Nauvoo Temple

Associated Locations:

  • Nauvoo, Illinois

Associated Dates:

  • May 1, 1846 – First Dedication
  • June 27,  2002 – Second Dedication

This articles covers the history and significance of the Nauvoo Temple.  It covers the miracles, sacrifice and visions connected with this temple of the Restoration.

Symbolism

Inverted Pentagram

Following the announcement of President Hinckley architects and designers began working to rebuild this magnificent pioneer temple.  Charles W. Allen was commissioned to construct the glass star windows that encircle the structure.  True to the design revealed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Allen placed the stars in their original position, inverted.

” …Ron Prince, Cory Karl and Keith Stepan were in the shop this morning to see how I [Charles W. Allen] was doing and to take a look at the colored glass in the star sash. They really liked what they saw. Keith asked me whether, if President Hinckley wanted to have the star pointed in an up position, that would be possible? I said yes, that all I had to do is to rotate the sash. He made a recorded note of that for his next meeting with President Hinckley. There is some concern by members of the Temple Committee that the upside down star would be interpreted as a Satanic symbol which some cults believe in today.”

The inverted pentagram remained on the temple.  Many were and are confused as to why a symbol, connected to Satanism and the occult, could be found on our temple.  However, when one studies the history behind this ancient symbol, one understands that it is truly a symbol of the Savior and Divine Revelation to man.  Lucifer simply hijacked the pentagram, mocking a very sacred symbol by corrupting it for his own purposes.  (See the video embedded on the right for more information)

Physical and Historical Description

After the exterminating order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs of Missouri which was dated October 27, 1838 (see History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 175), the Saints were compelled to flee from that State, and made Illinois their refuge from the blood-thirsty Christian mobocats who had burned, pillaged and destroyed thousands of homes and murdered many hundreds of men, women and children. Coming to Commerce, Illinois, later named Nauvoo, in 1839, the swampy and uninhabitable regions were soon reclaimed and Nauvoo became a thriving, prosperous and beautiful commonwealth. 1

On October 30, 1842, the construction of the walls of the Temple had so far progressed that the first meeting was held in it. On May 24, 1845, the capstone was laid under the direction of President Brigham Young and the other members of the Twelve, the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum having been murdered in cold blood on June 27, 1844. By October 5, 1845, the construction had progressed to the extent that the autumnal conference was held within its walls. During the month of December, 1845, and the early months of 1846, many of the Saints received their blessings and endowments, and on April 30th of that year, the Temple was privately dedicated by Joseph Young, senior president of the First Seven Presidents of Seventy, now known as the First Council of the Seventy. On the following day, May 1st, the building was officially dedicated by Apostles Orson Hyde and Wilford Woodruff according to the order of the Holy Priesthood as revealed through Joseph the Prophet. The approximate cost of this magnificent structure was $1,000,000, paid for by tithing of money, labor, and from free will offerings.

After the Saints had left Nauvoo, in the severity of winter, in February and March, 1846, enroute to the Rocky Mountains, the mob took possession of Nauvoo and the Temple. The Temple was most sacred to the Saints and the mobocrats feared that if it continued to stand it would be a bond between its exiled builders and the city from which they had been so cruelly driven. On November 18, 1848, one Joseph Agnew set fire to this sacred structure, at which time all was destroyed except the walls. An attempt was made by the Icarians, a French communistic society, to rebuild the walls, but on May 27, 1850, a tornado leveled them completely, and the stones were removed to other places for building and souvenir purposes, until not one stone was left upon another. After the removal of the Saints from Nauvoo the fields and gardens reverted well nigh to the primitive wilderness and swampy conditions which the Saints had first met with in the settling of this beautiful location.

The Temple was 128 feet long by 88 feet wide and 65 feet high in the clear. The top of the spire was 165 feet above the ground and bore the figure of a flying herald sounding a trumpet. The plan of construction was that of a solid and stable fourwalled building, two and a half stories high, with a hexagonal tower at the front rising in four terraces and a dome. It was constructed of a light-gray limestone, of a hardness that permitted it to be easily tooled and adapted to ornamental finish.

