Mormon Trivia: The Angel Moroni Statue

55 thoughts on “Mormon Trivia: The Angel Moroni Statue

  1. Great article. Some points that could have been added include: 1) Which is the largests angel in weight and height. 2) Name of a chapel with an angel moroni on the steeple. 3)Which temples did not have an angel on them originally? I wish that you would have done this sooner so that I could have used the material in a youth conference presentation that I made last summer at the Washington DC Temple Visitors Center about how the Washington DC temple angel Moroni was different that other temples.

  2. An Angel Moroni statue adorned the top of the original Washington, D.C. Chapel.

    From artist Al Rounds’ website:

    The Washington, D.C. Chapel was built in the 1930s and served as the meetinghouse for many LDS members working in the U.S. government. [Ezra Taft Benson, future Secretary of Agriculture and future Church president became the first stake president.] It was sold in 1975, but the angel Moroni and other artifacts from it are now displayed in the Museum of Church History in Salt Lake City.

  3. Thanks everyone for your great comments!
    @Douglas – Sorry I didn’t accomodate you sooner, but glad you took the time to read!

    @Jake – thanks for sharing that! I don’t recall hearing about the Mt. Timp angel. It’s a bit odd that neither DesNews nor Mormon Times mentioned the prior angel being damaged by lightening when the Oquirrh Mt. angel was getting so much publicity.

    @ MormonBlogger – You are correct! That was a great tidbit I left off the article. My father used to attend the LDS chapel in Washington DC with the angel, and has many fond memories of his time there. The members were so proud of that unique chapel, and it was a marvelous missionary tool. He says that they had non-Mormon visitors to the chapel every single week. People would be so curious, or impressed with the gold angel statue they would walk in, and then stay for the meetings.

    • I am writing a personal history for my grandchildren. I am looking for pictures of the inside of the old DC chapel. If anyone has any, please let me know. Thanks.

  4. There’s one angle Moroni statue you’ve missed. At least the only one I know about. Possibly because it is no longer in place. The Old Washington DC Ward building, sold by the church in the 1970’s, once had a Moroni statue on its spire. I think it was a smaller replica of the Salt Lake Temple’s statue. In 1971 when my family visited DC, we visited this chapel and I saw the statue myself. In the late 1970’s the statue was briefly on display in the DC temple visitors center and I understand it is currently in the chruch museum west of Temple Square. Just thought you’d like to know.

    Thanks,
    Rick

  5. This was beautiful. I am post mormon, but I feel like I need an update occasionally. This must be a very emotional experience when seen in person. The close ups at the end, and the music by the taberbacle choir just added to everything.

  6. Thank you so much for the great article. It had some information that I was looking for. I am related to Karl Quilter. (My great-grandmother was a Quilter.) I had heard about Karl and something about the angel Moroni. Thank you for clarifying it for me. I greatly appreciate it!!!

  7. Interesting about the west facing Moroni’s. I wonder how many face north and south. The Mexico City Moroni faces south. The missionaries that gave us a tour said Pres. Kimball requested him to awaken the Lamanites and face the book of Mormon lands. This angel also has the gold plates. And I think the Manhatten temple faces southwest since the temple is on a street corner.

    • sorry, I don’t know the exact answer, but it wouldn’t be hard to figure out using some basic trigonometry. Here’s how:

      If you walked away from the temple wall, say 100ft and remained on level ground. If you could measure the angle from the ground looking up to the angel you could simply do this calculation: 100ft *(tan (put in measured degrees here)) = how high up the angel Moroni is.

      p.s. You’ll want to make sure your calculator is in degree mode, or you’ll get a wrong number. Also, this won’t be exactly right, as the angel Moroni isn’t directly over the East wall, but will give you a good estimate. You could also get a better estimate if you add to the initial 100ft how far in from the outer East wall you think the angel is before multiplying by tangent of the angle.

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  9. Sister MoSop,
    Thank you so much for this article! I am a Temple Trivia nut and maintain a full-page Excel spreadsheet (front and back) of all the temple trivia I can think of. I’d been wondering about the different Moroni statuess for a while now, and your article was an informative balm. :o) A suggestion and a question:

    Suggestion: The article is currently titled “Mormon Triva,” when you probably meant “Trivia.”

    Question: Can we pretty safely assume, then, that all the remaining temples not mentioned in the Dallin, Malin, Fairbanks, or Knaphus paragraphs, are adorned by the Quilter version?

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Eric,
      1. Thank you for being so observant! I have corrected my spelling error :)
      2. You have posed an excellent question which I do not have an immediate answer for. It sounds like we have some sleuthing to do! If you find the answer before me, let me know – and vice versa.
      Best wishes, MoSop

      • Slipped my mind to remind everyone of the story of the Moroni at the L.A. Temple, as an appendix to your section about which way he should face. You’ve doubtlessly heard or read it before:

        “During one of his frequent visits to the temple, President David O. McKay noticed that the angel faced southeast as did the temple. He informed architect Edward O. Anderson “that it was not correct in that position…that the angel must face east.” The angel had generated much conversation among the neighbors, and one indicated, perhaps tongue in cheek, that she “certainly never would be interested [in learning more about the Church] until the angel faced her home.” One morning she awoke to find the statue “was looking directly at her place.” Brother Anderson had followed President McKay’s instructions to turn the angel.” (Temples to Dot the Earth by Richard Cowan, 1997 edition, page 183) :)

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  11. Lance, you are correct. Only five temples at this time feature an angel Moroni statue holding a trumpet in one hand, and the gold plates in its other hand. These angels are located on the Los Angeles California Temple, Washington D.C. Temple, Seattle Washington Temple, Jordan River Utah Temple, and México City México Temple. A sixth angel Moroni holding plates stands atop the Hill Cumorah Monument.

