Recorded in a wide range of spelling forms including De Vita, Di Vita, Devita, Vita, Vitales, Wittes, and Vitalzon, this is a surname of Roman (Latin) pre Christian origins. It derives from the word 'vita' meaning life, and as such was for many centuries a popular female baptismal name of endearment, which in the medieval period after the 14th century developed into a popular metronymic surname. Now recorded throughout Europe in the various different spellings, it is closely associated with the other similar Italian surname 'Vitale', (they share the same root of 'vita'), and also recorded in many forms including Vidale, Vidal, Vitalis, Vitall, Vitalini, and Vitaloni.It is said that the name was popular with the early Christians because of its implied promise of a long and active life. It was also a name carried by no less than twelve saints, a fact which during the religious revival period of the 12th century did not go un-noticed, and greatly increased the overal popularity. In general though this name is regarded as a Crusader name. It became the fashion for these returning warriors fresh from their many (unsuccessful) attempts to free the Holy Land from the infidel, to call their children by biblical names, as a mark of respect for the fathers efforts. Later all 'pilgrims' to the Holy Land, and there were many, adopted the practice. This gradually lead to the situation where many early or pagan names became 'politically incorrect' and were largely killed off, only surviving in places off the beaten track. There are or were a number of places called St. Vita or Vita, and these have contributed a number of nameholders, particularly those commencing with the preposition 'de or di', which also implied estate ownership.
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