ROME — The dedication of the Rome Italy Temple is “a hinge point in the history of the Church,” said President Russell M. Nelson while visiting an ancient and great city where two millennia ago Peter and Paul preached and died.
“Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace,” said President Nelson. “The Church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. We’re just building up to what’s ahead now.”
President Nelson’s words followed a historic weekend March 9-12 in which the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated the Rome Italy Temple, addressed youth in the temple district, and met with Pope Francis — becoming the first prophet to have a formal audience with the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
President Nelson was joined by every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Rome, one of the most influential cities in the history of Christianity. The Church leaders stood together on March 11 in the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center for iconic photographs — symbols of their unified testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.
In addition to the group photograph, President Nelson — who holds all the keys to the Church — stood near the statue of Peter. The keys held in Peter’s hand are symbolic of Matthew 16:19, where Christ promised Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
After the photographs, President Nelson looked forward with characteristic energy and optimism. The many historic firsts of the weekend are “only the beginning,” he said.
Members of the First Presidency expressed deep gratitude for the invitation President Nelson gave them to participate in the historic events surrounding the dedication of the Rome temple.
The Lord, he said, told him to take all the senior leaders to Rome for the dedication. “I was just following the instructions I received,” he said. “It was very clear to me.”
Only a few times in history has the entire senior leadership of the Church been together outside of Utah, the most recent being the Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedication in 2002.
President Nelson said the Church leaders’ time in Rome will be “a blessing for the people all over the world, because these Apostles now will go all over the world and recap the experiences that they felt here as this holy house was dedicated.”
Read quotes from all 15 members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about the Rome Italy Temple dedication.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added: “We know that two former-day apostles, Peter and Paul, were here, and then to have modern-day Apostles here, all of us, is just a moving experience, in some ways paying homage to them and homage to the gospel that we all preach.”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Everything in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ focuses on Him and ordinances and covenants. Period. End of sentence. Exclamation point. …. And that is what we’ll take all over.”
He said this marks “the beginning of something very majestic, and President Nelson has already highlighted the fact that this experience here is a hinge point not just for the Church in this temple district, but in all the world.”