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JESUITICA: Signposting the Mormons

de_smet_01The Mormons are under particular scrutiny in the USA because one of them, Mitt Romney, has declared an interest in the Presidency. There was a time when they were less acceptable. In 1838 Governor Bloggs of Missouri decreed: “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated, or driven from the State, if necessary for the public peace”. As they were hounded from state to state, seeking a place where they could live in peace, they sought advice from Jean Pierre DeSmet SJ, the noted explorer of the American west. His description of the magnificent Great Salt Lake valley pleased them greatly.  So Salt Lake City became to Mormons what Rome is to Catholics, and Jesuit de Smet stands there among the founders’ statues.