From the Life of President Wilford Woodruff


The Martyrdom of the Prophet

Adapted from Preston Nibley, The Presidents of the Church (1974), 115–17.
Joseph Smith(click to view larger) Events in the life of Joseph Smith(click to view larger)

Illustrated by Sal Velutto and Eugenio Mattozzi

In April 1844, President Joseph Smith called the Twelve Apostles to serve missions in the Eastern United States.

Joseph Smith: All of the Apostles except Willard Richards and John Taylor are called as missionaries to continue preaching the gospel.

Wilford Woodruff had already served as a missionary in England and America, but he was obedient to the Prophet. He packed his things and got ready to travel.

When he went to say good-bye to the Prophet, Elder Woodruff could tell that he was sad. Elder Woodruff felt sad too even though he didn’t know why.

Joseph Smith: You are about to start upon your mission. God bless you, Brother Woodruff. Go in peace.

Two months later, Elder Woodruff was preaching the gospel in Maine when he heard some terrible news.

Woman: Have you heard, Elder Woodruff? The Prophet has been killed! Joseph Smith has been shot in Carthage Jail!

Elder Woodruff immediately left to meet with the other Apostles in Nauvoo.

Elder Woodruff: Now I know why I was so sad before. That was the last time I would ever see the Prophet Joseph Smith here on earth.

Although many Saints were worried that the Church would not be able to go on without the Prophet Joseph Smith, Elder Woodruff was not afraid. He was asked to go and comfort the Saints in Europe and lead them until a new prophet was called.

Elder Woodruff: Though our Prophet has been killed because of his testimony, the keys of the kingdom of God are still here upon earth. The heavens are not closed.

Elder Woodruff: Heavenly Father will still speak to us and direct His disciples. Be humble and faithful, and the Lord will bless you.