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The Dog That Saved the Washington D.C. Temple + Other Amazing Temple Stories

This year marks a joyous milestone in temple history with the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple as the 150th LDS temple on the earth today. In celebration, here are 3 fascinating stories about these beautiful and holy structures.

1. Washington D.C. Temple: Saved By a Heaven-Sent Watch Dog

In early 1973, leaders became concerned with security at the Washington D.C. Temple construction site. One Saturday shortly after this concern arose, a stray German shepherd appeared near the temple gates. Residents in the area called animal control to pick up the dog, but when work began again the next Monday morning, it was still there.

Taking pity on the hungry animal, workers fed him and decided to keep him on the site. Zacharias, as the workers named him, soon became an important part of the temple construction site’s security. After sleeping during the day, the dog regularly woke at 4 p.m. to watch the workers depart before making rounds on the property throughout the night.

On one occasion, Zacharias led a security guard to the temple president’s office, where a fire had started, apparently caused by a mishap with welding equipment. When the temple was completed, one of the workers took the trusted dog home with him. The construction foremen said they believed that the German shepherd was sent by the Lord to help meet security needs at the temple site.

2. Cebu City Philippines Temple: Underground Tunnels and Unexploded Bombs

During historic groundbreaking ceremonies for the Cebu City Philippines Temple in 2007, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena remarked: “It is with great honor that I am here to witness the groundbreaking of what is to be the place for a beautiful temple.” The mayor shared the history of the property and explained that the site had been used in the past to defend freedom and that treasures were rumored to be buried there.

Although no “treasures” were found, Mayor Osmena’s comments proved to be very true. The temple is located on higher ground in Cebu City. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during World War II, they occupied the area and fortified it as a stronghold. During their occupation, they built a labyrinth of underground tunnels to facilitate movement and the storage of ammunition and explosives. These 20-foot-deep tunnels were discovered while excavating the temple’s foundation. Ultrasound equipment was used and care was taken to determine the extent of the tunnels and remove equipment and unexploded bombs. Soil was stabilized by filling the tunnels with at least 28 truckloads of concrete.

3. Taipei Taiwan Temple: Where One Family Submitted Over 100,000 Names

In a land where honoring one’s ancestors is part of a long, rich history, Taipei Taiwan has countless traditional temples and shrines where people go to connect with their deceased relatives. Their traditional emphasis on ancestors makes “turning our hearts to our fathers” a natural part of Taiwanese culture. Some families in Taiwan have family records dating back 2,000 years, and even before the dedication of the temple, some 12,000 names had been submitted by members for temple work.

Over the past 35+ years, Brother Li Chiun-tsan, a member of the Chung Hsing Taiwan Stake, has dedicated himself to family history and temple work. He and his wife, Li-hsueh, have traced his family line back nearly 5,000 years to the Yellow Emperor, said to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese. They have submitted more than 100,000 names to the temple.

Lead image iStock.com


Image titleFor more incredible facts and stories about all 150 temples, check out Temples of the New Millenium. Available now at in store at Deseret Book or at deseretbook.com. You can also check out the March/April 2016 issue of LDS Living Magzine for more.