A few fun things

Haappppyyy Thursday!!

I know you’ll love this: I was telling my eight-year-old about someone we know whose name is Emmanuel. “His name is ‘God with us’?!” he exclaimed in amazement. 😂😂😂 (Someone’s paying attention at Mass! 💃💃💃)

I loved these two recent posts at Swistle:

Baby Girl Vansanover: Is the Name Bernadette Too Catholic?
I was surprised at the number of people that felt Bernadette was not as Catholic as might have been thought, and instead comes across as a vintage up-and-coming name. I was even more surprised at the number of commenters who didn’t know why anyone would think it was a Catholic name! Even commenters who identified as Catholic in some way (currently practicing or lapsed)!

Baby Girl Carrot-with-an-M, Sister to Avila and Rose
This family is Catholic, and there was a fun discussion about the name Zelie, including a poll on pronunciation.

Abby at Appellation Mountain spotlighted the name St. John (Sinjin) recently, which always makes me think of Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas because it was on her list of names for Baby Hildi if she’d been a boy. And a few days before St. John, Abby also spotlighted Jacinta!!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: A name for a ninth baby, ideally New Testament and/or saintly with its own initial

(A day late due to illness! Winter, bah! I know I owe a bunch of you emails — I’m working through them, slowly but surely!)

I previously posted two birth announcements for Laura — here and here — and have had some great email conversations with her about names, so I’m thrilled to offer some name ideas for her! She and her husband aren’t currently expecting, but want to be ready if God blesses them again. ❤ Their children on earth are:

Paul Stephen
Clare Michelle
Mark Joseph
Katharine Rose (Kat, Kitty, Kate)
James Philip (Jay)
Andrew Lawrence
Gabriel John (Gabe)
Thomas Gregory (Tommy, T)

And their babies in heaven are:

Becket
Patrick

Such solid, handsome/lovely, saintly names!

Laura writes,

Everyone has their own initial which is wonderfully convenient. It’s not exactly a rule but I do notice that I tend to worry about sibling names sounding to similar in beginning and ending sounds.

Luke and Rebecca are the names of our siblings so most likely not usable for first names for a baby.

I was originally opposed to nicknames but my husband loves a good nickname and tends to shorten any name he comes across.

A saint name is important to us probably for the first and the middle. We make a big deal out of feast days and typically if we go to daily Mass on the kids’ feast day it gets at least a passing mention. For the most part this requirement is easy because those are the names we like anyways, but we do both like Scott for example but it doesn’t meet that criteria.

First the boys-

A New Testament boys name would be obvious, but it feels like that well might be dry. Peter is probably our favorite of the remaining possibilities. Jude has floated off and on the list over the years.

I really love David! But having a James and Gabriel who frequently goes by Gabe in the same house is fairly confusing; I think we should pause before adding another name with a long A vowel.

As far as other Old Testament names goes. [Hubby] likes Samuel and Isaac but I don’t. Plus Sam and James seem a bit close for brothers. [Also,] Daniel is not usable for us.

When I was pregnant with Gabriel I strongly considered Henry. My husband likes Louis but I think it’s a bit fancy and the ending sounds match Thomas.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a girl. My husband’s favorite over those years has been Lucy. And I can give you a long list of why it’s an awesome name, but I’ve not talked myself into loving it. I thinks it’s perfect for someone else’s baby but maybe not my little girl.

Grace, Sarah and Nell are the other current names on our girls list.

Grace is a longtime favorite but seems so similar to Gabriel and Thomas’s name. One way to use it would be to call her Mary Grace.

Sarah is another name I’ve liked since childhood but it doesn’t seem as saintly as the other kids’ names and perhaps we know too many women my age name Sarah. It’s pretty but I worry that it’s not very interesting.

Nell is a name we’d both be excited to use which isn’t so easy to find. The trouble is that it’s really a nickname and we don’t care for the options for a full name. If we don’t use a full name like Helen the saintly connection is less obvious.

I also like names like Eve, Ruth, Stella and Frances but [hubby’s] pretty lukewarm towards those.”

I so enjoyed working on this for Laura! It’s so fun to have watched her family grow and to have followed her name thoughts through several babies.

I hadn’t realized until she pointed it out that all her living children have their own initial — that’s actually pretty amazing! It definitely informed some of my ideas for her — if they could keep that going, that would indeed be wonderfully convenient! I also really wanted to find some one-syllable names for her, since I know she really likes those; for my ideas that are longer than one syllable, I wanted to be sure they could shorten to a one-syllable name.

Speaking of, I’m so bummed they can’t use Luke! It would be perfect!

So I’ll address their boy parameters first. When Abby from Appellation Mountain did the consultation for me for my last baby, she noted that she found it somewhat difficult to come up with ideas for me because she knew that I’d likely considered All the Names through the years and could she really come up with something I hadn’t already considered? I feel similarly working on this for Laura, since I’ve “known” her for years on the Baby Name Wizard forums before here, and between there and our emails I know that she, too, has considered All the Names. So instead of coming up with ideas that I think she and her hubby might not have considered, I’m shooting for making strong arguments for my ideas such that they might take on a new sheen and come across as newly appealing.

