The surname of MASELLI was a Low German Dutch and Italian baptismal name, a form of Thomas. The name is universal, originally from the popular medieval given name of biblical origin. The name was originally an Aramaic name meaning 'a twin' borne by one of the disciples of Christ, best known for his scepticism about Christ's resurrection (John 20:24-9). This disciple is stated by Eusebius, on no scriptural authority, to have borne the given name Judah. It was also a topographic name for someone living on the banks of the river MAAS, which flows through Belgium and Holland. It was originally named as the MOSA, a name of apparently Celto-Ligurian origin. The name is also spelt MAAS, VERMAAS, MASI, MASO, MASSMANN, MAASCKE, MASIONIS and MAAHS. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Compared to other countries, Dutch heraldry is notably simpler, some of the shields bearing only a single charge. Generally speaking one helmet, one shield and one crest has been used, quartering is uncommon and mottoes are rare. A notable member of the name was MASO di BANCO (1325-50) the Italian painter who is recorded as working in Florence between 1343 and 1350. Although few works are ascribed to him, he was held in great esteem by later Italian artists, due to his realistic style in the manner of his famous predecessor Giotto. His best known work is a fresco in southern Croce, Florence, of the legend of St. Silvestor who quelled a dragon which, by its foul breath, had terrorized Rome. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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