Marie Madeleine Cardon was just a little girl living near Torino, Italy, in 1840 when she received a witness of a work unfolding on the other side of the world.
Born in 1834 to Waldensian parents, there was nothing in Marie’s quiet, rural life in the Alps to suggest the event that would, as she later put it, change “the career of my whole life.” Though just 5 or 6 years old, Marie had a vision of messengers of a restored gospel coming to Italy. She later described the dream:
“Fear not, for we are the servants of God and have come from afar to preach unto the world the everlasting gospel, which has been restored to the earth in these last days, for the redemption of mankind.”
I was upstairs in bed. A strange feeling came over me. It appeared that I was a young woman instead of a mere child. I thought I was in a small strip of meadow, close to our vineyard, keeping my father's milk cows from the vineyard. It seemed that I was sitting in the grass reading a Sunday school book. I looked up and saw three strangers in front of me. As I looked into their faces I dropped my eyes instantly, being very much frightened. Suddenly the thought came to me that I must look at them that I might remember them in the future. I raised my eyes and looked them straight in the face. One of them, seeing that I was afraid said: "Fear not, for we are the servants of God and have come from afar to preach unto the world the everlasting gospel, which has been restored to the earth in these last days, for the redemption of mankind." They told me that God had spoken from the heavens and had revealed his everlasting gospel, to the young boy Joseph Smith. That it would never more be taken from the earth, but that His kingdom would be set up and that all the honest in heart would be gathered together. They told me that I would be the means of bringing my parents and family into this great gathering. Moreover, the day was not far off when we would leave our homes and cross the great ocean. We would travel across the wilderness and go to Zion where we could serve God according to the dictates of our conscience. When they had finished their message to me they said they would return soon and visit us. They took some small books from their pockets and gave them to me, saying, "Read these and learn." Then they disappeared instantly.”
The little girl immediately told her father, Phillipe Cardon, everything she had seen and heard. About ten years later, after a royal decree had granted freedom to the long-persecuted Waldensians and the family had moved to Piedmont, Italy, Phillipe heard talk of three strangers preaching the very doctrine he had heard from his young daughter a decade before. He “became so excited and so intensely interested that he could not proceed with his work.” Instead, he went home, changed into his Sunday clothes, and went off in search of the three strangers.
He traveled over mountains and through valleys and arrived on Sunday morning just in time to hear Elder Lorenzo Snow preach. My dear father was most happy to hear the pure truth so well and so earnestly explained. His heart was full of joy. After the meeting my father approached these servants of God, shook hands and kindly invited them to come to our home where he desired them to make their headquarters. They kindly and willingly accepted his hospitality.
Marie and most of her family soon came to accept the gospel in its entirety. Marie even accompanied the missionaries as they preached in the mountains, translating their sermons for her neighbors. In 1854, the Cardon family immigrated to Utah, where Marie married John A. Guild. They had eleven children and eventually settled in Piedmont, Wyoming, named for the home of Marie’s youth. She died in 1914, leaving an autobiography for her children in which she bore strong testimony of the faith that had shaped her life.
My dear children, I cannot doubt the faith and the principals which I have embraced. My whole soul is filled with joy and thankfulness to God for his regard for me and for you in His manifesting to me the divinity of his great work in so remarkable a manner. How sincere is my prayer that you my children may realize how wonderful and yet how real and true is this, my life’s testimony to you.1