What is the Statue on Mormon Temples?
Most Mormon temples have a statue of an angel blowing a horn. Some might mistake him for Gabriel of the Bible, but he is actually Moroni. Moroni’s writings are found in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a companion book to the Bible.
There are two men named Moroni in the book, but the statue is of the second one. He was the last writer in the Book of Mormon and his story is a powerful one of courage and faith.
Moroni’s people, the Nephites, had once been favored of God. They had been promised they would be protected from complete destruction as long as they kept the commandments. Unfortunately, over time they had forgotten their promises to God and so their enemies, the Lamanites, were permitted to win the war. Many died, and those who didn’t die went into hiding. The Lamanites continued to seek them out and kill them, determined to completely eliminate the community.
Moroni’s father, Mormon, for whom the Book of Mormon is named, was the prophet. He did the best he could to protect his people and to care for them while they were in hiding, but in time he himself was killed. Moroni, believed to still be a teenager, found himself the last remaining Nephite. Everyone else in his own world was evil and those evil people were determined to kill him.
Moroni wrote, as he took over the society’s records:
Behold I, Moroni, do finish the record of my father, Mormon. Behold, I have but few things to write, which things I have been commanded by my father.
And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed. And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not. Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not.
Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.
These are the lonely words of a grieving youth who was kept alive by God so He could complete the record of his people. He finished recording the events and his testimony and then hid the records in the Hill Cumorah before fleeing in the night. Many years later, he quietly slipped back into the city, surprised to find himself still alive, but still wanted by the Lamanites. He added new instructions to the record and then hid it one last time before again fleeing in the darkness.
The records stayed hidden, guarded by God until the 1800s, when a young boy, not much older than Moroni had been when he first hid them, was taken to that spot by Moroni himself. Moroni, now an angel, was given the privilege of training this new boy prophet to someday participate in the restoration of the gospel. The hidden record was the Book of Mormon, which Joseph would translate through inspiration.