Remembering President Lorenzo Snow's testimony and the special manifestation he received in the Salt Lake Temple

Editor’s note: The following excerpt comes from a book about special witnesses of Jesus Christ. You can read this chapter in its entirety at as well as other chapters as they are posted. This excerpt is republished here with permission. 

In January of 1872 Elder Lorenzo Snow preached one of the most powerful sermons to that point in his apostolic career. After reviewing the possibilities for the progression of men to become like their Heavenly Father, and the doctrine that the posterity of Adam is the offspring of God, he bore strong testimony, stating: “I testify before this assembly [in the Salt Lake Tabernacle], as I have testified before the people throughout the different States of the Union, and throughout [Europe], that God Almighty, through my obedience to the gospel of Jesus, has revealed to me, tangibly, that this is the work of God, that this is his gospel, that this is his kingdom.”1 Further, “I would not be here today; I would not have traveled over the face of the earth as I have for the last thirty-five years unless God had revealed this unto me. . . . But I received a dispensation from the Almighty, and I could say and do say now, as the Apostle Paul said: ‘I received not this gospel from man, but I received it by revelation from the Almighty.’”2 

In 1877, Elder Snow was released as stake president, and his son Oliver was installed by President Brigham Young in his place. All other Apostles then serving as stake presidents were also released at that time, to enable them to give full-time service in the Quorum of the Twelve. Shortly thereafter, President Young died. In the 1880s, Elder Snow’s difficulties mostly related to plural marriage, with United States marshals hunting for him. For this reason, he served a few short-term missions to get away from Utah. In 1885 he was caught, arrested, convicted, and served for 11 months in the Utah Territorial Prison (then located in what is now the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City, Utah). Then the United States Supreme Court overturned an unjust law used by the local Utah Territory anti-Mormons to imprison polygamists for longer terms and mandated Elder Snow’s release.

He immediately resumed his ministry by visiting a stake conference: “I have been engaged in promulgating the principles of the gospel for the past 50 years,” he stated, “and I have received for myself a perfect testimony that this is the power of God unto salvation.” He also said, “We understand that those who are not of us do not understand these things; they do not know that God has spoken from heaven and that He has appeared and manifested Himself to men who are now living. I know that these things are things that are true as God is true. But the nations of the earth are not aware of it, that Jesus, the Son of God, has come and appeared to man, and clothed them with authority to preach the gospel and to promise the Holy Ghost to all who will believe and obey. . . . God bless the Latter-day Saints and pour out His Spirit upon you.”

To a general conference congregation, Elder Snow said: “Brethren and sisters, my testimony is that this is the work of God in which we are engaged. I had not been in this Church two weeks when the Lord revealed to me a knowledge that He was God, and that He sent His Son into the world to be crucified for the sins of the world. No man ever did or ever could receive a more perfect knowledge in regard to the existence of God and of the truth of this work than God gave to me by revelation and the opening of the heavens.”

Some time previous to 1889, Elder Snow was given a vision from the Lord, that showed him the near future of the leadership of the Church. President George Q. Cannon recorded his testimony of this experience as given to the First Presidency and the Twelve: 

President Lorenzo Snow made some very timely remarks concerning the reverence which he had for the priesthood, and which he thought ought to be entertained by all the brethren. He spoke of the Prophet Joseph and of the Prophet Brigham. Though they were men and had their failings. . . he knew they were servants of God, and they had his love and confidence, and he had never felt, even in his thoughts, to find fault with them or condemn them, much less in words. . . .

President Snow, in the course of remarks which he made in this connection, stated that while at St. George the Lord had shown to him that President Taylor’s days would be short, and he had seen that President Woodruff would preside over the church and that I would be his first counselor and Brother Jos. F. Smith his second counselor. . . . President Snow related this circumstance or vision (he said it was the first time he had ever told it, except to President Woodruff while he was down at St. George) to show the confidence that he had in Brother Smith.5

President Lorenzo has a Sacred Experience in the Temple after Becoming the President of the Church 

In 1889, with President Woodruff becoming the President of the Church, Lorenzo Snow became the President of the Council of the Twelve.6  He served in this position until September of 1898 when President Woodruff died. When President Snow learned that President Woodruff had died, he immediately sought to know the will of the Lord for himself. The following account, related by Elder Snow’s youngest son, is largely substantiated by other records:

President Snow put on his holy temple robes, repaired . . . to the . . . sacred altar [in the Holy of Holies], offered up the signs of the Priesthood, and poured out his heart to the Lord. He reminded the Lord how he pled for President Woodruff’s life to be spared, that President Woodruff’s days would be lengthened beyond his own; that he might never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of the Church. “Nevertheless,” he said, “Thy will be done. I have not sought this responsibility but if it be Thy will, I now present myself before Thee for Thy guidance and instruction. I ask that Thou show me what Thou wouldst have me do.” After finishing his prayer he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord. So he waited—and waited—and waited. There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation. He left the altar and the room in great disappointment. Passing through the celestial room and out into the large corridor, a glorious manifestation was given [to] President Snow.7

The manifestation received at that time by President Snow was no less than the visit of the resurrected, glorified Son of God, Jesus the Christ, who had come to personally instruct his servant, the prophet Lorenzo Snow—herein given as related by “Allie” (Alice Armeda Snow Young) Pond, who carefully recorded the incident, as told to her, on the advice of her mother, Celestia Armeda Snow, soon after hearing it. Evidence indicates that the statements in quotation marks are taken directly from her diary. She wrote:

One evening while I was visiting grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the doorkeepers had gone and the night-watchmen had not yet come in, so grandpa said he would take me to the main front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser. After we left his room and while we were still in the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking several steps ahead of grandpa when he stopped me and said: “Wait a moment, Allie, I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.”

