THE MORMON IMAGE IN THE TORINO NEWSPAPER WARS DURING THE 1850s
Presentation at the Annual Conference of the Center for
Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) at Palermo, Italy, June 5, 2005
BRIGHAM YOUNG (1801-77) dispatched missionaries to Italy in 1849 because he was convinced that, after two years of revolutionary activity, the European continent had introduced political reforms which would be conducive for the introduction of the gospel. On February 8, 1848, King Carlo Alberto (1798-1849), of the Kingdom of Sardinia, granted a constitution after liberal noblemen presented him a petition requesting that they share more power with the monarchy. The "Statuto," patterned after the French Constitution of 1830, guaranteed individual liberty (articles 24, 26), freedom of the press (art. 28), and the right to congregate without arms (art. 32). It also extended certain civil and political privileges to non-Catholic minorities (Jews and Waldensians) but it did not guarantee religious liberty to non-Catholics, or the same degree of press freedom that was assured in England and the United States. Despite these changes the Statuto recognized the Roman Catholic Apostolical Church as "the only religion of the State; other forms of worship, now extant, are tolerated in conformity with the laws" and that Bibles, catechisms, and liturgical prayer books could not be published without permission of a Catholic bishop. Liberals and conservatives in the kingdom continued to debate the prerogatives of the Church and the separation of church throughout the nineteenth century.
When the new Parliament of the Kingdom of Sardinia convened in Torino in 1848 it began the long process reducing the temporal power of the Catholic Church, and to separate the church from the state. In 1850 the Parliament enacted the Siccardi laws, and other measures, under which the ecclesiastical courts were abolished, the legal immunity of the clergy was abrogated, and the church was prohibited from purchasing land or accepting donations without the authorization of the state. Thereafter the government continued to propose measures to establish a civil state under which citizens would not be subject to ecclesiastical interference. One of these measures, to allow civil marriages, was rejected in 1852 by the Senate after the King withdrew his support. Nevertheless, Parliament enacted measures thereafter which regulated theological instruction without the concurrence of the church; abolished all religious orders except those which preached, nursed or taught; and reduced the salaries of archbishops, bishops, abbots, canons, and the highest compensated parish-priests.
While the Siccardi laws were being debated in Torino Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901) organized the Italian Mission in the Waldensian valleys. It is unlikely that the Waldensians initially understood that Mormons were not Protestants. They were not familiar with Mormon truth claims and the small band of missionaries was initially welcome to preach before Waldensian congregations. This changed when Snow published two pamphlets in French: Exposition des premiers principes de la doctrine de l'Eglise de J╚sus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours and La voix de Joseph. Exposition des premiers principes described the first principles of the gospel without mentioning either Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. La voix de Joseph described Joseph Smith's revelations, explained the Mormon doctrine of gathering converts to America in anticipation of the millennium, presented the Perpetual Emigrating Fund which assisted those who could not afford to emigrate on their own, and depicted the beautiful natural conditions in the Salt Lake Valley.
Waldensian pastors cooled toward Snow and his missionaries when La voix de Joseph made them aware of Mormonism's finer points and established clearly that it was not part of mainstream Protestantism. Pastors of the Reformed Church wrote most of the negative information concerning Mormonism which circulated in the valleys, including attacks on Snow's pamphlets. Waldensian pastors also became hostile after Mormon missionaries baptized a few of their members. Since Snow recognized that the Waldensians comprised less than 1 percent of the total population of the Italian peninsula he decided to send missionaries to the Italian-speaking Catholics. In January 1851, when he returned to England he retained a scholar to translate the Book of Mormon into Italian, and the following year he published both Il Libro di Mormon and Restaurazione dell'antico Evangelio (an Italian edition of The Only Way to Be Saved). Snow thereafter encouraged his missionaries to use these publications to proselytize in the largest Italian-speaking cities in the Kingdom of Sardinia: Turin, Nice, and Genoa.
When Mormon missionaries began proselytizing in Torino they stepped into a large arena that brought Mormonism more publicity than if they had remained in the relative isolation of the Waldensian valleys. The government became aware of the Mormons proselytizing activities-- some missionaries were later expelled from the countryˇand Catholics began to comment on their presence. After King Carlo Alberto granted a constitution in 1848 dozens of newspapers began publication in Torino. Religious freedom was one of the subjects frequently debated in these papers. A political newspaper, Il Risorgimento, was founded in December 1847 by two future Prime Ministers, Cesare Balbo (1789-1853) and Camillo Benso di Cavour (1810-1861). As a secular organ Il Risorgimento was a proponent of the unification of Italy and a reduction of the prerogatives of the Catholic Church in Italy. L'Armonia della religione colla civiltř was established in July, 1848 by Giacomo Margotti, a Catholic Priest, and other conservative Catholics. L'Armonia was opposed to the Risorgimento, including the separation of church and state, and it was alarmed by the government's willingness to permit the Waldensian Church to form congregations outside their traditional valleys. La Buona Novella, a Waldensian newspaper began publication in October 1851. It replaced the French language weekly L'Echo delle Vall╚es Vaudoises which was published from 1848-1850 in the Waldensian valleys. La Buona Novella was a tool in the arsenal of the Waldensian Church to spread the Reformation in Italy and to oppose other movements, like Mormonism, that were outside the mainstream of Protestantism. These newspapers targeted Mormonism in their battles to gain advantage over their real political and religious opponents.
