Montreal, October 15, 2016 - A number of Bahá’ís from the Montreal community attended the inauguration of the 9th temple dedicated to humanity in Santiago, Chili. The Bahá’í House of Worship was built by a firm of Toronto architects and hundreds of other collaborators around the world for about 14 years.

Siamak Hariri of Hariri-Pontarini Architects company, explained that his team was fully aware of the power that a building may have to influence the soul but evoke such a feeling was a profound challenge.

More than 5,000 Bahá’ís from 110 countries attended the Dedication Ceremonies, along with 500 guests representatives of government, civil society and religious communities in South America, Central America, North America, Caribbean and other remote regions, met this weekend under the slender dome of the house of worship.

Canadian architectural writer, Lisa Rochon, has described the Temple as “a luminous structure that echoes the rolling topography of the Andes while appearing to float some 30 metres above the earth… visitors will experience a mesmerizing transfer of light from the exterior of cast glass to an interior of translucent Portuguese marble.  At sunset, the light captured within the dome shifts from gold to ochre to deep red.”  The Temple lies in the foothills of the Andes as they rise to the south-east of  Santiago in the municipality of Peñalolen.

Four of the eight Baha’i Temples around the world have been designed by Canadian architects.  The first, located just north of Chicago, was designed in the early 20th century by Quebec architect Louis Bourgeois, and was opened as the North American Baha’i Temple in the early 1950s, since becoming a landmark.  In subsequent years, Canadian Fariborz Sahba designed the Asian Baha’i Temple in New Delhi, often referred to as the “Lotus Temple”, and among the most visited buildings in the world.  Vancouver architect Hossein Amanat designed the Baha’i Temple of Oceania in Apia, Samoa.  The four other continental Temples are in Europe (Frankfurt, Germany), Africa (Kampala, Uganda), Panama, and Australia (Sydney).

The guests, many of whom were dressed in traditional dress, climbed the mountainside stairs to the first devotional program held in the house of worship. Representing the Universal House of Justice, Mrs. Antonella Demonte read a special message addressed to the gathering at “a moment of high achievement for the Bahá’í world after much earnest striving”. “The process of raising up Bahá’í Houses of Worship, an endeavour whose origins can be traced back to the days of the Blessed Beauty Himself, has reached the point where today a Mother Temple stands upon the soil of every continent,” read the message. “A powerful spiritual beacon is now in full blaze at the foot of the Andes,” the message said, describing the House of Worship as a vital institution which embodies “two essential and inseparable aspects of Baha’i life: worship and service.”

Among the first Baha’is to set foot on the continent to share their beliefs were three brave North-American women—Martha Root, Leonora Armstrong and May Maxwell. Their heroic efforts in the early decades of the twentieth century were vividly brought to life by three actors in a dramatic presentation, titled Las Rosas Blancas de America.

The unifying power of humanity in all its diverse cultures and diverse colors - and the unique position of this temple, between the city and the mountains - was clear for all to see.

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