    The first Angel Moroni sculpted to hold the golden plates in its left arm was designed by Torleif Knapfus for the Hill Cumorah Monument (see #3 above). Sculptor Millard Malin kept Knaphus’ design idea for his unique Los Angeles Temple angel (#1 above), also keeping the plates in Moroni’s left arm; so did Avard Fairbanks (#2), who sculpted the version for the Washington D.C. Temple. (Replicas of Fairbanks’s plate-holding Moroni stand atop the Seattle Washington, Jordan River Utah, and Mexico City Mexico Temples.)

    Every Angel Moroni statue is created as a unique work of art designed through inspiration. The choice to depict a Moroni holding the plates seems a perfect tribute to the prophet who sacrificed his entire life to preserve, protect and hide these sacred ancient records – and then to deliver them to Joseph Smith in the 19th Century. Although I do not have all of the details about each angel story, LA and DC angels are mentioned above. The Mexico City temple was the first temple built specifically for the decendents of the Lamanite people of the Book of Mormon, so I think it is especially fitting their angel is holding the golden plates!

  12. I hear the ball Angel Moroni stands on at SLC temple is actually a capstone of sorts that serves as a relic chamber containing historic church relics. Is this true do you know? Or what relics may be in there?

        • You might prove me wrong, but I don’t think there is “time capsule”-style stuff in there. Usually, those items are sealed into a cornerstone so that they can be (more-or-less) easily extracted later. Also, as you may know, the ball that the Angel Moroni stands on atop the Salt Lake Temple actually serves a practical engineering purpose. It is not actually a solid ball, but has a hole down the middle of it to allow a weighted pole attached to Moroni’s feet to swing a few degrees in every direction. So (unless I’m mistaken) I would think that it would be extremely tricky to pack very many items of historical significance into such a small, and oddly-shaped, space. Just my $0.02 cents, though.

    • I’m joining this discussion so late that this response may have little value. Here is a sentence from Church News, Feb. 6, 1993, in an article written by Elder Loren C. Dunn: “In the capstone are copies of the four standard works and other theological works, photographs of Church authorities, and an engraved tablet giving a brief history of the temple’s construction. (The Contributor, April 1893, pp. 275-77.)”

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  14. I count 9 different designs when closely examining all the angel Moroni photographs I could find, yet this article only mentions 5 different designs. Perhaps you could research and find information on the other (4?).

  15. I also count 9 different Angel Moroni Styles. Here is what I have found.
    1. Original Nauvoo Temple weathervane style (0 on current temples)
    2. Cyrus Dallen’s Salt Lake Temple version – replicas currently on Idaho Falls and Boston Temples (3 currently on Temples)
    3. Torlief Knaphus’s Hill Cumorah Monument Statue – (0 on temples)
    4. Millard Malin’s Los Angeles Temple Style – Gold Plates in left hand and Mayan clothes (1 on a temple)
    5. Avard Fairbanks’ Washington D.C. Temple style – gold plate in left hand (currently on 4 temples, Washington D.C., replicas on Jordan River, Seattle and Mexico City temples)
    6. Karl Quilter’s shorter (7 foot) 1978 style – closed fist left hand and tight sleeves (currently on 83 dedicated temples and two temples under construction) I have the list if interested
    7. Karl Quilter’s taller (10 foot) 1978 style – closed left fist and looser sleeves (currently on 33 dedicated temples and on one under construction) I have the list if interested
    8. LaVar Walgren’s design – scroll in left hand (5 on current temples Anchorage, Bismarck, Columbus Ohio, Kona Hawaii and Caracas Venezuela)
    9. Karl Quilter’s 1998 design – open left hand ( 3 on current temples Nauvoo, Manhattan and Reno Nevada)

    Eight temples have no Angel Moroni Statues.

    The Atlanta Temple used to have a #2 statue but now has a #6 Statue.

    The Monticello Utah Temple used to have a white #8 statue but now has a gold #6 statue.

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    • Hello Marilynn, Thank you for visiting. Please scroll back up and read item #1 under “Other Angels” which gives information about the Los Angeles Temple angel. “It has Native American features, wears a Mayan style cloak and holds the gold plates in his left hand.” Of course, no one actually knows what “Lamanite style clothing” actually looked like, but we can assume it had a close resemblance to styles found in “Aztec” art.
      I hope that helps answer your question.
      est wishes – MoSop

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  18. It should be noted that East and West are not the only options for directions for Moroni to face. Chicago and Guatemala City Face North, Dallas and Buenos Aires face south, and Manhattan Faces the Lincoln Center, South West.

  19. The following is a reference to another type of Angel which I use to share the Gospel with others. The reference is: Ensign 1984, Living by the Spirit by Joy Webb Rigby. Go to 2nd page if you do it on line; 1/2 way down a 2 line paragraph that starts out, “My husband and I…” Let me know what you think.

    • Thank you, Thomas for recommending the article “Living By The Spirit” .
      The story you reference of a young girl who was sent a special “angel” [her mother] was very sweet. :) I do hope that I can be that kind of mother for my children, and I do pray that we will all be a special angel for someone else.
      I am reminded of President Spencer W. Kimball’s famous quote:

      “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.”

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