When I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1984, Spencer W. Kimball was our Prophet. By this time, President Kimball was basically incapacitated. So, to get to know him, I read his biography: SPENCER W. KIMBALL - THE EARLY AND APOSTOLIC YEARS - Twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – 1980, by Edward L. & Kimball, Andrew E. Jr. Kimball.
Nearly nine years after construction began in 2010, the Rome Italy Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be open for ordinances March 19. A mosaic of masterpieces with Italian themes such as the olive tree, Michelangelo’s Campidoglio, and the acanthus leaf, the Rome Italy temple will become the 162nd operating temple.
Chief architect of the temple design, Niels Valentiner, explains, “This had to be one that when you walked onto this site, every person should feel like they were on an Italian site. They would recognize it because of the materials, because of the design, and because of the surrounding.” As the Phoenix Temple includes unique interior oval designs, the temple in Rome features the ellipse in its architecture and more.
Four Arizona families, including Mesa’s Ryan and Jen Johnson and their children, lived abroad during the construction of the temple. Ryan’s role involved interacting with everyone who worked on or visited the site. When asked about their experience, the Johnson family expressed a deep sense of gratitude to have been part of such a monumental work.
As a religious and cultural center of the Church in Italy, the Rome Temple Square includes a temple, visitors’ center, family history center and patron housing, and a multifunctional meetinghouse, all surrounded by lovely gardens in an Italian piazza, or square.
The visitors’ center, located across the piazza from the temple, offers a multimedia experience and guided tours to guests. As a learning center, open daily and free to the public, it includes exceptional artwork, offering up close experiences including life-size sculptures of the Savior and surrounding apostles as well an 84-square foot stained glass window depicting the parables of Jesus.
Aaron Jorgeson and Cameron Oscarson, both from Holdman Studios, were two of the artists who worked on the stained-glass window panel. Cameron describes the 6,000-piece work of art overflowing with nuances and symbolic materials, including an authentic shell from the Sea of Galilee and salt taken from the Dead Sea.
Aaron explains the durability and premier art glass used to create the unique panels: “The magic is in the materials.”
As local Italian craftsmen and their families toured the center with the Johnsons earlier this year, all agreed it finished beautifully and well exceeded expectations. The architect’s goal appears to be realized as the families passed through the living room setting of the visitors’ center. One Italian woman made the comment, “I feel like I’m at home.”
A book about the stained glass, Come Unto Me: Illuminating the Savior’s Life, Mission, Parables and Miracles, is available through Deseret Book.
For more information about the Rome Italy Temple Square, visit www.mormonnewsroom.org