Religious Education in the Eternal City and Beyond


Scott C. Esplin, Publications Director of BYU Religious Studies Center

templeRome Italy Temple. Photo by Cody Bell

Church members followed with great interest the recent open house and dedication of the Rome Italy Temple. Thousands flocked from around the world to celebrate the event in a city made sacred by the martyrdom of the early Apostles Peter and Paul. Members rejoiced as all fifteen living Apostles, under the guidance of President Russell M. Nelson, gathered outside the United States for what was believed to be the first time in the faith’s history, witnessing the dedication of the first modern temple in a biblical city.

Rome is more than just an important religious destination. It is also a center for world-class art. This was celebrated in the construction and furnishing of the visitors’ center adjacent to the Rome Italy Temple, which features replica statues of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus and the Twelve Apostles. Also represented is the work of several BYU religious educators, who assisted famed stained-glass artist Tom Holdman in researching and designing the stunning window depicting scenes from the Savior’s parables and miracles. In this issue of the BYU Religious Education Review, we are excited to feature the work of Professors Brad Wilcox (ancient scripture) and Anthony Sweat (Church history and doctrine), highlighting their experiences with the masterpiece.

In preparation for the study of the Book of Mormon across the Church next year, we are also pleased to share the work of Professor Tyler Griffin (ancient scripture) and his team with the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group, who have recently released several helpful digital resources to enhance gospel study. The free materials include a Book of Mormon map based relationally on details within the Book of Mormon itself, as well as an app titled “Mormon’s Cave,” which helps users understand the collection of records that make up the Book of Mormon we enjoy today.

Finally, we update readers on the growing Masters of Chaplaincy program within Religious Education. Begun in 2008, the program is preparing more chaplain graduates every year, including the first healthcare chaplain graduate, Delacie Barney, who completed her work this year. As a result of their training within Religious Education, dozens of BYU graduates minister to people of faith around the globe.

As faculty, staff, and administration, we appreciate the support we receive from members worldwide as we teach thousands of students on campus and, through outreach endeavors like those highlighted in this issue, make the world our campus.