Birth announcement: Catherine Rose!

I posted a consultation for Shannon and her husband on Memorial Day for their little green bean 🌱, in which they were specifically looking for non-M Marian middle name ideas if they had a girl. Shannon’s let me know that they did indeed have a little lady! And they’ve given her the so-lovely name … Catherine Rose!

Shannon writes,

I just wanted to let you know that our little girl (!) arrived on July 3rd, and we named her Catherine Rose! We loved your suggestion as a way to honor Mary (with a non-M Marian name), and as a special, private way to incorporate our sweet Therese. (We hadn’t chosen a middle name for Therese, but we decided we would adopt Pieta as her middle name. It so beautifully reflects our sorrow of losing her.)

Thanks again for your insights and for all of your readers’ comments! We’re so grateful!

Isn’t Catherine Rose just so perfect?! It’s a beautiful complement for big sister Caroline Mary, and I love how it ties into her sister in heaven, Therese. And I love Therese Pieta! All around, just beautiful, meaningful names.

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Catherine!!

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Catherine Rose with big sister Caroline Mary
(I can’t get over how much Catherine looks like Caroline did as a baby!)

Birth announcement: Molly Victoria!

I posted a consultation for Amy and her husband just a couple of weeks ago, and I’m so excited to share that their little girl has arrived! She’s been given the gorgeous name … Molly Victoria!

Amy writes,

I get a lot of good reactions from people admiring when we tell her name (so sweet/pretty, oh i like that, smiles, etc). I didn’t really get that with [big sister] Kristy, and wanted it. I know it is dated (70s -ish) and maybe not “pretty” but I still am crazy about its meaning and so perfect for her.

It was a beautiful birth. I was able to go to daily Mass that morning and get a blessing from the priest (we were inducing so I knew it was baby day). We were also able to stop by a perpetual adoration chapel to be with Jesus for a bit on our way (again, because of the induction we knew we had time). I delivered at a Catholic hospital (where I was able to literally find my peaceful place in their chapel as labor tried to kick off) by my Catholic OB (who prays with me, was just ordained a deacon and may be part of her baptism) with Angels all around me (I can sense them during childbirth, they have been present in different ways with each of my births, even to my husband).

I just couldn’t shake it [Molly Victoria] and knew in the last weeks of pregnancy that I was set and wanted to go with it. I felt like it already matched her, even without meeting her yet. I could picture us using it and I had honestly started calling her that to myself. It was just too meaningful to me and anything else would have felt, I don’t know, slighted? My husband pretty much named our first two, so he let me have my way (not sure he really had any other pressing ideas, or he didn’t mention them cause he saw how attached I was to Molly).

Reasons I went with it:

Basically:
She is named after my grandmother (Millie) and [the baby’s] grandmother (Vicky), both of whom we refer to as Nanny.

Specifically (in no particular order):
– I know Molly is not traditionally a variant of Millie, but it is MY variant. I figure if you can get Jack from John, Dick from Richard, Bill from William (etc.) I can change one letter and get Molly from Millie.

– I have already named after God (Kristy/Christ), Mary (Marie), and a saint (JPII), now I wanted to name for someone that I knew personally, who meant a lot to me, influential, that I admire and would want her to be like. The very first, top person I would have wanted was my Nanny Millie.

– Now we have 3 generations represented in the girls names, Kristy Marie shares a middle name with mom (and it’s cool our first boy shares dad’s middle name), Victoria for grandma, and Molly for great grandma.

– My other two had heavy representation from my husbands family ([big brother’s first name] Martin is grandpa’s name and he goes by his middle just like grandpa, Kristy is slightly named after her aunts Kristen Joy (Krissy) and Karin Marie like they were and the K for both my friend Kyla and his mom Kathy). I wanted my family represented this time and this gave me both sides (paternal – Molly and maternal – Victoria). Additionally, we have now named after grandparents on both sides, one male and paternal side (Martin) and one female and maternal side (Victoria).

– Slightly silly, insignificant, but fun- Kristy has 6 letters, Molly has 5 and Kane has 4 (all the cousins have 5 letter names). Additionally, the first initials make a cool pattern. KM and MK are (unintended) opposites. Now we have K, K, M, however *technically* its K, M, M or I guess K, MK, M

– I had a hard time ignoring how this name came to me, in daily Mass, almost knocking me over. And then it wouldn’t leave me alone, haunting me. So many little incidence that said “pay attention to this name”.

– Molly is Marian (yah!) and Victoria for Our Lady of Victory, cool.”

SUCH a great name story!! So many reasons for Amy and her husband to feel so pleased and peaceful about the name of their little girl!

