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Angel Moroni statue brought down after 128 years during Salt Lake Temple renovations

Posted at 7:38 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 21:57:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Angel Moroni statue has been sitting atop the Salt Lake Temple since one year before the temple’s dedication 128 years ago.

Richard Cowan is a retired historian from Brigham Young University. He studied temples for nearly 60 years — all while his eyesight was diminishing.

“I can remember seeing the figure of Moroni,” said Cowan. “Placing the statue Moroni is one of the landmark events of the construction, because it represents the completion of the exterior.”

The man who originally sculpted the statue, Cowan said, was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“He was a well known artist,” said Cowan. “He said his project of sculpting Angel Moroni had brought him closer to God than anything else in his life.”

The statue is based off of a man in the Book of Mormon named Moroni.

Cowan said putting classical figures on religious buildings was common when the temple was built.

“It really is a Christian symbol because it directs us to the Book of Mormon, which is another witness that Jesus is the Christ,” said Cowan.

An important symbol that Cowan said was only put on larger temples at first, but is now on most temples constructed.

“Usually it’s flying to the tower, but today it was flying from the tower,” said Cowan.

It was a once in a century experience, and Cowan said he hopes to be there for himself when the Angel Moroni statue flies home.

“It does mean a lot to me,” said Cowan.

A Latter-day Saint spokesperson said taking down the statue was part of the original renovation plan, but the process came sooner than anticipated because of the earthquake that happened a little over a month ago. The statue's long golden trumpet fell off during the 5.7-magnitude quake.