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7 Wonders of the Mormon World


7. The Salt Lake Temple

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple
Photo from LDS Living

The Salt Lake Temple is an international symbol for the Church. This magnificent edifice took 40 years to build, during which time five laborers died in work-related accidents: Archibald Bowman (1855), Sam Kaealoi (1878), William Henry Pullan (1881), Samuel Ensign (1885), and Robert Ford (1890).

The Salt Lake Temple was the first to feature a standing angel Moroni statue (although original plans featured two angel Moroni statues--one on the east end and one on the west end). The east statue stands 14 feet tall, with a steel rod extending down into the tower about 27 feet, where a 4,000 pound counterbalance keeps the statue standing strong against even the worst storms.

The beauty of the temple is obvious. But if you look more closely, you will find deep symbolism not only on the inside of the temple, but on the outside structure itself. Here are just a few examples:


All-Seeing Eye

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple
Photo from ldschurchtemples.com

Below the dedicatory inscription on the temple is the all-seeing eye. This is a symbol of God’s protection and omnipresence. (See Ps. 33:18; Prov. 15:3.)


Handclasp

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple
Photo from Deseret News

The handclasp symbolizes the hand of fellowship. This feature is located below the all-seeing-eye motif. The alpha-omega inscription reminds us of Jesus Christ's eternal existence (Rev. 1:8).


Cloud Stones

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple
Photo from Deseret News

Cloud stones symbolize the presence of God as described in the Old and New Testaments. (See 1 Kgs. 8:10–11; Matt. 17:5.)

Below, you will find a circle within a square. The circle is symbolic of endless eternal life and perfection, while the square represents the earth and earth life. Combined, they symbolize man’s progression from mortal imperfection toward immortal perfection.


Earth, Moon, and Sun Stones

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple

Photos from moroni10.com

Earth stones are found at the ground level, then moon stones, then sun stones (in ascending order). These represent the three degrees of glory: the telestial, terrestrial, and celestial kingdoms.

Earth stones also represent the gospel being spread to all nations, kindreds, tongue and people. Located at the base of the temple, they also represent Earth as God's footstool.

Moon stones depict the four phases of the moon (full, half, crescent, and new) symbolizing man's progression from birth to resurrection. Starting at the east tower, moon stones are arranged to depict a full 12-month cycle of the moon.

In addition to representing the celestial kingdom, sun stones are symbols for the glory of God, light and truth, and the Savior as the light of the world.

Big Dipper (Ursa Major)

7 Wonders of the Mormon World: Salt Lake Temple
Photo from Deseret News

On the west facade of the temple, you can find the constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) pointing toward the North Star. For centuries, people have used this constellation to find the North Star for navigation on their journeys. In this case, the constellation symbolizes how the lost may find themselves by the priesthood.

To learn more about the symbols on the Salt Lake Temple, read "Every Window, Every Spire "Speaks of the Things of God" by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel in the March 1993 Ensign.

Click here to read 40 Things You Didn't Know about Temple Square.

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