Ever since the first image of the angel Moroni was put on top of the Nauvoo Temple in the form of a horizontal weather vane, several designers have made images of Moroni to adorn the temples. The designer of the weather vane on the original Nauvoo Temple is unknown, by the way.
Cyrus E. Dallin (1861-1944) designed the very first statue of the angel Moroni for a temple, that of the famous Salt Lake Temple. The statue was of beaten copper and was covered with 22-carat gold leaf. The statue stands 3.8 meters high on a stone ball on top of the middle 64 meters high tower on the east side of the temple.
In the thirties of the last century the statue was imitated by Torlief S. Knaphus for the chapel of the Washington DC Ward of which decades later two other replicas were cast by LaVar Wallgren. These replicas are now found on respectively the Atlanta Georgia Temple and the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, the only two temples which have a Moroni statue that matches that of the Salt Lake Temple.
Ironically, at the time Dallin was asked by President Wilford Woodruff to design the statue for the Salt Lake Temple he was no longer a member of the Church and he did not believe in angels. So at first he turned down the request, but the Church president insisted. Eventually it was Dallin’s mother who persuaded him to accept the assignment when she said: “Every time your return home and take me in your arms you call me your angel mother.” Apparantly that remark offered enough inspiration and motivation to accept the assignment.
The second temple that received a statue of Moroni was the Los Angeles California Temple. The statue was designed by Millard F. Malin (1891-1974). Since this was the largest temple so far, Malin designed a statue that was 4.7 meters tall and weighed 953 pounds. The character has Native American features, wears a cloak with a Mayan design, holds a trumpet of 2,4 meters to his lips and wears a replica of the gold plates in his left arm. The statue was put on top of the 81 meters high tower of the temple in 1953.
Malin served a mission in New Zealand between 1909 and 1912. In 1914, he entered medical school at the University of Utah, where he studied human anatomy. Eventually, he turned his attention to art and studied in New York City. In his autobiography he wrote: “Of my own efforts in art and science, I would say … if my life and work are found to have any value, give the glory to God.”
The third temple that was adorned with a statue of the angel Moroni was the Washington DC Temple which dedicated in 1974. The sculptor was Avard T. Fairbanks (1897-1987) who designed a graceful angel with a trumpet to his lips and also a replica of the gold plates in his left arm. The 5.5 meters high statue was cast in bronze in Italy and covered with gold leaf. It weighs 2,000 pounds and stands at a height of about 88 meters on the highest tower of the temple. The Seattle Washington Temple, the Jordan River Utah Temple and the México City México Temple each have a 4.6 meter high bronze cast of Fairbanks’ design.
Other famous sculptures of Fairbanks’ hand are located in the National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol and in the capitols of the states of Utah and Wyoming. Perhaps his most famous design is the logo of a ram for the American car brand Dodge.
In 1978, Karl A. Quilter (1929-2013) was asked by the Church to design a new statue of the angel Moroni. With LaVar E. Wallgren (1932-2004), a fiberglass specialist, he developed a way to cast fiberglass making it possible to produce lighter statues that were also less expensive. Quilter and Wallgren made two original molds, one for a 3 meter and one for a 2.13 meter high sculpture. Each mold can be used for the casting of 100 statues. These statues weigh about 159 kg and are placed on various temples. Design of the Moroni statue on the The Hague Temple
In 1998, the Church asked Karl Quilter again to design a statue of the angel Moroni – but this time for use on the smaller temples. It was a fiberglass statue that, at the direction of President Hinckley, initially would only be produced in white with Moroni holding a scroll in his left arm. The first ‘small temple’, the Monticello Utah Temple, is the only temple that temporarily had such a white angel Moroni. But because of poor visibility in cloudy weather, the statue was replaced with another statue covered with gold leaf. Eventually the white copy was also covered with gold leaf and now adorns the Columbus Ohio Temple. Moreover, this design with a scroll in Moroni’s left arm can be found at the Anchorage Alaska Temple, the Bismarck North Dakota Temple, the Kona Hawaii Temple and the Caracas Venezuela Temple. This design was based on a 60 inch fiberglass statue that Quilter designed as a keepsake for his grandchildren who read the entire standard works in a given year.
Design of the Moroni statue on the The Hague Temple
The present design of the angel Moroni on the smaller temples is 2.08 meters high and is similar to the designs of Quilter, but it is more compact, slightly turned to display action and the left hand is more relaxed. This design is also found on the temple spire in Zoetermeer.
Temples without a Moroni statue
Presently eight temples have no statue of the angel Moroni: St. George Utah, Logan Utah, Manti Utah, Laie Hawaii, Cardston Alberta, Mesa Arizona, Hamilton New Zealand and Oakland California. The question is whether this will remain as all temples since the inauguration of the Atlanta Georgia Temple are equipped with a statue and the following eight temples even received a statue after their dedication: Idaho Falls Idaho, Freiburg Germany, Ogden Utah, Provo Utah, São Paulo Brazil, Tokyo Japan, Bern Switzerland and London England.
Installment of the statue in Zoetermeer simultaneously with two other temples
Unique about the installment of the statue of the angel Moroni on the spire of the Dutch temple on September 21, 2001 was the simultaneous installment of Moroni statues that day atop the Nauvoo Illinois Temple and the Boston Massachusetts Temple. The day was also historical because it was exactly 178 years ago that the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith for the first time.