Lorenzo Snow was born on April 3, 1814 in Ohio. He declined an apprenticeship, something most young men of the time did to learn a skill, and instead continued his academic studies. He was educated far beyond the levels of most men at the time and even attended college for one term. He met Joseph Smith in 1831 and became interested in the Church but left for college undecided. While at college he defended the Church and was mocked by those around him. He decided to move back near his family, including his sister Eliza R. Snow, who by this time had joined the Church and were living in Kirtland Ohio.
On June 19, 1836 Lorenzo Snow was baptized. He gained a strong conviction of the truth of the gospel and decided to discontinue his education to serve a mission. He served his first mission in 1837 in the surrounding counties of Ohio, and in 1838 he served another mission to Illinois and Kentucky. Upon return from Kentucky, Lorenzo Snow served another mission to England. While there he was called to watch over the Saints in ten branches in London. With the call to gather all the Saints to one place, Lorenzo Snow accompanied 250 saints from London to Nauvoo. On the way, many of the ship’s crew joined the Church.
On February 12, 1849 Lorenzo Snow was ordained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Shortly after his call he was asked to serve a mission in Italy. His mission lasted three years and while there Lorenzo Snow also visited Switzerland and Malta. He also oversaw the translation of the Book of Mormon into Italian. The mission was extremely successful and he was instrumental in bringing many to the gospel.
In 1853, Lorenzo Snow was asked to lead a group of families to a new land for settlement. This group established the area now known as Brigham City, Utah. He worked tirelessly to create a good community complete with a dramatics society and public school system. In 1864 he was called on another mission, this time to Hawaii. Eight years later he went to Palestine, and in 1885 served another mission with the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest.
In April of 1889, Lorenzo Snow was sustained as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and in 1893 he was called to be the first President of the Salt Lake Temple. On September 13, 1898 he was sustained as the Prophet of the Church. He set the precedent of reorganizing the First Presidency immediately following the death a prophet.
By the time Lorenzo Snow became prophet, the Church was in incredible debt. This was mostly due to the fact that the U.S. government had seized most of the Church’s assets including tithing funds. President Snow received instruction from the Lord that if the people would pay a full tithe the Church would be able to get out of debt. The saints committed to this principle, and by Lorenzo Snow’s death in 1901 the Church was out of debt.
Still committed to missionary work, President Snow spoke of increasing the missionary work and opening missions all over the world. He opened the mission in Mexico and began the opening of a mission in Japan.
After serving for three years as President of the Church and many more in the service of the Church, President Snow passed away on October 10, 1901.
Quotes from Lorenzo Snow
- "One of the chief difficulties that many suffer from is, that we are too apt to forget the great object of life, the motive of our Heavenly Father in sending us here to put on mortality, as well as the holy calling with which we have been called; and hence, instead of rising above the little transitory things of time, we too often allow ourselves to come down to the level of the world without availing ourselves of the divine help which God has instituted, which alone can enable us to overcome them. We are no better than the rest of the world if we do not cultivate the feeling to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect."
- “Blessings of the Gospel Only Obtained by Compliance to the Law,” reprinted Ensign, Oct. 1971
- “We should try to learn the nature of [the spirit of revelation].... This is the grand means that the Lord has provided for us, that we may know the light, and not be groveling continually in the dark.”
- Conference Report, Apr. 1899
- “As man now is, God once was; as God is now man may be.”
- The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, ed. Clyde J. Williams, 1984