Builders of the Friedsam Collection
A History of the People, Important to Building the Collection of Friedsam Memorial Library
|Archives||Albert O'Brien, O.F.M.||Dorothy Godfrey Wayman||Notes|
Joachim Guerrini, O.F.M.
Ex Libris ad usum Frater Joachim Guerrini,
From the book granted for the use of Brother Joachim Guerrini, O.F.M.
This bookplate is found on a great many of the rare books in Friedsam Library's collection. Along with many manuscripts and incunabula, they represent material gathered by Fr. Guerrini during his tenure here at Saint Bonaventure and later in his career. These books formed the foundation of the library at St. Bonaventure and Fr. Joachim Guerrini is credited as its first librarian.
Joachim Guerrini was born in Montefegatese, Italy in 1836. He became a member of the Roman Province of St. Michael and a missionary in the Custody of the Immaculate Conception in North America which brought him to Allegany where the Custody's headquarters was located. Guerrini came to the U.S. as a deacon in 1859 and was ordained into the priesthood on Sunday, Oct. 21, 1860. He was the first friar to be ordained in Allegany, NY. Fr. Guerrini ministered in Allegany and around the Province for the next 15 years. He worked in Towanda, NY, in New York City and in Winsted, Conn. under Fr. Leo da Saracena, later president of St. Bonaventure. He founded St. Leonard of Port Maurice parish in Boston. No matter where he was assigned to work he was always looking out for the spiritual welfare of Italian immigrants as well as enriching the St. Bonaventure library with choice volumes, continuing to do this even after he returned home to Italy in 1879.
Fr. Guerrini later went to Australia where he was a well known priest, serving in Port Douglas, Palmer's Island, Emmaville, Bingara and Bundarra. His obituary in The Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW, Australia) noted:
The Dean [Guerrini] was easily the
most popular priest among the clergy themselves, and on any
occasion which brought the priests of the diocese together, in moments of relaxation, Dean Guerrini
was always the center of any admiring group. He was a special favorite with the younger priests, who
enjoyed the flashes of wit, and often essayed to try conclusions with him in this field, but always, as they
themselves will admit, came off second best. In spite of his four-score years, the Dean to the last took a
keen interest in current topics, even in the war. With regard to the war, he shared that delightfully human
trait whereby one thinks one's own countrymen stand on a pedestal of their own. When the subject of
the war was brought up, the Dean would say in his sweet Tuscan accent: "The Italians! Why, they are
the only ones who are doing anything!"
He died in Bundarra on November
7, 1918 at the age of 82.
Herscher, Fr. Irenaeus. “St. Bona’s First Librarian.” The Provincial Annals 7.3 (1949); 129-131.