The significance of the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being manifest by the attendance of all members of the church’s First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for its dedication services beginning Sunday.
On Friday the church announced that President Russell M. Nelson, 94, will travel to Rome to dedicate the temple. The dedication will span three days of dedicatory services, seven in all.
According to the church, this is believed to be the first time in the church’s history that all 15 leaders have gathered in one location outside of the United States.
“A temple is literally a house of the Lord. Each temple is a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead,” Nelson said earlier this week in a video to introduce a new virtual tour of the Rome Italy Temple.
The video released Thursday was one of the most transparent inside views of not only what the rooms look like in a temple, but what takes place in each room. Without discussing the more sacred symbolism in the temple, the public was given a complete reader’s digest version of what it is like to attend the temple, down to the clothing rental.
“We build temples so our faithful members can visit often and receive the most sacred ordinances of our faith,” Nelson said in introducing the video. “Before our temples are dedicated for their sacred purpose, the public is invited to see the beauty of the temple and learn about the commitments we make there with God.”
Rome is the cradle and heart of Christianity and one of the most historic locations in the world. It is rich in biblical history where the ancient apostles Peter and Paul preached the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ, according to the church.
Elder David A. Bednar, chairman of the church’s Temple and Family History Department, said at a news conference during the temple’s open house, “This is a worldwide religion. We have more than 16 million members and the church is recognized and established in over 170 nations, so it’s only a matter of time before we have temples in most major cities in the world, but it is of particular significance to have a temple in Rome, the Eternal City.”
At the same news conference, held in front of the Christ-focused stained-glass window inside the temple visitors’ center, Elder Massimo De Feo spoke of Rome’s place in the history of Christianity.
“As the center for Christianity for millennia, Rome couldn’t be without a temple dedicated to Jesus Christ,” said Elder De Feo, a General Authority Seventy and native of Italy. “Rome is also the Eternal City. We needed to have a temple in the Eternal City because it is a symbol of eternity. The temple is the place we learn that life is eternal.”
The church’s temples differ from churches where members meet for Sunday worship services. Temples are considered “houses of the Lord” where the teachings of Jesus Christ are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ceremonies that unite families for eternity, according to church information.
Prior to the dedicatory services that take place Sunday through Tuesday, Nelson will lead a Saturday evening devotional for local youth, which will emphasize the importance Latter-day Saints place on temples.
The Rome Italy Temple will serve more than 23,000 Church members living in Italy and in neighboring countries. Currently there are more than 160 operating temples worldwide, including 14 in Europe.