Then grandpa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: “He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though He stood on a plate of solid gold.”

Grandpa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described His hands, feet, countenance, and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon Him.

Then he came another step nearer and put his right hand on my head and said: “Now, granddaughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grandfather, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the Temple, and talked with Him face to face.”8

In later years, Alice Pond and her husband, Noah S. Pond, often discussed her visit with her grandfather Snow in the temple. After her death, Noah Pond recorded his own memories of what she had told him, presenting a second account testifying of its truth. He sent his account to Elder John A. Widstoe, who was investigating the experience on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

We talked about the great privilege that was hers in visiting her grandfather, President Lorenzo Snow, in the Salt Lake Temple on the memorable evening of his narrative of the Heavenly visitation of the Savior to him and the instructions given him to proceed forthwith in the reorganization of the First Presidency of the Church.

The reason for Allie going to the Temple [was] . . . the taking of the “Gruel,” a favorite food item of the President. On the evening of the occurrence, he had taken time to tell her many interesting experiences and the hour became late, so late in fact that the watchman had locked the doors and the temple was silent with only the two within.

President Snow led Allie to the large front door, and in passing from his room he halted at the designated spot, and placing his arm on her shoulder he said, “I want you to remember, my daughter, that here the Savior appeared to me in answer to my prayers and instructed me to proceed with the reorganization of the First Presidency. That this was pleasing to the Lord and Blessings upon the Church would follow President Snow’s administration.”

President Snow’s statement was very definite that he saw the Savior and heard his voice.9

Read this chapter in its entirety at


1. Unless otherwise noted, all information and quotations found in this chapter come from the author’s previously published work, Latter Leaves in the Life of Lorenzo Snow (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2012); this volume should be consulted for dates and fuller information.
2. Ibid. 
3. Ibid. 
4. Ibid. 
5. George Q. Cannon diary, January 29, 1891.
6. Lorenzo was also selected as the President of the newly dedicated Salt Lake Temple. President George Q. Cannon recorded: “This afternoon the time [in the general conference] was occupied by Brothers Joseph F. Smith and Lorenzo Snow. I never heard the latter speak better in my life than he did at this meeting. After the meeting was dismissed I asked President Woodruff if his mind had rested upon anyone to act as president of the Salt Lake Temple. I said that of course as President of the Church he was president of the Temple, but he had duties to perform which would preclude his spending much time in the Temple. He said that his mind had not rested on anyone, but he thought that it should be one of the Apostles. I also felt that one of them should have the place, and told him that while I did not want to say, I would suggest that Brother Lorenzo act in this capacity. President Woodruff was much pleased with the suggestion and thanked the Lord for it. He said he relied a great deal on me in these things, that I had a great many revelations and was his counselor, and he wished me to freely make suggestions” (George Q. Cannon diary, April 4, 1893).
7. Leroi C. Snow, “An Experience of my Father’s,” as quoted in Horne, Latter Leaves in the Life of Lorenzo Snow, 261-65. Some (usually unbelieving critics) who are familiar with the loose and often unreliable writings of Leroi C. Snow, have attempted to cast doubt on this account. For this reason, both this chapter and my Latter Leaves in the Life of Lorenzo Snow contain thorough examination and documentation of the experience as recorded and substantiated in several sources; there is no question it occurred; see also note 5.
8. Ibid.
9. Correspondence, Noah S. Pond to Elder John A. Widstoe, November 12, 1946; located in the LDS Church History Library, previously unpublished. This visitation by Jesus to President Snow as recorded by Allie Pond and related by LeRoi Snow was officially investigated for verification, resulting in the aforementioned letter in the main text. Elder Widstoe had written the following inquiry to Noah Pond: 
“I have been asked by the Council of the Twelve to look into the historical evidence concerning the divine manifestation received by President Snow shortly before his accession to the Presidency of the Church. Your splendid and devoted wife is reported by LeRoi C. Snow to have heard her grandfather tell her in some detail of this manifestation. According to this report, President Snow is reported to have said that he saw the Savior in the passage leading from the Celestial room to his office, now used as the sealing room [office]. Your wife must have told you the story often.
“Would you be good enough to tell me if the report is essentially correct. We all know from unquestioned evidence that President Snow had a divine manifestation in the temple at that time. Did he tell his granddaughter that he actually saw the Savior and where? All this is merely to complete the story for the brethren here and for others who may be interested. It seems to me that you are the best living witness” (Correspondence, Elder John A. Widstoe to Noah S. Pond, October 30, 1946; CHL, unpublished). 
Alice Pond died in 1943, three years previous to this correspondence exchange. Noah Pond’s quoted statement, “in passing from his room he halted at the designated spot,” is the best verification available of LeRoi Snow’s assertions of exactly where in the Salt Lake Temple Jesus Christ appeared to President Snow. This location is understood to be at some mid-point in the large balcony hallway, above the main staircase, between the Celestial Room and what now serves as a temple sealer’s office, but in 1898 was probably President Snow’s living quarters.


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