But first, my thoughts on the boy names Laura said they like/have considered:

  • Peter: Although Peter breaks their all-different-initials pattern, I kind of like that they started with Paul and might end with Peter — there’s something really pleasing about that to me. I wonder if they’ve considered Pierce? I like that it’s one syllable and not obviously biblical (while still being biblical), which opens up more options for this family for the future.
  • Jude: Since they can’t use Luke, Jude seems the next best thing. I think Jude has more of a Gabriel feel than Peter, for example, which could be perfect.
  • David: I’m not surprised at all that Laura loves David! A lot of her kids’ names had a strong peak in the 50s/60s, and David did as well. I have three Uncle Davids, two born in the 50s and one in the 60s — one has a brother Mark, one has a brother Stephen, and one has brothers Thomas and Jay! I can see what she means about the long A thing, though I know a family with three boys named Jacob, Nathaniel, and Gabriel: Jake, Nate, and Gabe. I definitely don’t think it’s problematic from an outsider’s perspective, unless it’s really confusing for Laura and her hubby and kids, which sounds like it might be. (That should probably be a consideration for Grace as well.)
  • Samuel and Isaac: I’m not considering these as real possibilities since Laura doesn’t like them, but I probably would have suggested Samuel otherwise. Funny, I wouldn’t have thought Sam and James are too close, and I’ve been thinking about it since she first emailed, and I still don’t think they’re too close. But I totally get not being able to move past something like that!
  • Henry: It’s a great name and is a good match for Laura’s girls’ names I think, both Clare and Katharine as well as Grace, Lucy, and Stella from their list of considerations. Being that it’s a great fit as a brother to Clare and Katharine, I like it for them — I’m always a fan of names that provide a bridge between different styles, or between the boys’ and girls’ names in a family.
  • Louis: I’m laughing over Laura’s characterization of Louis as “a bit fancy”! I can see what she means. I can also see how she doesn’t like the matching endings of Thomas and Louis (but also, perhaps this is a consideration for Grace as well). It’s funny what rubs a person the wrong way, and what doesn’t.
  • Scott: I had to look Scott up to see if there was any saintly connection that could be made! There’s a Bl. William Scott, which I loved discovering, as William was a name that I was going to include in my list of official suggestions anyway. I wonder what they would think of William Scott as a first+middle combo? Will is a nice, one-syllable nickname that would go great with the other kids, OR they could call him Scott from his middle!

And some thoughts on their girl names:

  • Lucy: I love Lucy, which makes it easy for me to see why Laura’s hubby loves it. But I think maybe I can see why Laura doesn’t like it: it’s a very sweet name to me, very soft and darling, and while Clare especially approaches having a similar feel, its hard K sound gives it a little bit of a harder edge, which Katharine shares and even Grace more than Lucy. Eve, Ruth, and Frances from the list of names Laura likes don’t have the harder sound, but have a more severe *feel* I think, if that makes sense. Maybe what I’m trying to articulate is that whether sound-wise or style-wise, Laura’s not terribly into soft or frilly girl names. Do you agree, or do you think I’m way off?
  • Grace: It’s beautiful and to the point, and I know Laura’s loved it for a long time. It starts with G and ends with S, so I can see why it strikes Laura as similar to Gabriel and Thomas, but I have to say that I don’t see them as all that similar. Laura has thought of the possible solution of Mary Grace, but I also know that’s has been problematic for her, since she’s never liked that Mark and Mary are only one letter different. I wonder what she’d think of Sarah Grace instead? Used as a double name, like Mary Grace would be? Laura would get to use two of her favorites, and it would move the whole first name away from Gabriel and Thomas. Sarah Grace (or Sarah-Grace, if they prefer) is very different from their other kiddos’ names to me, while still fitting in really well.
  • Sarah: The idea of Sarah Grace would make Sarah feel more saintly (with Grace being so Marian) and give it a fresher feel so it wouldn’t feel so much like the women Laura’s (and my) age and would also make it feel more interesting. Could be a nice option! For what it’s worth, a friend of mine whose children are similar ages as mine had a baby girl the same month I had my Luke and named her Sarah. I was surprised, as I don’t usually hear Sarah on little girls, but pleasantly so!
  • Nell: I came away from my first reading of Laura’s email DETERMINED to come up with formal name ideas for Nell that she might like. How fun that she and her hubby both love Nell!! I first have to be sure they’ve considered all the options: Nell works for any El- name (as I understand it, girls named Elizabeth, Eleanor, etc. would affectionately be called “Mine El,” which morphed over time into “My Nell” [this also happened with Ann(e) — “Mine Ann” became “My Nan,” and then also Nancy]). My favorite for Laura and her hubs is Elizabeth — it’s a great match with their other children’s names! Eleanor also works, which taps into the Henry/Louis feel and is great with Clare and Katharine. Of course I had to come up with some offbeat/unexpected ideas! One is Natalie. The initial N and the strong L makes Nell totally doable I think. Another possibility is Noelle — I know a little Noelle whose family calls Nelly. Christmas would be her feast day, and with “The First Noel/Nowell” there’s a chance she’d hear her name, like Laura’s other kids do on their feast days. Christmas can also work for Natalie, though there are also two Sts. Natalia that could be patron instead (though I don’t think they’d be mentioned at Mass on their feast days). I also like the idea of something like Nora Louise or Nora Lucy nn Nell. We’ve discussed Eleanor on the blog, which could be patron for Nora (whether through Helena, if they take Eleanor and Helena to be related, or through Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor, or through Ven. Honora Nagle).
  • Eve, Ruth, Stella, Frances: I’m glad Laura included these, as they gave me a fuller sense of her taste, though like with Samuel and Isaac, I’m not considering them realistic options because her husband doesn’t care for them. My only additional thought was, would they consider Francis for a boy?
  • Theresa: Laura didn’t include Theresa, though I know she’s also loved it for a long time! I wonder if it’s off the table now that they have a Thomas? I did use Theresa as inspiration in my research.

