by Ruth McOmber Pratt and Ann South Niendorf
Reprinted from The Ensign 24, No. 8 (August, 1994), pp 53.
©1994 by Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
All rights Reserved.
Frantiska Vesela was born in 1881, the youngest of ten children in a family living in a small villagein southern Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). She "was blessed with a religious mother whohad the disposition of an angel" an influence that was a wellspring of strength for Frantiskathroughout her life.
After her mother died, eighteen-year-old Frantiska moved to Vienna, Austria, to live with her oldersister. There she married Frantisek Brodil in 1904, and they were blessed with two daughters,Frantiska (Frances) and Jana (Jane).
In 1913 she learned of the restored gospel and was baptized in the Danube River, the ordinancebeing performed late one stormy night in order to avoid religious persecution. "My heart swelledwith a feeling of satisfaction, and at my confirmation I felt myself filled with a new power," shelater said. Her husband, "always friendly toward the Church," never did become a member.
Frantiska's newfound joy in the restored gospel was dampened by the outbreak of World War I. During the war, she and a handful of Viennese sisters held Bible study classes, keeping "thegospel light burning there while all the local brothers were at war and the missionaries were calledhome."
At war's end, Frantiska's husband lost his job when all native Czechs in Austrian governmentpositions were replaced. In 1919 he moved his family to Prague (in newly formedCzechoslovakia). He died shortly thereafter.
Life was difficult for the widow and her daughters. They barely avoided starvation. Two yearspassed without any contact from the Church. Then, in 1921, two elders from the Vienna Branchvisited them in response to Frantiska's letters to the German-Austrian Mission. They baptized hertwo daughters, the first members baptized in Czechoslovakia.
Despite Frantiska's diligent efforts and prayers, years passed without the return of Latter-day Saintmissionaries. Despite such isolation, so thoroughly did the gospel permeate the Brodil home that tothis day Frances insists she was raised in the Church.
After a decade of praying for missionaries to reenter the land, Frantiska felt impressed to write theFirst Presidency of the Church (this was prior to present-day policies, which encourage membersto contact local leaders). "An unseen power seemed to be pushing me to do it," she said. "It wasmy last try in this matter. I thought the Lord would surely do the rest."
To Frantiska's great joy, her letter to President Heber J. Grant got immediate results. On 24 July1929, in the presence of the Brodils, Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelvededicated Czechoslovakia for the preaching of the gospel and opened the Czechoslovak Mission,with Arthur Gaeth as president.
Of that glorious event, Frantiska said, "Few people can realize the joy we experienced; we hadbeen praying years for this day. . . . We thank the Lord from the bottom of our hearts."
Frantiska Brodilova passed away in 1931. In her last years, she "mothered" the missionaries,helped translate missionary tracts, led Sunday School classes until the missionaries could speakCzech, and served as the first Relief Society President in her native land.
In eulogizing her, President Gaeth wrote that "Sister Brodilova's Christlike spirit will linger. . . .She was a mother, counselor and example to us."
Ruth McOmber Pratt and Ann South Niendorf are descendants of Frantiska Brodilova, through herdaughters Frances Brodil McOmber and Jane Brodil South, respectively. Ruth works in the nameextraction program in the Orem Fifth Ward, Orem Utah Stake; Ann serves as a visiting teacher inthe Provo Second Ward, Provo Utah South Stake.