On the outside were thirty pilasters, nine on each side and six at each end. At its base each pilaster presented in hewn relief the crescent moon, and ended above in a capital of cut-stone depicting the face of the sun allegorically featured, with a pair of hands holding horns. Above the capitals was a frieze or cornice in which appeared thirty star stones. Further details of construction are incorporated in the other articles in this Chapter.

The architecture of the Temple was revealed of God to Joseph as will be noted in the revelation that is herein printed. On pages 196-7 of the Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 6, is the following interesting item:

“In the afternoon, Elder William Weeks (whom I had employed as architect of the Temple), came in for instruction. I instructed him in relation to the circular windows designed to light the offices in the dead work of the arch between stories. He said that round windows in the broad side of a building were a violation of all the known rules of architecture, and contended that they should be semi-circular — the building was too low for round windows. I told him I would have the circles, if he had to make the Temple ten feet higher than it was originally calculated; that one light at the center of each circular window would be sufficient to light the whole room; that when the whole building was thus illuminated, the effect would be remarkably grand. I wish you to carry out my designs. I have seen in vision the splendid appearance of that building illuminated, and will have it built according to the pattern shown me.” 2 The Lord gave a commandment that a Temple should be built to His name. It seemed almost impossible for so poor a people to build such a temple in their poverty, but the Lord never requires more of men than they can perform if they will go to with their might and trust in Him. At the conference on the 6th of April, I witnessed the laying of the cornerstones of the Temple which was done according to the order of the Priesthood. An immense crowd of people were present on that occasion—all filled with joy and rejoicing. The Temple progressed with the Saints that could work at it steady. The Prophet Joseph worked with his own hands, quarrying the stone for its walls when his enemies were not pursuing him. No man knows what he suffered through persecution.

Joseph Smith did more for the salvation of the human family in the short time that he lived than any other man that ever lived in the world, Jesus Christ excepted. He lived to be 39 years old and endured a continued scene of persecution and oppression from the time that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, until the time of his death. He bore testimony to the work of the Lord through life and sealed his testimony with his own blood. I have been with the Prophet Joseph and heard his instruction weekly and sometimes daily. The last time I heard him speak in public he spoke to the Legion (Nauvoo Legion). After telling what he had passed through and what he had suffered from men because he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he said: “From my boyhood up to the present time I have been hunted like a roe upon the mountains. I have never been allowed to live like other men. I have been driven, chased, stoned, whipped, robbed, mobbed, imprisoned, persecuted, accused falsely of everything bad. I have suffered till the Lord knows I have suffered enough.”

The teaching of the Twelve was to build the Temple and finish the work that Joseph had begun. The people were obedient to counsel and exerted themselves to do all they could do to accomplish the work. Our enemies were not satisfied with what they had done, so they continued their depredations. In the small settlements in the country the mobs collected, drove our brethren from their homes, burned their houses and grain and killed some who could not get out of the way. In the fall, the mob collected in the south part of the country and in about two weeks they burned 200 houses to ashes. The inhabitants had to flee to Nauvoo to save their lives. A great amount of grain and property was destroyed, cattle and hogs were stolen and killed almost without number. Old Father Durfee was shot and killed by the mob while he was trying to save his property from the flames. Many others died from exposure after being robbed and driven into the wood. Their sufferings were so great that they could not endure it.

The Saints gathered into Nauvoo, labored and toiled to finish the Temple. Our enemies at the same time were planning to drive us from our city and from the United States. In the fall the Temple was dedicated to the Lord, thus far completed. Prayer pronounced by President B. Young. The building was finished with the exception of a little inside work which was done during the winter.

Most of the Saints, men and women, had the privilege of receiving their endowments, learning the order of the Priesthood, the fall and redemption of man, in the Temple, in the city of Joseph. Nauvoo was called by that name after the death of Joseph. I think it was in the month of January that I and my brother, Charles, received our endowments. The building was filled up in the nicest style. It was built according to the pattern that the Lord gave to Joseph. It was accepted of the Lord, and His holy angels have ministered unto many therein and now because of persecution we must leave it and in leaving it we leave a monument of our industry which was reared in our poverty. It was the finest building in all the western country.

At the west end about one hundred feet from the ground was the following inscription in large gold letters:

THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, BUILT BY THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

COMMENCED APRIL 6TH, 1841.