Okay! In addition to Pierce, William Scott, Sarah Grace, Natalie/Noelle/Nora+L___ nn Nell, and Francis-for-a-boy, which were all based on ideas Laura and her husband already had, I also did my usual research for them in the Baby Name Wizard, which I’m assuming they’ve already done as well! But hopefully my take on these ideas might be worthwhile:

Girl
(1) Ann(e)
Laura didn’t mention Ann(e)/Anna anywhere, so maybe they’ve considered it and dismissed it? But Ann/Anne is a lovely, trim, one-syllable, super saintly name with a great patron and feast day that fits in really well with the older children! My only worry is that it might be too close to Andrew’s name?

(2) Hope
I really wanted to come up with some ideas that were different than what Laura might normally think of, while still fitting in. Hope showed up a few times in my research in the BNW, being similar in style to Kate, Grace, and Eve. It’s a virtue and Marian name like Grace, but less familiar, and has such a lovely meaning.

(3) Julia
Julia is so classic, feminine, and strong, I love it for this family. It can nickname to the one syllable Jules, but they could also do Jude, especially if they paired it with a D middle name. Could be a neat way to work Jude in!

(4) Susan(ne)(na)
In keeping with the midcentury feel of many of their favorites, Susan popped up a bunch of times: in the style matches for Mark, Thomas, and Peter, and in matches that also included Stephen, Philip, and Theresa. My mom was nearly named Susan, and her brothers share several names with Laura’s boys! Her mom really wanted to name her Susan, but her dad wanted to name her Anne, so they compromised with Susanne. Maybe that would be a combo (Susan+Anne) that Laura would also like? Or maybe Susanna, which is the saint’s name? (The most well-known St. Susanna’s feast day is the same as St. Clare’s, which could be cool or not cool for their Clare, and would also likely mean Susanna wouldn’t be mentioned at Mass. But there are other Sts. Susanna with different feast days!)

(5) Bridget
I included Scott in my research, since Laura and her husband both like it, and was interested to see that Bridget is a style match for it. It felt like a good suggestion for them! It’s got those harder sounds, like Clare and Katharine (and Paul, Mark, Becket, Patrick, and Thomas), and is Irish like Clare and Patrick, and has a great saint as patron. Bridge can be a one-syllable nickname, but I also love Bridie/Bridey.

(6) Emily
Emily popped up enough in my research in the BNW that I couldn’t not include it: it’s a match for James, Andrew, Sarah, and Katie. There are actually a whole bunch of Blesseds and Saints that could be patron for Emily, including St. Emilie de Villeneuve, St. Emily de Rodat, and St. Emily de Vialar. I’m thinking Nell could also work as a nickname for Emily — it starts with E and has a prominent L, like Elizabeth and Eleanor, and something like Emily Louise could hammer that home.

Boy
(1) Matthew (or Matthias?)
They must have considered Matthew and decided against it, but it’s an obvious choice being that it’s a New Testament name and one of the evangelists. I’m quite taken with the idea of Matthew Scott called Scott, it’s one of my favorite ideas for this family. If they don’t care for Matthew’s ending being the same as Andrew, maybe Matthias could work? Like Jude, it has a little more of Gabriel’s vibe, and can shorten to Matt, or Matthias Scott could go by Scott.

(2) Nicholas
This is another New Testament name that they must have considered and dismissed, but it’s such a good fit with Andrew and Gabriel especially, I think. Nick is a great, friendly nickname.

(3) Alexander (or Alan?)
Ditto Matthew and Nicholas — Alexander is a New Testament name that would fit in nicely with the older kids. Alex is also specifically a match for Kate and Sarah. I was also quite intrigued by how often Alan/Allen showed up in my research, being similar in style to Paul, Mark, Peter, and Theresa! We actually read about Bl. Alan de la Roche (aka Alan de Rupe) at my most recent Lay Dominican meeting, he’s a great patron. But I was thinking that of the Al- names, Alexander might be a better fit, since it’s biblical and specifically New Testament.

(4) Adam
Speaking of biblical A names, Adam is another that did well for this family — it’s a match for Kate, Andrew, and Sarah. If they were open to venturing into the Old Testament (like David), Adam could be perfect. It’s not one syllable, but it’s nice and short. There are also some non-biblical holy Adams!

