This surname MECCA now widespread throughout Europe in its many forms of spelling was originally from a medieval given name, from the Latin DOMINICUS meaning 'of the Lord'. The name has numerous variants which include DEMANGE, DOMMERQUE, DOMINIC, MONGET, MANGEON, MONGIN, MENICOCCI, MENEGONE and MICONE, to name but a few. The name was borne by a Spanish saint (1170-1221) who founded the Dominican order of monks, and whose fame gave an added boost to the popularity of the name, already well established because of its symbolic value. In 1212 St. Dominic founded the Order of Friars Preachers. Born in Calaruega in Old Castile, he studied at Palencia acquiring such a name for piety and learning that in 1193 the bishop of Osma made him a canon and relied on his help to reform the whole chapter according to the Augustine rule. He led a life of rigorous asceticism and devoted himself to missionary labours among Muslims and 'heretics'. In 1204 he accompanied his bishop on a political mission, and had to travel round the south of France three times. By 1220 the Dominicans adopted a poverty so rigid that not even the order as a corporation could hold houses or lands, and thus they forced themselves to become beggars. The order spread all over the world, including France, Italy, Spain and Austria, and in England, from their dress, they became known as the Black Friars. He was canonized in 1234 by Gregory IX. MECCA is the City now in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Muhammad and the chief place of Muslim pilgrimage. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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