Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Ramon Lopez, with his family, recently moved to Rome from Spain to work as an engineer on the Rome temple project. Courtesy Mike Stack
When in Rome … you’ll soon see a Mormon temple
LDS » Italian saints count it as a blessing — other church members view it as a milestone.
First Published May 24 2012 10:38 am • Last Updated Aug 28 2012 11:36 pm

Rome » Daniele Salerno was in the bathroom and missed LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson’s 2008 announcement that a temple would be built in his city: Rome.

What Salerno did hear was a communal "whoa," followed by cheering and shouting coming from the chapel, hardly the typical response from Mormons viewing LDS General Conference on a big screen.

At a glance

Italy’s Mormons by the numbers

24,443 » Members

98 » Congregations

49 » Family history centers

2 » Missions

Source: lds.org

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

When he emerged into the hallway, Salerno saw fellow Latter-day Saints hugging, crying, clapping and celebrating — as if their soccer team had just won the World Cup.

That moment became pivotal in the young father’s life.

Growing up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salerno had always heard Italian Mormons say that one day they would have a temple in their midst. Now the Telecom Italian sales consultant drives by the temple site, an hour or so outside Rome’s center, on his way to work every day. The sight of that sacred structure emerging "brick by brick" makes him want to be growing spiritually at least as fast.

"The Lord is blessing us as a community," Salerno says. "It is an increasing challenge to be a light to our neighbors, friends and family."

News of a Mormon temple in Rome also brought a rumble of approval in the giant LDS Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on that October day 3 1/2 years ago.

More than practically any other place, planting a temple in the Eternal City, not far from the seat of Catholicism, carried a symbolic significance for the Utah-based faith. It seemed to say: Mormons have arrived on the world stage and are here to stay.

Long time coming » Mormons landed in the boot-shaped country as early as 1850, when then-apostle Lorenzo Snow and two companions dedicated the place for LDS preaching. The trio even renamed the city La Tour as Mount Brigham, according to the 2012 Church Almanac. Most of the early converts emigrated to Utah, so the Mormon presence there disappeared until after World War II, nearly a century later.


story continues below
story continues below

The first LDS stake (a cluster of congregations) was formed in Milan in June 1981, and several others followed in that decade. By 1993, the Italian government formally had recognized the church as a legal entity, allowing it to buy property.

Mormons in Italy, who now number nearly 25,000 in almost 100 congregations, making up seven stakes, have an excellent relationship with the government, says Rome Stake President Massimo DeFeo.

Though most of the country’s recognized churches get some government support through their members’ taxes, the LDS Church does not.

"Part of the agreement ready to be signed between Italy and the LDS Church includes a refusal by the LDS Church to accept tax money," DeFeo writes in an email. "It is now a matter of a short time to sign the final agreement."

Though the process to gain all the approvals for the temple was lengthy, it went more smoothly than expected, he says. "We were able to obtain the permission due to the hard work with contacts at the city administration level."

The church had owned the site for a decade or more, but to build there, it had to ensure no ruins were buried there. While crews dug for bones of buildings, the Mormons fasted.

In the end, some ruins were found within 200 yards of the site, but not within it. The project moved forward.

"It was amazing," says Jeff Acerson, LDS Rome mission president from 2007 to 2010. "You would think there would have been more obstacles."

It seemed, well, almost miraculous.

Among the Catholics » Mormon officials believe their temple will enhance Rome’s reputation as a cosmopolitan city that accepts a bounty of faiths.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.