HOLINESS TO THE LORD

At the east end of the House, inside, was arched the following sentence:

“THE LORD HAS BEHELD OUR SACRIFICE, COME AFTER US” 3

Laying of Cornerstones

On the eleventh anniversary of the organization of the Church, April 6, 1841, approximately 10,000 people from Nauvoo and surrounding sections were present to witness the laying of the four cornerstones of this Temple. It was an occasion marked by military display, sixteen companies of the Nauvoo Legion being assembled about the Temple foundation in a hollow square, within which were the visitors, the choir and band. The First Presidency of the Church laid the southeast cornerstone, the Prophet Joseph laying the stone in its proper place, and saying:

“This principal cornerstone in representation of the First Presidency, is now duly laid in honor of the Great God; and may the same be accompanied speedily; that the Saints may have a place to worship God, and the Son of Man have where to lay His head.

The southwest cornerstone was placed by officers of the High Priests; the northwest cornerstone was laid by the High Council, and the northwest stone by the Bishops. 4

Baptismal Font

The Lord had revealed that baptisms for the dead in the Mississippi River were acceptable only in the days of their poverty when no baptismal font was available for that purpose, but as soon as the font was available in the Temple, baptisms in the river should be discontinued. At the conference of the Church held in Nauvoo, on October 2, 1841, the Prophet made this announcement: “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House, and the Church will not hold another General Conference until they can meet on said house, for thus saith the Lord.”

On November 8, 1841, the baptismal font was ready for dedication in the Temple, baptisms in the river having been discontinued.

On Sunday, November 21, 1841, “The council met in council at Brigham Young’s house, and at four o’clock they repaired to the baptismal font in the Temple, where President Brigham Young, Elders Heber C. Kimball and John Taylor baptized about forty persons for their dead, Elders Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith confirmed them. These were the first baptisms for the dead in the font in the Lord’s House. From this time forth, as long as the Saints remainded in Nauvoo, baptisms for the dead were performed in the Temple.” 5

Sacred Experiences in the Nauvoo Temple

“After the dancing had continued about an hour, several excellent songs were sung, in which several of the brethren and sisters joined… I called upon Sister Whitney who stood up and invoking the gift of tongues, sang a beautiful song of Zion in tongues. The interpretation was given by her husband, Bishop Whitney, and me, it related to our efforts to build this house to the privilege we now have of meeting in it, our departure shortly to the country of the Lamanites, their rejoicing when they hear the gospel and of the ingathering of Israel. I spoke in a foreign tongue; likewise, Brother Kimball. After a little conversation of a general nature I closed the exercises of the evening by prayer.” 6

“I stayed all night in the Temple of the Lord. The Spirit of God seemed to fill the House and cause every heart to rejoice with a joy unknown to the world of mankind, for the Lord manifested himself to his saints.” 7

“I labored in the Temple assisting in the endowments. The Spirit of the Lord filled the House insomuch that the brethren shouted for joy. Brother Orson Spencer said he could no longer contain himself. President Young told him to speak; and he opened his mouth and spake in power and demonstration of the Spirit of God.” 8

“At sundown went to the Temple. 14 partook of the Sacrament after which we had a most glorious time. Some of the brethren spoke in tongues. Bro. Z. Coltrin and Brown held a talk in tongues which was afterwards interpreted and confirmed. Some prophesied. Bro. Anderson related a vision. And all of us rejoiced with exceeding great gladness. A light was flickering over br. Anderson’s head while relating his vision, Phinehas Richards face shone with great brightness. Two men arrayed all in priestly garments were seen in the n.e. corner of the room. The power of the Holy Ghost rested down upon us. I arose full of the Spirit and spoke with great animation, which was very cheerfully responded to by all, and prophesied of things to come. A brother testified that our meeting was accepted of God. And we continued our meeting until after midnight, which was the most profitable, happy, and glorious meeting I had ever attended in my life, and may the remembrance be deeply rooted in my soul for ever and ever. Beautiful day.” 9

“At sundown went to the Temple to pray. While there heard last night Chester Loveland was called out of bed by his mother in Law stating that the Temple was again on fire. He dressed as quick as lightening and ran out of doors and saw the Temple all in a blaze. He studied a few seconds, and as it did not appear to consume any, and there was no others running, he was satisfied it was the glory of God, and again went to bed. Another brother saw the belfry all on a fire at a 1/4 to 10. He ran as hard as he could, but when he came to the Temple he found all dark and secure…. Thus was the Spirit, power and glory to God manifest, not only at the Temple while we were there but also in our families for which my soul rejoices exceedingly.” 10