(5) Martin
Venturing out of biblical territory altogether (like Henry and Louis), Martin is a match for Paul, Mark, Lawrence, Philip, Peter, and Theresa. Wow! Martin’s a great name with a lot of great patrons, and Marty’s a great nickname. Although, I’m thinking Laura probably won’t love that Mark and Martin would share their first three letters.

(6) Grant
Grant is a match for Clare and Kate (and Emily and Hope), and I really wanted it to work for this family, since it’s a one-syllable name. We’ve talked a bit on the blog about it being able to nod to “grant us peace” in the Mass, and this site provides sixteen instances of the word “grant” in the bible, including in the New Testament, however I started cross checking them against the version on the Bishops’ site and “grant” isn’t used in it most of them. But it is used in Luke 1:73, so that’s cool!

And those are all my ideas for Laura and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Paul, Clare, Mark, Katharine, James, Andrew, Gabriel, and Thomas?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Third baby girl needs a name for a bold, saintly woman

Today’s consultation is from a dad! I love when papas write to me! Mat and his wife are expecting their third earthly baby — and third daughter! She joins big sisters:

Gianna Marie (“after St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Mary“)
Charlotte Josephine (“after John Paul II and St. Joseph; also sometimes goes by Charley or Char“)

And two siblings in heaven:

Augustine Robert (“after St. Augustine and Robert after a friend who passed away around that time“)
Gabriel Mathew (“after St. Gabriel and his Dad“)

So lovely. So saintly. Just wonderful names all around!

Mat writes,

We have discussed our name situation and here is what we have. It’s been much harder to even narrow down the name this time!

While we like the idea of something unique, we don’t want something that is too difficult to pronounce or is really unheard of. Mat has always wanted a baby named after someone who has yet to be canonized or who was a martyr. Ideally, we want a name that emphasizes female strength and empowerment as raising them to be bold, saintly women is something we really value and is a big part of our family culture. We got married on the feast of Maximilian Kolbe so maybe that could go into the consideration.”

(I just love that: “Ideally, we want a name that emphasizes female strength and empowerment as raising them to be bold, saintly women is something we really value and is a big part of our family culture.”)

“Names we like (asterisks are our favorites so far):
Cecilia* (Mat grew up in the Omaha, NE archdiocese so this name has always appealed to him)
Quinn
Lydia*
Felicity*
Lucia/Lucille/Lucy (would be called Lucy)*
Hope*
Elizabeth (seems really common right now)*
Madeline or Magdalene*
Elodie* (Kelly thinks this sounds pretty, though Mat isn’t the biggest fan)

Names we can’t do:
Chiara
Clare
Abby
Agnes
Elle
Adeline
Amelia
Emily
Brittany
Janet
Patricia
Harper
Danika
Nanette
Amy
Grace
Beth
Valerie
Suzanne
Edith/Edie
Dorothy
Zelie
Caeli

Thank you so much for helping us with such an eternal decision!

I love how feminine and full of faith significance their girls’ names are, and I’m confident they’ll end up choosing a name just as perfect for this baby girl! Not least because they have a great list they’re working with already! I thought I’d start by offering thoughts on the names on their list, in case they’re helpful:

  • Cecilia: Great name, obviously saintly, good nickname options. It goes well with both Gianna and Charlotte, nice option! I like the Omaha connection too, that’s a nice little story.
  • Quinn: I love Ven. Edel Quinn and Quinn is a really fun way to nod to her. It’s not as feminine as Gianna and Charlotte, but it’s spunky and fits in with Charlotte’s nickname of Charley well.
  • Lydia: I’ve always loved Lydia, and I love that a little Lydia would have her own color, as Lydia in the bible was a seller of purple cloth!
  • Felicity: This name jumped right out to me as a name that checks all their boxes, including the female strength + empowerment + “bold, saintly women” emphasis they value. I also really like that it offers sort of a third style of feminine name to go with their girls; that is, Gianna is very Italian, Charlotte isn’t as obviously ethnic but is French, and Felicity is neither of those, which is quite nice I think.
  • Lucia/Lucille/Lucy: The Lucy names are great! Lucia fits in well with Gianna’s Italian feel, Lucille is French like Charlotte, and Lucy is like Felicity to me — it’s neither French nor Italian and offers a nice third style option while fitting in well with both Gianna and Charlotte. (Do note that I’m not suggesting they avoid Italian name or French names! But sometimes having the characteristics of current children’s names and those on the list of possibilities pointed out can help parents clarify what’s important to them/what they want in a name.)
  • Hope: I love the name Hope and wish it got more usage! It’s so simple and pretty, and Marian! (Our Lady of Hope.)
  • Elizabeth: They’re right, it is common right now (no. 13 on the most recent SSA list [2018]), but Charlotte is no. 6 and Gianna is no. 80 so it’s not totally out of line with their older girls’ names (top 100 names are in the same general category, I’d say). Lydia, Lucy, and Madeline are also top 100 names (89, 51, and 100, respectively). Here are the others’ rankings:
    — Cecilia: 155
    — Quinn: not in top 1000 for girls; no. 384 for boys
    — Felicity: 354
    — Lucia/Lucille: 183/295
    — Hope: 255
    — Magdalene: not in top 1000
    — Elodie: not in top 1000

An option in regard to Elizabeth is to spell it Elisabeth, which is no. 789, and while a change in spelling only goes so far in making a name feel different, a nice bonus with the Elisabeth spelling is that it’s the spelling of Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur. Have you heard of her? I thought of her immediately when they said, “Mat has always wanted a baby named after someone who has yet to be canonized” — she’s an amazing woman with an amazing story!

