SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly a decade after its gasp-inducing public announcement, the LDS Church’s Rome Italy Temple is approaching its proverbial finish line, with the faith’s First Presidency announcing dates Thursday morning for its open house and dedication for early 2019.
The public open house for the three-story, 40,000-square foot building will run from Monday, Jan. 28, through Saturday, Feb. 16, excluding Sundays.
And in a departure from traditional temple-dedication patterns, the announced dedication dates for the Rome Italy Temple are “Sunday, March 10, through Sunday, March, 17, 2019.” Dedications of recent temples have been done in three sessions on a singular Sunday.
“The sacred ordinances performed in this holy temple will unite families for eternity,” Said LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson a statement accompanying the announced temple dates. “God loves all His children equally and has provided a way for them to be linked in love, generation to generation. We are thrilled to be able to dedicate a temple in this city replete with historical importance throughout the ages.”
In the church’s October 2008 general conference, then-President Thomas S. Monson announced plans for the Rome Italy Temple. Those in the Conference Center responded with a long and prolonged gasp, given the proposal of a Mormon temple in the city that envelopes the Vatican and helped give name to the Roman Catholic Church.
Yet it’s more than just building a Mormon temple in a Catholic stronghold. Instead, it is the most significant LDS edifice in the biblical regions — even topping the BYU Jerusalem Center with an up-close look at the Old City, the Temple Mount and the nearby Mount of Olives. Rome holds a place in New Testament history and missionary work, with the travels and preaching of ancient apostles such as Peter and Paul as well as the persecutions and Christian martyrdoms there.
While the Catholic faith is both the official state religion of Italy and understandably the predominant religion, it isn’t the only one. Rome is home to not only the Vatican’s landmark St. Peter’s Basilica, but also the Great Synagogue of Rome and the Mosque of Rome, the latter the largest mosque located outside of the Islamic world.
“And so it’s a very nice architectural, spiritual addition to the cosmopolitan city already,” Elder Massico De Feo, the LDS Church's first Italian General Authority Seventy, said of the Rome Temple in a 2017 interview with the Deseret News. “The temple will add even more to the city.
Construction of the temple began with the Oct. 23, 2010, groundbreaking ceremony, led by President Monson and joined by participating city and national leaders and area church officials.
With its Bianco Sardo granite facade coming from stone quarried in Italy, the temple will be the featured building on the 15-acre site located at Via di Settebagni 376, northeast of central Rome and just inside the Grande Raccordo Anulare beltway that circles Italy’s capital city.
Other buildings on the temple site include Rome’s first LDS-constructed meetinghouse, a family history center, patron house, and a visitors’ center that will house digitally reproduced marble replicas of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s renown sculptures of Christus and the Twelve Apostles. Crafted in the early 19th century, the original works reside at the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark.
A little more than a year ago, some 150 people gathered to watch a 13-foot, gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni — Moroni being a key prophet-leader from the faith’s namesake scripture, the Book of Mormon — being placed on atop the Rome Italy Temple 150-plus feet above the ground on the tallest and eastern-most of the building’s twin spires.
The Church now has 155 operating temples across the globe, including 12 in Europe, the latter being the Paris France Temple, which was dedicated and opened for use last April.26 comments on this story
LDS temples differ from meetinghouses, with temple worship, instruction and religious rites therein only allowed for church members in good standing.
Italy is home to 26,550 LDS Church members, two missions (in Rome and Milan) and 101 congregations.
A few weeks before the scheduled open house for the Rome Italy Temple, the public will be able to make reservations at templeopenhouse.lds.org.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated the open house dates excluded Saturdays. The open house will run Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, through Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, excluding Sundays.