THE LAPOMARDA COAT OF ARMS

            In exploring the derivation and meaning of the family name Lapomarda, history cannot be neglected. Given the long history of  Italy, it  was really, as one statesman declared, "a geographical expression" for a group of independent states before its unification in the second half of the nineteenth century.  At various stages, especially in its modern history, the country was very much under the rule of both the French and Spanish.  Given such a background, the roots of one's family name could  have easily evolved from the Latin through the French and the Spanish, in addition to the Italian origins of the name, given the relationship of these Romance languages.
            Since armies were known to cross Europe and travel into the Middle East during the Crusades, it is not unlikely that the name Lapomarda evolved in the period from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries before it became recognized as a surname by 1490.  By this time, one of the Crusaders from Spain (or any other region) could have very easily settled on the Adriatic coast of Italy (at Vieste, for example, one finds the origins  of the Lapomarda name), in what is Apulia  (Puglia). From this area, travelers could easily move to the Holy Land or even back to Spain, at a time when coats of arms were not unknown in Europe. That the region is marked  by a Norman cathedral dating from the eleventh century and with historic castles,  especially the thirteenth century one of the Emperor Frederick II, indicates Vieste's links with the past and the Crusades.  Recently, Terry Stanfill has written a novel, The Blood Remembers (2001), anchoring Vieste with this past.
            If one can date the Crusades as far back as 1096, history shows that various coats of arms were used to distinguish various persons and families.  In fact, Johannes de Bado Aureo, who published Tractatus de Armis about 1394, held that arms were used to distinguish one person from another.  Eventually, according to Sir William Dugdaleís The Ancient Usage of Bearings of Arms (1681), arms were used to distinguish one family  from another. Yet, given the free adoption of coats of arms in the Middle Ages, one must be cautious about their use and meaning for anyone in this period of history in light of Italy's rivarly between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines.
           Since nobles in the Crusades were the first to use surnames, these arose from the lands they owned, some relationship, some nickname, some personal characteristic, or some occupation that identified one person from another.  However, Italian heraldry, not unlike the field of heraldry in general, is not so easy to decipher if one investigates its origins.   Though there are various ways to investigate the background of one's family name, based on Giovanni B. Di Crollalanza's Dizionario Storico Blasonico delle Famiglie Nobili e Notabili Italiane  (3 volumes; 1886-90), the heraldic description of the Lapomarda coat of arms is an azure field with two muellets of gold in a perpendicular position on a shield edged in black. The muellets or stars symbolize the association of the name with the civil authority.
           In that way, then, the Lapomarda surname could very well have been the family name of a gentleman, a baron, or a knight many years before Italy was united.  When the name was evolving from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, this person could have been the owner of an apple orchard if one considers the Italian word for apple (pomo) and for apple orchard (pomario) which is not unlike the Spanish word for the same (pomar)Recognized as a surname by the end of the fifteenth century, Lapomarda could, in a certain true sense, be the equivalent of  Appleyard  in English given those words from the Romance languages.  Yet, on the other hand, when one considers the words for ointment in both Italian (pomata) and  Spanish (pomada), that  conclusion is open to question.
           While the helmit signifies a gentleman, a baron, or a knight, the Lapomarda coat of arms appears, more accurately, to depict that of a peer. However,  in making the Lapomarda coat of arms relevant for a priest, James-Charles Noonan, Jr., in his study, The Church Visible: The Ceremonial Life and Protocol of the Roman Catholic Church (Viking, 1996; pp. 525-526; Plate 61) states: "The arms of a priest are ensigned by a black galero with two black fiocchi on the brim and one fiocchi suspended on either side of the shield."  Consequently,  by extracting the shield from the knightly insignia of the Lapomarda coat of arms,  the  coat of arms was produced for Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J., a priest and a historian who is a member of the Angelo Roncalli International Committee and is listed in Who's Who in America for 2002 and a sponsor of Italian genealogy.
           From the consideration of the coat of arms and its heraldic origins, one is led to the study of genealogy, thereby indicating the link between the two.   The surname Lapomarda originates in Vieste (Foggia), Italy, where the father of Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J., was born.  Back in the fall of 1975, the latter visited there and was able to obtain information that traced the family back to at least his great great grandfather.  If the priest had remained there longer, he would have been able to go further into the church (Chiesa di Santa Croce -- Church of the Holy Cross)  records (the records in the town hall did not go as far back) and was told that documents were available (in the diocesan archives at the sub-cathedral,  there) that could take one back to the sixteenth century.
