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If you have ever seen a Mormon temple, chances are you have seen the golden statue that adorns the steeples of most of these beautiful buildings. The statue is known as the angel Moroni. The male figure is dressed in a robe and blows a long golden trumpet which he holds in one hand.
Moroni: Warrior, Prophet, Historian
Moroni, as a mortal man, was the last author of the Book of Mormon, burying the metal plates upon which it was recorded, some 421 years after the birth of Christ. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Mormon (after whom the Book of Mormon is named) as keeper of an ancient record detailing the history and eventual destruction of their people, the Nephites, by their enemies, the Lamanites. Moroni served as a general, under his father who was the head of all the Nephite armies, during the final military campaign of his people. Only he and a handful of others survived. Moroni was left alone and described his situation: "My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go" (Mormon 8:5]).
Despite being alone, Moroni lived for at least 36 years after the destruction of his people. During this time he finished the record of his father by describing the final battle and including a few letters his father had written to him. Since Moroni bids the reader farewell a number of different times, it is presumed he did not expect the Lord to preserve his life for so long. Moroni additionally abridged the record of the Jaredites (a nation that came to the Americas at the time of the Tower of Babel and destroyed itself before Moroni's people arrived) into what is known as the Book of Ether.
Lastly, Moroni wrote the segment known as the Book of Moroni. In this he details particulars about the organization of Christ's church. He also includes two more epistles from his father, Mormon, containing sermons on faith, hope, and charity. In the last chapter of the book, Moroni leaves the reader with an exhortation and a promise:
"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:3-5])
Moroni: Angelic Messenger
Revelation 14:6 reads "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."
During the night of September 21, 1823 Moroni, who was then a glorified personage, visited young Joseph Smith as a heavenly messenger sent from God. Moroni told Joseph of the very plates he himself had buried 1400 years earlier. The angel Moroni also recited a number of scriptures to Joseph. Joseph describes the heavenly visit in the Joseph Smith-History portion of the Pearl of Great Price:
- Not only was his [Moroni's] robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning... When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the fear soon left me. He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. (JS-H 1:32-33)
Moroni visited Joseph repeatedly that night and the next morning, always with the same message. For the next four years, Joseph annually visited the Hill Cumorah (the location where Moroni had deposited the golden plates) and received further knowledge and teaching from Moroni. After four years, in 1827, Moroni entrusted the golden plates to Joseph with this warning:
- That I [Joseph] should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected. (JS-H 1:59)
In 1830, Joseph Smith published his translation of the golden plates as the Book of Mormon. When translation was complete, Joseph returned the plates to Moroni's custody.
Angel Moroni Infographic
Also see the article Angel Moroni.
Brian Olson has created an update to his infographic about LDS temples titled “Moroni Always Faces East (Except When He Doesn’t).” In this update, he has added additional temples, added the dedication order to new temples, and added a new design for the background.
An older version of this infographic has been printed out and placed on the wall at the visitor’s center trailer for the temple in Star Valley Wyoming. That temple will face west, as will the statue, according to the rendering.
For more background about this infographic, see “Does the Angel Moroni on LDS Temples Always Face East?”
Brian Olson has also made an online copy of his book "Know Your Moroni, A Field Guide to Angel Moroni Statues". The book is available for download, but the online version has expanded information and galleries of additional works for most of the statue sculptors.
On his "Moroni Faces East" page, Brian Olson states:
- While it is true that there are more Statues that face east than any other specific Direction, you can only say that the majority of them face east if “East” is the direction between North East and South East.
- An Extra note: For most of the Angel Moroni Statues, the direction was determined by which direction the chest faces. The exception to this are the statues holding gold plates, where the trumpet was used.
- Why not the trumpet for all of them? for most statues, the trumpet and the head are turned to the Angel Moroni’s right side. If you use the trumpet, almost none of the statues qualify as facing east!