“Blessing at the Swiss Temple,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 64–65
Blessing at the Swiss Temple
One of the most inspirational temple experiences I have ever heard comes from my missionary journal entry of February 12, 1955. At a district conference in Winterthur, Switzerland, William F. Pershon, then president of the Swiss-Austrian Mission, read part of a letter from Brother Jakob Ritter, then president of the Pratten Branch near Basel, Switzerland. In the letter, Brother Ritter detailed a spiritual manifestation that he received on the night of November 14, 1954, when President Stephen L Richards talked to the members and missionaries in Basel after the Swiss Temple cornerstone was laid.
President Richards, first counselor to President McKay, was 75 years old at the time and had come to Switzerland after conducting an exhausting series of Church business meetings in England.
He became very ill before the Basel meeting, so weak that he could hardly stand, and told President Pershon that he would be unable to attend the conference.
President Pershon opened the conference, asking that everyone offer a silent prayer that the Lord would give President Richards the strength necessary to deliver his message.
Brother Ritter, like many others, offered a prayer in his heart for President Richards. Brother Ritter is not a man given to fantasies, but is a man of great faith and is very strong in the gospel. As he sat in the audience, he saw tongues of fire above the heads of those seated upon the stand. It was made known to him that those tongues of fire would begin to rise, and at the moment they reached the ceiling, President Richards would arrive.
It happened just that way. As the tongues of fire reached the ceiling, President Richards walked into the room; and as he stood at the pulpit to speak, the Holy Ghost so filled Brother Ritter’s body that he trembled all over and tears gushed from his eyes.
I personally recall the talk that President Richards gave that night, and it was as if a direct revelation had come from the Lord to those people who needed to prepare themselves for the dedication of the first temple in Europe.
He spoke with great enthusiasm, insight, and inspiration. When he had finished giving his instructions to the Saints and missionaries, he was physically drained and had to be taken immediately to the mission home. It was a testimony to us to see how the Lord would answer prayer by giving his servant the strength to come to that meeting and deliver his message.