         Vieste has an interesting history.  It had an espiscopal see dating from the eleventh century and it was a town that was sacked by the the Turks under Draguth in July of 1554.  Under Pope John Paul II, in 1986, the old diocese of Vieste was united with Manfredonia, which dated from the third century, so that the combined dioceses are now known as  the Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo (in the case of Vieste, the cathedral, which, according to legend, was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple, was known as Santa Maria Oreta). This was the archdiocese which successfully advocated the cause of Padre Pio (1887-1968), a Capuchin who lived within its jurisdiction and who was canonized, on June 16, 2002.  And, it is famous for its annual celebration on May 9th of the Feast of Santa Maria di Merino, the Patroness of the City of Vieste, about which Marco Della Malva has written the definitive historical study, La Citta e La Madonna di Merino (1970).
          Pasquale Lapomarda, Sr. (1895-1967), father of Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J., came to the United States through the Port of Boston, on 2 February 1910, after his departure, with his older brother Lorenzo (1886-1973) on 19 January 1910, from Naples, Italy, on the Duca di Genova.  He was born in Vieste, Italy, on 26 (sometimes given as 27 which may have been his baptismal date) June 1895, the son of Vincenzo (1853-1899) and Concetta (Fasulo) Lapomarda (1859-1941) who were married, on 29 May 1879. Since  he came directly to the United States from Italy, Pasquale's name has been inscribed on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor (Panel 244) on Ellis Island in New York. At Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine, from which his sons and grandson have graduated, a scholarship was established in his memory in 1989 and, in 2001, on the death of his wife,  was extended to include her so that it is now known as as the Pasquale, Sr., & Mary N. Lapomarda Scholarship.
          Vincenzo's family was at least the fourth generation of Lapomardas who had their roots in Vieste, in the Province of Foggia, Italy, where the family belonged to Santa Croce which is the church located in that same town.  Vincenzo, the son of  Francesco Paolo  (1813-1876) and Maddalena Solitro (1819-1897) Lapomarda,  was born in Vieste, on 27 July 1853, and died, on 2 January 1899.  With his marriage to Concetta, a native of Bisceglie in Italy (Province of Bari),  he became the father of three sons (Francesco, d. 1954;  Lorenzo, d. 1973; and Pasquale, d. 1967) and one daughter (Michelena, d. 1977).  The parents of Francesco Paolo (he was born in Vieste on 16 January 1813), Vincenzo's father,  were Michael Antonio and Pasqua Quarti Lapomarda while those of Maddalena (she was born in Vieste on 16 August 1819 and a great great great grandaughter was born the same day in Salem, Massachusetts, in 2001), Vincenzo's mother, were Michele Solitro and Caterina Bua who bring the genealogical line into the eighteeenth century.
           Keeping in mind what was said above about the origins of the family name, Lapomarda, the frequency of the use of Vincenzo itself even can be considered to underscore or reflect a Spanish connection.  This emerged in the study of the derivation of the of the Lapomarda name itself. That the use of Vincenzo (Vincent) may derive from Italy's connection with Spain where St. Vincent of Saragossa is revered as the first martyr of that country cannot be discounted.  In fact,  this could account for the popularity of the name of Vincent in areas of Europe, including Italy itself, which were under Spanish control as recently as the nineteenth century.  And, that Vincenzo is the most popular of the names among the Lapomardas in Italy today would help to reinforce those historic connections.
         Vincenzo had at least one brother, Michele Antonio, born on 26 January 1844, and one sister, Pasqua (Pasquaruccia or Pasqualina), who married Antonio Innocente (Innocenti) on 21 May 1885.  Michele Antonio married Anna Maria Di Lello, a girl from the area of Bari and settled in Ginosa or Lecce where they raised seven boys (Francesco Paolo and Vincenzo were the names of two of them), all of whom had jobs as conductors on the railroad where their father was employed. And, perhaps, this is why today the phone book for the Bari area lists more than twenty-five Lapomardas, even though the family name is still present in Vieste which is noteworthy for Lorenzo Fazzini (1787-1837), a priest and mathematician.  In fact, the Lapomarda name exists in some forty-eight areas of Italy today.
           A survey of telephone books also indicates that Italy has at least one hundred and fifty households with the name Lapomarda among them, not to mention at least two more households in Belgium and three in Germany while Ancestry.com confirms that with one hundred and seventy-five in Italy and  at least six more households in France.  All this is more than there are among Italian Americans in the United States, where in some cases the name became Lapomardo  which is quite common in Worcester County in Massachusetts (in this connection, one can find a map in The Boston Globe, Wednesday, October 12, 1960, which includes the name Lapomardo [not found in Italy], instead of Lapomarda [found in Italy], in a map for Italian families in Massachusetts) where this same name traces its origins back to Vieste, Italy, and Lapomarda before he last vowel of the family name was changed in the processing of  immigration to the United States. Such changes were not unlike those an immigration official might make in writing an Italian name like "Casa" as "Casey" into the records.  For more on the Viestani who came to the United States (and a  good source for those who migrated from Italy at the end of the ninetenth century), see the multi-volume work Italians to America.
