Editor's note: This is one in a series on the Book of Mormon translations and translators.
After arriving in Italy in 1850, Elder Lorenzo Snow had a three-step plan for organizing the Italian mission. His strategy culminated in the translation of the Book of Mormon into Italian.
The first phase involved becoming acquainted with the people in the Waldensian valleys. The general population included Protestants and Catholics.
The second phase called for proselytizing. Elder Snow, who later became the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published two pamphlets describing basic principles of the gospel and the Jospeh Smith story. The pamphlets stirred up local religious leaders, but people still paid for copies.
In January 1851, Elder Snow initiated phase three — translating the Book of Mormon into Italian. In March, he retained a scholar in England to perform the sacred work. The name of the scholar remains unknown to this day because it was not written in any records from that time.
In August, Elder Snow wrote, "I am getting forward very well with the translation of the Book of Mormon. I shall commence with the printing shortly and will soon be able to present it to the people of Italy in their own language."
The translation was completed by October and in December, printer William Bowden of London, England, began printing "Il Libro di Mormon." The following April, Bowden finished printing 1,000 copies. Before the printing, Elder Snow showed the translation to Constantino Reta, a former member of the Subalpline Parliament who taught Italian. He assured Elder Snow that it was "a correct and admirable translation, and a very appropriate style of language."
It is interesting to note that "Il Libro di Mormon" didn't have a major impact in Italy during the 19th century. All but one of the 171 converts were French-speaking Waldensians. The first Italian converts, including Joseph Toronto and Vincenzo di Francesca, read the Book of Mormon in English. The Italian mission was closed in 1867.
In 1929, another Italian edition of the Book of Mormon was published for Italian-speaking investigators. In 1964, a revised edition was published shortly before the Italian mission was rededicated in 1966 by Elder Ezra Taft Benson. The Book of Mormon was most recently revised as of 1995.
Source Note: Information for this article was taken from "Il Libro di Mormon: Anticipating Growth Beyond Italy's Waldensian Valleys," an article published by Michael W. Homer for the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Maxwell Institute, 2002.
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