The surname of FRANCISCO in its many forms throughout Europe was originally derived from the Old French word 'franceis' an ethnic name for a Frenchman. The name was very familiar to 13th and 14th century documents. St. Francis of Assissi (1181-1226) was the Italian religious founder of the Franciscan Order, born in Assisi, the son of a wealthy merchant. He was remarkable for his happiness and love of life, and although he joined a military expedition, he was halted by a dream and returned to devote himself to the care of the poor and sick. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1228, and in 1980 was designated patron saint of ecology. He was actually baptised Giovanni, but was nicknamed Francisco because his father was absent in France at the time of his birth. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name.
Aother notable of the name was FRANCIS of Poaola or St. FRANCESCO de Paula (1416-1507) the Italian Franciscan monk, and founder of Minim friars, born in Paola in Calabria. Of poor parents, he retired to a cave at 19 and was soon joined by others. He founded his order in 1436. Communities were established throughout Europe, but not in the British Isles. Louis XI of France summoned FRANCESCO to his death-bed, and Charles VIII and Louis XII built him convents at Plessis-les-Tours and Amboise. He died at Plessis on Good Friday, and was canonized in 1519. His feast day is 2nd April. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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