In 1852 both L'Armonia and La Buona Novella published articles in which they suggested parallels between Mormonism and Protestantism (in the case of L'Armonia) and Catholics (in the case of La Buona Novella). On January 29, 1852 L'Armonia published an article about Mormonism, with references to runaway judges and polygamy, and suggested that this "new church [like the Protestants] also has the Bible as its foundation, which is the only foundation in the heap of all these sects that swarm from Luther up until our day over a thousand. Truly when Luther took a seduced nun as a wife, when John Leyden proclaimed himself as king of Jerusalem and took fourteen wives, and other similar products of Protestantism they were all born in the Bible, interpreted by their own caprice." La Buona Novella responded on February 20 that if Mormonism is comparable "to any known religious system, it would never be to an evangelical church founded on a completely different basis, but instead to the papal system, in which everything converges (with the exception of polygamy) and which has singular similarity [to Mormonism]." La Buona Novella also compared the "strangeness and immorality" of Mormonism with the Catholic Church's prohibition against reading the Bible.
When Mormon missionaries arrived in Torino in July 1852 the newspapers continued to use Mormonism to focus their arguments concerning religion and politics in Piedmont. During that month Jabez Woodard and Francis Combe, took lodgings in Torino. The avoided street proselytizingˇwhich was illegalˇbut they did print announcements, which they placed in cafes and on the streets, to publicize that they were "authorized to give all necessary information" concerning their church. The announcement also stated that they would be present "everyday from 7 to 9 in the evening, in via della Chiesa, n. 9 bis, left staircase, at the end of the courtyard, first floor" to explain to the public "information concerning their doctrines and emigration program which they have established to the United States." Although it is unclear whether these missionaries had copies of Il Libro di Mormon, they did distribute copies of Restaurazione dell'antico Evangelio.
On August 1, 1852, L'Armonia published a supplement with a headline for its lead story that announced "Mormons in Turin." The article discussed, for the first time in an Italian newspaper, the history and contents of the Book of Mormon. It also provided information on Church history and doctrines. It labeled Joseph Smith as "a new Muhammad." This was a common tactic employed during the nineteenth century to malign opponents by comparing them with the vilified prophet of Islam. Since Mormons practiced polygamy this comparison seemed particularly appropriate. L'Armonia also argued that both Mormons and Waldensians were conducting missionary work and publishing religious pamphlets, contrary to the constitution and other laws in Piedmont, and that the government was complacent in allowing the Catholic Church to be undermined. Specifically, the article noted that Carlo Boncompagni (1804-1880), the Minister of Justice, had proposed a bill to legalize civil marriages, which made it attractive for Mormons to come to Piedmont: "For what reason did the Mormons come to Turin? They got word of the Boncompagni lawÍand since it does not prohibit plurality of wives, they believe that our Minister of Justice is a good Mormon. They saw that the wind among us was favorable to their doctrine, and that we would embrace their brethren with open arms, so they sent two of them [to Torino]."
A week later, L'Armonia's lead article was headlined: "Who is better off in Piedmont? The Catholics or the Mormons?" The newspaper complained that "unfortunately the Mormons, about whom we wrote last Sunday, are in Turin beginning their mission in the shadow of liberty, under the beneficial influence of the three-colored flag, protected by those great and spastic Catholics who are our state ministers." The article discussed Snow's Restaurazione dell'antico Evangelio and warned readers not to be surprised if the missionaries began publishing a newspaper in Turin or even built a temple, because the government's ministers would allow such activities with a "nod of the head" because of their "agreed upon love of liberty." These Catholic writers were wary because the Waldensians were not only publishing a paper but also building a temple in Torino.
In the same article L'Armonia also complained about what it characterized as the government's shabby treatment of the Catholic Church while Mormon missionaries were permitted to conduct their activities without fear of legal action. For example it noted that: "The Mormons introduce in Piedmont thousands of copies of a pamphlet by their elder Lorenzo Snow, full of heresies against the Catholic Church. Although the Statuto prohibits the introduction of such materials, the ministry still permits the pamphlets to be distributed. The Catholics wait for La Civiltř Cattolica, a newspaper printed in Rome under the eyes of the Pope, and the ministers stop it at the borders." The article also compared Mormon prerogatives with limitations placed on the Catholics: "Mormons can teach, combat the state religion, and promote apostasies. The Catholics cannot Ífreely profess their faith in public; they cannot even (who would have believed it!) pray to the Virgin Mary. The Mormons come to Torino and are accepted in a brotherly way. [But] various Catholic priests, including the Archbishop of Torino and the Archbishop of Cagliari, have been denied the right to return to their headquarters, to their homeland. The Mormons are in Piedmont, and no one insults them. The Catholic priests are derided in print, insulted, and persecuted on the public streetsÍThus does one live in Piedmont! Thus a liberal ministry treats the Catholic religion that, according to the first article of the Statuto, is the only religion of the state."
