A few months after the 1844 martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Church members in Illinois were working diligently to complete the Nauvoo Temple. Times were hard and money was scarce.
"We did much hard labor on the Nauvoo temple, during which time it was difficult to get bread and other provisions for the workmen to eat," said Brigham Young, as recorded in Wilford Woodruff's journal. Some 1,200 men worked on the temple or in the quarries, donating every 10th day.
President Young counseled the committee that had charge of the temple funds to deal out all the flour they had — then added: "God would give them more."
An unexpected visitor arrived in Nauvoo before the rations were exhausted. An Italian sailor named Joseph Toronto, who had spent years saving his wages, had come to the Church settlement after being prompted in a dream to leave his money with "Mormon Brigham." During a stay in New York, Joseph Toronto had learned a man named Brigham Young was leading the Latter-day Saints in western Illinois. The young sailor had traveled to Nauvoo to meet the Church leader, according to E. Cecil McGavin's book Nauvoo the Beautiful.
Upon meeting President Young, Joseph Toronto peeled off his money belt that concealed $2,500 in gold and placed it on the president's desk. The gold would prove to be a timely gift.
With Joseph Toronto's donation in hand, a grateful President Young met with the bishop and the temple building committee to share the news of the Church's surprise benefactor.
"I opened the mouth of the bag and took hold at the bottom end, and gave it a jerk towards the bishop, and strewed the gold across the room and said, now go and buy flour for the workmen on the temple and do not distrust the Lord any more; for we will have what we need," President Young said.
Joseph Toronto would later join the Church and become a prominent member in the West following the exodus of members from Nauvoo. Brother Toronto would also be instrumental in opening a Church mission in Italy.