ROME - Europe’s largest Mormon temple will be dedicated over three days starting Sunday. Russell Nelson, president of the world’s 16 million Mormons, will be in Rome for the dedication ceremonies. No expense has been spared on Italy’s first temple, a magnificence, Mormons say, that is justified by faith.
The entire 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 for a very special occasion, the dedication of its temple in the eternal city. For the more than 25,000 Italian Mormons and the many others who will travel to Rome, this temple has special significance, as Italy’s representative of the Mormons, Alessandro Dini-Ciacci explains.
"Rome is the center 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. We are followers of Jesus Christ. We love the Savior," says Dini-Ciacci. "The temple we just built as a statement of our belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world in our belief that life goes on after we die and that families can be together. That is the focus of our temples. The ordinances that bind families together."
The Mormons have 162 temples in different parts of the world and 40 more have already been announced for a church growing in numbers. No expense was spared for 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 Savior and his father. That’s why we choose the best materials possible," said Dini-Ciacci. "There’s Carrara marbles, stained glass, fine fabrics. It is all a tribute to our heavenly father.”
Elder Dini-Ciacci said it took a decade to build the 3,800 square meter temple.
He would not give a figure for how much the temple cost but simply said "it’s a cost of faith.” One of the 10 commandments of the Mormons, he added, is to keep the law of tithing which allows the church to pay for temples and all operations. He said the money spent on temples is far less than what the Church spends on humanitarian aid.
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,” said Dini-Ciacci.
The church's leader, Prophet Russel Nelson, met with Pope Francis on Saturday at the Vatican. It was the first time a 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.