L'Armonia's lobbying against civil marriage bore fruit shortly after the appearance of these articles. Prime Minister Massimo d'Azeglio resigned his office because the King refused to support Boncompagni's civil marriage bill, after Pope Pius IX expressed opposition to it. On November 4 Count Cavour became the Prime Minister, after agreeing not to press the matter, and the bill was defeated in the Senate. On the other hand subsequent proposals to legalize civil marriages continued to upset Catholics in Piedmont. In the ongoing debates Mormonism, and its doctrine of plurality of wives, was mentioned as a reason civil marriages should not be allowed in Piedmont. But L'Armonia's assertion that Mormons were treated better than Catholics in Piedmont was complete hyperbole. Jabez Woodard, one of the two missionaries in Torino, wrote that they were not allowed to preach in public, that he was twice summoned before magistrates, and he was sent to France to renew his passport.
In 1853 L'Armonia continued to report on Mormonism, including political events in Utah, and suggested that there were parallels between Mormonism and Protestantism. For example, on March 5, 1853 L'Armonia published an article which questioned whether "the Apostle Lorenzo Snow, who works very zealously in the capital, could administer enlightenment to others." Specifically it wanted to know if "the Christians of La Buona Novella, who like the Mormons want nothing but the Bible, feel like them concerning polygamy. The Saints of Utah do not find anything contrary in the Bible and in the revelationsÍIt is natural that since they all have the same rules of faith, that is the Bible, and being all inspired by heaven, the Christians of La Buona Novella, of Utah Lake, and of the Lutheran congress, must have the same feelings. We hope therefore that La Buona Novella will not wait to bring this issue to parliament and the ministers, which is now considering another law concerning matrimonyÍ.Polygamy and divorces are acknowledged by Lutherans as by MormonsÍ" The Catholic newspaper then set forth a challenge: "So tell us if the La Buona Novella is right to give us only one rule of faith, the Bible."
During the summer of 1853 the Mormon's continued to struggle in their mission to find converts in Torino. In July Thomas Margetts reported: "On my arrival in Turin I found that I was well known. . . . Finding I could not remain there more than a few days, I was compelled to return to the vallies [sic] of the Waldenses." Knowing that Mormons were still finding converts in the Waldensian valleys and making occasional forays into Torino, L'Armonia published an article on September 7, from the New York Journal, which argued that Mormon practices were contrary to the laws of the United States. L'Armonia gleefully concluded: "What? The Mormons incompatible with the principles and essence of the United States?...And they are so compatible with the principles and essence of Piedmont!! And how can they not be compatible with their heresies and schisms with Piedmont, since they are compatible with their sacred Bible, which is the only rule of their faith? What does La Buona Novella say?"
This time the Waldensian newspaper took the bait. The Waldensians were completing a temple in Torino, which was dedicated in December, and they did not want there to be any ambiguity concerning the differences between their church and Mormonism. On October 28, 1853 La Buona Novella republished an article which first appeared in a Paris newspaper concerning Mormon missionaries. It noted that: "This account does not speak of Mormon missionaries that are in Italy: and we know that there are some in Piedmont, and that they recruit persons in order to take them to America. We love religious liberty for all; but if it is true that the Mormons teach immorality and polygamy, we do not believe that they have a right to be tolerated."
In 1854 Mormon missionaries, supplied with copies of Il Libro di Mormon and Restaurazione dell'antico Evangelio, continued their efforts to find converts in Torino and other cities in the Kingdom of Sardinia. In March Stenhouse reported that because of "the many difficulties and much suffering attending open circulation of our publications in Italy, I have been led to change tactics, and have sent two young Geneva Elders to Turin and Nice, to labor at their occupations, and to seek out opportunities of distributing the printed word, and of doing as much more as circumstances and the Spirit of the Lord may direct." The missionary's activities again attracted the attention of L'Armonia which reported on August 16 that "We have on other occasions spoken about the sect, which calls itself Mormons, when a certain Lorenzo Snow, a self styled minister of the gospel, came from the United States of America, and attempted to transplant that sect in our country. For some time they have swarmed in Piedmont and there are so many diverse sects and heretics that each one makes us forget about the other. We must recognize that the liberal exchange inaugurated by our ministers, which also favors the exotic goods of Protestantism, has acquired new momentum. It is impossible to hold back all of the progress that this new commerce is achieving."
