Frantiska Vesela Brodilova

Husband: Frantisek Brodil
Frances Brodil
Jane Brodil
Father: Klement Vesely
Mother: Frantiska Minerova
Show Pedigree
When Frantiska Vesela Brodilova passed away there was an article about her in the LDS Church News, and more recently, as the LDS Czech Mission was reborn, there was an article about her in the Ensign, co-authored by Ruth Pratt, who also wrote the following life history. Click here to read the Ensign article.

Frantiska Vesela was born on the 12th of January, 1881. She was thedaughter of a miller in Pavlova, a little village in southern Bohemia. This is known as CzechRepublic today. She was the youngest girl in a family of twelve children, two of whom died theday they were born. The family grew up in a typical rural Bohemian environment. Tradition wasthat the parents arranged the marriages. Her father was assigned his wife in order to keep the two families businesses together. Though it was not a happy union, Frantiska was blessed with a fine mother, Frantiska Minarova Vesela, who had a disposition of an angel and was veryreligious. On the other hand, her father, Klement Vesely, despite his intelligence, was a brutaltype of man who caused her mother untold sorrow and tribulation. At times, her mother was so unhappy with his drinking andhis behavior that she was on the verge of ending her own life. Her faith in God and the thought ofher ten children prevented such an act. Her children all loved and honored her and give her thecredit for their values of honesty and integrity.

A crushing blow came when Frantiska's mother died March 29, 1897. She was only 16 years ofage. Not happy at home, she left for Vienna, Austria, to live with her sister Anna, age 35, whowas a home economist for a wealthy man named Mr. Merker. Anna was very strict but taughtFrantiska to be an excellent cook. Being in the Protestant atmosphere in Vienna, Frantiska wasgiven the freedom to read the Bible for the first time. The Catholic Church forbade such readingsin Czechoslovakia, where only the priest was allowed to read the scriptures.

It was in Vienna that Frantiska met a fine man Frantisek Alexim Brodil, a man thirteen years olderthan herself. He was gentle and kind and had a wonderful talent for music. She always loved tohear him play his violin. Frantiska Vesela was married to Frantisek Brodil on February 14, 1904 (Valentine's Day), in the Votiv Kirche, in Vienna. Her husband worked for the government asa clerk and gave violin lessons for added income. They were blessed with their first child onDecember 22, 1904 who was named Frantiska Brodilova, (Frances Brodil) to carry on the familyname. (We will call her Frances so as not to confuse her with her mother).

It was on April 16, 1906 that the family was blessed with another girl, Jana Brodilova (Jane Brodil).
Frantiska also helped raise her deceased sisters Kathy's girl, Sophie Kopecka. Little Sophie wasin poor health and cried constantly. She was one year younger than Jane. The three little girlsloved each other and Sophie flourished under the loving care of her Aunt Frantiska. Aunt Annalater came and asked to take little Sophie for her own since she had no children. Parting was verydifficult for the Jane and Frances, since they loved her like a sister.

Frantiska desired to have her children grow up in the true church. In her own words, her feelings about the CatholicChurch were: "from the lives of many of the supposed representatives of Jesus Christ with whom Iwas acquainted, I could perceive that there was a difference between Christ's teachings and theirinterpretations. They were using the teachings as a sham to carry out their own evil designs. These things quite disturbed me, and I began to wonder if God actually existed and if so, wherewere his prophets? The responsibility of my children deepened this feeling; but the Lord willedthat I should not be kept in ignorance much longer."

"A young man who came to the door one day offered me a little pamphlet which I was reticent inreceiving. Reading it was some misgivings, I soon found its message wholesome. When themissionary returned with a second tract, I began to read with deeper interest. This brought theyoung man and his companion to my home repeatedly. I soon discovered a large differencebetween the work of God and that of man. I received the answer to my question: Is there aProphet of God upon the earth? Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saintswere quenching the thirst for truth of another soul. After visiting the meetings in Vienna, I soonbecame a member, being baptized by Brother K. H. Bennion on September 29, 1913. It wasn't alleasy being baptized — we had to arrange a night the officers would not catch us. So we settled theevent on that of a stormy night, hoping that the officers would not be on control duty. The planworked out wonderfully even though I was indeed cold. What a glorious event happened that dayin the Danube River, that would change my life! My heart swelled with a feeling of satisfaction andat my confirmation. I felt myself filled with a new power."

