Raised from the Dead: Wilford and Phoebe Woodruff

The miracle of raising the dead is one of the rarest and sacred miracles.  During his mortal ministry Jesus raised several people from the dead. Of course, these miracles foreshadowed the greatest miracle of the universal resurrection. Christ also promised that his prophets and apostles would also have the power to raise the dead.

Here is one of the five published accounts of the miracle of raising the dead in the church in modern times. This account involves Apostle and Prophet Wilford Woodruff raising his wife from the dead. Interestingly, the account comes from both his and her perspectives.

On November 23, Wilford Woodruff’s wife came down with an excruciating head ache, which turned into “brain fever.” Her condition was aggravated because they were traveling in a wagon at the time. On the first of December she was near death.

Wilford Woodruff, a great journal keeper, recorded:

“December 3rd found my wife [Phoebe] very low. . . . She seemed to be sinking gradually, and in the evening the spirit apparently left her body, and she was dead.

“The sisters gathered around, weeping, while I stood looking at her in sorrow. The spirit and power of God began to rest upon me until . . . faith filled my soul, although she lay before me . . . dead.

“I had some oil that was consecrated. . . . I took it and consecrated it again before the Lord, for anointing the sick. I then bowed down before the Lord, prayed for the life of my companion, and in the name of the Lord anointed her body with the oil. I then laid my hands upon her, and in the name of Jesus Christ I rebuked the power of death and of the destroyer, and commanded the same to depart from her, and the spirit of life to enter her body. Her spirit returned to her body, and from that hour she was made whole.”

After Phoebe rose from the dead, she shared her side of this sacred experience.  Wilford Woodruff explains:

“While I was undergoing this ordeal (as my wife related afterwards) her spirit left her body, and she saw it lying upon the bed and the sisters there weeping. She looked at them and at me, and upon her babe;

“While gazing upon this scene, two persons came into the room, carrying a coffin, and told her they had come for her body. One of these messengers said to her that she might have her choice—she might go to rest in the spirit world, or . . . she could have the privilege of returning to her tabernacle and continuing her labors upon the earth. The condition was that if she felt she could stand by her husband, and with him pass through all the cares, trials, tribulations, and afflictions of life which he would be called to pass through for the gospel’s sake. . . . 

“When she looked at the situation of her husband and child she said, ‘Yes, I will do it.’ At the moment that decision was made the power of faith rested upon me, and when I administered unto her, her spirit reentered her tabernacle, and she saw the messengers carry the coffin out of the door.”

In the early days of the church, Wilford Woodruff was given the title, “Wilford the Faithful.” He was always faithful and loyal to the restored gospel. In fact, he was one of the few early leaders who never turned away.

Wilford Woodruff was one of the great spiritual giants of this dispensation. He received more visions, visitations, revelations, and extraordinary spiritual experiences than anyone other than the Prophet Joseph Smith.


(Sources: Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of his Life and Labors, p. 97-98; Leaves from My Journal, Salt Lake City, 2nd Edition, 1882).  )

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