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'CHRISTUS' ENHANCES WASHINGTON CENTER

The importance of the Savior to Latter-day Saints was emphasized by Elder Dallin H. Oaks as he unveiled a 10-foot replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen's "Christus" June 24 at the Washington Temple Visitors Center.

Quoting the prophet Nephi, Elder Oaks of the Council of the Twelve said: "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ...."(2 Ne. 25:26.)Speaking to a group of 250 people that included local Church and government leaders, representatives of other faiths and the media, Elder Oaks said he was pleased the beautiful statue has been placed in the center.

"I believe that those who visit this site and wonder about the religious beliefs of those they call Mormons will be given a clearer understanding through its presence," he declared. "We love the Lord Jesus Christ. His is the the only name by which we can be saved. Our missionaries and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints testify of Him in many nations of the world."

Elder Oaks cited a recent experience where a friend of his visited Salt Lake City. The apostle took him to Temple Square's North Visitors Center to view the Christus there, the first of seven duplicates of the statue commissioned by the Church since 1962.

"As we emerged and beheld this majestic likeness of the Christ, arms outstretched and hands showing the wounds of His crucifixion, my friend drew a sharp breath. We stood quietly for a few minutes, enjoying a reverent communion of worshipful thoughts about our Savior.

"As we left Temple Square and took our leave of one another, my friend took me by the hand: 'Thank you for showing me that,' he said. 'Now I understand something about your faith that I have never understood before.'"

The original of Thorvaldsen's Christus stands in the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark. After the Church had the 11-foot reproduction commissioned for Temple Square 26 years ago, it obtained a second reproduction for display at the 1964 New York World's Fair. That statue subsequently was located in the Los Angeles Temple visitors center.

Since then five copies--each 10 feet tall--have been obtained and placed in visitors centers at the Mesa, New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico City and Washington temples.

Included in the June 24 unveiling ceremony were several musical numbers focusing on Jesus Christ.

Metropolitan Opera soprano Susan Alexander joined a bi-regional choir, directed by Dr. Eugene Morlan, in a poignant rendition of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." She also sang "O Divine Redeemer" and "How Great Thou Art" with piano accompaniment.

The choir performed "I Believe in Christ" and "My Jesus I Love Thee," with Jacqueline Coleman as violin accompanist.

A trumpet solo by Ted Lewis of the U.S. Air Force Band preceded the unveiling of the statue.

"It is exciting to see the effect this magnificent Christus has on those who come into the center," said David Hatch, visitors center director.