As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
I know you are referring the word fu which appeared before the godmother's name in the baptism record. The word fu in that instance is, I believe, the use of the passato remoto verb tense in Italian. Quite frankly, it's been many many years since I formally studied the Italian language, so I would rather a native Italian speaker explain this verb tense to you, as I really have forgotten the actual explanation concerning this verb tense. However, I did find the following online and thought the last part of it was appropriate. I am certain the godmother in that record was alive and well, as she was the one who held the baby at the baptism ceremony. The new mother had to undergo a purification period of 40 days after the birth and did not attend the church ceremony. The word fu in the document does mean "was," but not in the sense that the godmother was deceased.
Dear Maestra fui, fosti, fu,fummo foste. furono ( memorized 175 years ago). The Fu is normally used in addressing someone by one surname followed by FU and another surname reflecting death of a spouse usually indicating that the person receiving the mail is a widow. =Peter=
Thanks for conjugating the verb for me, but there was no need for you to do so. I do recall many of the conjugations of my verbs in Italian, even though it has been many many years since my last two years of college, when I studied the language.
I also do recall you telling me how fu was used on envelopes for letters being mailed to Italy. However, what we are talking about here is the use of the word fu in baptism documents. I am giving you two different examples below from actual records uploaded to this forum:
La padrina fu Carmela Collura, figlia di Salvatore di Carini.
La comare fu Rosalia Bene, figlia del fu Amato do Monte.
In neither of these two examples is the godmother deceased, despite the fact that the word fu precedes her name. Fu means "was," but not that she is deceased and serving as a godmother post mortem. Even if the baptism ceremony had only taken place only 5 minutes before the document was written, the baptism was already in the past and, in a sense, the woman serving as godmother, had done so in the past, even though obviously her responsibilities as godmother lived on and on way past the actual time the baptism taking place. But the godmother was not deceased at the time of the baptism. She was physically present for the ceremony. In the second example, we have the use of the word fu in two different respects. The fu that appears before the first name of the father of the godmother indicates he was deceased at the time she served in the capacity of a godmother. However, the fu that appears in front of her name does not mean she was deceased. So this is the distinction that I believe chickenwoman was asking us to explain.
Yes, Peter, the fu in the two examples I gave above (one in which I have a typo, as it should be "di" and not "do" before the town name Monte, simply means "was." But, in neither case is the godmother deceased, or serving in that capacity post mortem.