Thanks to the extensive research done by Anthony Vermandois of Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania, the American descendants of the Agropolesi who immigrated to America are now able to learn about their roots. Anthony has compiled the vital statistics for families in Agropoli which we use as the basis for the exploration into the earliest known ancestors in our direct line and branch families.
Uncle Sammy’s pedigree chart. His Muro ancestors come through his maternal line and are marked off by the black borders.
In posting no. 21-Scotti Family in Agropoli-Carmine and Maria-Years of hardship, Years of Good-byes we introduced Nicola Muro as the man who married Letizia Scotti. Together with their baby daughter Giuseppa, they immigrated to the United States after 1909.
Nicola and Letizia Muro were:
-Sammy’s maternal Grandparents
-EmilyAnn’s maternal Great-Grandparents
We are going to go back as far as Anthony’s research has taken him to learn more about Nunziante and Anna Maria (nee Monzillo) Muro, the earliest Muro ancestors in our direct line.
Nunziante and Anna Maria Muro were:
-Sammy’s 2nd Great-Grandparents
-EmilyAnn’s 3rd Great-Grandparents
Our ancestors from Agropoli were all Roman Catholics. The faith was so interwoven in every level of daily life that almost every name given to a child was not just in memory of an ancestor but also carried a meaning connected to the religion. We’ll consider some of these names as we begin our study of the Muro family.
Meet Nunziante and Anna Maria
Anthony’s research into our branch of the Muro and Monzillo families begins with Nunziante and Anna Maria. There is no data about their parents or siblings at this time.
Nunziante’s name appears as Nunziante di Muro in the records Anthony located. He was born before 1825. We do not have a date of birth for Anna Maria Monzillo nor do we know if she was born in Agropoli or another town. Monzillo is not a surname listed among the families Anthony has done research on at this time.
Nunziante’s profession is given as “bracciante”. The principal meaning is “day laborer” or “hired hand” and is used in connection with agricultural work. A synonym is “peonage” which once was used to mean “penal servitude”.
Nunziante’s name is a masculine form of the female name Nunzia means “announces”. This word is related to the words for “The Annunciation” (Annunziata or Annunziato) which in the Catholic faith is the day when the Archangel Gabriel announced that Mary would become the mother of Jesus.
Anna Maria’s name is derived from the Hebrew Hannah and Myriam. The combined meaning is “Gracious Princess”.
Nunziante and Anna Maria had three sons:
-Pietro di Muro (born c. 1842)
-Antonio di Muro (b.c. 1846)
-Giovanni di Muro (b.c. 1847)
All three sons became “bracciante” when they grew up.
The children and daughter-in-laws of Nunziante and Anna Maria Muro
The Muro family remained small in size compared to the other families in our line. Anthony records three children who lived passed infancy into adulthood.
Pedigree chart for Antonio di Muro.
Antonio passed away on November 2, 1868 in Agropoli. He was single and did not leave any children. Antonio is the Italian form of Anthony. St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of those seeking to find lost objects is one source for the name. Antonio comes from the Greek “Antionos” which means first born.
Pedigree chart for Giovanni Muro.
Giovanni married Mustiola Giordano on September 29, 1870 in Agropoli. Their children were: Antonio (b.1871), Fortunato b. 1875 and Anna Maria b. 1875. Giovanni’s name translates as John in English. derived from the Hebrew “Johanan” the name means “Gift from God”.
Mustiola was the daughter of Raffaele and Maria Teresa (nee Cuoco) Giordano. Her father was born circa 1808 to Francesco and Fuchosa (nee Paura) Giordano. Anthony does not have any information about his profession. Mustiola’s mother was the daughter of Antonio and Antonia (nee Ruocco) Cuoco. At birth circa 1816 her name appears in the records as Maria. She passed away during the cholera epidemic of 1866.
Mustiola is an unusual name among the families of Agropoli. Her parents may have named her after St. Mustiola who was martyred in Tuscany in 273 for rejecting the advances of a local official. The name Mustiola means “sweet” in Latin.
Pedigree chart for Pietro di Muro. When his son Nicola (“Nick”) came to America the surname was changed to Muro.
The oldest son, Pietro is our direct line ancestor. Pietro’s name comes from the Latin word,”Petra” meaning rock or stone. In the Catholic faith St. Peter is the rock since he was the first leader of the church.
Pietro married Giuseppa Ruocco on September 9, 1867. Anthony traced Gisueppa’s pedigree further back and what an interesting series of relationships it creates amongst the Serrapede and Muro families. Giuseppa’s maternal line comes through the Serrapede family. Since the interrelationships between the Serrapede and Muro families becomes more complex with Giuseppa’s entry to our bloodline, we will detail her pedigree in the next series of postings.
Giuseppa translates as Josephine from Italian to English. A very important woman in Uncle Sammy’s life and my life had this name. We knew her as Josie. She was Sammy’s mother and my maternal Grandmother. When researching the meaning of names for this posting many memories of our Josie returned. We had never given much thought to the significance of the meaning from the Hebrew, Yosef, from which Joseph and Josephine derives. It means “Jehovah increases”. Everything Josie did in her life created well-being for her family, home, and children.
