One of John Taylor's most significant achievements during his mission to France, 1849-1851, was the publication of a French-language Latter-day Saint periodical, the Etoile du Déséret. Appearing in twelve issues from May 1851 to December 1852, the Etoile served a variety of functions for the earliest missionaries and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France. A study of its historical context and of its contents allows readers a glimpse into the circumstances under which the missionaries labored and into the needs of the growing Church. Furthermore, the Etoile provides a vivid example of John Taylor's spiritual leadership, proselytizing methods, and preaching skills.
The French Mission was established in 1850, three years after the arrival of the Latter-day Saints in the Salt Lake Valley and two years after a revolution had removed the French monarchy from power and instituted a republic. Although civilization was just taking root in the Great Basin, several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles departed on foreign missions in the fall of 1849, including John Taylor. Elder Taylor, his companion Curtis E. Bolton, and early convert Louis A. Bertrand took advantage of the liberties granted in the French constitution of 1848 in order to inaugurate their publication. The periodical allowed them to spread their message farther than they could have otherwise, since their proselytizing was limited by governmental restrictions and Taylor's difficulties in speaking French.
The contents of the Etoile du Déséret reveal that the missionaries used their periodical to introduce Latter-day Saint doctrine and news to readers, in addition to communicating with and instructing fledgling members of the Church. Historical details included in the text allow contemporary readers to create a timeline of events in the early French Mission, such as the establishment of a new branch and the publication of the Book of Mormon in French.
This thesis contends that the twelve issues of the Etoile du Déséret considered together reveal a systematic preaching method in John Taylor's writings, personal and spiritual growth on the part of the men who worked on the publication, and the situation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during its earliest years in France.
College and Department
Religious Education; Church History and Doctrine
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Geilman, Douglas James, "The Etoile Du Deseret: Portrait of the French Mission, 1851-1852" (2005). Theses and Dissertations. 4713.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Periodicals, History, 19th century, Missions, France, Etoile du Deseret