Mormon activity also attracted the attention of Joseph Malan, a Waldensian who resided in Torino and was a Member of Parliament (House of Deputies). While Malan was aware that Mormon missionaries were occasionally in Torino he was probably more concerned about their successes in the Waldensian valleys. On August 29 he wrote a letter to the Waldensian Moderator, Jean Pierre Revel, in which he inquired whether Mormon missionaries were attempting to "seduce the people" and whether "it should not be difficult Íto drive them out immediately." On September 18 he was still anxious about the activities of Mormon missionaries and wondered whether he should "apply the principle of freedom of conscience" or take a position that does not "completely approve the decision to expel them [from the valleys], a role that I would personally prefer, rather thanÍadopt coercive measures." Malan was conflicted because even the Waldensians were technically prohibited from proselytizing, although this prohibition was balanced against Cavour's notion of "public order." The Prime Minister had proclaimed that there would be "a free church in a free state," and that the state had the right to dismantle many of the prerogatives of the Catholic Church, but he also believed that "the King's government cannot tolerate proselytism or public acts in locations where they could produce popular tumult and disorder." Malan was also anxious because the Mormon's Perpetual Emigrating Fund provided incentives for the converts to emigrate from Italy. From January 1854 through November 1855 three groups of Mormon converts, consisting of approximately seventy persons, left the Waldensian valleys bound for Utah. And the Mormons were anxious to find additional candidates for emigration. In December 1855 Mayor Antoine Blanc, of Torre Pellice, (the town where Malan had relatives) noted that Samuel Francis (1834-1906) of the "sect of Mormons" was present in the community to encourage individuals and families to go with him to Malta Island where they would unite with others to emigrate to America.
Meanwhile Mormon missionaries were still attempting to compete with Waldensians and other Protestants in Torino. While they concentrated their activities throughout 1855 in the Waldensian valleys they planned to try again in 1856 to expand their mission to Torino. In June 1856 Samuel Francis reported that he was determined to establish "a Turin Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, before the close of 1856." In order to prepare for this expansion Samuel Francis and his colleague Jean Jacques Ruban, exchanged language lessons with Esther Weisbrodt "mixed with a little Mormonism." Weisbrodt, had been a teacher in the Waldensian school in Torino until September 1854 when she was terminated from her position. While she was in Torino she became acquainted with a Waldensian pastor named Luigi Desanctis (1808-1869) who left the Waldensian ministry, the same month as her termination, because of a disagreement with church leadership. After her termination Weisbrodt moved to the Waldensian valleys where she lived for a time with Antoine Blanc, the mayor of Torre Pellice, who had previously complained about the activities of Samuel Francis. She eventually obtained a new teaching position in Prarostino where she met Francis in 1856.
When Francis arrived in Torino in July he attended Protestant services and distributed tracts (Restaurazione dell'antico Evangelio) to people as they emerge from the chapel. During the same month, Weisbrodt was terminated from her teaching position in Prarostino (because of her association with the Mormon missionaries) and she came to Torino, with Ruban, to be interviewed and baptized. After her baptism she encouraged Francis to contact Luigi Desanctis, the former Waldensian pastor she had known in Torino almost two years earlier. Desanctis had become a pastor in the Societř Evangelica (Italian Free Church) which he helped organize after seceding from the Waldensian Church. Francis attended two sermons given by Desanctis on the subject of Mormonism at the Italian Free Church. Desanctis warned his congregation that "this sect [of Mormonism], an embarrassment to the society that supports it," had begun to spread even in Italy. "For around six years a few Mormon missionaries have spread their poison in a few towns in PiedmontÍBut not being content to seduce simple mountain people, they have dared to come down to the plain [of Torino] to spread their impiety under the veil of religion." Like L'Armonia he compared Mormonism to Islam and attacked the practice of plural marriage, noting that it "is not just tolerated, not just permitted, it is not a privilege that may or may not be exercised, it is a requirement." He then asked: "Why have these menÍbeen able to find converts in Italy, and pull families to their land in Salt Lake? The response is not easy. They are not from a church that teaches, in fact they have avoided all discussion, they are directed to poor farmers, lovers of the miraculous, who are easily led to believe in their miraculous pretenses that support the prophecies that exist in their sect, they describe their land as a terrestrial paradise, they have promised these poor farm families, that suffer in misery, to take them to their colony, where in a short time they will become rich landowners ÍIn Italy about a hundred of these poor people, seduced by the promise of rapidly obtaining a fortune, have left for Salt Lake." He predicted, however, that "God will always liberate us even as he has from the cholera and the potato rot."
After the sermon Francis distributed Mormon pamphlets to the congregation as they left the church. Desanctis went to Francis' room and confronted him. He challenged him to a debate in Italian. Francis refused the challenge but he did agree to debate Desanctis in French on any subject except polygamy. Although there was apparently no debate the discussion between Francis and Desanctis caught the attention of Torino's newspapers. Il Risorgimento reported that Mormons and Protestants held a conference in Torino to attempt to reconcile the laws of Piedmont with Mormon polygamy. La Buona Novella quickly denied that any such conference had taken place, warned against "false Mormon doctrines," and characterized polygamy as "anti Christian" and inconsistent with the laws of Piedmont. L'Armonia also joined the fray. It criticized Protestants for supporting civil marriage and asserted that La Buona Novella was active in spreading not only Protestant propaganda but also Mormon propaganda." It wrote that: "Those who propose civil marriage in Piedmont cannot shut the door on Mormonism."
