This Italian surname of PIERRO was a baptismal name meaning 'the son of PETER'. 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 in view of Christ's comment 'Thou art PETER and upon this rock I will build my Church'. In Christian Germany in the 14th century it was the most frequent given name. In England the vernacular form of PIERS was usual at the time when surnames were being assumed. The name has numerous variant spellings which include PIERO, PETER, PETRE, PEDRO, PEIDRO, PEET, PEAT, PEADIE, PITOLLI, PERULLI, and POSSE, to name but a few. A notable member of the name was Francesca Della PIERO (1420-1402) the Italian painter born in the provincial town of Borgo San Sepolcro. By 1442 he was the town councillor at Borgo. Although he was overshadowed at the time by his contemporaries, during this century his work has become a favourite from this period. His major work is a series of frescoes illustrating 'The Legend of the True Cross' in the choir of San Francesco at Arezzo, painted in 1452-66. An unfinished 'Nativity' in the London National Gallery shows some Flemish influence. As the agricultural depression of southern Italy worsened towards the end of the 19th century, people began to escape to the New World. The exodus started in earnest in 1887 with Brazil and other parts of Latin America being the original destinations. By 1893, the economy had improved in the United States and people headed there from Italy in greater and greater numbers. In 1898 there were more Italian immigrants to the USA than from any other country. In the post war era, more than a quarter of Italians left the country for a new life. They joined a flood of immigrants to America which was averaging a million a year in the pre war years.
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