Angel Moroni Statue on Provo City Center Temple

Crowds gather to watch as workers place the Angel Moroni statue atop the Provo City Center Temple Monday, March 31, 2014. MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald

PROVO -- The Angel Moroni placed at the top of nearly every temple built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has continuously evolved from its first placement on the top of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893 to it being placed on the middle spire of the Provo City Center Temple on Monday.

According to the LDS Church, the Moroni statue has held gold plates, not held plates, gained muscles and had various outfits throughout his time standing as the most recognizable symbol of the Church's sacred buildings.

The first Moroni was designed by a man who was not a member of the LDS faith. Cyrus Dallin, a native of Springville was asked to create the statue by then Church President Wilford Woodruff and at first declined to do the job, but later reconsidered after discussing the job with his mother.

Dallin studied LDS scriptures for inspiration for the statue and selected Moroni -- the last prophet in the Book of Mormon and the angel that led church founder Joseph Smith to the gold plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon -- to be the figure placed upon the Salt Lake Temple.

For those wondering, yes, the original Nauvoo Temple in Illinois did have a weathervane that depicted an angel installed on its roof, but the angel was never recognized as Moroni.

Dallin's version of Moroni is wearing a robe and is holding a trumpet in his right hand, with his left arm falling to his side.

From there the Moroni statue has featured small changes depending on the artist commissioned to create the cast of the statue.

The Moroni that watches over the Los Angeles Temple wears Mayan-style robes, a headband, sandals and has distinctive Native American facial features.

Others versions of the statue have Moroni holding the gold plates, though the statue placed upon the new Provo temple does not. Some versions of the statue have also given Moroni some more muscles than the original placed in Salt Lake City.

One constant theme of the Moroni statues atop temples is that he is always holding a trumpet in his right hand and is blowing into it.

According to an article in the November 2009 edition of the New Era, a church-owned magazine, church guidelines are that Moroni statues on temples should face eastward, though it does allow for the Moroni to be placed in whatever direction may align it best with the visual orientation of the temple.

Not all temples have a Moroni statue.

The temples in St. George, Logan and Manti do not have the angel sounding his trumpet from their rooftops. Other Moroni-less temples include Laie, Hawaii; Cardston, Alberta; Mesa, Ariz.; Hamilton, New Zealand; and Oakland Calif.

The Moroni statue is unique as it is one of the few LDS symbols used by early church members that remain in use today.

Boyd Petersen, program coordinator for Mormon Studies at Utah Valley University, observed that in the 19th century Mormons used many symbols to illustrate messages of Mormonism such as sunstones, stars and beehives -- all of which can be found on the Salt Lake Temple. As time has moved forward the church has used fewer symbols on the exterior of its temples.

"Moroni's statue is one of the last symbols to survive, I believe partially because he is so clearly representational," Petersen said. "It is Moroni's visit that began what Mormons believe is a restoration of Christ's church. So Moroni reminds church members of this inaugural event of LDS Church history.

"But he also symbolizes the call to take the good news of the gospel to the world."

Peterson also said he believes one of the reasons church members cherish the Moroni statue is the statue seems dignified and joyous.

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-- Billy Hesterman covers the Utah State Legislature and local politics for the Daily Herald. You can connect with Billy by email at bhesterman@heraldextra.com or by

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