Each Mormon temple, upon completion of its construction, is open to the general public for a period of a few weeks. This is prior to the temple’s dedication. Once an LDS temple (a temple belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is officially known) is dedicated, only those Mormons who carry temple recommends may enter. However, before a temple’s dedication, members of the public who wish to are permitted to walk through the temple. This is a wonderful opportunity for Mormons to show the public that there is nothing secretive or cultish which goes on in Mormon temples.
During an open house, a member of the public may walk through all the rooms where temple work is done: the endowment room, the sealing room, and the baptistry, for example. The celestial room is often a favorite, though no ordinances are actually performed in this room. Visitors may also walk through the general sitting rooms, the brides’ rooms, etc. In doing this, visitors can see that the temple is beautiful, is made out of the best materials, and that the rooms where Mormon temple work is done are fairly straightforward.
There is usually quite a large response from the public when a temple is open for an open house. Because of the large response, visitors are often required to make reservations. However, there is no fee to visit. The reservations simply help control the flow of traffic and help coordinators manage larger crowds. Visitors to Mormon temple open houses are often required to wear disposable booties over their shoes to minimize the dirt brought into the temples.
Missionaries and temple workers are present to answer questions visitors may have and to explain gospel principles and what temple work is all about. The completion of the Rome Italy Temple is anticipated to be in 2013, and the open house will take place in the month or so before its dedication.
The Rome Italy Temple will include a complex with the temple at its center. Other buildings in the complex will include a stake center (a large Mormon meetinghouse used for gatherings of multiple congregations), a visitors’ center housing exhibitions explaining Mormon Church history and temple work, a family history center which will be open to the public at no charge to aid in genealogical research, a patron housing facility for temple workers and patrons who must travel long distances to reach the temple, and beautiful gardens.