The angel Moroni statues that sit atop LDS temples have come to be well-known symbols of the Church. Moroni is identified by Latter-day Saints as the angel foreseen by John in the book of Revelation.
‘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.’ (Revelation 14:6).
The Nauvoo Temple was the first LDS temple to be graced with a “gilded angel.” When Thomas L. Kane visited the Nauvoo Temple site in 1846, he said of the Saints who stayed behind to finish the temple,
‘They had completed even the gilding of the angel and trumpet on the summit of its lofty spire.’ (Thomas L. Kane, The Mormons. A Discourse Delivered Before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 26 Mar. 1850 (1850), 20.)
The Nauvoo Temple angel, however, was a horizontal flying angel and was not formally identified as Moroni.
In one of his hands is an open Book of Mormon. In the other he holds a trumpet to his lips. He is wearing a priestly robe that reaches to his feet and a round cap. This is the clothing worn by the priests of ancient Israel during their ministrations in the temple.
The idea to use the prophet from the Book of Mormon to top LDS temples came from sculptor Cyrus Dallin, who, though born in Utah, was not a member of the Church. President Wilford Woodruff had asked Cyrus to create something for the central spire of the Salt Lake Temple. At first Cyrus refused saying that he didn’t believe in angels. President Woodruff knew that Cyrus’ parents had once been active Latter-day Saints and encouraged him to consult with his mother.
Dallin searched through LDS scripture for inspiration and decided to sculpt Moroni because he felt that because of his role in delivering the golden plates to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Moroni was an appropriate symbol of the restoration of the gospel in these latter days. After finishing the statue, Cyrus said, “My angel Moroni brought me nearer to God than anything I ever did. It seemed to me that I came to know what it means to commune with angels from heaven. We can only create in life what we are and what we think.”
With a trumpet pressed to his lips, the statue of Moroni symbolises the restoration and the preaching of it to the world. The trumpet (or horn) is traditionally associated with proclamations, warnings and gathering.
‘And more blessed are you because you are called of me to preach my gospel—
To lift up your voice as with the sound of a trump, both long and loud, and cry repentance unto a crooked and perverse generation, preparing the way of the Lord for his second coming.’ (D&C 34:5-6)
Joseph Smith finally received the golden plates on the Israelite Day of Remembrance (or Rosh Hashanah).
‘The festival of Rosh Hashanah—the name means ‘Head of the Year’—is … the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve….
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which also represents the trumpet blast of a people’s coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance, for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and his repentance thereof, and serves as the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Another significance of the shofar is to recall the binding of Isaac which also occurred on Rosh Hashanah.’
(from www.chabad.org – website of Judaism, Torah and Jewish information.)
The angel Moroni thus represents:
- the restoration of the gospel;
- a call for the elect to gather;
- a warning to all to repent; and
- a type of the angels who will announce the coming in glory of the Lord at his Second Coming.