Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XXIV
Note by Editor.—Elder Woodard writes.—More Baptisms in Italy.—A singular scene.—A successful experiment.—Ten baptized.—Expressions from converts.—The Millennial Star speaks.—Encouraging reports.—Letter from Elder Woodard.—Extract from Elder Stenhouse's letter.—Opposition re-acts.—Good results.
IT will be recollected that, although Italy was the headquarters and prominent point of Lorenzo's mission, it extended indefinitely to all countries and peoples wherever wisdom dictated and opportunity presented. While the work was going on in Italy, under the wise management of Elder Woodard, Elder Stenhouse was laboring under Lorenzo's direction in Switzerland.
Latour, Vallie de Luzerne, Piedmont, Italy,
February 26, 1851.
Dear President Snow:
I am happy to inform you that the brethren and sisters in Italy are all well, and send their salutations to you, with the request that you will also salute the churches in England for them.
On the twenty-fourth of February, two young men presented themselves for baptism. It rained and snowed amain,
and the atmosphere was so dense that we could not see distinctly a little way ahead. But as we descended towards the Angrogua river, a singular scene was presented: the clouds were suddenly rent asunder, as if they had been a sheet of paper, and the side of Mount Brigham was visible, in a moment, from the top to the bottom.
I exclaimed, "The veil over Italy has burst," and yet, at the instant, I knew not what I was saying. I stood paralyzed with the magnificent views which opened on every side; then with a prayer to Israel's God, we entered the stream.
In the evening a congregation assembled, and I commenced preaching; but the devil entered into some who had been resisting the truth, and I saw that he had got a firm hold, and my words seemed to be wasted on the assembly, through the presence of such a deadening and defiling influence. I therefore stopped short, and sat down, after intimating that everybody might go where they liked. By this means I got rid of the chaff while the good grain remained. I then commenced preaching, and the power of God rested upon us. Many a tear rolled down those weather-beaten faces. The next day I baptized ten persons; they are not the rich and the noble, but you shall judge them by their own language, as they have each given me a line to send to their foreign brethren. As follows:
1. May we meet when the earth is renovated.
2. Pray for a young sister who wishes to grow in grace.
3. Absent in body, but united in spirit.
4. Hallelujah, for the Lord has remembered His people.
5. If we do not meet in these bodies, may we embrace each other in the resurrection. (This brother is sixty-two years old.)
6. In the midst of weakness I hope for strength.
7. Pray for a poor brother.
8. May we be crowned with glory when the world is judged.
The other brothers and sisters send the following: We thank our Heavenly Father that we have begun to walk in the pathway of a new and endless life.
One brother, who is a firm believer in the "Voice of Joseph," I have advanced as an Elder. Five months ago he was requested to take the office of Elder in the Waldensian Church. This he refused.
Please address my letters as usual, but add "Poste Restante." I do not see an opening at present, but I believe the Lord will enable me to be independent of the hotel, and by that means I shall know more as to the true character of the inhabitants.
Remember me to Sister Woodard, and all friends whom you see in your travels.
All kinds of calumny and petty persecution are brought into use. The devil is not idle here, and sometimes he tells the truth.
Yours in the new and everlasting covenant,
We now copy from the Millennial Star, under date of March 15, 1851, as follows:
The French, Italian and Danish missions, we are happy to state, are each of them moving forward with a degree of prosperity which is truly cheering. Elders Taylor and L. Snow arrived in Liverpool from their fields of labor, last week, in good health and spirits.
Elder Lorenzo Snow has published two pamphlets in Piedmont, Italy, which are being actively circulated by Elder Woodard in that vicinity, and by Elder Stenhouse in Switzerland.
A spirit of inquiry is abroad to considerable extent. This mission has been attended with much care and solicitude. Many have felt that labors bestowed in that country would prove futile and unavailing—that doctrines of present revelation would not be able to obtain credence with that people. But Elder Snow is resolute in his purpose of establishing the Church of Jesus Christ in those countries, upon the most substantial basis—the rock of revelation. He is about to commence the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon in the Italian language immediately, with a view to push it on vigorously until its completion.
Just in time for the present number of the Star, we are favored, by Elder Lorenzo Snow, with the following soul-stirring account of the work of the Lord in Italy, which will cause the heart-strings of every Saint to vibrate with celestial tones of praise and thanksgiving to Zion's God for His blessings to His people in Piedmont.
"The veil over Italy has begun to burst—the Alpine hills have commenced to reverbate the tidings of salvation, the gift of the Holy Ghost, to those who have wandered long in darkness, and the sound of their cheering congratulations, in the new covenant of life, have reached our ears. They speak like Saints. Their bosoms already burn with love and fellowship towards their brethren in other lands. The aged who has nearly numbered his threescore years and ten, scarely expecting to meet his brethren generally, on earth, hopes to embrace them in the resurrection, not far off; indeed, the spirit of the Gospel seems to pervade their minds richly, as their salutations fully bespeak, which also witness the purity and faith of those who have sown this seed in their hearts."
