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  • Writer's pictureNathan Augustine

Angel Moroni Statues

Updated: Jun 5

Angel Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple

There is a lot to know about the Angel Moroni statues on the temples. These statues have become powerful symbols of the Church and of temples but they were not always as important or as common as they are now and they will not be included on most of the newest temples. There are also some myths about them, such as that they always face east. In fact many don't, including on my local temple, the Nauvoo Illinois Temple where it faces due west. This post owes a great deal to the “Know your Moroni field guide,” a fantastic resource all about the Angel Moroni statues. The field guide lists 8 different versions of the Angel Moroni statue, numbered according to when they were first used. For this and future posts the names of temples that are under construction are in Italics and the names of temples that are announced are in Bold.

The eight different types of Moroni statues

The original Nauvoo Temple had a gold painted tin weather-vane in the shape of a flying angel holding a book and blowing a trumpet (a reference to Rev. 14:6). All statues include a trumpet and some include a book or scroll (Why Do Temples Have the Angel Moroni on Top? Here’s Look at the History of the Iconic Statues).

Angel Moroni (type 1) on the Salt Lake Temple

The first three Utah temples do not have Angel Moroni statues. During the construction of the Salt Lake Temple Wilford Woodruff commissioned Utah sculptor Cyrus Dallin to sculpt a statue of an angel blowing a trumpet for the center tower. Dallin's parents had left the Church before he was born and he is the only person to sculpt an Angel Moroni Statue to not belong to the Church. However, it was his mother who convinced him to accept the commission after he initially turned it down.

By long tradition many Christian churches have a trumpeting angel statue or weathervane, typically the angel is identified as Gabriel, the angel of the annunciation. During a visit to Dallin's studio to view the statue one of the Apostles said: "We should call him Moroni" and that name stuck.

Dallin's statue (type 1) is made of stamped copper sheets over a steel armature, is 12 ½ ft. tall, weighs 1,500 lbs. and is only on the Salt Lake Temple (Why do temples have the angel Moroni on top? Here’s a look at the history of the iconic statues, How we Got the Angel Moroni Statue and Improvement Era: Cyrus Dallin and the Angel Moroni Statue).

Angel Moroni (type 2) on the Los Angeles California Temple

After Salt Lake the next five temples did not have Angel Moroni statues (the next three temples didn’t even have spires) until the Los Angeles California Temple in 1956. Its statue (type 2) was sculpted by Millard Malin. It is made of welded aluminum, is 15 ½ ft. tall and weighs 2,100 lbs. It includes the gold plates cradled in Moroni’s left arm and is only on the Los Angeles Temple (BYU: I Saw Another Angel Fly).

Angel Moroni (type 3) on the Washington DC Temple

The next five temples did not have Angel Moroni statues until Washington DC in 1974. Its statue (type 3) was sculpted by Avard Fairbanks. It is made of bronze, is 18 ft. tall and weighs 4,000 lbs. It includes the gold plates cradled in Moroni’s left arm and is on the Washington DC Temple (BYU: I Saw Another Angel Fly).

Angel Moroni (type 3) on the Mexico City Mexico Temple

The next two temples did not have Angel Moroni statues until Seattle Washington in 1980. Seattle and the next temple, Jordan River Utah both have smaller bronze 15 ft. tall 4,000 lbs. copies of the Fairbanks Angel Moroni statue first used on the Washington DC Temple (these are also considered type 3). This was the first time a statue was copied instead of commissioning an artist to create a new statue. The Church used another 15 ft. tall type 3 statue on the Mexico City Mexico Temple (BYU: I Saw Another Angel Fly).

Angel Moroni (type 4) on the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple

As mentioned in my post on spires the church’s original plans for the next temple in Atlanta Georgia did not include a spire or an Angel Moroni statue (New Temple Designs Combine Beauty and Efficiency). Having decided to add both a spire and statue the Church needed statues that didn’t weigh several thousand pounds and didn’t have the significant cost of the earlier ones. Artists Karl Quilter and LaVar Wallgren developed a method of casting the statues in fiberglass. This made it practical for them to be included on nearly every temple the Church has dedicated since and also to add them to older temples that did not originally have them (BYU: I Saw Another Angel Fly and Super Moroni Statue Almost Appeared on Nauvoo Temple, Sculptor's Son Recalls).

