UPDATE: OCP has posted an explanation of this image on social media, which I’ve added at the end.
The image below is from the cover of a missal being published by Oregon Catholic Press:
The cover depicts an angel blowing a trumpet — but not just any angel.
It’s the Mormon Angel Moroni, who is the unofficial symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and who frequently appears on the cover of the Book of Mormon:
The Angel Moroni is an angel stated by Joseph Smith to have visited him on numerous occasions, beginning on September 21, 1823. According to Smith, the angel was the guardian of the golden plates, buried in the hill Cumorah near Smith’s home in western New York; Latter Day Saints believe the plates were the source material for the Book of Mormon. An important figure in the theology of the Latter Day Saint movement, Moroni is featured prominently in Mormon architecture and art. Besides Smith, the Three Witnesses and several other witnesses also reported that they saw Moroni in visions in 1829.
Moroni is thought by Latter Day Saints to be the same person as a Book of Mormon prophet-warrior named Moroni, who was the last to write in the golden plates. The book states that Moroni buried them before he died after a great battle between two pre-Columbian civilizations. After he died, he became an angel who was tasked with guarding the golden plates and directing Smith to their location in the 1820s. According to Smith, he then returned the golden plates to Moroni after they were translated and, as of 1838, Moroni still had the plates in his possession.
Because of his instrumentality in the restoration of the gospel, Moroni is commonly identified by Latter Day Saints as the angel mentioned in Revelation 14:6, “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”
The image of the angel Moroni blowing a trumpet is commonly used as an unofficial symbol of the LDS Church. Moroni appears on the cover of some editions of the Book of Mormon. Statues of the angel stand atop many LDS temples, with most statues facing eastward.
The artist is a man by the name of Jorge Cocco Santangelo:
He paints in a style he describes as ‘sacrocubism’ which portrays sacred events with several features of the post-cubist art movement.
Cocco Santángelo was born in Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Ríos, Argentina, an Argentine city that lies on the western shores of the Uruguay River. Raised Catholic, he married Myriam Verbauwen in February 1962. They joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in June of that year, becoming Argentine pioneers.
Due to their financial situation at the time and the lack of temples in South America, Santángelo and his wife were not able to be sealed together in the temple until 11 years after their baptisms. They traveled to Utah and were sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple on October 4, 1973. Four years later, they were sealed as a family to five of their children in the Bern Switzerland Temple.
You can see other examples of his work here.
The site describes this image: “Angel Moroni stands on a circular structure holding trumpet and gold plates.”
Now you know.
I’m sure somebody must have thought that using the theological symbol of the Mormon church on a Catholic missal cover — an image that is used often on the Book of Mormon and was painted by a lapsed Catholic, now a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — was a great idea.
I wish they had thought about it longer.
UPDATE: OCP has posted the following explanation on Facebook:
There has been some comment around the cover art for our 2021 Music Issue, suggesting that the angel is the angel from the Mormon faith. Great care goes into choosing the art for our missals. Sometimes we commission artists to create original works, sometimes we choose from among stock images.
It seems that some third-party retail sites have erroneously labelled this image as something other than what it is. The original artist named this piece “Angel VIII,” and can be viewed on the artist’s official website here: https://jorgecocco.com/2019/01/06/angels-collection/. This particular piece was chosen for its beauty and, since it was for our beloved Music Issue, for its musical element/theme (the angel playing a horn). This is a contemporary work, but in the recent past we used a beautiful icon of Christ written by a local Catholic iconographer, as well as beloved traditional, devotional images from past eras.
The sounding of the trumpet at the last is a strong traditional Christian image. We chose this angel because he’s holding a trumpet and what looks like the book that will be opened at the last. This is an appropriate depiction of the scene in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” It also applies to 1 Corinthians 15:52, “in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
This has been a central image of Christian iconography for centuries. In our world that focuses so much on the present, we feel it is really important that we reclaim this image of the last day. Even though the era of the Church has been thousands of years, we are still standing in the end times.
To ensure this didn’t conflict with the original intent of the art, we consulted with the artist. He stated, “This angel does not have a name, it is left to the interpretation of the viewer. The numbers we assigned them is just to differentiate from the different versions of angels I have painted.” The artist knew we were a Catholic publisher and did not offer us images that were assigned to a specific angel. At the same time, it is reasonable that those who hold the Mormon faith might see this same image as the casket containing the golden tablets of their faith. We, of course, apologize for any misunderstanding that this may have caused. We saw a beautiful image of an angel, and nothing more. We commit to redoubling our efforts in vetting missal art in the future, and hope that this explanation helps in our partners in ministry better understand why we chose this particular art piece for the 2021 Music Issue cover.
UPDATE II: My friend Father Matthew Schneider just discovered this on Instagram. It’s the image in question, shown on the artist’s own Instagram page. The artist himself clearly identifies this figure as Moroni:
View this post on Instagram
Angel Moroni. By Jorge Cocco Santángelo In these momentous and perilous times in which we remember the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the gospel at the same time that we are witnessing the fulfillment of prophecies of old, I have had a great pleasure posting the series of angels that my father, artist Jorge Cocco, has created in the last 4 years. Angels have a way of bringing peace to the soul; their appearances are usually to bring good tidings from Heaven, and if not, at least they do bring heavenly messages, though some might be calls to repentance. Most of the angels in this collection are in fact different versions of the angel known as Moroni, who lived in the American continent hundreds of years ago as the last prophet that wrote and kept the sacred records of the Nephite nation. He is the angel that appeared to Joseph Smith and directed him to the golden plates that were translated and we know now as The Book of Mormon. Angel Moroni is the angel mentioned in the Book of Revelation 14:6. This weekend we will hear from our living prophet during General Conference. I invite you to hear his words, for “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7) We look forward to be spiritually uplifted and emotionally comforted by the prophets’ messages. #generalconference #jorgecocco #cocco #coccosantangelo #sacrocubism #angel #moroni #angelmoroni #restoration #lds #mormon #josephsmith #ibelieve #jesus #religiousart #texas #utah #california #argentina #idaho #byu #byui #covidweekend #coronaweekend