After COVID-19 conditions forced the postponement of two previously scheduled dates, ground was broken for the Salta Argentina Temple Wednesday, Nov. 4, for what will be the third of five temples for the South American nation.
Elder Benjamín De Hoyos, a General Authority Seventy and South America South Area president, presided at the Salta temple groundbreaking ceremony and offered the dedicatory prayer.
“For quite some time, Father, your children have longed to enter and serve in a holy house with more frequency …,” said Elder De Hoyos in the prayer. “Heavenly Father, receive our grateful hearts for this significant and special day that begins the reality of this righteous desire.”
Attendance at the event was limited because of local COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, reported Newsroom. Attendees included local Latter-day Saints and Church leaders as well as several local government leaders, including Salta’s Governor Gustavo Sáenz.
President Russell M. Nelson announced the Salta Argentina Temple at the April 2018 general conference. An exterior rendering of the temple was released on June 5, showing a single attached tower adorned with an angel Moroni statue. The temple site is located near the Salta airport.
The Nov. 4 groundbreaking was the third — and finally successful — date set for the Salta temple, located in the country’s northwest area. COVID-19 concerns postponed previously scheduled dates in mid-August and early October.
Celeste Viveros, a young woman from Salta who was asked to represent other Latter-day Saint youth, also spoke at the groundbreaking service.
“I am grateful to God to live at a time when a temple will be built — like the Primary hymn’s lyrics, ‘I love to see the Temple,’ here in the city of Salta,” Viveros said.
Angel D. Rui Díaz, bishop of the Tres Cerritos Ward in the Salta Argentina Stake and one who helped organize the groundbreaking service, recalled President Nelson announcing a temple in Salta two and a half years earlier.
“I remember the happiness our brothers and sisters felt,” Bishop Rui Díaz said. “They didn’t stop commenting from that day until now. We are delighted to have a holy house for our God.”
Latter-day Saints in Argentina total 470,843 in 78 stakes and 734 congregations, with 13 missions in the country of 40 million people. The nation is home to two operating temples — the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple, dedicated in 1986, and the Córdoba Argentina Temple, dedicated in 2015.
The Salta temple is the first of three temples for Argentina announced in the past 30 months, all by President Nelson. Following the Salta designation in April 2018, the President of the Church announced temples for Mendoza in the October 2018 general conference and for Bahía Blanca earlier this year in the April 2020 general conference.
The Mendoza Argentina Temple has its own groundbreaking scheduled for later this month.