Religious Tourism

For millenia the faithful have been going on pilgrimages to spiritual places, retreats to grow in spirituality and to special places that remind them of special events in their faith.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are no different.  Faithful LDS members have several places they like to visit.

As a member of the church I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, NY, Kirtland, OH, Nauvoo, IL and the sites in Missouri in addition to Utah.  In Arizona there were several places for me to visit especially during the Easter season.  

In Mesa, Arizona on the lawn of the Mesa LDS Temple there is the Easter Pageant every year.  It happens the two weeks preceding easter every year and it is open to the public.  FAQ on their site says

” 1. What is the Pageant?  The Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant, “Jesus the Christ,” presents the life, ministry, and mission of Jesus Christ through music, dance, and drama. This presentation is for all religions, ages, and cultures. What began as an Easter sunrise service on top of a cotton wagon in 1928, has now become the largest, annual, outdoor Easter Pageant in the world. “Jesus the Christ” is not a passion play focusing on the crucifixion, rather a celebration of the resurrection of the Savior. Each year, people travel from throughout the world to see this spirit-filled and beautiful one-hour outdoor production. IT IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC … NO ADMISSION CHARGE, AND NO TICKETS REQUIRED (AS WELL AS NO DONATIONS ACCEPTED). THIS IS A COMMUNITY CELEBRATION OF EASTER.”

We were lucky to be in Phoenix during Easter this year and were able to attend.  My suggestion is to arrive early as the seats fill up fast and people are usually saving seats for their family and friends.  It was a beautiful theatrical depiction of the life of Christ and His mission through song and dance.  Since it is a rather large production the visual aspects of it are amazing.  Here is a video of it.

Another fun place we visited was the new Gilbert Arizona Temple.  It was recently dedicated and the building is simply amazing.  I loved the beautiful staircase and was amazed at how shiny the chandeliers were. But the best part was seeing the big smiles on the faces of the young couples who got married the day we were there.  Here is a great video that shows the temple and explains about temples.

Finally we visited the Mesa Temple Visitor’s Center on the Sunday we were there.  It was nice to see the temple grounds without the crowds that were there for the pageant and simply enjoy the beautiful, peaceful gardens.  The visitor’s center is open to the public and it has a beautiful statue of the Christus and scriptural passages from the life of Christ are played while you sit at his feet.  What a wonderful way to spend Easter!!  The visitor’s center staff were especially nice to my son who is preparing to serve a mission in France.  They played the message in French and showing him a video about how important families are in French.  How thoughtful of them. 

Visiting places that strengthen my faith and bring me closer to the Savior end up being a highlight of any trip.  I am grateful for the opportunity to travel but most importantly I am grateful for the opportunity to see how people show their love for God in their own way and through the buildings they build in His honor.