“In this day the breeze of God is wafted, and His Spirit hath pervaded all things.” Nowhere does this line from Baha’i scripture come to life more than in Tiapapata, where the Samoan Baha’i House of Worship stands on a mountainside, bathed in Upolu island’s refreshing Pacific breeze.
Located only a few miles outside of the capital Apia, the Baha'i temple is praised as a near-ideal portrayal of Samoa’s serenity, natural splendor, and cultural wealth.
History of the Baha'i House of Worship
Designed by Iranian-Canadian architect Husayn Amánat, the building was completed in 1984, only ten years after the Universal House of Justice, the Baha’i governing body, called for its construction.
Malietoa Tanumafili II, the king of Samoa and the world's only reigning Baha’i monarch, dedicated the structure in September of that year.
With the recent property expansion, landscape renewal has become a frequent undertaking at the temple, where the gardens as much as the building itself are considered places of meditation and prayer.
Samoa’s Baha’i community dates back to the late 1950s, when several communities began to spring up across neighboring islands. Begun in Iran in the mid-1800s, the Baha’i Faith can be found today in every corner of the world.
The South Pacific is particularly unique in that countries like Nauru, Tonga, and Samoa have some of the highest proportions of Baha’i populations in the world.
In 2004, the temple hosted a large jubilee celebration, at which Samoan Baha’is honored 50 years of the faith’s presence on the islands as well as 20 years since the House of Worship’s opening. During the conference, island dignitaries praised local Baha’is for their contributions to and celebration of Samoan society.
What to See at the Baha'i House of Worship
Like all the Baha’i Houses of Worship, Samoa’s has nine sides, a towering dome (92 feet in this case), and is surrounded by some of the most aesthetically striking gardens in the world. The temple features twenty majestically landscaped acres of paths, footbridges, and dozens of native plant species.
Baha’i Houses of Worship are meant to serve as places of interfaith activity, where people of all creeds can worship God. As a result, Baha’i symbols, though present and powerful, often escape the eyes of passersby. Instead, the temples often capture visitors with awe-inspiring architecture and regional style.
Both the interior and exterior of the house of worship pay exceptional homage to the island’s distinctly indigenous history. Viewed from the flourishing gardens, the temple is intended to resemble Samoa’s circular, thatched-roof homes, commonly known as fales.
Inside, Samoan and English quotations are carved into wooden sections between several panes of reflective, sun-saturated windows.
The windows themselves symbolize a uniting of Samoa with the rest of the world, converging at the top of the temple’s brilliantly white dome, the center of which bears two important Baha’i symbols: the calligraphic name of the faith’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh, and the nine-pointed star.
In addition to the temple, a nearby visitor's center offers more information about the Baha’i faith in addition to a history of the temple and a Baha’i bookshop.
A popular stop for visiting Baha’is is the gravesite of Dr. Ugo Giachery (1896-1989), titled a "Hand of the Cause of God." Giachery is renowned worldwide for his commitment to a foreign land far from his native Italy.
In 1967, he presented a volume of writings of Bahá’u’lláh to the Head of State, His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, who later became a member of the Bahá'í Faith.
Quick Facts on the Baha'i House of Worship
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- Baha’i Temple Ceremony - Baha’i World News Service
- Baha’i House of Worship - Wikipedia
- Samoan Baha’i Temple - U.S. Baha’is
- Pacific Baha’i Communities - Baha’i Library Online
Map of the Baha'i House of Worship, Apia
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Baha'i House of Worship. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.