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The Case of the Missing Moronis

The Case of the Missing Moronis

The gold-gilded statue of the Angel Moroni has long been an iconic image in The Church of Jesus Christ. You can find these statues scattered across the world, perched high on the spires of the temples. Moroni holds his trumpet aloft, most often facing east, ready to herald in the second coming. But if you have seen some of the recent temple renderings released you might notice something strange. There is a conspicuous lack of the golden messenger in most of them. 

Workers stand near the Angel Moroni statue by Cyrus Dallin, circa 1893 | Church History Library

The first Angel Moroni statue was sculpted by Cyrus Dallin and placed on the Salt Lake Temple on April 6, 1892. But it wasn’t until 1956 that the Los Angeles Temple received the second Moroni statue. Then the third in 1974 on the Washington D.C. Temple. In fact, it wasn’t until the late ’70s and early ’80s that Angel Moroni statues even became commonplace. There was a wave of Moroni statues added to new temples, and there were even several statues added to temples as part of renovations through the 2000s.

But now, there seems to be a wave headed in the opposite direction. Of the 65 temples currently under construction that have had exterior renderings released to the public, 12 have Angel Moroni statutes as part of the design. And what’s more, there has not been a rendering released since 2020 that had Moroni in it. The last rendering with an Angel Moroni was the Salta Argentina Temple rendering released in June 2020. No temples announced later than 2019 feature Angel Moroni. 

Salta Argentina Temple
Salta Argentina Temple | Church Newsroom

An Angel Moroni is of course not a requirement for temples. The official statement from the Church says “While the Angel Moroni statue occupies a prominent place on many temples throughout the world—symbolizing the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ—it is not a requirement of temple design. Some temples may include the statue, while others may not.”

This change follows a trend of changes that have been implemented since Russell M. Nelson became president. That includes changes to the temple ordinances, church meeting schedules, temple celebrations, pageants, class structures in the Young Women’s organizations, and avoiding the moniker “Mormons” in favor of names that include the name of Christ. Another major change was the introduction of the new official Church symbol, and with it, a change to the Gospel Library App’s appearance. Notably, from an image of the Angel Moroni to Christ:

While there has been no official statement about why Moroni is no longer being included on temples, it could be an effort to focus on the Savior and His works. When addressing some of these other changes, President Nelson talked about the need to focus on the Savior. “This is the Savior’s Church… all we do as members of His Church centers on Jesus Christ and His gospel.” There is nothing wrong with the Angel Moroni. But these are the Savior’s temples, not his. Maybe these new styles will help remind all who see the temple that what is most important is not what goes on top, but what happens inside.

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