Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a temple-going people. With over 155 temples in operation around the world, millions of faithful saints gather in the House of the Lord to receive revelation and open the eyes of our understanding as we seek a personal and powerful relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our temple experience is rooted in symbols and as we understand the symbols of the temple, we can think about the temple in new and different ways that expand our learning and love for the Lord. Jack M. Lyon, a distinguished LDS author, explores some of the fascinating symbols of the temple in his new book, “Understanding Temple Symbols Through Scripture, History, and Art.” Below is an excerpt about the five wounds of Christ, the pentagram, and how that relates to some of the symbols we see on LDS temples.
The Five Wounds of Christ
A common theme in medieval art was the five wounds of Christ, traditionally the holes of the nails in the Savior’s hands and feet and the cut of the spear through his side and into his heart. This theme of five wounds has been celebrated in masses, rosaries, and works of art and literature. For example, John Lydgate of Bury (1370-1451), an English monk and prolific poet, wrote the following verse, which, like many others of the time, compare Christ’s wounds with wells of life-giving water:
At wells five, liquor I shall draw
To wash the rust of my sins quickly,
I mean the wells of Christ’s wounds five,
Whereby we claim of merciful pity.
(In Williams, The Five Wounds of Jesus, 23)
In the Middle Ages, the five wounds were symbolized in church decoration as a five-pointed star. This symbol is still used in temples today, including the windows of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.
During the construction of the Logan Utah Temple, a newspaper reported that the five-pointed star with an elongated bottom ray symbolized “the Star of the Morning,” which is a title of the Lord (Deseret Evening News, August 20, 1880, 3; see Revelation 22:16).
Again the elongated bottom ray pointing downward indicates that the Savior has descended from heaven to earth. Traditionally, the five-pointed star is known as the Star of Bethlehem.
The Symbol of Five in the Temple
Other elements of temple worship are related to the number five: During the endowment we actually or symbolically visit five rooms, make five covenants, receive a charge composed of five elements, put on five articles of temple clothing, tie five bows on our clothing, (symbols of connection), and witness five visits of heavenly messengers to our first parents and their posterity. Surely this is not the result of chance; all of these (and more) point to the Savior as the “well of living water” (D&C 63:23) and the “found of every blessing” (Hymns, 1948, no. 70).
Learn more great insights from Understanding Temple Symbols here. Whether you have just begun attending the temple or are well seasoned in temple worship, Understanding Temple Symbols offers intriguing new insights about the House of the Lord, making connections between the temple and the scriptures for all who seek further light and knowledge.