Italian American Genealogy May Show Great Heroes

shutterstock_28562650In Hollywood, Italian Americans are often portrayed in a negative light, which is inaccurate and the perfect example of unfair stereotyping and racism. Italian-Americans are portrayed as crime bosses, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Italian American genealogy provides a glimpse into the many great figures of Italian descent, as well as a heritage filled with everyday heroes in a culture rich with traditions, honor and family values.

Perhaps the most famous Italian cultural hero is Christopher Columbus. As we learn as schoolchildren, Columbus was an Italian navigator, colonizer and explorer whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. He, among many other explorers, was instrumental in the quest to discover this new land of ours, and visit territory never before inhabited by Europeans.

Italians have been great cultural heroes for centuries. While Columbus’ contribution to the Italian genealogy is well known, a little further along in history we have stories such as that of Maria Gaentana Agnesi, (1718-1799). She is credited as the first woman to write a mathematics books and be appointed to teach mathematics at a university.

And who does not know of the famous Leonardo da Vinci who lived from 1452-1519? His legacy is one of the most famous of all time. Among his most famous paintings are The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Da Vinci was also a scientist, a mathematician, an engineer, a musician, an inventor, and a writer, among many other talents.

Many Italians have been canonized as saints by the Catholic Church as well, including St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917) who came to the United States in 1889 to help Italian immigrants. She established a network of healthcare and social service organizations as well as educational facilities for Italians throughout the country. Mother Cabrini along with her six missionary Sisters who traveled with her, established an orphanage for Italian women as one of their first missions. Mother Cabrini was deeply loved and respected until her death in 1917. On July 7, 1946, she was officially canonized and was the first American citizen to be named a Saint.

Many Italians throughout history have made a profound impact on society. When searching out your own Italian American genealogy, you may be surprised to find some great Italian heroes in your own family tree.

Do you have any notables in your family tree?

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