Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Francis (or Frances)

Both the Slovenians and Irish in my family tree have a Roman Catholic tradition (both at home and in the United States). The Swedish and Norwegians brought their Lutheran tradition with them (of course farther back than I have been able to get in both Sweden and Norway, I am guessing they started out as Catholics as well) when they immigrated to the United States. However, somewhere along the way when those groups mingled and married, the Catholic tradition re-emerged.

As a result we have several individuals named Francis (male) or Frances (female), although the given name is overwhelmingly found on the Irish branch of my family tree. The name Francis and its variations is found in several languages, everything from Basque (Frantzisko) to Welsh (Ffransis) and many languages in between. Those named Frances or Francis often go by Fran, Franny, Cissy, Fannie, Fanny (females) and Frank or Frankie (males).

Francis comes from the Latin Franciscus, which meant Frenchman. Perhaps the most famous Francis in history is Saint Francis of Assisi, closely followed by Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Francis de Sales. Today, of course the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church took as his papal name Francis in honor of Francis of Assisi " a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation." And so in 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis - the first time that name has been used.

Do you have anyone is your family tree named Francis or Frances?

To learn more about any given names in your own family tree, check out Behind the Name.

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