Italy, May 9th, 1851.
Dear President Snow:
I am still alive and able to climb mountains, if I cannot move them. I have baptized one more since I wrote. This makes twenty-one members, exclusive of those who are non-resident, as Brother Toronto and yourself, and Brother Stenhouse. I have sent an Elder to baptize at Pignerol, and if he has done his duty, he has at least baptized one. I have ordained in all, two Elders, one Priest and one Teacher. I send these details in case you may require statistics for the Conference.
We have had some thunderstorms lately. One that made the mountains re-echo the other night—I shall not soon forget. When the rain came through the roof and dashed in big drops upon my face as I lay in bed, I said to myself, "I am not so bad off now as the brethren who have slept under the hedge."
I am indeed rejoiced to hear that Elder Kelsey has got such lads at work. I am looking forward to such days in Italy.
You would have laughed the other day, to hear a dispute as to who I was. One said that I claimed an origin in the other world. Elder Malan, who was unknown to the parties, said, perhaps I was an angel. A gentleman, however, assured his friends that I was Joseph Smith. I came up at the end of the discussion and endeavored to explain the origin of my faith, and not the origin of myself, which I thought a little too difficult for the occasion.
On Tuesday, the sixth of May, I descended with a Teacher from the mountains, above the chapel of St. Lorenzo. We rested for the night near the church of Angevagna. The next morning we pursued our journey till mid-day, when we arrived at the house of a brother. He had told his family and friends that we were coming, although I had not told any one that it was my intention to pass that way; but, said he, "The Lord made it known to me last night in my sleep."After prayer, and giving some teachings, we resumed our journey, and for three long hours we scarcely saw anything but the winding torrent and the barren mountains. We took lodgings for the night in a cottage which actually had glass in the windows. We accounted this a miracle, for it is nearly a month since I slept where there was a pane of glass.
The next morning, May 8th, the snow fell abundantly in that elevated region, and I could not get warm till I got a small congregation and warmed myself with preaching.
Two years ago, an avalanche fell here, and crushed a house where there were eight persons. The youngest, an infant of fourteen months, was unhurt; but the others were all killed. Another avalanche killed eleven persons, as they were returning from market.
One night a minister, with his whole family, was killed in the same place. The wind blew his house over the precipice, and the dog was the only living thing that escaped.
In this land of storms, I have commenced sowing the good seed. May the Lord give an increase, and to His name shall be the glory.
The following extracts are from a letter published in the Millennial Star, addressed to Elder F. D. Richards (who was at this time presiding over the British mission), written by Elder Stenhouse when on a visit in England, dated May 17, 1851:
As the Italian mission, from the pen of my esteemed President, and the recent communications from Elder Woodard, is now before the public, I deem it superfluous to say one word more on that mission. My heart is filled with gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the great and manifold blessings which have followed the organization of His Kingdom in that country, through the wisdom of one of His chosen Twelve.
During my sojourn in Switzerland, I have been principally in Geneva, or what is called in religious circles, "Protestant Rome." When it is remembered that in this city John Calvin and other celebrated sectarians spent the best of their lives, it will not be a matter of surprise if the doctrine of new revelation be counted a strange thing. Since Elder Snow visited, and left bis blessing on the place, investigation has increased day by day. His writings are spreading among all classes. I may say, with confidence, there is not a minister, Protestant, Catholic or Methodist of any shade or color in Geneva, but is more or less acquainted with "Mormonism" and Lorenzo Snow.
A few days before I left, I had the satisfaction of listening to the expose' of "Mormonism," by the Rev. Mr. Guers, a Methodist. I felt so truly thankful for his kindness that I could not refrain from testifying my gratitude by distributing among his congregation Elder Snow's "Ancient Gospel Restored," with a polite invitation to read still further on the same subject.
At the close of this interesting meeting, another, more select, was held, when about thirty persons, including seven parsons, sat down to tea, that they might, over the social cup, discuss the best means to prevent the spread of "Mormonism."
Through this expose' the eyes of my landlord were opened to behold the work of God. In a few days afterwards he sought baptism. The day I left Geneva, I ordained him to the holy office of an Elder. This brother speaks the French and German fluently.
In the Swiss cantons, French, German and Italian are spoken. In the course of a little time, when Elders Taylor and Snow will have ushered into the world the Book of Mormon in those languages, I believe a great work will be done in Switzerland to the honor and glory of Israel's God. A German gentleman, who has been captivated with Elder Snow's writings, has promised to put them in German as soon as possible.
In concluding, I cannot but express the deep obligations that I feel to President Snow for the paternal care which he has shown to myself and fellow laborers.