  • Madeline or Magdalene: I love both of these. Madeline is more mainstream, as its popularity shows (no. 100 in 2018), while Magdalene is more offbeat (it didn’t rank in the top 1000 in 2018).
  • Elodie: It does sound pretty! Elizabeth/Elisabeth and Elodie can both take the Ellie/Ella nicknames.

I love Mat and Kelly’s focus on holy female strength, and I really tried to keep that in mind while I was compiling the list of ideas for them, as well as the “naming after someone who has yet to be canonized or who was a martyr” bit. And St. Maximilian Kolbe! It was fun to try to find ideas that could nod to him!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I start there because figuring out a couple’s style is a huge part of coming up with name ideas that I think they might like; within that universe is where I try to find/make saint/faith connections. I don’t stick exclusively to the BNW results, but they’re so helpful! Anyway, based on the BNW research and the parameters Mat and his wife offered, these are the ideas I came up with for this baby:

(1) Julia or Juliet
Several of my readers are devoted to Servant of God Julia Greeley, so, like Elisabeth Leseur, she came right to mind when I read that they might like to name a baby after someone who isn’t yet canonized. And then Julia did well for them in my research! It’s a style match for Lydia, Elizabeth, and Madeline. Juliet, which started as a diminutive of Julia and can take all the holy Julias as patron, is a little more offbeat, a little more “something unique” as they said they like, AND it’s a style match for Felicity and Hope! I spotlighted Juliet here, which includes a discussion of patron saints; Julia Greeley isn’t included (I don’t think I was aware of her yet when I wrote it), but you can read more about her here. My only hesitation with Julia/Juliet is that it starts with the same sound as Gianna, and I don’t know if they’d want to avoid that? Otherwise, I love them for them.

(2) Isabel
They have Elizabeth on their list already, and Isabel’s a variant of it, which might make it seem weird that I’m suggesting it here, but Isabelle is a match for Charlotte, Isabella is a match for Gabriel, and Isabel is a match for Madeline, and I chose Isabel as the variant to suggest because I like that it’s neither Italian nor French (like what I said about Felicity and Lucy above).

(3) Eloise or Louisa
Eloise is only a match for Madeline, but it immediately struck me as maybe a combination of or compromise between Lucia and Elodie. Unfortunately its saintly connection isn’t quite so great — it’s a variant of Heloise, and while there’s this blessed, most of what I found when I tried to find whether there was a St. Eloise was the story of Peter Abelard and his wife, which is pretty tragic and not very holy. Eloise made me think of Louisa, which is also very similar to Lucia — and, I think, can also take the nickname Lucy — but it has a different feel, more English or German. I like Louisa with Gianna and Charlotte.

(4) Clara or Cora
They said Chiara and Clare are both names they can’t do, so I would have assumed that Clara is included in that too, BUT they have Elle and Beth on that same list, which didn’t prevent them from having Elizabeth on their list, so I’m taking a chance that Clara’s okay! It’s a style match for Lydia and Lucia, and like Louisa, Clara has an English or German feel, which I like with the Italian Gianna and the French Charlotte. Clara made me think of Cora — a similar sound/rhythm but without the Clare connection. I’ve had several readers name daughters Cora for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and/or the Sacred Heart of Jesus because of cor meaning “heart” in Latin.

(5) Rose, Rosa
I thought the female Doctors of the Church would be a great place to look for name inspiration for this family, and while I’m swoony over the nickname Hildi and would recommend Hildegard for that reason, I didn’t think it was quite their style. But Rosa is a match for Lucia and I thought of how roses are so connected to St. Therese, and I love the sweet, spare feel of both Rose and Rosa, so I thought they deserved a mention. There are some other holy Roses too, and of course Our Lady: Mystical Rose, the rosary, golden roses on her feet at Lourdes and roses in the tilma at Guadalupe, etc.

(6) Catherine or Siena
St. Catherine of Siena, another Doctor of the Church, always strikes me as the definition of holy female strength, and since Catherine is a style match for Cecilia and Elizabeth, I thought it would be a great option for Mat and his wife. I didn’t want to leave out Siena as an option, though — being a place name, it has a surname feel, like Quinn, that they might like (though is it too similar to Gianna?).

(7) Avila
Speaking of place names, what about Avila, for Doctor of the Church Teresa of Avila? I quite like that it’s Spanish, which is cool that they’d have an Italian name, a French name, and a Spanish name.

