The Italian surname Santa Maria is without any doubt of toponymic origin. The most common base for fixed Italian surnames was one of paternity, the name of the father of the original bearer being the best mean of identification. The place of abode, however, or the occupation or trade of the first hearer were also widely used in the development of surnames.
In the case of Santa Maria the derivation is from a place name. The devotion of the Italians to the Virgin Mary and to many other saints is recognizable in the quantity of villages and towns that carry the name of the Virgin Mary and of all the other saints found in the Catholic calendar: from San Gillia in the northern region of Piemonte, to San Giovanni di Gerace in Calabria, and San Leone in the southern part of Sicily. The Italian American scholar Joseph Fucilla, an authority on Italian surnames, classifies Santa Maria amongst the “compound names”, and specifically amongst the “adjective-plus-noun sanctuary surnames” such as Santa Caterina, San Romano or Sammartino (Santa-Martina). Fucilla calls these surnames alsa “theaphorous names” or names which contain a divine element. Such appellatives have been common between the Semitic people. In the Old Testament the many names containing “El”, “God”, “Ja” and “Jehovah”, are of this type.
Variants of the surname Santa Maria are Santamaria, Sammari and sammario. Che “Dizionario Storico-Blasonico”, an armotial of Italian noble families, records a family named Santa Maria as belonging to the nobility of Monferrato, an area famous for its vineyards, in the region of Piemonte. This surname is also found in Spain, where it is frequently prefixed by “de” meaning “of or from”. One Enrique de Santa Maria y Urrutia wsa barn in 1744 an was ennobled in 1779.
BLAZON OF ARMS: Argent; a lion gules, holding a heart of the same.
CREST: The lion as in the arms.
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