on a literal odyssey
Many within the church know about the eminent men that appeared to President Wilford Woodruff in the St. George temple. But what many do not know is that temple work was also done for 70 ‘eminent women’…
The painting shown in this video was created by artist Michael Bedard. In order to paint it, Michael spent years researching each of the individual men and women and carefully selected the models he used to represent them.
I first saw the painting in its initial stages in 2009. I was awestruck not only by the amount of work that Michael was putting into it, but also by the amount of people he was painting! I mean, I remember hearing in seminary that George Washington, Christopher Columbus and the signers of the Declaration appeared to Wilford Woodruff, but I didn’t know anything about the other ‘eminent men.’
“Do you know about the eminent women?” Michael asked.
I was speechless.
To be clear, Wilford Woodruff’s record never states that the eminent women appeared to him. It only states that temple work was done on their behalf. This leaves it open for us to decide whether or not these women actually appeared in the temple. Michael Bedard chose to paint the eminent women alongside the eminent men not only for artistic purposes but also because he believes that they were present that day.
Indeed, the fact that President Woodruff believed these women to be ‘eminent’ is rather interesting. Many of the women were not widely recognized until years (sometimes decades) after their death and that period of time did not readily recognize women that were ‘eminent.’ For Wilford Woodruff and his associates to simply take “a shot in the dark” and pull seventy famous female names out of a hat and hope to get it right would be a bit of a stretch.
Yes, revelation was certainly involved. I know because for the past three months, I have done my own research on thirty of the seventy eminent women and have prepared short biographical videos of each of them. I have learned, first hand, that these women were truly remarkable and certainly eminent.
Take for example, Mary Somerville, a Scottish scientist and mathematician during the nineteenth century. A woman whose education began because of her fascination with algebraic symbols.
Or Abigail Adams, whose life is a prime example of how small and simple things can bring about revolutionary change.
Witness the power of art in the lives of female performers like the dancer Eva Maria Veigel, operatic soprano Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa, or the actress Sarah Siddons, a woman who once believed she was destined for failure but soon became the undisputed queen of Drury Lane.
See the strength of a single mother in Mary Ball Washington, the mother of George Washington.
Or the courage of Martha Washington, who supported her husband, General Washington, by traveling to be with him every winter during the Revolutionary War.
Learn about the female archeologist, Anna Brownell Jameson, who was essentially forgotten by her husband in New York, and left to make her way to Toronto, Canada by herself.
Listen to the life stories of child prodigies like Felicia Hemans, who began publishing poems at age fourteen, Letitia Elizabeth Landon (whose abilities surpassed her own tutor), Frances Sargent Osgood, and Fanny Forrester, who began teaching at a seminary at age fifteen!
Learn about the political struggles of women like Margarita Juarez, the wife of Benito Juarez, the most famous president of Mexico. Charlotte Corday, the twenty four year old assassin of Jean-Paul Marat, the Jacobin leader in the French Revolution. Maria Theresa, the Holy Roman Empress. Hannah More, an English philanthropist and early champion of the abolition of slavery, or Marie Antionette, the Queen of France!
Hear the stories of female authors who forever changed the landscape of literature. Women like Frances Burney, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mary Russell Mitford, Lady Sydney Morgan, Lydia Sigourney, and Jane Austen!
In summary of these eminent women, here is a favorite quote of mine from Charlotte Bronte:
This ‘eminent women’ project has meant more to me than I can adequately describe. Kim, the narrator of these videos, has been my best friend for over ten years. She is a talented and beautiful actress—an eminent woman herself. A perfect choice for narration.
So in September, while she and I were living in the same state (a rare thing), she said ‘yes’ to doing the voice-overs.
…and two months later she said ‘yes’ (five times!) when I proposed to her.
Further proof that these ‘eminent women’ are still making a difference. They helped make my dreams come true.