(8) Mary Kolbe or Maria Kolbe or Maria Immaculata
I spent a bit of time reading about St. Maximilian Kolbe for ideas to suggest. I love that Mat and his wife were married on his feast day! Both Mary/Maria and Immaculata rose to the surface immediately as feminine names that are so heavily connected to him. For one thing, he took Maria as a second religious name, which is pretty cool. Another is that St. Max named his group Militia Immaculatae — I’m a huge fan of Immaculata as a middle name! I like both Mary Immaculata and Maria Immaculata, and can see Mim being a really sweet nickname for them. They could also do Mary Kolbe or Maria Kolbe, which could be really cool as a double first name maybe? Or a first+middle, of course.

(9) Frances/Francesca/Franciszka or Faustina
My last idea has a bunch of connections for what Mat and his wife are looking for, I think. Both St. Maximilian Kolbe and Servant of God Julia Greeley were Franciscans (Conventual and Secular, respectively), so I liked the idea of Frances or Francesca as a way to nod to either of them. I also liked it for St. (Mother) Frances Xavier Cabrini — the first American citizen to be canonized. Francesca is the Italian variant, which I love (Mother Cabrini’s also known as Francesca), and then I thought to look up the Polish variant too: Franciszka is lovely! Still on the Polish kick because of St. Max, I wondered if a well-known, female Polish saint might be a good nod to him and immediately thought of Faustina. I often see Faustina used by families who have daughters with names like Gianna and Charlotte. (I’m also now wondering if they might like to consider Cabrini as a first name?)

And those are my ideas for Mat and Kelly’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Gianna and Charlotte?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Perrin Fae!

I posted a consultation for Kortnee from Studio Senn back in September, and she’s let me know her baby girl has arrived! She and her husband gave her the gorgeous name … Perrin Fae!

Kortnee writes,

We welcomed baby girl last Friday and I thought I would follow up to let you know what we decided on for a name!

We landed on Perrin Fae! While we both loved Peregrine for awhile (and feel very called to ask his intercession these days as we know so many who could use his prayers), we ultimately decided maybe it wasn’t the right fit for our naming style. However, we still really liked the nickname she would have had and decided that was a good way to honor Saint Peregrine and give her a namesake. We used the traditional spelling you mentioned. Even though it’s masculine historically, if feels feminine to me since I know a woman with that name.

The boys are smitten with her and no less than a dozen times a day I have to peel Becket away from her.

Thank you for helping us think through this naming process! It was much harder this time around!

I love Perrin Fae!! What a gorgeous name that fits in perfectly with this family’s naming style!!

Congratulations to Kortnee and her hubby and big brothers Fulton and Becket, and happy birthday Baby Perrin!!

Perrin Fae with her big brothers ❤


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 11 needs a heavy-hitting middle name! Also: are sisters Heléna and Eleanor problematic?

Happy feast of the Epiphany!!

Thank you all for your replies to my Friday question about naming in foster-to-adopt situations! I’m still working through your comments, and hope to compile and condense them all into one post — stay tuned!

Today’s consultation is for Desiree and her husband, who are expecting their 11th baby — a tiebreaker!! This baby girl joins five big sisters and five big brothers:

Olivia Marie (“she is our niece whom we took in when she was 11, so I had no part in naming her“)

Andrew Pick IV (“family name carried on“)

Maximilian Augustine (“I love strong saint names and both of these saints are extremely meaningful for us“)

Heléna Thérèse (“after St Helen of the Cross and she was born on the feast of St Thérèse, so that was a no brainer“)

Tomás Delahanty (“the Gaelic version of Thomas, named after Saint Thomas Aquinas. His middle name is my husband’s middle name“)

Dominic Giles (“named after St. Dominic whom we both have a devotion to. Middle name is after our dear priest friend who married us (who is also a Dominican) Fr. Giles“)

Finnegan Patrick (“solid Irish first name (husband is Irish) his middle name is my husband’s first name“)

Kai Sophia Maribel (“I wanted a sweet Hawaiian name [and] Kai resonated with me. Sophia my husband picked because it was “sweet” and Maribel is for Our Lady 💙”)

Camilla Flannery (“named after my dear, late Grandma Millie (we call her Millie also) middle name after one of my favorite catholic novelists/poets, Flannery O’Connor“)

Karolina Faustina (“she was born in the year of mercy, so naturally I named her after JPII (Karol) and she was born on the feast day of our Lady of Czestochowa, so I wanted a solid Polish Saint — Faustina was perfect“)

These are such a great bunch of names!! So many great saintly connections, and I love that Ireland, Hawaii, and Poland are represented!

Desiree writes,

We are pretty set on naming her after my MIL — Eleanor.

I loved Emmanuella for the middle name but my dh kind of shot it down ☹️ I want a strong saint/catholic/religious name for the middle since Eleanor isn’t a big saint’s name. I LOVE the idea of Caeli for the middle but husband is again iffy.

I’m not super into all the standard/popular catholic names that everyone uses (although the saints themselves are WONDERFUL) ie: Gianna, Elizabeth, Clare — those types of names are just too basic for me.

I’d love a name that is unique, strong, yet feminine and just makes you go WoW, esp since Eleanor is more old world. Hence my two choices were Emmanuella and Caeli.

