Church History: The Handkerchief Healing and Raising the Dead

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handkerchief
via Social Shoppable

One of the most awe-inspiring things about Church history is that it is so replete with miracles — many of which were performed by the prophet Joseph himself.

This particular story, however, chronicles a miraculous healing that was delegated by Joseph Smith to Wilford Woodruff. By using a handkerchief as prompted by the Lord’s prophet, Wilford Woodruff was able to heal two babies in need. Truly, by “small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

In his journal, Wilford Woodruff recorded about the event:

A man of the world, knowing of the miracles which had been performed, came to [the Prophet Joseph] and asked him if he would not go and heal two twin children of his, about five months old, who were both lying sick nigh unto death.

They were some two miles from Montrose.

The Prophet said he could not go; but, after pausing some time, he said he would send some one to heal them; and he turned to me and said: “You go with the man and heal his children.”

He took a red silk handkerchief out of his pocket and gave it to me, and told me to wipe their faces with the handkerchief when I administered to them, and they should be healed. He also said unto me: “As long as you will keep that handkerchief, it shall remain a league between you and me.”

I went with the man, and did as the Prophet commanded me, and the children were healed.

I have possession of the handkerchief unto this day.

Wilford Woodruff Calls His Wife Back from the Dead

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The prophet Wilford Woodruff

Wilford Woodruff was certainly no stranger to miracles and healings. In fact, according to the prophet’s journals (*cue me feeling horrible for being a terrible journal keeper*), he raised his wife Phoebe from the dead. He wrote,

December 3rd found my wife very low. I spent the day in taking care of her, and the following day I returned to Eaton [a nearby town] to get some things for her. She seemed to be gradually sinking, and in the evening her spirit apparently left her body, and she was dead.

“The sisters gathered around her body, weeping, while I stood looking at her in sorrow. The Spirit and power of God began to rest upon me until, for the first time during her sickness, faith filled my soul, although she lay before me as one dead.

Wilford Woodruff, filled with faith, then gave his wife a priesthood blessing.

I laid my hands upon her and in the name of Jesus Christ I rebuked the power of death and the destroyer, and commanded the same to depart from her, and the spirit of life to enter her body.

Her spirit returned to her body, and from that hour she was made whole; and we all felt to praise the name of God, and to trust in him and keep his commandments.

While this operation was going on with me (as my wife related afterwards) her spirit left her body, and she saw her body lying upon the bed, and the sisters weeping. She looked at them and at me, and upon her babe, and, while gazing upon this scene, two personages came into the room. … One of these messengers informed her that she could have her choice: she might go to rest in the spirit world, or, on one condition she could have the privilege of returning to her tabernacle and continuing her labors upon the earth. The condition was, if she felt that she could stand by her husband, and with him pass through all the cares, trials, tribulations and afflictions of life which he would be called to pass through for the Gospel’s sake unto the end. When she looked at the situation of her husband and child she said: ‘Yes, I will do it!’

At the moment that decision was made the power of faith rested upon me, and when I administered unto her, her spirit entered her tabernacle. …

On the morning of the 6th of Dec., the Spirit said to me: ‘Arise, and continue thy journey!’ and through the mercy of God my wife was enabled to arise and dress herself and walk to the wagon, and we went on our way rejoicing.

And for the rest of her life, Phoebe Carter Woodruff did indeed support her husband, remembering to keep her promise to the Lord — and knowing that with His help, nothing is impossible.

Amy Keim is the site manager and editor for LDSBlogs.com. She served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she learned to love mountains and despise snow. She has a passion for peanut butter, dancing badly, and most of all, the gospel.