Italian Mission of Lorenzo Snow

Missionary-Lorenzo-snowPresident lorenzo-snowIn 1849, Snow was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Shortly after his call to the Twelve, Snow left on a mission to introduce the restored gospel to Italy. He had already served a mission in England five years previously. Snow began his mission in Italy among the Waldensians, an ancient sect of Christians who inhabited the Piedmont Valleys in the Alps.

Snow and his companions Joseph Toronto, Thomas Stenhouse, and Jabez Woodard initially had very little success in converting the Waldensians to Mormonism. However, after healing a three-year-old boy named Joseph Gay, they began to find converts. In the end, more than 150 Waldensians converted to Mormonism, and 70 eventually emigrated to Utah. In January of 1851, Snow went to England and found a person there whom he hired to translate the Book of Mormon into Italian.

Elder Snow, accompanied by two missionary companions, dedicated Italy for the preaching of the gospel on September 19, 1850. Elder Snow recorded, “From that day opportunities began to occur for proclaiming our message.”

Letter Excerpts

Letter From: Elder Lorenzo Snow – Southampton, England
Written To: Eliza R. Snow – Great Salt Lake City, California
Date: June 14, 1850

“… my mind reverts to the 19th of October, 1849, when, in solemn silence, I left what, next to God, was dearest to my heart — my friends, my loving wife, and little children. As I pursued my journey, in company with my brethren, many conflicting feelings occupied my bosom — the gardens and fields around our beloved city were exchanged for the vast wilderness which lay spread out before us for a thousand miles. If my mind still glanced onward, there was the stormy main, and, in the far distant perspective, a land of strangers — the field of my mission.

We were hastening further and still further from the mighty magnet — HOME! But we knew that the work in which we were engaged was to carry light to those who sat in darkness, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and our bosoms glowed with love, and our tears were wiped away”.

Letter From: Elder Lorenzo Snow – Genoa, Italy
Written To: Elder F. D. Richards – Liverpool, England
Date: July 20, 1850

“The edifices of this famed city lie open on my right and left. Its palaces, numerous cathedrals, churches, high-built promenades, and antique buildings form together a very singular and magnificent appearance. At a little distance from the city, I have the fascinating scenery of Italy’s picturesque mountains, and over my head is a sky of clearest blue. My eyes are filled with tears while attempting to picture the glorious view”.

“The other day, as I was returning from a walk, I fell into the following reflections: — I am alone and a stranger in this vast city, eight thousand miles from my beloved family, surrounded by a people whose manners and peculiarities I am unacquainted. I am come to enlighten their minds, and instruct them in principles of righteousness; but I see no possible means of accomplishing this object. All is darkness in the prospect”.

Letter From: Elder Lorenzo Snow – La Tour, Valley of Lucerne, Piedmont, Italy
Written To: President Brigham Young – Great Salt Lake City, California
Date: November 1, 1850

On the 27th of October, one man presented himself as a candidate for baptism. The introduction of the principles of Truth, in all countries, has, more or less, been attended with anxiety and difficulty; of these we have had our share. It was, therefore, with no small degree of pleasure I went down to the river-side to attend to this ordinance.

Peculiar, indeed, were my feelings when I thought on the past, the present, and endeavoured to penetrate the dark labyrinth of unborn time, I rejoiced that the Lord had thus far blessed our efforts, and enabled me to open the door of the Kingdom in dark and benighted Italy. My brethren stood on the river bank — the only human witnesses of this interesting scene. Having long desired this eventful time, sweet to us all were the soft sounds of the Italian, as I administered and opened a door which no man can shut”.

Letter From: Elder Lorenzo Snow – La Tour, Valley of Lucerne, Piedmont, Italy
Written To: Franklin D. Richards – Liverpool, England
Date: December 2, 1850

“Think not … that we are amid the marble palaces, nor surrounded by the choice productions of art which adorn many portions of this wondrous land. Here, a man must preach from house to house, and from hovel to hovel. Here, many a dwelling has not glass in the windows; and from the scarcity of fuel, there is often no fire upon the hearth; and during the long winter evenings, the family are huddled together in the stable, among the cattle, for the sake of a little warmth which they cannot find elsewhere”.

“The work here is slow and tedious. The spiritual atmosphere around us is like the Egyptian darkness which might be felt. Nevertheless, the Church has been established. The tree has been planted and is spreading its roots. The leaven has begun its process…We have not forgotten the prophesy that thousands would, ere long, embrace the Gospel in Italy. We have also been assured that… from hence it should extend itself triumphantly”.

Letter From: Elder Jabez Woodard – La Tour, Valley of Lucerne, Piedmont, Italy
Written To: Elder Lorenzo Snow
Date: February 26, 1851

“… On the 24th 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 Angrogna river, a singular scene was presented — the clouds suddenly rent asunder, as if they had been a piece 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.

… The next day, I recommenced preaching, and the power of God rested upon us. Many a tear rolled down those weather-beaten faces… I baptized ten persons: they are not the rich and noble, but you shall judge them by their own language… ‘We thank Heavenly Father that we have begun to walk in the pathway of a new and endless life”.

Interesting Facts

•  Lorenzo Snow joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints about 5 years after his mother and sister, Eliza R Snow had joined.

•  He lived the principle of plural marriage and had 9 wives and 42 children. One of his wives was Phoebe Amelia Woodruff, the daughter of Wilford Woodruff.

•  On September 13, 1898, at the age of 84, Lorenzo Snow became the fifth president of the Church as successor to Wilford Woodruff.

•  Two of his actions, as President has greatly impacted Church. It was during his presidency that the LDS Church adopted the principle of tithing as a hallmark of membership. In 1900, he and the first presidency changed the policy of presidential succession, which remains today.

•  He was President for just over 3 years. He died of pneumonia in Salt Lake City and was succeeded by Joseph F Smith.