My husband wants to use my name in the middle, but I’ve never loved my name and it’s not exciting to me at all.”

You all know I LOVE bold Catholicky Catholic names, so I dove headfirst into coming up with ideas for a middle name for Eleanor and didn’t even notice the thing you all probably noticed right away. In fact, I didn’t notice it all until Desiree emailed me after I’d already sent her my ideas to say,

I just completely by accident came across your blog post from 5 years titled “Eleanor=Helen after all” and I’m semi-freaking out right now. lol I have a Heléna. Will I have two girls with essentially the same name if I name current baby Eleanor??

How did I miss that??

We’ve discussed Eleanor and its connection to Helena a few times — my most recent post on it is even entitled “Eleanor: Take 37” because when I wrote it, I felt like I was rehashing something that had already been rehashed and rehashed. That post shared the most recent information I’d come across — that Eleanor is almost certainly NOT a Helena variant, which is usually upsetting to parents of Eleanor who intended to give their daughter a Helena variant. So funny that that same upsetting bit of info may actually be a positive for Desiree and her husband!!

(Please don’t worry if you have an Eleanor! I wrote this post for Nameberry a few years ago in which I argue that intention often matters more than the details when it comes to naming, and a little Eleanor named for St. Helena was the inspiration for my article.)

All that said, however, I do think it’s true that people who know something about names might see sisters Heléna and Eleanor and think their parents gave the same name to two daughters. Even if that were true, it doesn’t need to be a deal breaker necessarily — on the one hand, some people won’t know of the possible connection between the two names; on the other, Desiree and her hubby can just own it and acknowledge to those who ask (if there are any) that they know there might be a connection, but they’ve done some research and found the evidence to be weighted on the “Eleanor does not equal Helena” side. And that, even if it turns out there is a connection between the two names, it was more important to them to explicitly honor Desiree’s mother-in-law.

Other ways of working with this include using a nickname for Eleanor that isn’t obviously Helena-related, like Ellie or Nora. Or they could put Eleanor in the middle spot. Or they could spell it Elanor, which is how Tolkien spelled it and in his books it’s a Sindarin word meaning “star sun,” which is the name of a flower, and Samwise’s oldest daughter is named Elanor after the flower.

What do you all think? I know Desiree and her hubby would very much like to hear your thoughts on whether or not sisters named Heléna and Eleanor are problematic.

Back to Desiree’s original question about a middle name for Eleanor: What names would be on a list of “strong saint/catholic/religious” names that are “unique, strong, yet feminine and just makes you go WoW”?

Her ideas of Emmanuella and Caeli are both amazing! They gave me great direction in terms of what other kinds of names to suggest.

First, though, I have to admit I’m kind of with Desiree’s husband on using her name! Eleanor Desiree sounds wonderful together and I could see it pairing nicely with a lot of other names as well; I love the idea of their baby girl having that connection with her mama; and I think Desiree is objectively a pretty great name! The meaning of “desired, wished for” is a lovely one for a child. Desiree is a feminine form of the male name Desideratus, and there are three Sts. Desideratus that I found; this one is my favorite. In fact, Desiree is the French form of the feminine form Desiderata — maybe Desiree would prefer to use that? Eleanor Desiderata? Could be perfect!

Of course I can come always come up with more ideas! You all know that I almost always start consultations by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each name, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. That strategy didn’t work so well for this family though, not least because Emmanuella and Caeli don’t have entries! But I’ve done a few posts that I found helpful, and of course my book of Marian names has a lot of fun ideas. These are what I came up with:

(1) Archangela
Archangela was actually my first idea, before I did any research, and it was 100% inspired by Eleanor. In that “Eleanor: Take 37” post, I shared a reader’s email about Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor. A legitimate non-Helena holy Eleanor that can be used as patron! Anyway, I love the name Archangela — what a heavy hitting name, with THREE archangels as patrons! Eleanor Archangela is lovely!

(2) Immaculata, Immaculée
I love to tell the story of how it was meeting a little girl whose middle name is Immaculata that inspired me to start compiling non-Mary Marian names, which eventually turned into my book! You can’t get more heavy hitting than Immaculata! A variant of it is Immaculée, which could be nice because it’s French, like Desiree’s name, and ends in ee, like her name. There’s also a current famous Immaculée — Immaculée Ilibagiza, who has written about surviving the Rwandan genocide. Eleanor Immaculata and Eleanor Immaculée are both beautiful.

(3) Mariae (or …?)
I spent a little time looking up names that have a similar meaning to Desiree’s name, as a way of nodding to her hubby’s wish to use her name, while not actually using it. One of the meanings that’s been theorized about Mary is “wished for child,” which is perfect! Even if that isn’t what Mary means (and it seems likely that it’s not), how can you wrong with a Mary variant?! One of my favorites is Mariae, which is the Latin genitive version — it literally means, “belonging to Mary.” Eleanor Mariae is stunning. There are so many other Mary variants they could consider as well!

(4) Maristella
Speaking of Mary variants, Maristella is another of my favorites — it’s a variant of Stellamaris/Stella Maris, and I think Eleanor Maristella sounds really beautiful.

