"Let the Devil Roar": Brigham Young's Surprising Statement After the St. George Temple Dedication

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious, you have probably collected a decent store of knowledge about important events in Church history. But no matter how much you thought you knew, there are a surprising number of fascinating facts that you might have overlooked. Here is an interesting story from when the St. George Temple was dedicated.

“Let the Devil Roar”

In April 1874, most laborers in St. George were erecting the red sandstone walls of the temple in that city. Others were working on the baptismal room in the basement and the oxen to support the baptismal font. Although progress was evident at every turn, George A. Smith said of Brigham Young, “You cannot realize . . . how anxious he is to get this temple completed. He feels he is getting old, and is liable to drop off anytime, and he has keys he wants to give in the temple.”

When everything was in readiness for the dedicatory services, President George Q. Cannon and other Church leaders traveled to St. George for the occasion. Upon seeing the temple, President Cannon wrote, “When we saw it, it stood out in bold relief and in marked contrast with the black and red hills which surround the little valley in which St. George stands. . . . It excited peculiar emotions in all the parties to witness once more a temple erected to the Most High God.”

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St. George Temple about the time of its dedication. Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

A private dedication was held on January 1, 1877, for parts of the temple. On that day temple president and apostle Wilford Woodruff wrote, “This is a very important day to the Church and Kingdom of God upon the Earth.”

As Brigham Young walked to the stand to speak to the assembled, “the house seemed filled with a heavenly host and the President’s face fairly shone with the light of the Holy Ghost.”

He asked if those in attendance thought he was satisfied with the temple. He then said, “I am not half satisfied, until I have whipped . . . the devils from off this earth,” and crashed his hickory cane down on the pine pulpit.

After the ceremony, the Saints began to leave the temple but stopped when President Young advised, “Sit down and calm yourselves and let the devil roar.” When they did leave the temple, they found their buggies had been upset and trees blown down in a terrible windstorm.

Lead photo Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

Image titleFor additional unique insights into well-known and little-known events in Church history, check out What You Don’t Know About the 100 Most Important Events in Church History, available at Deseret Book stores and on deseretbook.com.

Find this and other great stories like "The Write Stuff" and "Reunited After 62 Years" in the March/April 2017 issue of LDS Living.

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