The Mormon Temple in Washington has been open to the public for the first time since 1974

After half a century of secrecy, this mysterious building in the American capital and its region invites the public to discover its prestigious and symbolic interior.

As if coming straight from a sci-fi novel with its six golden needles and immaculate white cloak, the Mormon temple in Washington has intrigued those who see it but can never get into it for decades. His curiosity will soon be satisfied: for the first time in almost half a century he will open its doors to the public.

The building, one of the most mysterious in the American capital and its region, is usually accessible only to members of the very conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for whom family, chastity, and work missionary are cardinal values. Something to feed the fantasies. “People think what we do inside is a secret. But as you can see today, it’s just sacred. Very sacred to us.”Kevin Duncan, a senior Church official, told AFP.

On Monday, during a day of media presentation, the temple hosted for the first time since 1974, when it was dedicated, non-Mormons. The opportunity to discover its quiet interior, both refined and luxurious with its thick and golden carpets, where there seems to be no dust and where you only enter after putting on white slippers. The last time the temple was opened to the public, 48 years ago, Gerald Ford was president of the United States and 750,000 people, according to the Church, had crowded Kensington Hill in Maryland, very close to Washington, where it was built. . Among them, the first lady, Betty Ford. The temple closed in 2018 for renovations and was due to reopen in 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the schedule.

The main entrance of the Mormon temple in Washington DC, April 18, 2022. EVA HAMBACH / AFP

Baptisms for the dead

Future visitors must book free tickets to come to the venue from late April to early June. They will be able to discover the rituals of the Church, where as soon as they enter what they consider one of the most sacred places on Earth, members abandon their street clothes to dress in white. “A replacement of meters, a symbol of equality, of purity”, David Bednar, one of the twelve apostles of the Church, who came from Utah for the occasion, told AFP. The curious can also visit the baptistery, where there is a small pond placed on the back of twelve life-size white marble bulls representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Mormon specificity, immersion baptisms that take place in the temple are reserved … for the dead.

The Moroni Angel is seen on one of the six needles of the Mormon temple in Washington DC on April 18, 2022. EVA HAMBACH / AFP

In fact, the Church allows her flock to be baptized in the name of one of her ancestors. It is up to the souls of the latter, if they exist, and the Church firmly believes in them, to accept or not to accept this. “present”. Ordinary baptisms take place in other buildings. Among the many other rooms in this multi-storey temple are the “sealing chambers”where are they celebrated (“sealed”) weddings around a white marble altar upholstered in beige velvet.

Unions held exclusively between a man and a woman, and which are intended to last not only throughout life, but also after death, because “Family is essential in the plan” divine, explains David Bednar. Parents and children can also come “postage stamp” their bonds for eternity during a ceremony in these same halls. The church says it expects to welcome several hundred thousand visitors during its open house.

Leave a Comment