Church History
“Mormonism Is Now Every Thing for Me in This World”
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“Mormonism Is Now Every Thing for Me in This World”

In Paris, the missionaries spent their time translating the Book of Mormon into French, preaching occasional sermons, and meeting with Parisians who were curious about the new faith. In the midsummer of 1850, John Taylor and Curtis Bolton stopped at the offices of Le Populaire, the newspaper of Étienne Cabet, founder of the communitarian Icarians. There they met a charismatic editor calling himself Louis Alphonse Bertrand.

Forty-two-year-old Bertrand was an idealistic man who had spent much of his life in search of adventure and freedom. Born Jean-François Élie Flandin, he assumed the name Louis Bertrand to protect his family when he became active in radical politics. During the Revolution of 1848, Bertrand was a member of the citizen’s committee and later served as the political editor of Le Populaire. Bertrand reported being “struck by the far reaching importance of the work [the missionaries] were commissioned to introduce in France.” Bertrand, with five others, was baptized on December 1, 1850. These six converts became the core of the first branch in Paris.

Bertrand became a fierce advocate for the Church in France. Shortly after his baptism, Bertrand was dismissed from his post at Le Populaire. He began assisting Curtis Bolton in producing L’Étoile du Déséret (Star of Deseret), the French-language organ of the Church, and translating the Book of Mormon into French. Early in 1851, John Taylor was forced to flee the country after publishing a pamphlet entitled “The Kingdom of God,” which was seen as politically inflammatory. As a result, the proselytizing activities of the missionaries were closely monitored and severely limited.

For the next 13 years, Bertrand served several times as the president of the mission in France. In 1855, having been exiled by the government for his proselytizing activities, Bertrand immigrated to Salt Lake City. In Utah, he became a confidant of Brigham Young, a vocal advocate of the silkworm industry, and a correspondent for the Deseret News.

“Mormonism,” Bertrand wrote to Brigham Young, “is now every thing for me in this world.” After his move to Utah, Bertrand occasionally returned to France to share the message of the restored gospel with his countrymen. In 1864, after several petitions for official permission to preach in France were denied, Young instructed Bertrand to return to Utah. He never returned to France. Despite his lack of missionary success, Bertrand maintained his devotion to his home country, declaring “I would not be a worthy Latter-Day saint if, from near or far, I should cease to love my native land, a country such as France!”

Following Bertrand’s departure, the mission languished; eventually it was closed. Occasional attempts were made by the Belgian, Swiss, and Netherlands Missions to proselytize in France; however, none were successful in establishing a lasting presence.