Shortly after his confrontation with Desanctis, Samuel Francis was summoned to appear before a Torino magistrate. Apparently both Francis and Ruban had been competing for the attention of Weisbrodt and had even complained about each other to the mission office. Ruban left for Switzerland the same day Francis received his summons. Weisbrodt's father, who was a resident of Torino, had sworn out a complaint against Francis because he was concerned that the Mormon missionary would take his daughter out of the country. Francis was acquitted and in December he retreated to the Waldensian valleys. Although he briefly returned to Torino (in company with Weisbrodt) he left for Geneva in February 1857. In May he invited Weisbrodt to join him in Geneva and in July they were married by the English consul Armed Pictet. Francis and his new wife remained in Geneva--they returned to Torino and the valleys in Decemberˇbefore Francis took his new wife, and their newborn son, to England, where they resided in Birmingham, before immigrating to Utah in 1861. Francis and Weisbrodt eventually settled in Morgan, Utah.
The Utah War reignited bad publicity for the Mormons in the Torino press. During 1857-8 L'Armonia published a series of articles about the conflict and Mormon polygamy; and warned that such calamities were the consequences of religious liberty. It initially used Mormonism to criticize the opponents of Catholicism. One article noted that the Utah War was a "war of religion" just as the Catholics waged religious wars against the Albigenses, Huguenots, and other heretics, but that the sects who have marched against the Mormons castigated the Catholics for similar acts. But, most of the articles were adapted from British and American press accounts of the conflict and did not draw parallels to political developments in Piedmont. During this same period Margotti, the general editor of L'Armonia, published a book entitled Roma e Londra in which he criticized the Mormons. He noted that the London Times had opined that "the Mormons gather more women in England than in America." He also compared the Mormons with other Protestants as an example of what happens to religions outside of Catholicism.
The newspaper wars in Torino brought the Mormons to the attention of the Vatican by the end of the decade. La Civiltř Cattolica, a journal published by the Society of Jesus, which supported Pope Pius IX and opposed the Risorgimento, commenced publication in 1850. In 1859 the Catholic newspaper published an article, based on information supplied by L'Armonia, which criticized Mormon polygamy, and noted that both divorce and polygamy were the natural consequences of domestic liberty. The next year, Cardinal Carl Von Reisach, a German prelate who had a close relationship with Pope Pius IX, delivered a speech before the Accademia di Religione Cattolica, entitled "Mormonism and its relationship with modern Protestantism." Like L'Armonia he compared the Mormons to Protestants but, like La Buona Novella, he also compared them to the Catholic Church. For example, Cardinal Reisach noted that Mormonism "mixes and unifies the church with the stateÍand [in] this horrifying and iniquitous, religious, social, and political system, I ask myself, can one find a confirmation of Catholic truth. Without doubtÍisn't it a Catholic principle that the church must not be separated from the state;Íthese principles are recognized in substance by the Mormons." Similarly the Cardinal wrote that Mormons "resort to primitive revelation, through their inspired, infallible prophetÍ[N]o one can deny, that in thisÍthere comes a testimony concerning the truth of Catholic principlesÍMormonism recognizesÍit must teach with infallibility."
The newspaper wars in Torino occurred during the most critical period of the Risorgimento. The government was intent on reducing the temporal power of the church and separating church and state. But in addition to reducing the prerogatives of the Catholic Church it allowed the Waldensians to build schools and temples outside their valleys which some Catholics believed was in conflict with the Statuto's designation of the Catholic Church as the only state church and with legal prohibitions against proselytizing by non Catholics. The Mormons were perfect foils for the Catholic press as examples of what religious groups would emerge if church and state were separated and religious liberty, including the right to proselytize, was granted. To the Catholic writers all non Catholics were the same and the Mormons, polygamy and all, were like the Waldensians, nothing more than Protestants. L'Armonia therefore argued that if civil marriage was recognized that polygamy would eventually appear as it had in the United States; that if the sects were allowed to proselytize in Torino that Mormons would soon follow with newspapers and temples; and that any religion that believed only in the Bible would adopt bizarre doctrines like the Mormons. Cardinal Reisach went one step farther when he concluded that Mormonism was a counterfeit form of the Catholic Church.
While the Protestants agreed with Cardinal Reisach that Mormonism believed many of the same things as Catholics, including a hierarchical structure, an infallible leader, and a belief that church and state should not be separated, they aggressively rejected the Catholic claim that the Mormon practice of plural marriage was consistent with the teachings of Luther and other Protestants, and they scrambled to distance themselves from the Mormons because of it. The Mormons were not welcome into the Protestant family because of their unorthodox doctrines, including their practice of polygamy, their belief in continuing revelation, and their teachings of an imminent millennium. They also resented the Mormons attempts to pick out converts from their already small congregations, which they encouraged to leave Italy for Utah USA. They felt particularly victimized after more than seventy converts left Piedmont for Utah.
