The surname of SERPA is Portugese, from a medieval given name SERAPHINUS. The name was rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form SERAPHINUS, from the Hebrew SERAFIM. This term was applied to the six-winged creatures described in Isaiah 6, and regarded in the Middle Ages as a class of angels. The name may also represent a religious byname adopted in honour of the Capuchin monk St. SERAPHINUS (1540-1604), formally canonized in 1767. The name is also spelt SARAFIM, SERAFIN, SERAFINSKI, SERAFINUIK and SERAFINOWICZ. Portugese surnames share many of the features of Spanish surnames, in particular Arabic and Visigothic influence. A notable feature of Portugese surnames is the class of religious names referring to festivals of the church or attributes of the Virgin Mary. One respect in which Portugese names differ from those of the rest of the Iberian peninsular, is that some were adopted at a comparatively late date and honour saints who did not give rise to surnames in other languages. Portugese names typically have the ending 'eiro'. Portugese heraldry is characterized by the use of broad shields, quite often with borders. This is a practice dating back from earlier times when it was the practice for a man to enclose his arms with a border charged with single heraldic devices taken from the arms of his wife, or even sometimes with her complete arms arranged as a series of small shields. 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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