Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Legacy of the Christus Statue at the London Temple Visitors' Centre

The Christus Statue

Night in the Visitor's Centre

Inside the Visitor's Center looking East

Spring has sprung here in Jolly Old England and we are loving the extra hours of daylight. It is now light until about 8:30 at night which is wonderful after the cold dark nights in December that started at about 3:30 in the afternoon. There is even time now for us to go for a nice long walk after we close the Centre at 8 or 9 o'clock at night. The Centre continues to be very busy. Fridays and Saturdays are crazy with hundreds of people coming here on those two days to experience the great spirit which permeates the facility. The rest of the week is moderately busy in the afternoons and always quite busy in the evenings. With the Centre open 7 days a week and with very little help, we do not get bored. One of the wonderful things that I love about the Visitors' Centre is the great feeling of the Spirit that we feel each morning when we unlock the door and walk in to the beautiful view of the Christus Statue and the magnificent mural that has been painted behind it. At night, the reflection of the Christus in the windows looking back at you is beyond description. It appears that he is smiling down at you with his arms outstretched in love. It is a wonderful sight.

This Christus statue is the 14th that the Church has purchased and displayed at various Visitors' Centres throughout the world. This is the only Visitors' Centre in Europe and the only Christus Statue in a Church owned facility. We feel so blessed to have it here. This statue is not carved of marble like many of the others are. It is made of fiber glass and then coated with a crushed marble mixture to give it the look of a marble statue. We have been learning a little about the history of the Christus and the Church because truly the Christus statue has come to be associated with the Church of Jesus Christ even though it was not sculpted by or for us originally. It was scupted by a Danish sculptor named Thorvaldson in the 1800's. He was commissioned to sculpt a statue of Christ in 1820, completed it in about 1837, and passed away in 1844, the same year as Joseph Smith did. The Church became interested in using this wonderful statue in Visitors' Centres in the 1950's when Stephen L. Richards, then of the first presidency, saw it at Forest Lawn Cemetery in California. As I said earlier, the Church now has 14 of these statues in its facilities throughout the world. They also retain one as a traveling Christus that is used for special occasions such as temple dedications, world fairs and expositions, etc. We had hoped to visit the Copenhagen Denmark Church called "The Church of Our Lady" where the original (6 foot) Christus is displayed along with statues of the 12 apostles before we came home. I don't think that we will be able to do that now, because of a shortage of time, but we will hope to come back and see that one day.

We continue to hear wonderful conversion, reactivation, and motivational stories as we work in the Centre. They all strengthen us and give us pause to thank our Heavenly Father for his great love for all of his children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are. Today we are speaking in Church about our experiences at the Centre. Hope all goes well. Our thoughts and prayers are always with all of you wonderful people whom we have known throughout the years. May the best that life has to offer come your way.