(5) Madonna
I know, I know. But I really really want us to reclaim this beautiful Marian name! I think the middle name spot is the perfect place to start — like this mom did, naming her daughter Indigo Madonna, with this reasoning: “I just love the title of Madonna for Our Lady, and I’ve always wanted Catholics to take it back after it’s been so pop-culture secularized.” I love Eleanor Madonna!

(6) Avila, Ave
I was excited to see Avila in the list of names having “desire” in their meaning on Behind the Name! It’s not totally a sure thing, but “desired” is possible. Regardless, it definitely has that Catholicky Catholic vibe, and Eleanor Avila has a cool rhythm. I like it! Ava was also included in that list, which didn’t seem quite right for Desiree, but it reminded me of Ave (like, Ave Maria), which I have in my book as a possibility for a given name. Eleanor Ave is unexpected and beautiful!

(7) Emmaus, Edessa
I’m not sure these are totally right for what Desiree’s looking for, but I love how they each sound with Eleanor, so I thought I’d include them! Emmaus is from the story of Jesus meeting His apostles on the road to Emmaus — I have a friend who used Emmaus for her baby, which opened my eyes to the possibility of it being used as a given name. Eleanor Emmaus. Then, Edessa is from the Marian title Our Lady of Edessa, and I think it’s such a pretty name. Eleanor Edessa.

(8) Assumpta
Assumpta comes from Assumption, of course — it’s a beautiful and little-used Marian name these days. But one of the main reasons I wanted to suggest it is because Desiree and her hubs made a point to work some Irish sensibility into their kids’ names with Tomás and Finnegan’s names, and Assumpta is listed on Behind the Name as the “Latinate form of Asunción, used especially in Ireland.” How fun is that? I like Eleanor Assumpta.

(9) Cruz
I’m not sure they’ll love this one, but I love that Cruz (Spanish for “cross”) can refer to the Cross of Jesus, and also to Our Lady at the foot of the Cross. Eleanor Cruz is pretty cool.

(10) Perpetua
Finally, Perpetua can refer to the beautiful Marian title Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and also to the second/third century martyr who is an amazing patron for a little girl and is in the Canon of the Mass.

And those are my ideas for a heavy-hitting middle name for Desiree and her husband’s baby girl! What do you all think? What names would you add to this list? And please weigh in on the Heléna/Eleanor question!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Happy Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus! (And redemption of Black Friday Special No. 3)

I just posted a [not fun] Friday question a few minutes ago, completely forgetting to wish you all a happy Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus! I’ve written several things about His Holy Name, which I link to in this post, and I also just discovered that the diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina has the Holy Name of Jesus as one of its patrons! (The other is the Sacred Heart of Jesus — those are some heavy hitting patrons!) So happy patronal feast day to all you Raleigh-ites!

Today is also the day that I start accepting consultation requests from those of you who took advantage of my Black Friday Special No. 3. I look forward to hearing from you!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

[Not Fun] Friday Question: How to approach naming in a foster-to-adopt situation?

Happy New Year to you all!!

This is the latest in my “Fun Friday Question” series, but it’s more sobering than fun, hence the title. A reader asked,

As foster parents, I often think about what we would do if we adopted from foster care (which we hope to do at some point). With the kids being older, changing names often doesn’t seem like a possibility or in the best interest of the child, but I worry about their names setting them apart from the rest of the family, since our kid’s names are more traditional and our girls names especially follow a pattern and we’ve very intentionally included saint and family names in our children’s names. I’m curious what other people do in similar situations. Maybe we should have given less matchy names so that adopted children would be able to blend in easier (too late for that now, but should that have been a consideration earlier on). Or since we have no idea if an adoption will ever happen, is it best that we used the names we really wanted. How should plans to adopt from foster care affect naming of biological children? What are some ways to help incorporate an adopted child’s name into the family without changing it? How should someone respond to comments of one child’s name not “fitting in” with the rest?

I know there are a bunch of you who have fostered and/or adopted — I hope you offer your thoughts/experiences!

My initial thoughts, for what they’re worth, are: I think it’s so loving that this family is grappling with this question! What a wonderful thing, to try to do everything possible to enfold a child into the family.

I would think that using the names they want for their biological children makes the most sense, especially since — at least for this reader — there’s no guarantee that “an adoption will ever happen.”

Some ways of incorporating an adopted child’s name into the family without changing it could include bestowing a nickname similar to those of the other children (e.g., if they all have Skip/Buddy/Princess-type nicknames, it would be fairly easy to come up with something similar; if all the biological children have Spanish names, maybe a Spanish nickname for the adopted child’s name or similar could work).

As for questions about one child’s name not “fitting in” with the rest, I’d try to come up with some go-to reply, like, “Yes, isn’t it lovely?” Or, “It has such a great meaning that totally fits his personality,” or … ? Something that doesn’t focus on its difference, but rather its strengths, and maybe avoids the fact that it doesn’t match the other siblings’ style? Or maybe embracing its difference is better? I know you all will have some great ideas!

Have a great weekend!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!