|Photo: A branch of an olive tree on the top of the photo,and purple pansies on the bottom, frame the white marble Rome Italy Temple
When John and I traveled to Italy earlier this year, one of the sites we were most excited to see was the new temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our tour was planned around the open house dates, and I believe we were part of the first group tour on the first day of the open house.
No photos were allowed inside the temple itself, but never fear. The church has produced this very thorough video that takes you on a virtual tour of the Rome Italy Temple. In addition to showing the various rooms of the temple, it gives the best explanation I have heard of the purpose of temples and the ordinances that take place inside the temples. It's definitely worth a watch.
After we toured the temple, we exited to the plaza that sits between the temple and the visitor's center. Olive and palm trees, along with other plants and flowers, grow in beds throughout the plaza.
|Photo: A gnarled old olive tree grows in a bed in the plaza of the Rome Italy Temple. Two palm trees are in the background,on either side of the front of the temple.
|Photo: The reflection of the Rome Italy Temple appears perfectly centered behind the white marble statue of Jesus Christ.
|Photo: The white marble Christus statue. The angle at which the sun in the mural in the background shines its rays down on the earth is the same angle as Christ's arms are outstretched.
Before I share some of his thoughts, here is a time-lapse video of the painting of the mural. It was painted in Utah in an upper and lower flat panel, then rolled up, transported, and assembled on the curved wall in Rome.
Rome LDS Temple Visitor Center Mural from Steven McCurdy@StoryCollectors on Vimeo.
I loved hearing about the symbolism behind the painting. The sun and its rays represent Christ's love for the people on earth. The twelve olive trees were painted so that each tree would stand above a statue of an apostle. There are exactly forty sheep in the mural, the number forty representing completion. Probably my favorite insight into the painting, though, was about a ram, one of the forty sheep. I wish I had a photo of the ram, but I don't. The ram is caught in a thicket, just like the ram that Abraham offered in place of Isaac. The ram is placed on the mural in such a way that when you stand in front of the Christus statue, the ram is covered up by Christ's hand, symbolizing the fact that Christ's sacrifice ended animal sacrifice, and that the ram that Abraham offered was a foreshadowing of Christ.
Just as the ram pointed us to Christ, so, too, does everything in the temple and visitor's center. As we entered further into the visitor's center, a beautiful stained glass wall depicted the various scenes from the ministry of Jesus.
Though we did not feel rushed, all too soon, it was time to leave. As we walked to the bus, storm clouds were gathering and the sun was setting. Looking back toward the temple, the contrast between the light and the darkness was striking, and I was reminded of what a beacon of light the temple is in this often dark world.
|Photo: Light shines from within the Rome Italy Temple, and the gold Angel Moroni stands on top of the spire against dark clouds. Two palm trees stand on either side of the temple.