In the next posting will detail Giuseppa’s lineage. If Giuseppa Ruocco was anything like our Josie she was a very smart, resourceful and formidable woman.
Patron Saints and their Name Days
In Italy people celebrate their birthday and name day. We are not sure to what extent our Serrapede and Muro ancestors celebrated their name days but there must have been something special to mark the day.
Many children, as we have seen in the review of our Muro ancestor’s names, were named after Saints or special events in the Catholic calendar. At the very least a Saint’s Day is celebrated during the mass in church. Sometimes there is a procession. In the case of an important saint, such as the patron of a town, there will be a festival.
The festivals are meant to be more than an occasion for merry making and eating good food. The celebration is meant to bring the congregation together as one body in Christ. To experience the reverence and joy which the Holy Spirit bestows as the people study and honor the devoted saint of the feast day.
Our ancestors might have been humble people without the resources for a lavish celebration but given the importance of the Name Day we think the children in our family lines were treated to something special such as a sweet treat or a get together with family and friends. Such a celebration would reinforce the importance of the Saint they were named after. It would also impress upon the child the expectation that they be good and act in ways that bring honor to their Lord, their guardian angel and their family.
Saints Days the Giordano, Muro and Ruocco Families Might Have Celebrated
Family Member: Mustiola Giordano Muro
Saint: St. Mustiola
Feast Day: July 3rd or November 23rd (there is some disagreement. Please see URLs in the Resources section)
Family Member: Pietro Muro
Saint: St. Peter, the First Pope
Feast Day: June 29th
Family Member: Antonio Muro
Saint: St. Anthony of Padua
Feast Day: June 13th
Note: There are other Saints named Anthony. We have selected St. Anthony of Padua since he is most familiar.
Family Member: Giovanni Muro
Saint: St. John the Baptist
Feast Day: June 24th
Note: We are aware that there are many St. John’s. We have chosen the most well known of them all.
Family Member: Giuseppa Ruocco Muro
Saint: St. Joseph
Feast Day: March 19th
Family Member: Nunziante Muro
Feast Day: The Feast of the Annunciation, March 25th
Occasion: The Archangel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear Jesus Christ, the son of God.
Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, May 3, 2015 11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Our investigation into the meanings behind our ancestor’s names proved more fruitful that expected. At first it was meant as a way to familiarize ourselves with the meanings and possible origins of the more unusual names like Mustiola. Along the way we decided to learn more about Name Day customs. We also reacquainted ourselves with the feast days of the Catholic Saints.
In Italian, Happy Name Day is said “Buon Onomastico”. We then looked up the meanings of our own names. To our surprise we both have Saints with our names!
Sammy’s birth name Sabatino is derived from his father’s name Sabato. The name means “born on Saturday” which was the holy Sabbath in the Old Testament. There is a martyr named St. Sabatino Vescovo who is honored on February 2nd.
EmilyAnn’s name in Italian is Emiliana. It is a variation of Emilia which means “gracious, corteous’. St. Emilia’s feast day on the Catholic calendar is June 17th. She is honored as the mother of five saints and an example of motherhood and housewifery.
Uncle Sammy and I never observed Name Day celebrations within the Italian-American community of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, NY where we grew up. Our parents never encouraged the celebration perhaps because in the United States the birthday is a big enough celebration with greeting cards, gifts, birthday cakes and celebratory get-togethers.
What I personally remember were the celebrations of Patron Saint Days. My Mother always told me that as a young girl and into early adulthood her Patron Saint was St. Anthony of Padua. When his feast day was near she would do a nine day novena in his honor and pray for assistance and guidance on the challenges in her life.
The Feast Days of other saints were street fairs and events that were occasion for the community to get out and socialize. During the 1960s I remembered the Festival of Saint Gennaro as a noisy, crowded affair that I couldn’t relate to anything that went on inside of a church. I began to favor my Mother’s approach to a Saint’s Feast Day. In private I honored my favorite saints with a novena or reflection on their lives when their Feast Day came.
Uncle Sammy and I like the celebration of one’s Name Day as a time to give thanks for the presence of someone in the world. We have decided to begin observing this custom between ourselves and will include sharing Italian pastries as well as our time, prayers and thoughts on our respective Name Days.
Name Days and Birthdays
“A Saint’s Feast Day Is Still Important to Many Italians”
by Francesca Di Meglio
“Name Day Traditions in Italy”
by Frances Di Meglio
Name Day Calendar
Tom Major’s Saint of the Day
St. Anthony of Padua
St. John the Baptist
The Feast of the Annuciation
Translation of Italian Words
Translation of bracciante
History of Names
Josephine (given name)
Meaning and History
Translation of Italian Names
Italian First Names beginning with the letter “A”
Italian First Names beginning with the letter “A”
Italian First Names beginning with the letter “E”
Italian First Names beginning with the letter “G”
Translation of Giuseppa
Encyclopedia of Genealogy
Italian First Names beginning with the letter “M”
Translation of Nunzio
Italian First Names beginning with the letter “P”
Italian First Names beginning with the letter “S”
About St. Emilia