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Moroni’s trumpet fell one year ago. Where is the statue now and what’s happened since?

Anniversary illustrates vast amount of renovation work

The statue of the Angel Moroni atop The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City is pictured as renovation work continues on on Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020. The statue lost its trumpet during a magnitude 5.7 earthquake on March 18.
The statue of the Angel Moroni atop The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City is pictured as renovation work continues on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The statue lost its trumpet during a magnitude 5.7 earthquake on March 18, 2020. Exactly two months after the trumpet fell, on May 18, workers used a giant crane to remove the damaged Angel Moroni statue and the round capstone on which it stood from the temple’s top.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A year ago today, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake jolted the trumpet from the hand and lips of the Angel Moroni statue atop the Salt Lake Temple 210 feet above the ground.

A lot has happened since March 18, 2020. The trumpet has not yet been restored to its rightful place. In fact, the statue is no longer in place on top of the temple as it continues to undergo renovation. So where are the trumpet and the statue, and what’s next?

No one was injured in the trumpet’s fall because it tumbled only to a ledge not far below the spire on which the statue stood. The earthquake caused some additional damage and falling stones, but pedestrians were not endangered since the temple grounds already were a construction zone. The temple closed three months earlier, at the end of 2019, for the start of an exceptional four-year renovation project.

Here’s what has happened in the past year:

The quake hits and the trumpet falls

The earthquake’s epicenter was about 15 miles west of the temple in Magna on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. At a magnitude of 5.7, it was the strongest tremor in the area in 28 years and caused broken gas lines, evacuations, power outages and a chlorine gas plume.

At the temple, the quake displaced spire stones and Moroni’s trumpet. No workers were injured and work crews were sent home for the day. They quickly returned to work and the temple renovation has continued unabated through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The core of the renovation is a monumental seismic upgrade that includes placing base isolators under the temple, which weighs nearly 100,000 tons. To learn more about how the remarkable new seismic system will be installed and protect the temple, click here.

Angel Moroni statue temporarily removed

Exactly two months after the trumpet fell, on May 18, workers used a giant crane to remove the damaged Angel Moroni statue and the round capstone on which it stood from the temple’s top for the first time since 1892, when 40,000 people watched it be put in place.

The statue is 12 feet, 5.5 inches tall. It is made of hammered copper and covered in 22-karat gold leaf. The trumpet in Moroni’s right hand had always been pressed to his lips as he faced east, a reminder that angels will herald the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Removing and refurbishing the statue and capstone was a planned part of the temple renovation, but the removal was accelerated by the earthquake, then delayed for weeks by aftershocks.

Workers from Jacobsen Construction carefully position the Angel Moroni statue as they remove it from the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 18, 2020.
Workers from Jacobsen Construction carefully position the Angel Moroni statue as they remove it from the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 18, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Angel Moroni statues are included on many temples, though not all. One was placed atop the new Pocatello Idaho Temple last week, the Rexburg Standard Journal reported. Most of the statues stand on a gold-plated ball instead of a capstone like the Salt Lake Temple statue.

Up close, the Salt Lake Temple’s statue made quite a sight as it was lowered to the ground last May.

“I never knew the Angel Moroni was so big,” said 6-year-old Elle Hirst as the crane gently set the statue on a platform in front of the temple.

In fact, the statue and capstone together weighed 5,000 pounds, or 2.5 tons.

Read more about the statue’s removal last year here.

Opening the capstone, which doubled as a time capsule

The capstone also was a time capsule, and later last May, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints watched church historians and conservators open the contents.

President Russell M. Nelson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, looks over items from The Salt Lake Temple capstone time capsule in Salt Lake City on Wednesday May 20, 2020.
President Russell M. Nelson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, looks over items from The Salt Lake Temple capstone time capsule in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

To read about what the capstone held, click here.

One thing that was not found by the historian, the conservator and Presidents Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring? A photograph of Joseph Smith. No known photograph of him exists, but one had been reported to be included in the time capsule. The photo cards in the time capsule were laminated together due to moisture damage, and no photographic images survived.

Where is the Angel Moroni statue is now

After lowering the statue from the temple last May and removing the capstone below its feet, crews moved the statue to a local storage facility. It will remain there until it is scheduled to be restored atop the temple. The renovation project was scheduled to be completed in 2024, but the church noted last week that several changes to the plans, noted below, may alter that timeline. No update has been provided.

The church has not said whether the trumpet already has been repaired and placed back in Moroni’s hand, or whether that will happen sometime in the next three years.

The work continues