The open house for the Paris France Temple proved to be a time of great public exposure for the Church — one that “will favorably change the public opinion forever,” said Elder Matthieu Bennasar, an Area Seventy in the Church’s Europe Area.
“As people massively came to the Paris temple, their views were touched by the beauty and light in the temple,” explained Elder Bennasar, chairman of the local temple committee. “They experienced firsthand the transforming power of these visits as they heard testimonies and felt the spirit of the temple.”
Some 47,561 people visited the temple during the public open house, held daily April 22 through May 13, except Sundays.
Elder Bennasar said French speaking Church leaders and members “witnessed many miracles” during the open house.
“The numerous Church volunteers became tireless ambassadors of the good name of the Church, working endless hours to make the experience enjoyable for everyone,” said Elder Bennasar. “And all along, the hoped-for miracles came: many were ‘fascinated by the experience’ or ‘seized by something [they] had never felt,’ while a few even reported seeing through the veil as they saw deceased ancestors and loved ones while pondering in the celestial room.”
There are currently about 38,000 members, 100 wards and branches, and two missions in France. The Paris temple is the first to be completed in France.
The 44,175-square-foot temple features art glass that reminds visitors of a French garden. Located in Le Chesnay in the western suburbs of Paris, the temple will become the 156th operating temple of the Church worldwide. The edifice is within walking distance of the beautiful gardens of the Château de Versailles. The closest temples French Latter-day Saints have attended in the past are in Frankfurt, Germany; The Hague, Netherlands; and Bern, Switzerland.
Elder Neil L. Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, participated in the open house, visiting with government leaders, neighbors, dignitaries, the press and friends of other faiths.
Joining Elder and Sister Andersen during the temple’s first open house days were Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé, a native of France who years earlier as a newlywed with his wife, Sister Valérie Caussé, had lived on Rue des Missionnaires (Street of the Missionaries), just a few blocks from what would become the temple site; Elder Larry Y. Wilson, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department; and Elder Bennesar. Also attending the open house was Le Chesnay Mayor Philippe Brillault.
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