News Release

Stories of Courageous European Converts Included in Saints Volume 2

New Church History Volume Available Now


The second volume of Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days is now available for free download in the Church History section of the Gospel Library app. Saints is unlike past official histories of the Church. Each volume begins with meticulous research and original sources, which are then woven together by historians and writers using techniques of popular storytelling.

Volume 1 sold half a million print copies and has one million digital views since its release in 2018.

The narrative-style history tells the story of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, beginning in 1815 with the childhood of Joseph Smith. Volume 1 concludes in 1846 with early church members being forced to leave their community and temple in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Volume 2, No Unhallowed Hand, 1846–1893, picks up where Volume 1 left off. Thousands of members followed Brigham Young west to Utah, among them, converts from European countries.
The volume includes the story of Anna Widtsoe, a fearless Norwegian convert who was baptised in an icy fjord in 1881. She and her two sons sacrificed a comfortable life to gather with the Saints.
“If we cannot leave everything, even our life if required, we are no disciples,” she wrote. Anna crossed the Atlantic and became a prominent member of her community. Her son, John A. Widtsoe, later became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Another European convert highlighted in Volume 2 is Karl Maeser. He was baptised in 1856 and offered an eloquent prayer after rising from the waters.
“Father, if what I have done just now is pleasing unto thee, give me a testimony, and whatsoever
thou shouldst require of my hands I shall do, even to the laying down of my life for this cause,” he said. On the walk home from his baptism, Karl (who spoke only German) was able to miraculously converse with the President of the Europe Mission, Franklin D. Richards – who spoke only English.

Karl cited that experience as an answer to his prayer. Years later, Karl successfully immigrated to Utah and helped establish what would become Brigham Young University.

Volume 2 includes multiple inspiring stories of sacrifice by converts all over the world. It also explores important, and at times controversial, events including trials and miracles along the pioneer trail, the settling of Utah, complicated relationships with the United States government and Native American tribes, the practice of plural marriage, the revelation to end the practice and much more.

Readers of Saints can follow footnotes to read the actual source documents behind the stories and come to informed conclusions about these events.
The final volumes of Saints will be published in the next few years. Volume 3 will focus on the Church’s global growth and conclude with the dedication of the temple in Bern, Switzerland, in 1955.

Volume 4 will bring readers to the recent past, relaying the ongoing challenges of membership growth and having temples located all over the world. The volumes are intended to accurately bring church history to life and inspire members to carry on a legacy of faith.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles chairs the Church History Department.
He was moved to tears four times as he read the first 100 pages of the book.
“I would hope that the ultimate result of [reading Saints] would be a deep appreciation of our ancestors and the sacrifices and the hardships they went through,” he said. He added that he hopes such gratitude would empower Saints with the “strength and power to overcome the issues that face us today.”

Volume 2 is available in Cebuano, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog and Tongan. Print editions in these languages will be available in a few months at

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