Doors to the Rome Italy Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were open to visitors for four weeks in January and February 2019. Canadian volunteers helped usher thousands of visitors through the temple daily. The volunteers have two things in common: a deep love for Jesus Christ and a love for Italy.
An announcement to construct a temple for the Church is always cause for local celebration, but the announcement to construct a temple in historic Rome has been celebrated worldwide. Like all Christians, Latter-day Saints revere Rome as one of the most historic locations in the world—a biblical city where the ancient apostles Peter and Paul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Rome Temple sits on 14.5 acres located in northeast Rome near the Grande Raccordo Anulare. The temple is part of a 15-acre religious and cultural center that includes a multifunctional meetinghouse, a visitors’ center, a family history center, and housing for visitors. The temple exterior is constructed from granite with decorative glazing. The interior finish is of the finest material and workmanship: marble, woodwork, and decorative painting.
The Rome Italy Temple is one of 201 temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently in operation, under construction or recently announced, including 12 in Europe. The temple will serve over 23,000 Church members living in Italy and in neighbouring countries.
Temple Open House Welcomes Thousands
After a temple is constructed, all are welcome to visit and tour during an open house. Information and explanation is also made available. The Rome Italy Temple open house was scheduled to conclude on February 16, 2019. Due to its high volume of visitors — over 7,200 on the last day — the open house was extended to February 23, 2019.
Vanna and Benedetto Parisi emigrated from Firenze (Florence) to Toronto, Ontario, in 1984. One of many highlights of their Rome Italy Temple service has been to welcome relatives and friends to the temple. Ben said of the experience, “It was very special for me to share the sacredness of the temple with my brother and sister-in-law.”
Benedetto is shown celebrating his 73rd birthday by ushering people through the newly constructed Rome Temple. According to Ben, “I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing on my birthday.”
Speaking of their volunteer experience in general, Vanna expressed, “This is how I want heaven to be. I can’t imagine it being any different.” Her reference was to the many families who visited the temple, the diversity of people and faiths who respectfully came to learn, the sacrifices of many dedicated workers, and the Spirit of the Lord, which accompanied it all.
For Rose Zuccarelli Sutton of Edmonton, Alberta, her service in Rome has in part been a reunion. Rose served a full-time mission in Rome from 2014 to 2015, during which time the temple was under construction. Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, by first-generation immigrants, Rose speaks Italian and loves her Italian heritage. She joined the Church when she was 20 years old.
Serving as both missionary and temple volunteer has expanded her knowledge and love for her family and heritage. “I was thrilled to be invited to help with the open house,” said Rose. “I experienced many miracles as I helped with security, gave tours, and welcomed thousands of visitors.”
Debbie Brodie Balzotti, originally from St. Thomas, Ontario, and her husband, Mark Balzotti, are currently serving a full-time mission in the Italy Rome Mission. They have taken time out of regular missionary duties to welcome visitors and conduct tours of the temple. Debbie said of her experiences of helping with the open house, “It has been wonderful to see thousands of Italians visit the temple. Visitors commented on the peaceful spirit they felt and had tear-filled eyes at the end of the tour. The Spirit was very strong.”
In the group photo are (L to R) Mark and Debbie Brodie Balzotti with Reed and Danielle Piepgrass, Vanna and Ben Parisi, and Rose Zuccarelli Sutton standing in front of the Rome Italy Temple.
Reed and Danielle Piepgrass from Calgary, Alberta, and Brian and Cindy Pitcher from Cardston, Alberta, are serving full-time temple missions in Paris, France. When the Paris France Temple closed for its semi-annual two-week maintenance, the Piepgrasses and the Pitchers forfeited their vacation to volunteer at the open house in Rome.
One of the ways that Brian Pitcher helps at the Rome Temple open house is by providing administrative assistance.
The Rome Temple open house has also been a very special time for Joe Evershed who served a mission in Italy as a young man and has a deep love for Italy since. Joe and his wife Helga travelled to the Rome Temple from Toronto.
Preparing for the Temple’s Dedication
After the last tour on February 23, 2019, the temple closed in preparation for dedication services that will be held on March 10–12, 2019. Reservations for the dedication services can be made through lds.org/temples/open-houses. The temple will be open for ordinances on Tuesday, March 19, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson, world leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “The sacred ordinances performed in this holy temple will unite families for eternity. God loves all His children equally and has provided a way for them to be linked in love, generation to generation. We are thrilled to be able to dedicate a temple in this city replete with historical importance throughout the ages” (“Rome Italy Open House and Dedication, Church News).