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The following was written by Danielle B. Wagner for LDSLiving. To read the full article, click here

In the early days of the Church, it was not uncommon for women to participate in giving blessings of healing (see the Church’s Gospel Topics essay “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women“). In fact, by 1880, women had developed a ritual to help those who were about to give birth, often calling this a “washing and anointing previous to confinement” (The First Fifty Years of the Relief Society, 539).

Naturally, many questions arose within the Church about the role of women administering these blessings. A book released by the ChurchThe First Fifty Years of the Relief Society, details women’s role in the formation of the Church and the beginning of the Relief Society. Contained within this volume are many previously unpublished and significant Church history documents that shed light on these early practices.

And though there are many new documents within the book, this is not the first time the topic has been addressed by Church leaders. Here are a few of those insights from The First Fifty Years of the Relief Society and other Church sources.

Blessing of Healing

In a meeting with the Nauvoo Relief Society on April 28, 1842, the meeting’s minutes record the prophet Joseph Smith’s instruction to women regarding the priesthood and giving healing blessings: “Respecting the female laying on hands, he further remark’d, there could be no devil in it if God gave his sanction by healing—that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water—that it is no sin for any body to do it that has faith, or if the sick has faith to be heal’d by the administration” (The First Fifty Years of the Relief Society55).

In the early days of the Church, many Relief Society sisters saw these blessings as an extension of their call to serve and minister to the sick and afflicted.

To read the full article, click here