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I Will Not Burn the Book!”

  << Picture from http://bellasion.org

Vincenzo Di Francesca, was an Italian Protestant minister in the early 1900s.  He gave up his ministry for a "book without a name". Twenty years later, he discovers it is the Book of Mormon.

Di Francesca was raised in Italy, where he studied religion. He went to New York City in 1909, where he became a Methodist and graduated from Knox College of New York in November 1905. He then became a pastor.

In February 1910, Di Francesca went to visit a sick pastor in New York City. On his way toward the sick pastor’s home as he was walking down Broadstreet, a strong wind moved the pages of an open book lying on a barrel which grabbed his attention. He picked up the book and noticed that it did not have a cover or title page. The first several pages were damaged. He quickly scanned through the book and noticed unknown names to him such as Alma, Mosiah, Mormon, Moroni, and Lamanites. The only name he recognized in the book was Isaiah. He felt that it was a religious text.

After his meeting with the sick pastor, he went to a local drugstore and bought denatured alcohol and cotton balls to clean the damaged pages of the book. He went to his apartment and spent the entire day reading the book. Here are the words of his experience:

“For several hours I read the remainder of the pages, which gave me light and knowledge and left me charmed to think of the source from which this fresh revelation had come. I read and reread, twice and twice again, and I found it fit to say that the book was a fifth gospel of the Redeemer.

At the end of the day, I locked the door of my room, knelt with the book in my hands, and read chapter ten of the book of Moroni. I prayed to God, the Eternal Father, in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, to tell me if the book were of God, if it were good and true, and if I should mix its words with the words of the four gospels in my preaching.

I felt my body become cold as the wind from the sea. Then my heart began to palpitate, and a feeling of gladness, as of finding something precious and extraordinary, bore consolation to my soul and left me with a joy that human language cannot find words to describe. I had received the assurance that God had answered my prayer and that the book was of greatest benefit to me and to all who would listen to its words."  Di Francesca began to preach the teaching from the Book [of Mormon] during his sermons.

The Story of Don Vincent Di Francesca discovering The Book of Mormon was written in a letter by Don Vincent Di Francesca to Leavitt Christensen, dated May 28, 1965.  This letter was translated into English as follows:

A letter, written by Vincenzo Di Francesca to Leavitt Christensen, President of the the Italian District of the Swiss Mission. Transcription and Preface by Dan Knudsen

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How Rare a Possession:   (1:03:58 min.) Video - YouTube
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Additional Information:

I Will Not Burn the Book!  BY VINCENZO DI FRANCESCA  (Ensign, Jan 1988)

The Saga of the Di Francesca Story  (Family Search)