One of the most common questions I receive about LDS Temples is “What is the statue on top?” I have heard many guesses, perhaps the most common being Angel Gabriel, but few non-LDS people know that is in fact the angel Moroni.
Why is the angel Moroni on Latter-day Saint temples? The primary reason is because of his tremendous significance in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the preparation of the prophet Joseph Smith, and the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in its fulness to the earth.
After being placed on the Salt Lake Temple after its completion in 1893, the statue of the angel Moroni has since been placed on many other LDS temples. It has become an unofficial symbol for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is recognized throughout the world.
Latter-day Saints consider Revelation 14:6 to be a reference to the Angel Moroni when John recorded, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”
Though we know the most about Joseph Smith’s visits from the angel Moroni, other early Latter-day Saints also shared their experiences. For example:
The Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon–Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris–recorded their experience in their testimony which is now printed in the beginning of the Book of Mormon.
Who else saw the angel Moroni?
- Emma Smith (Joseph’s wife)
- Hyrum Smith (Joseph’s brother)
- John Taylor (3rd president of the Church)
- Heber C. Kimball (apostle)
- Luke S. Johnson (apostle)
- Zera Pulsipher (missionary)
- John and Rhoda Greene (missionary)
- Oliver Granger (missionary)
- W.W. Phelps (leader and songwriter)
- Lucy Harris (wife of witness Martin Harris)
- Harrison Burgess
Interestingly, Joseph Smith was not permitted to remove the golden plates in 1823 after his initial visits from the angel Moroni. Instead, the Lord intended to prepare him further.
Each year on September 22, Joseph Smith returned to the same place where he would receive instruction from the angel Moroni. In his own words, Joseph describes:
Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.
What an amazing preparation, receiving instruction from an angel of the Lord. Such preparation was necessary for Joseph Smith to fulfill his divine calling as a prophet in the latter-days and to help restore the Church of Jesus Christ once again upon the earth.
Finally, in his annual visit with Moroni in 1827, Joseph Smith was permitted to receive the plates and begin translating.
While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.
According to the “Words of Mormon” in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon writes that he was preparing to give the plates ot his son Moroni in approximately 385 A.D.:
And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people.
After witnessing and recording the destruction of the Nephite people (in the final book of the Book of Mormon), Moroni wanders for a number of years by himself. Finally, before Moroni died, he buried the plates in the Hill Cumorah under the direction of the Lord in preparation for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon nearly 1400 years later.
Moroni gave his final testimony at the end of the Book of Mormon:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
Many people outside of the LDS faith aren’t quite sure how to say the name Moroni (More-Own-Eye).