“About the same time Sister Almira Lamb while in her own room saw a vision of her dead child. It appeared to her in great glory and filled the room with light. She was afraid. It went away and after she was calmed down, her child appeared again to her and told the mother to remove her bones from where they were buried among the Gentiles, and bury them among the Saints, and again disappeared.” 11

“At sundown went to the Temple to pray…. The Spirit was upon me and we all had a most glorious meeting. The glory of God again resting on the Temple in great power.” 12

“Sunday, March 22nd, 1846. I went to my Seventies Quorum meeting in the Nauvoo Temple. The whole Quorum being present consisting of fifteen members…. Dressing ourselves in the order of the Priesthood we called upon the Lord, his spirit attended us, and the visions were opened to our view. I was, as it were, lost to myself and beheld the earth reel to and fro and was moved out of its place. Men fell to the earth and their life departed from them, and great was the scene of destruction upon all the face of the land, and at the close thereof, there appeared a great company as it were of saints coming from the west, as I stood with my back passing to the east and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, `Come, see the desolation which the Lord hath made in the earth’; and the company of the saints who had been hid as it were, from the earth; and I beheld other things which were glorious while the power of God rested down upon me. Others also beheld angels and the glory of God…. The sacrament was administered. Our joy increased by the gift of tongues and prophecy by which great things were spoken and made known to us.” 13

Dedicatory Prayer

Re-Dedicated 27–30 June 2002

by Gordon B. Hinckley

Nauvoo Temple Dedication

Almighty God, we come unto Thee in solemn and reverent prayer in the name of Thy Beloved Son, our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

On this same site in the year 1841, Thy people, under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and in obedience to revelation from Thee, began construction of a temple to the Most High. They spared nothing in their efforts. They used the best materials, and with great skill and in a spirit of consecration, they labored through the years. Even when their Prophet and Patriarch were murdered by the ruthless mob in Carthage, the work on this structure continued. So did persecution against them. Denied the protection of the law and left to the mercy of the mob, they knew they would be forced to abandon their homes, their farms, and their city. Nonetheless, they determined to complete the temple.

They did so, and in that holy house ordinances dealing with the things of eternity, as revealed from Thee, were administered to thousands. They then left Nauvoo in bitter winter weather, many of them crossing the Mississippi on the ice, bound for a place of asylum somewhere in the West.

Thou knowest, dear Father, of the travails of those who made that long journey. Many died and were buried along that trail of tears. Great was their suffering, tremendous their courage.

We thank Thee that those harsh days are now long past. We thank Thee for this season in which we live, with the many blessings of peace and prosperity which we enjoy at Thy hands. Thy Spirit has brooded over us and moved upon us, and in obedience to its prompting we have now reconstructed on this hallowed ground the temple that once stood here. Through the tithes of Thy people and the generosity of faithful Saints there has been brought together all of the elements and the necessary skills to create this magnificent structure.

And now, acting in the authority of the divine priesthood which comes from Thee, and in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, we dedicate and consecrate unto Thee and unto Him this the Nauvoo Illinois Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We dedicate the ground on which it stands with its beautiful vegetation, the footings, the foundation, the walls and the tower with its bell, all surmounted by the figure of Moroni. We dedicate the magnificent baptistry, the areas for the initiatory ordinances, the endowment rooms, the beautiful celestial room, the sealing rooms and their sacred altars. We dedicate every space and facility in this wonderful structure.

Brought together in splendid harmony are the stones of the walls, the carefully crafted woods, the decorative murals and other paintings, the drapes and carpets, the elegant windows and many other unique and beautiful features. The entire structure has become a treasured work of art.

We pray that Thou wilt accept of this our offering. The hearts of the children have literally turned to those fathers who worked on the original building. They have done so with love and a wonderful spirit of consecrated effort.

