LE CHESNAY, France — In an area of France famous for its beauty, President Henry B. Eyring of the LDS Church's First Presidency dedicated a new temple on Sunday morning.

The Paris France Temple is the first in France and 156th worldwide for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Within walking distance of the entrance to the gardens of the Versailles Palace — the Sun King’s royal chateau — the temple stands in a prominent, “royal location,” said LDS Church Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé.

“The temple is only a few hundred yards from the remarkable Chateau of Versailles, which was transformed by King Louis XIV and his family into an extravagant complex, complete with French and English gardens,” said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who also participated in the dedication. “While the chateau is impressive, its influence dissipated with the death of the Sun King and those who followed him.”

In contrast, the Paris Temple will have a worldwide, eternal impact, especially among French-speaking populations, President Eyring said. “It will be powerful. It will lead to other temples.”

The temple represents the “faith of the wonderful members that kept the light of the gospel burning” in France, he said.

Elder Mattieu Bennasar, an Area Seventy and chairman of the local temple committee, said from the time he was a small boy, he felt a “craving for converts” so a temple could be constructed in Paris. Steady growth has occurred in France over the last four decades. LDS Church membership was 10,000 in 1975. Today there are 38,000 Latter-day Saints in France.

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke to members in France about a temple in 1998 and again in 2004. But it was not until 2009 that church leaders found and secured the temple site in Le Chesnay, a city of 30,000.

The 44,175-square-foot building features limestone, reflective of stone used at Versailles, and art glass windows reminiscent of French gardens.

Elder Bennasar said the beauty of the temple acted as a “heart opener” for many of the 50,000 guests who visited the structure during the public open house. The temple is in a religious area of France.

“We are at the heart of the religious environment,” he said. “We are very close to kingly splendor and magnificence.”

In contrast to the stunning beauty of Versailles Palace, however, the temple has a “simple beauty” and stands on a foundation of faith, he said.

Daniel Saint-Jean, who joined the LDS Church in 1971, said the temple is both a “beacon and a magnet.” First, during the temple open house and dedication, he found great joy in seeing members he had not seen for 30 or 40 years.

“Second, we have seen come here may people who are very interesting and very interested,” Saint-Jean said.

The temple is “going to mean many things to many people,” he said.

Sunday’s temple dedication began with an outside temple cornerstone ceremony. After applying mortar to the cornerstone, President Eyring called on others in attendance — including several children — to do the same.

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The evening before the dedication, 950 LDS youth from France and French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium participated in a temple cultural celebration. Held at the Velodrome National de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvellines, the program celebrated through music and dance the Reformation, the Restoration and the dedication of France’s first temple.

“I hope you will have a wonderful time,” President Eyring told the youth. “I know that all of us who watch this performance will share in your happiness and be blessed by your talents.”

He said the Lord would bless the performers as well as those who trained and encouraged them.

“May we enjoy and long remember this celebration," he said.

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