Joseph Giorda was born March 19, 1823 in Piedmont,
Italy. Although from a rich and noble family, he was known to have
a modest disposition and a retiring manner. Entering the Society
of Jesus in 1845, Giorda soon came to the foreground of European culture.
A man of high intellectual ability, he was considered one of the brightest
scholars in the European priest hood.
Responding to the ever present call for missionaries, Giorda came to the United States in 1852. His first assignment was to sever the Coeur d'Alene Mission. Appointed Superior General of the Rocky Mountain Missions in 1862, a post in which he served until 1866, and then again from 1869-1877, Giorda founded in succession missions among the Blackfeet (St. Peter's), and Nez Perce (St. Joseph's), and the Yakima (St. Joseph's), as well as the Mission of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary at Helena, Montana. He also reopened the missions to the Flatheads (St. Mary's) and the Colvilles (St. Paul's).
A man who seemed to have little trouble with languages, Giorda was fluent in the principal European languages as well as all dialects of the following Indian languages: Blackfeet, Nez Perce, Flathead, Yakima, Kootenai, Gros Ventre, and Kalispel. Giorda published a complete dictionary of the Kalispel language, considered by experts of the time to be one of the most difficult spoken languages of any of the tribes of North America.
Giorda's career as a priest, an apostle of the Faith, and a brilliant linguist ended in his sixtieth year with his death on August 4, 1882 at Sacred Heart Mission.
Excerpt from the "Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Oregon Province Archives of the Society of Jesus Indian Language Collection: The Pacific Northwest Tribes". Copy right, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, 1976