Valentine's Day and the history of the Salt Lake Temple

Published: Monday, Feb. 14 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

“He wanted a tall, stately statue,” Black said.

The brethren discussed the names of area sculptors, and Cyrus Dallin’s name came up.

Dallin had sent work to Ohio to be bronzed, which was a big deal then, she said.

”He was approached by general authorities, his answer was no,” Black said.

Black said Dallin’s response was, “I don’t believe in angels, and I haven’t believed in them for years.”

President Woodruff went to visit him in Springville, Utah, but his answer was still "no."

So President Woodruff looked through the records to find a tithe payer in Dallin’s family. His widowed mother’s name was on the books so President Woodruff sent a message for her to come and meet with him.

He met with her and asked her to approach her son about building the statue. She fasts and prays before her visit to her son.

He tells her "no."

“I didn’t come to ask you that,” Black said Dallin's mother said of building the statute. “I came to ask you if you have an angel mother”

“Yes,” he answers.

“Will you make it for me” his mother asked.

Dallin made the Angel Moroni.

The capstone ceremony

President Woodruff sent word throughout the church for everyone who’d worked on the temple to gather on Temple Square on April 6, 1892.

“Some accounts said there were 15,000 people gathered on Temple Square,” Black said. “Other accounts say there were another 20,000 people gathered on rooftops on buildings.”

They saw a big black object covered in black cloth with ropes all around. President Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow spoke but without a public announcement system hardly another can hear. After they talked, the angel was unveiled.

Then, President Woodruff made a prophecy: if the interior of the temple is finished in a year, the persecution they have known will end, Black said.

“This generation is pretty motivated,” she said. Many people remembered or endured extermination orders in Missouri, being run out of Illinois, lawsuits and an army coming.

The doorknobs, murals, decorative ceiling and other art was done in a year. Art missionaries were called home from Europe to head up the effort.

The dedication and a delivery

In April 1893 and three weeks of temple dedication sessions had been scheduled, Black said.

“To get into Session No. 1 was big,” Black added.

Tickets were issued and there was a doorkeeper checking tickets.

President Woodruff was dedicating the temple and blessing the different parts of the temple, including the holes that would be a very good size for elevators in years to come, Black said.

A woman in the session, Sister Bennett, was pregnant and went into labor. A Relief Society president, who was also a midwife, was there.

“Sister Bennett is about to bring forth a child and she’s not going to make out of the temple,” Black said.

She was taken to another room where she delivers a son. The temple was also dedicated.

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