Elder Holland Honors Lorenzo Snow at 200th Birthday Event
Contributed By By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
Descendants of Church President Lorenzo Snow are observing the 200th birthday (April 3) of their illustrious ancestor this year with an array of events that included a devotional April 9 in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as the main speaker.
“President Snow joined the Church a few months after the Kirtland Temple was dedicated and witnessed firsthand nearly every major event in 19th-century Church history,” observed Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“He was intimately acquainted with and mentored by his predecessors: the Prophet Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff. Lorenzo Snow was a gentle and deeply spiritual man raised up by the Lord to lead the Church at [a] time when his specific talents and abilities were most needed to further the kingdom. The era in which he served as an Apostle and then President of the Church was remarkable in every way.”
Between 1836 and his death in 1901, the Church grew from 13,000 members to more than 290,000, Elder Holland noted. “Considering the intense hardships and conflict—both internally and externally—those numbers are astounding.”
Elder Holland reflected on a few key events from President Snow’s history “that embody his personality, innate goodness, humility, and service to the Lord.”
President Snow ministered to individuals, including children, he said. “On several occasions President Snow participated in special sessions of stake conferences organized exclusively for children.”
His custom was to shake hands with every child at the conclusion of these meetings. On one occasion, in the St. George, Utah, Tabernacle, he said, “I shall shake hands with each and all children present so that they may be able to say that they have shaken hands with a man who has shaken hands with a man who saw God face to face while in the flesh, Joseph Smith,” Elder Holland said.
He spoke of then-Elder Snow’s dedication in answering a call to serve a mission in Italy at a very inopportune time in his life.
While he was there, the three-year-old son of the family that the missionaries were boarding with became deathly ill. Elder Snow suggested to his companion that they fast and retreat to the nearby mountains to pray for the boy, Joseph Guy. As they departed the boy’s father whispered, “He dies! He dies.”
“The two did not reappear until midafternoon,” Elder Holland said. “Upon their return the child was anointed with oil and blessed to be healed from that dire state. That evening Elder Snow returned for an update on the boy’s condition, and Joseph’s father reported that he was ‘better much, much.’ A miracle had occurred, and within a few days the boy left his bed and joined his little companions. This event softened the hearts of many in the community as Elder Snow taught them by word and deed that the healing was a gift from God.”
Shortly thereafter, Elder Snow and his companions ascended a high mountain near La Tour to dedicate the land for the preaching of the gospel, Elder Holland related. On that occasion, Elder Snow prophesied that the Church would increase and multiply.
“This initial missionary effort saw modest success by way of converts in Italy,” Elder Holland said. “However, before returning to America, Lorenzo Snow oversaw the publication of the Book of Mormon in Italian and published an important tract titled The Voice of Joseph, both of which had a profound influence on generations of Church members in Italy.”
Their dedication is reflected today in tens of thousands of faithful Church members in that land and the construction of the Rome Italy Temple, he said.
Both Elder Holland and an earlier speaker in the program, Laurene Pond Erickson, referred to an incident that occurred in the Salt Lake Temple in which President Snow related to a granddaughter that he had personally seen the Savior and showed her the precise spot where that manifestation occurred.
Elder Holland noted that the Savior on that occasion had instructed him to proceed immediately with the reorganization of the First Presidency in the wake of the recent death of President Wilford Woodruff.
But rather than immediately tell his brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of this manifestation, he humbly offered to relinquish his position as quorum president to anyone who might be their unanimous choice to be the next Church President.
“Knowing full well about his charge from the Lord, President Snow patiently attended meetings as President of the Twelve Apostles for nearly two weeks, desiring to see what the feelings of the Brethren were and having confidence that the Lord would reveal to them His mind and will,” Elder Holland said.
In addition to the devotional, the family reunion of descendants included a symposium the next day in the Salt Lake Stake Center. On June 14 will be a 200th birthday celebration at Mantua, Ohio, the birthplace of President Snow.