Only the Mormons maintained that they were neither Catholic nor Protestant. They refused to recognize the authority or teachings of either Catholics or the Protestant denominations. Although Mormons had demonstrated their ability engage in pamphlet and newspaper wars elsewhere, they had no newspaper in Torino. They were not trusted by Catholics, Protestants, or even agnostic state ministers who wanted to reduce the influence of the Catholic clergy. Despite claims made in the Catholic press that Mormons were favored over Catholics they were not permitted to proselytize outside the Waldensians valleys. And the Waldensian representative in Parliament was eager to throw them out of the Waldensian valleys as well. Even the most liberal advocates of religious toleration were not prepared to admit that Mormonism was entitled to be tolerated when it practiced plural marriages. By the end of the 1850s it was apparent to the Mormon leadership that they were stymied in Italy. Contrary to the hopes Lorenzo Snow expressed ten years earlier the Mormons were unable to ride the wave of greater religious toleration in Italy and they withdrew from active proselytism for another 100 years.
ááááááááááá MICHAEL W. HOMER practices law in Salt Lake City.á He received his BA in history at the University of Utah and a JD at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"Editorial," Millennial Star 10, no. 6 (March 15, 1848): 90; "Correspondence," 10, no. 7 (April 1, 1848): 103-4; "Editorial," 10, no. 8 (April 15, 1848): 119-20; "The Foreign Policy of France--The Final Great Struggle," 10, no. 11 (June 1, 1848): 169; "Editorial," 10, no. 14 (July 15, 1848): 209-11; "The French Mission," 11, no. 19 (October 1, 1849): 295-300; "A Glance at the World," 12, no. 3 (February 1, 1850): 37-39. William Howell was called to open the French Mission on August 13, 1848. "The French Mission," Millennial Star 11, no. 17 (September 1, 1849): 263-64; "The French Mission," 11, no. 19 (October 1, 1849): 294-97; "The French Mission," 12, no. 1 (January 1, 1850): 11-14; "The French Mission," 12, no. 6 (March 15, 1850): 91-2; "The French Mission," 12, no. 10 (May 15, 1850): 157-59. The first LDS branch in France was organized in Boulogne-sur-Mer on April 6, 1850. John Taylor arrived there on June 18, 1850. The Swiss Mission was also opened in 1850 when Lorenzo Snow sent T. B. H. Stenhouse to Lausanne, and missionaries already in Denmark opened the Prussian Mission in 1851.
See, generally, Giorgio Tourn, The Waldensians: The First 800 Years (Turin: Claudiana, 1980), 180-200. Similar concessions were granted to members of minority religions in other parts of Europe, including England, France and Germany. See Romagnani. Catholics were not emancipated in England until 1829. Stephens, 264.
Snow, The Italian Mission, 14. See Michael W. Homer, "The Italian Mission, 1850-1867," Sunstone 7 (May-June 1982): 16-21; Diane Stokoe, The Mormon Waldensians (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, December 1985); Michael W. Homer, "The Church's Image in Italy from the 1840s to 1946: A Bibliographic Essay," BYU Studies 31, no. 2 (Spring 1991): 83-114; Michael W. Homer, "Gli Italiani e i Mormoni," Renovatio 26, no. 1 (gennaio-marzo [January-March] 1991): 79-106; Michael W. Homer, "LDS Prospects in Italy for the Twenty-first Century," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 139-58; Flora Ferrero, L'emigrazione valdese nello Utah nella seconda metř dell'800, Tesi di Laurea, Universitř degli Studi di Torino (giugno [June] 1999); Michael W. Homer, "L'azione missionaria in Italia e nelle valli Valdesi dei gruppi Americani Űnon tradizionali' (Avventisiti, Mormoni, Testimoni di Geova)," in La Bibbia, la Coccarda e il Tricolore: I Valdesi fra due Emancipazioni (1798-1848) (Torino: Claudiana, 2001), 505-30; Flora Ferrero, "Dalle Valli Valdesi al Grande Lago Salato: Un percorso di conversione," in ibid., 531-38; Michael W. Homer, "ŰLike a Rose in the Wilderness': The Mormon Mission in the Kingdom of Sardinia," Mormon Historical Studies 1, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 25-62; Michael W. Homer, "An Immigrant Story: Three Orphaned Italians in Early Utah Territory," Utah Historical Quarterly 70, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 196-214; and Michael W. Homer, "Il Libro di Mormon: Anticipating Growth beyond Italy's Waldensian Valleys," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 11 (2002): 40-44.
This pamphlet was a translation of a pamphlet he wrote during his mission in England: The Only Way to Be Saved (London, 1841). He published it in Torino as Exposition des premiers principes de la doctrine de l'Eglise de J╚sus-Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours (Turin: Louis Arnaldi, 1851). It was republished a year later in Switzerland.
Snow, La Voix de Joseph (Turin: Ferrero et Franco, 1851). La Voix de Joseph was published with "a woodcut of a Catholic Nun, Anchor, Lamp and Cross on the first page, and on the last, Noah's Ark, the dove and the olive." Although Snow confused a "Lamp" with a monstrance, he understood that it was common to place these symbols on publications which had received ecclesiastical approval; because his pamphlets were published without the permission required under the laws of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the symbols would make it easier to distribute them. Snow, The Italian Mission, 22-25; and Vittorio Emmanuele I, Regio Editto (Torino: Stamperia Reale, 10 June 1814), para. 13. For other contemporary publications which were published with permission and which included similar symbols, see Abb╚ Paul Barone, Judith ou sc╦nes Vaudoises (Pignerol, Piedmont: G. Lobetti-Bodoni, 1846); Antoine-Ulric, Exposition des raisons ou motifs (Pignerol, Piedmont: P. Massara, 1838).