Now, Beloved Father, this is Thy house, the gift of Thy thankful Saints. We pray that Thou wilt visit it. Hallow it with Thy presence and that of Thy Beloved Son. Let Thy Holy Spirit dwell here at all times. May Thy work be accomplished here, and Thine eternal purposes brought to pass in behalf of Thy children, both the living and the dead. May our hearts reach to Thee as we serve within these walls. May all who are baptized in behalf of those beyond the veil of death know that they are doing something necessary under Thine eternal plan. May those who are here endowed understand and realize the magnitude of the blessings that come of this sacred ordinance. Seal upon them the covenants which they make with Thee. Open their eyes to a clear perception of Thy divine purposes. As they move into the beautiful celestial room, may their minds be brought to an understanding of Thy glorious plan for the salvation and exaltation of Thy children.

May those who gather at the altars in the sealing rooms, whether in their own behalf or in behalf of their forebears, comprehend by the power of the Spirit Thy divine will concerning the eternity of the family—fathers, mothers, and children, joined together in an everlasting union. May they receive a vision of Thine infinite “plan of happiness” which Thou hast designed for Thy faithful sons and daughters.

May all who come within these hallowed walls be worthy to enter into Thy presence. Save this structure from desecration of any kind. May it stand immaculate with “holiness to the Lord.” Strike down the evil hand of any who may seek to injure or destroy. Preserve this Thy house from the storms of nature and destructive elements of all kinds.

We pray for the temple presidency and the matron and her assistants. May they be blessed with strength and energy to carry forward their heavy responsibilities. Bless all who serve with them as workers that they may find great joy in their labors. May those who come as patrons walk reverently before Thee and be brought to a knowledge of Thy will and Thy ways.

We pray for those whom Thou hast appointed to stand in responsibilities of leadership in Thy Church and kingdom. Reveal unto Thy servant Thy will and bless him and his associates that all may work together for the accomplishment of Thy purposes.

Bless Thy cause throughout all the earth. We invoke Thy blessings upon Thy people wherever they may be.

As was said in Kirtland: “Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth;

“That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;

Nauvoo Temple

“And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth” (D&C 109:72–74).

Father dear, bless this land that those who govern shall never trample the rights of the people as was once done in Nauvoo. May liberty and peace be maintained under the banner of the Constitution, which Thou hast caused to be established “for the rights and protection of all flesh” (D&C 101:77). Bless this city of Nauvoo, which came to be known as the City of Joseph. May it shine with a renewed luster as the home of a Temple of God. May this sacred house stand as a memorial to him who lived here and was buried here, Joseph Smith, the great prophet of this dispensation, and his brother Hyrum, whom he loved.

We love Thee, Father. We love Thy Beloved Son. Smile with favor upon us. Strengthen our resolve to walk acceptably before Thee at all times. Increase our dedication to Thy will. Keep ever bright in our memories the solemn covenants into which we have entered with Thee. May Thy blessings attend us, and all who seek to live Thy commandments.

Praise be to Thee, Thou great Elohim, Thou who dwellest in the heavens and governeth the universe. Thou art our Father and our God, to whom we may come in prayer. To Thee we lift our voices in adoration and worship.

Increase our love for Thine Only Begotten Son, our Redeemer who has snatched us from the jaws of death and opened before us the wonders of eternity. Accept this our prayer, we ask Thee in His holy name, even the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Resources

References


  1. (N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993],
  2. (N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993],
  3. (From the Diary of John Pulsipher.)
  4. (N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993],

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Notes:

  1. N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993]
  2. N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993]
  3. From the Diary of John Pulsipher.
  4. N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993]
  5. (Essentials in Church History by Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 310-1.)
  6. Manuscript History of the Church, 7:557–58. See George D. Smith, editor An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1995), 244.
  7. Jacob Gates Journal, 9 January 1846, cited in Joseph Heinerman, Temple Manifestations (Manti, Utah: Mountain Valley Publishers, 1974), 50.
  8. Jacob Gates Journal, 15 and 16 January 1846; cited in Heinerman, 50.
  9. Thomas Bullock Journal, 15 March 1846; cited in Knight, 61–62.
  10. Thomas Bullock Journal, 16 March 1846, in Knight, 62.
  11. Thomas Bullock Journal, 16 March 1846, in Knight, 62.
  12. Thomas Bullock Journal, 18 March 1846, in Knight, 63.
  13. Journal Book of Samuel Whitney Richards, 22 March, 1846, Book No.2, 7–8; cited in Heinerman, 50–51.

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