GC blogging: the Rome (Italy) temple [updated w/location]

OK…I wasn’t expecting that . The only thing that could have surprised me more would have been a Beijing temple.

UPDATED: OK, since I’m getting a lot of web hits, here are some more details from this Deseret News article :

The 12th European temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be built in Rome. . . .

The Rome Italy Temple will be the first to be constructed near the worldwide headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church. It will serve church members from a variety of countries and greatly reduce travel time and expense to the Latter-day Saints living in the area, the release states. . . .

Reaction was emotional. Italy Rome Mission President Jeffrey Acerson, who has been in Rome sine July 2007, was moved by the news.

“The Saints in Italy have waited a long time,” Acerson said, his voice cracking. “We ‘re excited, we’re anxious and we’re very humbled by the decision of a prophet of the Lord to move forward with a temple in Rome.”

When he heard the news, Acerson said at first he wanted to react like Italian soccer fans, who take to the streets when their teams win.

“I felt like all the Saints here in Italy wanted to go into the streets to let everyone know a temple is coming,” he said.

The LDS Church has more than 22,000 members in Italy, where preaching first began in 1850 by then-Elder Lorenzo Snow, who later became president of the church. The first congregation of Latter-day Saints in Italy was organized in Brescia on March 20, 1966. The first Italian mission was opened in August that year, but the church didn’t have formal legal status until 1993.

Though a temple site hasn’t been announced, many Italian church members think a location on church-owned land on the northeastern side of Rome would be a perfect fit, Acerson said.

Tullio Deruvo, church spokesman in Italy, said the site many members speculate about is typical Roman countryside adorned with Mediterranean pine trees. The land is located with easy access to a freeway on the outskirts of Rome, Delruvo said.

And Rome is likely to be closer for Saints in Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, members who currently travel to Bern, Switzerland, for temple work. Though the Rome temple is likely to draw Church members, who coordinate temple service with vacation time, from all over Europe.

Go read the whole article.

The LDS Church newsroom has given information on the history of the LDS Church in Italy , but no real details on the temple itself.

[UPDATE] And here are some interesting thoughts on Temple Square vs. the Vatican, as well as some suggestions for the architecture and interior artwork for the Rome temple.

[UPDATE]: Here’s a Google Maps link showing the location of the temple in Rome (hat tip to Temple Study). ..bruce..

5 thoughts on “GC blogging: the Rome (Italy) temple [updated w/location]

  1. It’s not so much “gasps” as a sort of startled amusement at the thought of a temple in Rome. It’s a bit like the amazement that occurred at the announcement in 1982 and subsequent construction of the Freiberg temple — in East Germany, a Communist country, behind the Iron Curtain and years before the collapse of the USSR.

    At the risk of underscoring my old fart status, when I left on my mission in 1972, there were only 15 operating temples in the entire world, and only three were outside of the United States (Canada, England, Switzerland). The concept of there ever being a temple in Rome — the same city as the Vatican — would have been seen either as a sign of the last days or something that would likely not happen until the Millennium.

    I said that the only announcement that would startle me more is that of the Beijing Temple. That’s not quite true: the first LDS temple built in a dominantly Islamic country will be a remarkable milestone, and I don’t expect to see that for a few decades. ..bruce..

  2. We talked to our daughter in Doha, Qatar, this morning. There are two wards in Doha, one being Filipino (there are enough members from the Philippines) and the other is English-speaking (many are in the oil industry). Their stake consists of many of the middle eastern countries in that area–Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, and Iraq–having about 2000 members, all of whom are from other countries. Of course, the members in Iraq are the military personnel. Anyhow, they’re now all wanting a temple there–if in Rome, why not the Middle East?

  3. Dan:

    You’re right that Qatar is probably the most likely choice for an Islamic country allowing an LDS temple, as it provides a level of religious freedom — including recognition of Christian religions — not found in most Islamic countries.

    But in most of the other countries you list, there are constraints (sometimes severe) on non-Islamic religions, not just in terms of proselyting, but in terms of actual religious worship. Israel does not constrain Christian worship but does constrain Christian proselyting (this was a major issue when the LDS Church was building the BYU Jerusalem Studies center; the Church had to make absolute commitments not to proselyte within Israel).

    Interestingly, a stable Iraq may be the Church’s best bet to gain a foothold for active proselyting within the Middle East. If Lebanon ever settles down, the Church could return there as well (I had a college professor at BYU who served his mission in Beirut in the 1960s).

    Still, it is unlikely that LDS membership in the Middle East will reach levels that can support a temple anytime soon. IMHO. 🙂 ..bruce..

  4. Dan:

    One other comparison: there are 22,000 Latter-day Saints in Italy alone, with quite a few more in surrounding countries in southeastern Europe and Asia Minor (and the Middle East, as per your comment), who will all be able to attend the Rome temple rather than those in mainland Europe or Ukraine. When we have 20,000+ members in the Middle East, then we might expect the Church to seek to build a temple somewhere there. ..bruce..

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