"The next few months were indeed happy ones, for that was the time when the festivities andsmiles were seen by many; then it seemed as if a wet, dark blanket had been placed over the entireaffair. The World War broke out; missionaries were suddenly called home, and all the brethrenwent to war."

Her daughter Frances remembered the war: "From the age of eight to about thirteen, we wentthrough the First World War. These were extremely difficult years for everyone. Food was scarceand materials were in short supply. My parents lost much of their savings and struggled as dideveryone else. It truly was a hay day for the farmer. People were trading their fine linens, gold,silver, jewels, and anything of worth for food. Money was totally worthless. I remember havingto wear boy's shoes and feeling very embarrassed about it. However, I needed to be thankful, formany children had no shoes. We had to wait in long lines for food. Sometimes, after waiting allday for food, there was no food to be given. I, myself, remember going to bed with only waterand bread. Though trials of war were around us, yet in our home was peace . My mother madehome our refuge and our strength. She made our humble home a heaven on earth."

During the war only a small handful of members carried on the meetings, only to have thegovernment come and forbid any meeting. Missionaries were put in jail and the children werewarned to say nothing about meetings. After the war, the governments were in an upheaval and allCzechs were thrown out of work. They were told they had to become Austrian Citizens. Beingtrue Czechs, the Brodil family decide to move to Czechoslovakia and be loyal the their nationality.

These hardships caused Frantisek Brodil, their beloved husband and father to die from all the trialsof the war, called war fatigue. He quietly passed away at the age of fifty, on August 19, 1919leaving a fatherless family and a widowed Frantiska. She relates, "The next few years wereindeed trying. I was alone in Prague, with no friends and two children of school age. Myyoungest brother, Karel, in Chile, South America, sent me the money that enabled me to send mychildren through school. Several years passed, and though we heard little of the Church, wecontinued to live according to its teachings. Finally, we were visited by President Serge F. Ballif,of the Vienna Branch, and Elder Niederhauser, a missionary from Switzerland; and on June 3,1921, my two daughters, Frances, sixteen years old, and Jane, who was fifteen, were baptized inthe Vltava (Moldau) River, thus becoming the first two members to be baptized on Czech soil. These brethren brought encouragement, saying that they would soon send us missionaries, butnone came."

Frantisek worked tirelessly, pleading for missionaries. She wrote the German-Austrian Missionpleading for missionaries, but to no avail. She faithfully sent her tithing to the church in Viennaevery six months. Years passed in disappointment as the Church failed to head her pleas. In the1920s a Czech consul in Hamburg informed Apostle John A. Widtsoe that, "No Mormons aregoing to take Czech girls away." Frantisek continued to pray and to write to all the missionpresidents and leaders in surrounding areas.

Then, an unpleasant experience entered into the life of Frantiska. She was suffering from a severeliver disease and asked the Elders to come and administer to her. Broth Jean Wunderllick camefrom Dresden and gave her a blessing, promising her that she would get well, "for there was yet agreat work for her to accomplish upon this earth."

She was thrilled with a visit from 83 year old Thomas Biesinger who had been jailed forty yearsearlier for preaching the gospel in Czechoslovakia. Coming from Lehi, Utah he had desired toreturn to his mission and had taken his case to President Heber J. Grant. He was given an officialmission call and arrived in Prague in February 1928. He was given a royal welcome by theBrodil family. He visited with the government officials in order to get permission to preach thegospel of Jesus Christ. To his satisfaction he was told their would be religious freedom. Hisreport that they way would be opened thrilled the Brodilovas. After his departure, no one cameand Frantiska began to despair. Darkness seemed to hover round and she said, "Oh how bitter anddisappointed I felt. I was deeply unhappy about his going. If I had not had such a strongtestimony, I would have surely apostatized. I realized how great Satan's efforts were and how hedid not hesitate to use any means to prevent the coming of the missionaries."

