries. My wife and I had a great time there.

  4. Allen, thanks for sharing. I wish I could have seen that building. The article states that the building was sold, and the Moroni statue now resides in the Museum of Church History and Art.

    To me, that is a tragedy that the church sold the building. I know it’s just a building, but there are so few ward buildings in the church that aren’t from a cookie-cutter design. I enjoy a little personality from a building. There are a few older churches in SLC that have stained glass, and I always love to go to those buildings. Yes, they have hard benches, no air conditioning, and poor heating, but it is worth it to me, at least to visit. Perhaps if it was my ward building, I would feel differently. 🙂

  5. Thanks for clarifying where the statue was taken. I’m not far from SLC, and the next time I’m in the city I’ll stop at the museum and have a “homecoming” with the statue.

    It was a beautiful building from the outside. Looked like a small temple. Inside, though, it was sparse. Not a lot of classrooms. The windows made it easy to explain the history of the Church to visitors. I liked being on 16th street, because that street went right towards the White House (1600 Penn. Avenue).

    I was a stake missionary there for two years, and my wife was there for the second year. Most of our stake missionaries were single girls, and the area got pretty dangerous for them and the ward members, most of whom were singles. I remember one night my Fiat 600 sedan (small car, 25 HP engine) stopped on 14th Street, not far from the ward. I was there, all alone, after dark tinkering on the car. No one bothered me, but I was glad when I got the engine started again. My wife and I moved to Arizona in the summer of 1964, and a few weeks later DC erupted in racial riots.

    I understand why the church builds cookie-cutter buildings (lower cost) but it was nice to have unique buildings.

    I lived in Massachusetts when the Littleton Ward built a new building. We did have to choose a pattern from four they offered us, but we were able to specify a number of changes to help the building fit in with New England customs, including a copper roof, granite blocks around the parking lot, a steeple that was detached from the building and was in its own granite wall that people used for sitting. The change that I really liked was having the pulpit off center. That allowed the choir to be together without being blocked by the pulpit. That is one change I’d like to see in all ward buildings. The Littleton building had a big round window on each side that let in a lot of light. There was one place you could sit and look out of the round window and see the American flag flying in the wind. A great sight!

  6. Allen, I used to live in NH. I can remember meeting in the smallest LDS building I have ever seen in Keene, NH. It looked LDS, but had no chapel, just a small multi-purpose room. After sacrament, they put up some cubicles to form classrooms.

    I also remember meeting in an Odd Fellows Hall in Peterborough, NH, a ski lodge in Laconia, NH, and the branch president’s living room in Brattleboro, VT. (My dad was a high councilman, and used to take us with him when he had to speak.) My ward met at Merrimack High School for a few years until our building was erected in Nashua, NH. Those were the days…..back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

    It seems like a branch was formed in coastal Georgia when I was on my mission (late 80’s) in Augusta. I never attended, but as I recall, the church was a double-wide trailer. I guess these buildings have character, but not quite like the building in DC.

  7. Even though I agree with President Hinckley about the look of standing Moroni, I think that they should have opted with the flying Moroni in order to make the Nauvoo temple as close to the original as possible, since it’s a special temple with a unique history.

    I never realized that certain temples don’t have a statue, but I think that they should since Moroni has become such a well-known symbol for the LDS Church. That statue has become universal for Mormons and it’s sort of like the official Church letterhead (or logo) that is instantly recognizable to all of us, no matter what language you see it in.

    I think the standing Moroni gives a better impression psychologically than the flying one. First of all, do Mormons believe that angels fly? I’m not sure. But I know that leaders have said that angels don’t have wings (which the flying Moroni doesn’t appear to have). Another thing is that the standing Moroni’s position looks more confident, forceful, important, dramatic, etc. And that became even more obvious once they buffed him up. 🙂

  8. I had a conversation with the aged Hyrum Smith (great-grandson of the Hyrum Smith) some years ago. He told me that he asked Heber J. Grant, “What’s the first thing the Lord will ask you when you meet him.” Pres. Grant’s answer was, “He’ll probably ask me why I built such a large chapel in D.C. Since then, all the Saints think they have to build large chapels.”

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