Mormons gather to dedicate Europe's largest temple in the 'Eternal City'
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The leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon Church, has for the first time gathered outside of the United States in the Italian capital for a very special occasion: the dedication of its temple in the eternal city. Europe’s largest temple is being dedicated over three days starting Sunday by their “Prophet” Russell Nelson.
For the more than 25,000 Italian Mormons and the many other followers of this faith who came to Rome, this temple has special significance.
Rome the centre of Christian faith
“Rome is the centre of Christianity. Here’s where the apostles Peter and Paul, the early apostles of the Church of Christ came to preach and bear their testimony”, says Alessandro Dini-Ciacci Italy’s representative of the Mormons.
“We are followers of Jesus Christ. We love the Saviour” adds Dini-Ciacci. He stresses that the temple was built as a statement for their beliefs of “Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world” and the idea that life goes on after death where families can be together. “That is the focus of our temples. The ordinances that bind families together” says the head of the Italian branch of the Mormons.
Mormons have 162 temples in different parts of the world and 40 more have already been announced for a church growing in numbers.
No barriers to building a magnificent temple
No expense was spared for this construction of Rome’s towering white “house of the Lord”.
“The temple was built with the finest materials, is very refined, as our offering of love. Our show of love for the Saviour and his father. That’s why we choose the best materials possible. There’s Carrara marbles, stained glass, fine fabrics. It is all a tribute to our heavenly father” explains Dina-Ciacci.
Only members of the faith in good standing can enter the inner rooms of the temple where baptisms and marriages are celebrated.
There are showers and locker rooms where they change into white garments – because everyone is equal. At the heart of the temple is a small pool used as a full-immersion baptistery, where members of the Church can baptize their dead ancestors by proxy.
It took a decade to build the 3,800 square meter temple notes Dina-Ciacci, though he would not give a figure for how much the temple cost but simply says “it’s a cost of faith”.
One of the 10 commandments of the Mormons is to keep the law of tithing; a way to finance temples and all operations. The money spent on temples is far less than what the Church spends on humanitarian aid says Dina-Ciacci.
Rules specific to the Mormons
Members of the Church abide by rules which include chastity outside of marriage. “We keep the Ten Commandments. We ask people to treat their bodies as temples. So we ask them not to pollute them with drugs or alcoholic beverages. We ask them not to smoke. That is what we believe was revealed to one of our prophets for the benefit of all out members”, he explains.
Prophet Russel Nelson met with Pope Francis on Saturday at the Vatican. It was the first time, the head of the Church of Latter Day Saints met with a pope.
While the two churches differ in doctrine, they share concerns like human suffering, the importance of religious liberty and of building bridges of friendship.
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