ValÚrie Boissier, Count Ag╚nor de Gasparin, of the French Reformed Church, wrote six articles in 1852-53 which criticized Mormonism. Archives du Christianisme au dix-neuvi╦me si╦cle. Two Protestant ministers in Switzerland disputed Mormon doctrine set forth in Lorenzo Snow's Exposition des premiers principes. Louis Favez, Lettre sur les Mormons de la Californie (Vevey, Switzerland: E. Buvelot, 1851); and Emile Guers, L'Irvingisme et le Mormonisme (Gen╦ve, Switzerland, 1853). Stenhouse responded in Les Mormons et leurs ennemis (Lausanne, 1854). Both Favez and Guers replied in Favez, Fragments sur les Mormons, 2 vols. (Lausanne, 1854-56); and Guers, Le Mormonisme Polygame (Gen╦ve, 1855).
Il Libro di Mormon (Londra: Stamperia di Guglielmo Bowen, 1852).
For references to this pamphlet, see Snow, The Italian Mission, 25; "The Malta Mission: Letter from Elder Lorenzo Snow," Millennial Star 14, no. 15 (June 5, 1852): 236; "Editorial," Millennial Star 14, no. 15 (June 26, 1852): 282; L'Armonia, 1 agosto 1852, and 8 agosto 1852; and in Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 1833-1898, typescript, edited by Scott G. Kenny, 9 vols. (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983-85), 5:77, August 13, 1877. Costantino Reta (1814-58), an exiled Italian journalist living in Switzerland, may have translated Snow's pamphlet. Snow showed Reta the Italian translation of the Book of Mormon which Reta told him was "correct and admirable." "Letter from Lorenzo Snow," Millennial Star 14, no. 5 (March 1, 1852): 78.
Concerning L'Armonia, see Antonio Socci, La SocietÓ dell'Allegria, il partito Piemontese contro la chiesa di Don Bosco (Milan: SugarCo., 1989), 84-87; and Lorella Naldini, I Reati di Stampa a Torino tra il 1848 e l'Unitř, Tesi di Laurea, Universitř degli Studi di Torino (1984-85), 223-247. It's most important writer was Giacomo Margotti (1823-87), a Catholic publicist. See entry for him, The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton, 1910). For Margotti's perspective on Mormonism, see Giacomo Margotti, Roma e Londra Confronti (Torino: Fory e Dalmazzo, 1858), 225-30.
"I Mormoni," L'Armonia, 29 gennaio 1852, 59.
"Mormoni," La Buona Novella, 20 febbraio 1852, 209.
"I Mormoni a Torino," L'Armonia, Supplemento al no. 91, 1 agosto 1852, 451.
"Chi stia meglio in Piemonte? I Cattolici o i Mormoni?" L'Armonia, Supplemento al no. 94, 8 agosto 1852, 465.
"Diary of Jabez Woodard, 1852-1857," Historical Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter ˝day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
"Un problema di buon costume sciolto dai mormoni," L'Armonia, 5 marzo 1853, 133-34. See also, "Lo stato dei mormoni," L'Armonia, June 21, 1853, 383.
Thomas Margetts, "The Italian Mission: The Narrative of Elder Margetts," Millennial Star 15 (August 20, 1853): 557.
"ProsperitÓ dei mormoni," L'Armonia, 7 settembre 1853, 559.
"I Missionari Mormoni," La Buona Novella, 28 ottobre 1853.
T. B. H. Stenhouse, "The Swiss and Italian Missions," Millennial Star 16 (March 25, 1854): 191-2.
"I Mormoni," L'Armonia, 16 agosto 1854, 463-64;
Joseph Malan to Jean Pierre Revel, 29 August 1854, Lettres de M. Joseph Malan, 1850-59, Archivio della Tavola Valdese, Lettera n. 67.
Joseph Malan to Jean Pierre Revel, 18 September 1854, Lettres de M. Joseph Malan, 1850-59, Archivio della Tavola Valdese, Lettera n. 69, 134-35. Even when the Prime Minister Count Cavour (1810-61) proclaimed in 1860 that there would be "a free church in a free state" and that the state had the right to dismantle many of the prerogatives of the Catholic Church, he also recognized that "the King's government cannot tolerate proselytism or public acts in locations where they could produce popular tumult and disorder. Camillo Cavour, quoted in Valdo Vinay, Storia dei Valdesi (Torino: Editrice Claudiana, 1980), 3:65.
Valdo Vinay, Storia dei Valdesi, Dal movimento evangelico italiano al movimento ecumenico (1848-1978) (Torino: Claudiana, 1980), 65.
[Antoine Blanc] Malan was related to the family that provided lodging to Snow when he arrived in Torre Pellice. See, Homer, "Like a Rose in the Wilderness," 43-4.
