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How Rare a Mistake: Did Vincenzo Join Wrong Church?

In the 1980s the LDS Church produced a movie, “How Rare a Possession.”  An Italian man finds a book with no cover, only to learn decades later that it was the Book of Mormon.  It is probably a case of mistaken identity.  Did Vincenzo join wrong church?  We’ll learn more about this story in our final segment with Dr. Daniel Stone, check out our conversation…

GT: Here’s the part that John Hamer told me that nobody knows. Apparently the Bickertonites had a mission in Italy because the Mormon Church did not publish the Book of Mormon in Italian.

Daniel: No, as far as I know, they didn’t.

GT: Yeah, and so it was actually a Bickertonite Book of Mormon that he found that he searching for it, and so he joined the wrong church.

Daniel: Oh, that’s hilarious. You know what? I can’t say for sure. John would know more than me, but yes, as far as I know the Bickertonites were the first church to publish the Book of Mormon in Italian, and if that is the book that that Italian man picked up the join the LDS church, that is the epitome of irony.

GT: Just like William Bickerton, he joined with the Brighamites.

Daniel: That’s right. If that’s really true, then go John Hamer! If he actually looked like check the dates and to make sure because I’m not sure when. I know the LDS church now has their own Book of Mormon in Italian, but yeah, I believe the Bickertonites were the first one and if that was before then. Oh my gosh. Yeah. That is ironic. My goodness.

Here is the short part of the video describing Vincenzo’s experience.

I’d like to thank Daniel for talking with us.  Don’t forget to buy his book!  Wikipedia has some interesting background, including his correspondence with Heber J. Grant!  And if you missed any part of our interview, please check them out!


The Bickertonites were the first church to publish the Book of Mormon in Italian. "How Rare a Posession" tells the story of a man who joined the LDS, rather than the Bickertonite Church!
The Bickertonites were the first church to publish the Book of Mormon in Italian. “How Rare a Posession” tells the story of a man who joined the LDS, rather than the Bickertonite Church!


205: My Cousin Vinny: Alice Cooper’s Mormon Roots (Stone)

204: Writing History Without Getting in Trouble (Stone)

203: Reuniting the Bickerton Break (Stone)

202: Ousting a Prophet (Stone)

201: False Prophecies Are Possible! (Stone)

200: Civil War Prophecy Leads to Black Ordination (Stone)

199: Biblical Support to Ordain Women (Stone)

198: Bickerton Becomes Prophet (Stone)

197: Sidney’s Church Falls Apart (Stone)

196: Rigdon/Spalding Manuscript Theory (Stone)

5 thoughts on “How Rare a Mistake: Did Vincenzo Join Wrong Church?

  1. Vincenzo di Francesca found his damaged Book of Mormon in New York City — why would you assume it was in Italian? His English wasn’t fluent, but was good enough for him to translate a number of tracts from English to Italian, and his numerous 1930s-1940s letters to Widtsoe and others are in comprehensible if idiosyncratic English.

  2. Vincenzo di Francesca read the Book of Mormon in English.

  3. I need to invite John Hamer to comment on this. I’ve had a new conversation with Daniel Stone, and apparently Vincenzo went to a seminary in New York City, and found the book there. It was likely English, not Italian. I suppose it is possible it could have been from the Bickertonites, but it seems more likely a Brighamite BoM.

  4. Russell Stevenson posted on my Facebook page that indeed the book was published in 1852 in Italian and he donated it to the church. Here is a link to what Russell found.

    However, since the Bickertonites started in 1852-3, it seems unlikely to have come from them. Andrew H also posted on Facebook, “the LDS Church had an Italian translation of the Book of Mormon since 1851. This information can be easily found in the history of Lorenzo Snow. According to historian Ardis Parshall more copies were printed than the 1000 that were initially bound and the LDS Church continued to bind and release copies of the 1851 version over the years as needed until they ran out…”

  5. In the few short hours that this was posted, I’ve had several people correct the record. This one seems the best from Ugo Perego who happens to teach in Italy. Honestly I didn’t imagine I’d get so many comments on this post, but comments are greatly appreciated!!!)

    “Let me help you out here for a second. ? Vincenzo di Francesca found an English Book of Mormon in New York while he was studying as a seminarist in the late part of the nineteen century. The Church History Department has that copy he found with the missing title page. I have pictures of it and it seems a regular Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Book of Mormon. Matthew McBride can you confirm? Later on, when Vincenzo discovered the origin of the book, he wrote to the Church headquarters in SLC and received an Italian Book of Mormon from President Grant as a gift. That Italian Book of Mormon was translated and printed in 1852 in England during the Italian mission of Lorenzo Snow. There were 1000 copies printed, but only about 200 bound in leather in 1852. The reamining 800 uncut, unbound copies were sent to SLC and bound in 1927. One of those copies is the one that President Grant sent to Vincenzo Di Francesa. This copy is also at the Church History Department together with other manuscripts and material that once belonged to this beloved Italian personage.”

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