How the angel Moroni statue has changed in appearance over the years

by | Aug. 03, 2020

The angel Moroni statue is an easily recognizable feature on top of temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A reminder of the Restoration, the statue is a way for Latter-day Saints to celebrate a temple’s completion. But did you know that not all angel Moroni statues have looked the same over the years? Church News recently spoke with Emily Utt, historic sites curator for the Church History Department, to learn about the history of the statue and how it has changed.

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  • The angel Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple was the first statue that was placed upright on a temple—in Nauvoo, an angel was placed horizontally on top of the building as a weathervane, but it was referencing “the angel in the book of Revelation heralding in the Second Coming,” Church News reported. Created by Cyrus Dallin, the angel Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple was made with a neoclassical design, featuring flowing robes, a short cloak, bare arms, and a cap.

  • In 1956, local artist Millard F. Malin created the angel Moroni for the Los Angeles California Temple. “This angel Moroni has Native American features, a Mayan robe, sandaled feet, a muscular build, a trumpet held by an upturned right hand, and gold plates held in his left arm,” Church News stated.

  • The Washington D.C. Temple’s angel Moroni, designed by Avard Fairbanks, was similar to the one created by Cyrus Dallin, but the angel held gold plates in his left arm, like Malin’s statue. The Washington D.C. Temple was dedicated in 1974.

  • After the dedication of the Washington D.C. Temple, the Church entered an era of standard temple building. The statue was scaled down and designed to be easier to build and to transport. In 1978, artist Karl Quilter was commissioned to design the angel Moroni out of fiberglass, rather than bronze, making the statue light enough to be carried by helicopter.

  • A couple of decades later, in 1998, Quilter redesigned the angel Moroni statue once again “with a larger build, layered robes, an open left hand, and the body turned slightly to show more action,” Church News reported.

  • Lavar Wallgren created the last angel Moroni statue, which shows a younger version of the ancient American prophet with his robes tied by a sash and a scroll in his left hand.

► You may also like: Learn about the number of temples without an angel Moroni statue

Read more about the history of the angel Moroni statue and see photos of the different depictions at Church News.

Featured image by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Danielle christensen

Danielle Christensen

Danielle is a features writer and editor for LDS Living. Previously, she served as web producer for Church News, where she managed their website and social media platforms. Danielle is a graduate of Brigham Young University in English and has been published with Deseret NewsChurch NewsBYU Magazine, and Spires Intercollegiate Arts and Literary Magazine.

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