Samuel Francis, "Piedmont--Italy," Millennial Star 18 (August 2, 1856): 491. Earlier that summer he speculated that the "Catholics have been much more civil to us than the Protestants for some time, perhaps it has been because we have not menaced their positions heretofore." Samuel Francis, "Italy," Millennial Star 17 (July 21, 1855): 455.
Weisbrodt (1836-18xx) was the daughter of German parents David and Emily Weisbrodt. She was born in Torino where her father served as an attach╚ to the Prussian ? Ambassador to the Kingdom of Sardinia. She received her education at the embassy. At the time of the events described in this paper her father was a widower. According to her own history she was teaching school in Prarostino (in the Waldensian valleys) when she met Samuel Francis. See, "Our Heritage," (Morgan, Utah: Samuel and Esther Francis Family Organization, 1984), 29-30.
In 1853 Joseph Malan, a Waldensian who was a member of the House of Deputies, purchased a deconsecrated Catholic Church in Genova (Chiesa della Madre di Dio) to transform it into a Waldensian temple. Andrea Charvaz, the Catholic Bishop of Genova, strenuously objected and Prime Minister Cavour convinced the Waldensian Tavola to sell the structure back to the Catholic diocese and to purchase or build a new structure. This decision was opposed by several Waldensian pastors, including Luigi Desanctis and Bonaventura Mazzarella, both of whom eventually left the Waldensian Church. They formed the Societř Evangelica, or so called "Italian Free Church," which competed with the Waldensians, and published La Luce Evangelica in opposition to La Buona Novella.
"Foreign Correspondence-Swiss and Italian Mission," Millennial Star 19 (5 April 1857):218-19.
Desanctis delivered his sermons at the same time he was preparing an article which was published, without attribution, by the Waldensian owned press Claudiana, in the1857 almanac of L'Amico di Casa. See, [Luigi Desanctis], "I Mormoni," L'Amico di Casa, IV, 1857 Almanac. Torino: Claudiana, 1856, 109-22. Ironically, the article was published at the recommendation of Costantino Reta, who four years earlier complimented Lorenzo Snow on the fine Italian translation of the Book of Mormon. See, "Letter of Lorenzo Snow," Millennial Star 14 (1 March 1852): 78. Reta later claimed in a letter to Desanctis that he did not know the Mormons were in Italy and expressed his opinion that they should be expelled from the country. See, Letter from Costantino Reta to Luigi Desanctis, September 1856. See also other correspondence from Reta to Desanctis (23 March 1855, 3 April 1855, 11 May 1855, and 26 January 1857), all in the MS Comba at the Archives of the Facoltř di Teologia Valdese a Roma. See, also Antonella Grimaldi, "Un Evangelico Protagonista del Risorgimento Italiano: Costantino Reta," Bolletino della SSV, n. 191 (dicembre 2002), 87-117.
Samuel Francis, "Foreign Correspondence--Swiss and Italian Mission, Millennial Star 19 (April 5, 1857): 218-19; and Francis, Journal, June 23, 1856, LDS Church Archives.
"I Missionari Mormoni," La Buona Novella, October 28, 1853, 823-84. Like L'Armonia the Waldensian press criticized Mormonism even after the decline in convert baptisms: "America--Il Mormonismo," September 26, 1856; "Danimarca--I Mormoni," October 3, 1856; and "America--I Mormoni," December 5, 1856, not paginated.
Il Risorgimento, 28 Luglio 1856.
"Torino - Il Risorgimento, giornale," La Buona Novella, 1 agosto 1856.
"La Buona Novella e I Mormoniti," L'Armonia, 15 agosto 1856, 729.
"Guerra di Religione degli Stati Uniti-- Contro I Mormoni," L'Armonia (1857), No. 186, 744; "I Mormoni," (1857), No. 207, 829; "Nuovi Timori dei Mormoni e loro cieca obbedienza," (1857), No. 249, 1000; "Notizie Religiose d'America," (1 gennaio 1858), No. 1, 2-3; "Polizzino Politico," (25 gennaio 1858), No. 18, 69; "Il Divorzio e la Poligamia," (2 maggio 1858), No. 99, 596; "Notizie d'AmericaˇI Mormoni," (2 settembre 1858), no. 200, 812-13; "Notizie d'America, Continuazione sulla setta dei Mormoni," (3 settembre 1858), no. 201, 816; "I gran dignitari del Mormonismo," (14 settembre 1858), no. 209, 849.
"Guerra di Religione degli Stati Uniti-- Contro I Mormoni," L'Armonia, 1857 (no. 186), 744.
Margotti, Roma e Londra, 225-26, 229-30.
"La LibertÓ di fatto nella terra classica," La CiviltÓ Cattolica, 4th Series, 1 (17 febbraio 1859): 516.
[Cardinal Carl Von Reisach], "il Mormonismo nelle sue attinenze col moderno Protestantesimo," La Civiltř Cattolica, 4th Series, 6 (3 May 1860), 391-413.
| © 2005, all rights reserved by Michael W. Homer. Republished with permission of the author. |
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