Washington DC Chapel ca. 1935

The Church’s first chapel in Washington DC was a specially designed building that included a statue of the Angel Moroni on its spire (the only use of an Angel Moroni statue on a building other than a temple that I know of). The statue was sculpted by Torleif Knaphus in 1930 and is made of welded aluminum, is 11 ½ ft. tall and weighs 645 lbs. He based it on Cyrus Dallin’s Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple. The chapel building was sold in 1977 but not before the Church removed the statue and placed it in the Church Museum of History and Art (LDS Living: Beautifully Unique LDS Chapels and the Stories Behind Them). Quilter and Wallgren copied it for their first fiberglass statue (type 4). They made two, they are 11 ½ ft. tall and weigh 400 lbs. The Church placed one on the Atlanta Georgia Temple and one on the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (BYU: I Saw Another Angel Fly). However during a renovation in 1997 the Church removed the statue on the Atlanta temple and replaced it with a type 5 statue. Four years later they placed a type 4 statue on the the Boston Massachusetts Temple, the temple closest to where Cyrus Dallin lived (3D Temples: Knaphus’s Moroni).

Angel Moroni (type 5) on the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple (Left)

Angel Moroni (type 6) on the Bern Switzerland Temple (Right)

At about this time the Church commissioned Karl Quilter to sculpt two new standard statues. The first (type 5) is made of fiberglass, is 7 ft. tall, weighs about 300 lbs. and is the most commonly used statue. The second (type 6) is also made of fiberglass, is 10 ½ ft. tall, weighs about 400 lbs. and is the second most commonly used statue. These two are very similar but not identical (in the above photos note the bent wrist and tighter cuffs on the Albuquerque statue, the wrinkled sleeve and wider spaced knees on the Bern statue and the differences between the trumpets). Though not the last to be created these are the only two still being made (3D Temples: Know your Moroni field guide).

The First Angel Moroni (type 7) on the Monticello Utah Temple

The Church commissioned LaVar Wallgren to sculpt a new Angel Moroni statue (type 7) for the series of small locally supported temples patterned after the Monticello Utah Temple. It is made of fiberglass, is 5 ft. 11 in. tall, weighs about 250 lbs. and includes a scroll held in Moroni’s left hand. It was first used on the Monticello Utah Temple, the first temple in that series. When first installed it was not covered in gold leaf, but was finished in white enamel. The white statue proved too difficult to see against a cloudy sky so the Church removed it. Some sources say the Church covered it with gold leaf and placed it on the Columbus Ohio Temple (LDS Living: 10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Angel Moroni Statue). But actually it is in storage at the Church Museum of History and Art (3D Temples: The White to Gold Angel). The Church then placed a gold leaf covered type 5 statue on the Monticello Utah Temple (3D Temples: Statue by Sculptor and ChurchofJesusChristTemples: Monticello Utah Temple). They have used gold on all later statues (until Abidjan Ivory Coast, see below) and only used type 7 statues on five of the 49 small temples in the series (the Anchorage Alaska, Bismarck North Dakota, Kona Hawaii, Columbus Ohio, and Caracas Venezuela temples) (3D Temples: Wallgren's Moroni).

Angel Moroni (type 8) on the Nauvoo Illinois Temple

The Church saw the rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple as a special temple. Therefore they commissioned Karl Quilter to sculpt a new statue for it (type 8). Though similar to type 5 it has some clear differences (a very different robe and an open left hand). It is made of fiberglass and is 6 ft. 10 in. tall, weighs about 300 lbs. and is on the Reno Nevada, Nauvoo Illinois and Manhattan New York temples (Super Moroni Statue Almost Appeared on Nauvoo Temple Sculptor's Son Recalls and 3D Temples: Wallgren's Moroni).

Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple

The Abidjan Ivory Coast Temple, which is under construction, has a unique Angel Moroni statue. It is a standard type 5 statue except that it is finished in a silver colored metal (probably to be palladium) rather than gold, making it the only temple with a non-gold statue. It appears that this was planed early in the temple design process since the official exterior rendering also shows a silver colored statue ( Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Temple).

Freiberg Germany Temple in 1985 before it received an Angel Moroni Statue

All temples the Church dedicated from Atlanta Georgia to Hartford Connecticut except Freiberg Germany (133 temples) included an Angel Moroni statue at the time of or within a year after dedication (Temple List). Freiberg got one in 2001, 16 years after its dedication (Angel Statue Added to Freiberg Temple). As mentioned in my post on spires, the Paris France Temple has no spire and therefore no Angel Moroni statue (Deseret News: No Spire or Moroni Statue for Paris Temple? No its French and its Fine). After Paris the Church also built the Kinshasa DR of the Congo, and Port-au-Prince Haiti temples without Angel Moroni statues. Starting with the Yigo Guam Temple the Church has gradually phased out Angel Moroni statues.

