This Spanish surname of PIEDRA is of two-fold origin. It was a Catalan habitation name from any of several minor places, so called from the Catalan PEDRO, meaning a large stone or pedestal. It was originally rendered in the Latin form PETRO. It was also a baptismal name from the medieval given name PIERRE, a cognate of Peter meaning 'rock'. The name was extremely popular throughout Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, as it had been bestowed by Christ as a byname on the apostle Simon bar Jonah, the brother of Andrew. The name was chosen for its symbolic significance, and is a translation of the Aramaic 'kefa' meaning a rock. St. Peter is regarded as the foundling father of the Christian church, and in Christian Germany in the 14th century was the most frequent given name. The name was also occasionally used as a topographic name for someone who lived on a patch of stony soil or by a large outcrop of rock, originally rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form PETRA. It may also be a metonymic occupational name for a quarryman or stone-carver. The name has travelled widely, and taken many forms.
In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most common Spanish surnames are derived from personal name of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries. A notable member of the name was PEDRO I (1798-1834) emperor of Brazil, second son of John VI of Portugal. He fled to Brazil with his parents on Napoleon's invasion, and became prince-regent of Brazil on his father's return to Portugal in 1821. A liberal in outlook, he declared for Brazilian independence in 1822, and was crowned as Pedro I in 1826.
Arms registered in Aragon.
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