           Until he became an American citizen on 1 October 1940, Pasquale Lapomarda, Sr., remained an Italian citizen and his children automatically became Italian citizens because of him.  Since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled a generation later that it was legal for United States citizens to hold dual citizenship, children of Italian citizens enjoy Italian citizenship until they voluntarily renounce it.  In general, this is still true of all those of Italian heritage in the United States as one can determine more exactly from the guidelines set forth, especially if one is interested in obtaning an Italian passport.
         Today, of course, in a multicultural dual citizenship is for many a badge of honor.  However, around the time Pasquale became an American citizen, it should not be forgotten that Italian Americans, in addition to others, were the victims of discrimination in both the United States and in Italy because of World War II.  In the United States, to which Italian Americans have contributed throughout its history, they were persecuted because they had migrated from a nation that was at war with their adopted country, a story set forth in Una Storia Segreta.  And if any served as military persons and were captured by any of the Axis powers, the enemy reportedly was not reluctant to execute them as traitors to Italy.
          Tracing one's family name back many generations might lead one to outstanding historical figures like Charlemagne and, perhaps, even to Caesar.  But, if one looks at the process closely, such an endeavor really ceases to be meaningful after one has gone back to the fourth or fifth generation.  In the final analysis, everyone can trace back their ancestry in faith to Abraham or to Adam  and Eve, the first man and the first woman in the Bible. While genealogy can prove to be fascinating and satisfy some unknown psychological need in the human quest for one's roots, there is a stage, objectively, at which the search becomes somewhat meaningless, and even questionable, given the lack of documents.  As one moves deeper into the past where, before the invention of the printing press, much tends to be enshrined in legend and myth, there is really a lack of objective evidence, the fundamental criterion of truth.
          On his mother's side, Father Lapomarda is related to the Bartholomews.  Mary N. (Bartholomew), his mother, was born in Portland, ME, on February 2, 1904,  the daughter of Erasmo Bartholomew and  his wife, Giuseppina (1873-1932), and died in her native city on May 11, 2001.  Born in Formia  (Lazio), Italy, on 24 October 1869,  Erasmo, Mary's father, came to this country, arriving by ship in Providence, Rhode Island, on 26 September 1893, having left his native town, in the Province of Latina, located between Rome and Naples on the Gulf of Gaeta.  It was famous for two historic sites, the villa of Cicero, the Roman orator and statesman, and the Church of St. Erasmus, his own patron saint. In that church for generations, the ancestors of Erasmo had been baptized so that as late as 1975 there existed parish records in that parsish which could trace the family back to the sixteenth century.
         For the next few years, Erasmo established himself in Portland working as a bricklayer and a stonemason before he sent for his family. This included  his wife, his son, Samuel (1893-1969), and his parents (Tommaso and Teresa Bartolomeo). When he became a citizen of the United States on 29 November 1905,  Erasmo concentrated on construction while his daughter took care of her father's business books. With the boom in construction during that period of prosperity, the grocery store closed as Erasmo extended his interests to real estate until the Great Depression forced him back into the grocery business. Before his retirement, he opened a tavern on Washingotn Avenue in Portland where he sold beer at twenty-five cents a pitcher.
        When he died in Portland, on 20 March 1943, Erasmo had been among the city's Italian Americans for a half century.  As a communicant at St. Peter's Church, he saw this church, located on Federal Street, develop into the original center of Italian culture in Maine.  Like many other immigrants, Erasmo's decision to come to the United States required courage, faith, and vision.   His adjustment to American society  was clearly evident in the English version (Bartholomew, for some Americans of this name there exists a coat of arms) of his Italian name, originally Di Bartolomeo  which became Bartolomeo for his father who settled in Portland, Maine, a state which numbered in the census for 2000 about 60,000 Italian Americans who constitute slightly less than five percent of the state'e population.  With other immigrants, like the great grandfather of George Washington and the great grandfather of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Erasmo Bartholomew too, like father and his son-in-law, is memorialized on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor (Panel 489) on Ellis Island in New York.
          As for the publication of Father Vincent's books, they include The Jesuit Heritage in New England (1977), The Knights of Columbus in Massachusets (1982, 1992, and 2004), The Jesuits and the Third Reich (1989 and 2005), The Order of Alhambra (1994 and 2004), The Boston Mayor Who Became Truman's Secretary of Labor (1995), Charles Nolcini (1997), The Catholic Church in the Land of the Holy Cross (2003), The Jesuits in the United States (2004), A Bibliography of the Published Writings of Vincent A. Lapomarda (2004), A Century of  Judges of Italian Descent in Massachusetts (2005), and A Half Century of Mayors of Italian Descent in Massachusetts (2006).


 
 

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THIS SITE MARKS THE BIRTH OF PASQUALE LAPOMARDA IV ON APRIL 14, 2000.
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