Angel Moroni (type 4) on the Idaho Falls Temple

In 1983 the Church used a helicopter to add an Angel Moroni statue to the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. Starting in 2001 they added Angel Moroni statues to several other temples that did not originally have them, namely the Freiberg Germany (2001), Ogden Utah (2002), São Paulo Brazil (2003), Provo Utah (2003), Tokyo Japan (2004), Bern Switzerland (2005) and London England (2008) temples (Angel Moroni Statues on Temples).

Hong Kong China Temple before and after renovation

The Church recently completed a renovation of the Hong Kong China Temple. As part of the renovation they removed the spire and Angel Moroni statue. This is the only time the Church has permanently removed a statue.

Angel Moroni (type 6) on the Hartford Connecticut Temple

Between the 2008 dedication of the Hartford Connecticut Temple and the renovation of the Hong Kong China Temple every temple from Ogden Utah to Hartford Connecticut (142 temples) had an Angel Moroni statue (Temples List).

Since President Nelson became the prophet an increasing number of temples do not have an Angel Moroni statue (This Week in Mormons: From Design Feature to Global Symbol: The Rise and Fall of Angel Moroni). Though the Church has not made any public statements regarding the change it presumably has to do with President Nelson's desire to focus on Christ as the center and symbol of the Church.

Sydney Australia Temple

Due to a local city ordinance, the Sydney Australia Temple was dedicated without an Angel Moroni statue on its spire. An Australian court overruled the local city council a year later and the statue was hoisted into place atop the spire the next day (News of the Church 11/1985).

Apia Samoa Temple after Reconstruction

As mentioned in my post on buildings, a fire that broke out during a renovation project at the Apia Samoa Temple destroyed most of the temple to the point that the Church needed to completely rebuild it. This is the only time an operating temple has been destroyed. However, the Angel Moroni statue was mostly undamaged. This same statue was placed back on the rebuilt temple (BYU: A Trial by Fire: The 2003 Destruction of the Apia Samoa Temple, Statue of Angel Moroni placed on temple and Remains of temple in Samoa demolished).

The West Tower of the Manti Temple

During a scene in the Mormon Miracle Pageant, which took place yearly from 1968 to 2019 on the grounds of the Manti Utah Temple, the actor playing Moroni stood on the top of the Temple’s west tower rooftop balcony and blew a trumpet, giving the Manti Temple an Angel Moroni for a brief time (Salt Lake Tribune: Two step up to play angel atop Manti Temple in Mormon pageant).

Angel Moroni (type 6) on the Las Vegas Nevada Temple

(note the damage to the front of the statue)

Angel Moroni statues are often damaged by lightning, earthquakes, pollution and from general wear and tear. The small fiberglass statues are replaced every 15 years or so, then the damaged statue is refurbished and used to replace another statue (LDS Melbourne Temple Receives New Statue and Youtube: Changing Statue at the Perth Australia Temple). The earlier and larger statues are refurbished in place (Moroni Receives New Plating Atop the Johannesburg Temple) or removed, refurbished and returned (Deseret News: Moroni statue returns to top of Idaho Falls temple). (See also 3D Temples: Gold Leaf and Angel Replacements.)

Nauvoo Illinois Temple

In 2019 a lightning strike damaged the statue on the Nauvoo Illinois Temple. The damaged statue was replaced with another type 8, suggesting that there is at least one spare of this type (New Moroni Nauvoo Temple and 3D Temples: Lightning Rods)

Angel Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple after the 2020 Earthquake

(note its trumpet on the tower ledge)

Various Angel Moroni statues have lost their trumpets or rotated during earthquakes, specifically:

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Esteban J. Corzo
Esteban J. Corzo
Jan 05

Here's a historic photo for you of a small miracle when the Moroni statue in Bogotá Colombia Temple was renovated circa 2006. The original statue was smaller and it was changed for the current bigger one. That day, the usual cloudy sky opened up in a circle just above the temple.

In 2020, a lighting strike burned most of this very statue, requiring a mantaince. If I get those photos, I'll share them. It was a black Moroni!

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