Church History
French Saints during World War II
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French Saints during World War II

Léon and Claire Fargier

In 1939, as war loomed, Church leaders evacuated all missionaries in France again. After the missionaries left, Gaston and Flore Chappuis, who were called to preside over the Church in France, closed the mission and left France in August 1940. Prior to leaving, Gaston wrote to Léon Fargier of Valence. “You are the only active member of the priesthood in France,” Chappuis wrote. “I know that you will do your best and will use the talent that the Lord has given you.”

During the war, Fargier traveled extensively to visit members living throughout the country. He performed ordinances, administered the sacrament, and ministered to his fellow Saints. Traveling by train, bicycle, or foot, his weekly journeys often began early Saturday morning and concluded late Sunday evening. On many occasions, Fargier traveled hundreds of miles in a single weekend to ensure that Church members had access to priesthood ordinances. Fargier’s work did not go unnoticed. A Parisian newspaper reported on July 1, 1941, that Fargier had baptized 15 converts at the municipal swimming pool in Grenoble.

Eveline Kleinert, Relief Society president in Paris, tirelessly served the members of the Paris Branch. Gaston Chappuis, who served as president of the Paris Branch, asked Kleinert to serve as secretary of the branch. When Chappuis closed the mission and left Paris, Kleinert was the only remaining leader of the branch in Paris. Kleinert held meetings in her home. When the stress of war made it impossible for them to meet weekly, she maintained contact with branch members through mail. As the war dragged on, many members of the branch were sick and discouraged.

Kleinert wrote to Fargier. In February 1944, Fargier traveled to Paris to uplift the disheartened Parisian Saints. Kleinert recorded in her journal that the members’ joy was full as Fargier administered the sacrament and gave them priesthood blessings. One month later, Kleinert’s husband, Charles, noticed a leaflet hanging on the Red Cross headquarters in Paris advertising The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church services held by American servicemen. The efforts of Fargier and Kleinert allowed the light of the gospel to remain in France during the war and paved the way for Church growth in the late 1940s and beyond.