“Whosever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3).
This painting was prompted by a lengthy letter from Pocatello Stake President William A. Hyde. He petitioned Minerva to paint a sacred image that he had envisioned in his mind repeatedly over the years, and he recorded in great detail the specifics of his concept – based on Mary Fielding Smith, the mother of President Joseph F. Smith, as she journeyed across the plains. He entrusted Minerva to capture the courage Mary portrayed – despite her husband’s martyrdom, falling behind the train, dealing with obstacles regarding her oxen – and how she persevered, relied on the Lord, surpassed the leading wagons, and ultimately, arrived at the valley earlier than many.
Excerpt from President Hyde’s letter: “The picture will show in one glance the heroism, and the faith of the Mormon woman – and so also with that, the Mormon faith and spirit… The time is when she is left alone and sets her face amid the howling of the wolves and the fear of savages, to overtake the train in advance… her face set…with the look that does not see the intervening things – hers is the eye of faith. Who is the shadowy form, mounted on this classical charger that stands so distinct in character apart from those oxen, and is caparisoned for war? This is the captain of the Lord’s host. You see his sword, the poise of the head, the attitude of confidence as he rides unseen by the side of this Mormon saint.” (footnote: Cannon, Elaine and Shirley A. Teichert. Minerva! The Story of an Artist with a Mission. SLC: Bookcraft, 1997.)
President Hinckely shared the following message: “It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. Their tremendous example can become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life.” (footnote: Hinckley, Gordon B. “The Faith of the Pioneers.” Ensign July 1984.)
Additional reading: “Mary Fielding Smith – Mother in Israel”
More information on the artist: “Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert: With a Bold Brush”