An entire year passed: "Then the thought came to me that I should personally write to the FirstPresidency of the Church. This thought continually stayed with me. An unseen power seemed tobe pushing me to do it. It was my last try in this matter. I thought the Lord would surely do therest." Two letters were written: One to the First Presidency and the other to Elder Jean Wonderlichasking him to translate the letter into English.

Due to her determination and her courage, things began to change very quickly. President Widtsoewrote several letters which brought hope, but uncertainty. Would there be missionaries? Soon theBrodilova family received joyful news: a mission president had been appointed by John A.Widtsoe to serve and his name was Arthur Gaeth from Chicago.

President Gaeth described the event: "it was July 24, 1929 when I was awakened by a peal ofthunder. This was the day set for the dedication of the new mission­ and their was a thunderstorm. What a beginning! But by the time our visitors arrived at 8 P.M. a beautiful summer daywas before us." Near the setting of the beautiful Karlstein Castle, sixteen souls gathered that dayunder the direction of Elder John A. Widtsoe, president of the European Missions, to dedicate theland of the Czechs and the Slovaks to the preaching of the Gospel. Frantiska, Frances and Janewere there in great rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Words cannot express Frantiska's great joy when her prayers were answered. Her joy wasunspeakable! The dream of having an organized mission within her own country was realized! She thanked the Lord expressing her great appreciation for the help of President John Widtsoe andsending Elder Beisinger to her native country.

Elder Gaeth put two radio broadcasts on the air, August 3 and 7th, 1929 telling the Czechs that theMormons had opened a mission in Czechoslovakia. The new missionaries stayed at the YMCA. They decided to play basketball there and played on the Czech National team where they wereundefeated for three years. The mission home was close to the Brodilova home and Frantiskahelped manage it. This is where she received the name of Our Mission Mother, or Momousek. It was no wonder that all the missionaries loved her cooking and appreciated her.

Frantiska was called to be the first Relief Society President in Prague, which position she held untilher death. Her daughter, Frances was called to be President of the Sunday School and Jane wascalled to be the youth director, called Mutual which consisted of only five girls at that time. Janeand Frances used their great skills as professional translators, to translate the Book of Mormonfrom German into Czech. Tears of joy were often in Frantiska's eyes as she saw the success ofthe mission. She sent a gift of a crystal vase to the Relief Society SLC, Utah. Soon after, herillness returned and at the young age of 51 she died on November 26, 1931. Elder John A.Widtsoe sent her a beautiful wreath in remembrance of her great work.

President Gaeth spoke at her funeral and said, "Sister Brodilova has departed from our midst, buther beautiful, Christ-like spirit will linger among us. Only those who have a picture of thedevelopment of the work in this mission will be able to comprehend the loss we have suffered. She was a mother, counselor, and an example to us. We mourn her loss, but in the assurance thatthere is One who governs all and who guides our work, our "Momousek" has gone to her reward. We pray the Lord to bless and comfort her two daughters, our sisters. Sweeter, cleaner youngladies I have never met."

Her daughter Frances relates,"We missed her loving care, especially her counsel. How gratefulwe were for our fine friends, church members and Aunt Marie, Karel's wife in Chile, who hadremained in South America and just returned. When we needed some advice or counsel, they werealways ready to help us."

Jane and Frances finished the translation of the Book of Mormon in Czech and to this day one mayread Jana Brodilova as the main translator. It was promised to Frances and Jane in a Patriarchalblessing that they would live in Zion and have the priesthood in their homes. This wonderfulpromise was fulfilled when Frances was later married to Calvin D. McOmber in the Salt LakeTemple by John A Widtsoe on 30 Apr 1937. One year later Jane was married to William T. Southin the Salt Lake temple. Their hearts desire was to be with the saints and have the priesthood intheir homes. Being in America meant freedom of religion and the blessing that they would nothave to live through another war in Europe. How their children loved them and honored them.

From the missionary journal of Elder Joseph Toronto dated November 29, 1931, we read,
"I would like to go on and further touch your heart strings and tell you of the deeds of this selectwoman, who fasted and prayed and exerted untiringly every possible effort to have missionariessent to her countrymen in this country of Czechoslovakia, where we are now working. If anyCzech is saved by the gospel of Christ from condemnation, it will be through the effort of oursister Brodilova. Dear family, she is like a mother to me."