Congratulations to Amy and her husband and big sibs Kristy Marie and Martin Kane (Kane), and happy birthday Baby Molly!!

Molly Victoria and her family ❤

St. Francis de Sales Writing Contest: Second Place Winner

Last month my CatholicMom spot was devoted to sharing the first-place winning essay of the writing contest I instituted this spring at my alma mater; this month I’m delighted to share the second-place winning essay, which posted today! Be sure to hop on over and read it! I’m so proud of the two winners, they did such a great job. 🎉

(As a bonus, you can even catch a sneak peek of me in the background of the photo. 🙂 )

(I explain all about the contest here.)

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New Nameberry article about “hiding” names

I have a new article up at Nameberry today! How to Hide a Problematic Name.

nameberry-screen-shot-07.19.17I got the idea for it during the Damian/Damien conversation of April and May and the Beretta conversation of June and July (sounds so monumental!). I was just thinking about how so many of us have names we love that we might be scared to use, for whatever reason, and I was thinking about reclaiming names, and thought it would be fun and helpful to put together some ideas for how to both use the name you love and avoid the negativity (either for yourself or for your child as he/she moves through the world with the name).

I’ll be interested to see what you all think of it!

Birth announcement: Quinn Verity!

I posted a consultation for Emily and her husband a few weeks ago for their third girl — Emily’s let me know her little lady has arrived and been given the amazing name … Quinn Verity!

Emily writes,

Wanted you to share in our joy that baby Quinn Verity arrived. We are all elated, especially Eden and April, who still cannot stop grinning 🙂

Thank you so much for your help in our journey of naming her. After reading your consultation, and all the helpful comments from the Sancta Nomina community, we felt very certain in our decision to name her.

We also really loved the middle name suggestions of Juliet/Summer to fit with the time element of our older girls names. Then we discovered something very very cool ….. the Latin name for July was Quintilis!!

Isn’t that a great story?! The July/Quintilis thing is amazing!! If you remember, they’d previously settled on Quinn Verity, but were having second thoughts — I’m so glad for any help we all gave in helping Emily and her husband feel confident to use it! Such a great name!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Quinn!!

Baby name consultation: Italian (+ biblical?) name for little girl that complements big brother

Robyn and her husband will be adopting their sixth baby on earth — second girl! — this fall! This little lady will join big sibs:

Robert Noah (who goes by Noah)
Elijah Christian (nn is Eli)
Aaron Joseph
Gianna Marie
Ezra Benedict

+Gabriel William
+Mary Patrice (MaryPat)
+Samuel Peter

Aren’t they just wonderful names? I love each one!!

Robyn writes,

After our losses [Gabriel, MaryPat, and Samuel were miscarried after Noah, Eli, and Aaron] we looked to adoption to continue to grow our family. In 2013 we were blessed to adopt a beautiful baby girl. [We named her] Gianna Marie — named after St. Gianna, a name I have always loved since first hearing of dear St. Gianna. Marie of course after our Blessed Mother and also a beloved grandmother. Also, I loved the meaning of Gianna — God is gracious, so appropriate for that time in our lives.

Last summer we felt called to start the adoption process again and in November we were blessed once again! This time a beautiful boy. [We named him] Ezra Benedict — Ezra to continue the old testament theme and Benedict after St. Benedict. We had just taken an amazing trip to Italy and one of our favorite places was Norcia the birthplace of Benedict. Also, we loved the meaning of his name. Ezra meaning helper and Benedict a blessing.

[They recently found out they’ve been selected by a birth mom to adopt her baby girl] Now we will have two babies 10 months apart as this baby comes in Sept and Ezra doesn’t turn one until November. Almost like twins!

(What an amazing story!! God is so good!!)

We like names that are saints, or variations of saint names. And it has to be an Italian name as my husband’s family is Italian and he would really like for his girls to have his heritage in their names. (Could be the middle name though) We love names that aren’t overly popular but unique and fairly easy to pronounce and spell. The meaning of the name is important to us, so something that means, blessing, gift, loved, happiness, peace along those lines. The middle name would be great if it was after family, but it doesn’t have to be. We also love Italian place names like Assisi or Siena. Perhaps a virtue for the middle name as well.”

What a fun challenge, to come up with an Italian name that goes well with Ezra!

Names on their list include:

Philomena (“Have always liked this but everyone we tell it to gets a funny look on their face. I like the nn Mena“)
Serafina (“So pretty but don’t like the nn options, don’t like Sera“)
Chiara (“Love this one, as well as the saint behind it but afraid that it will be mispronounced her whole life. Also what nn go with it?“)
Gemma (“Too close to Gianna“)
Kateri (“So pretty but not Italian so hubby’s not a fan. Love the nn Kat“)
Zelie (“I liked it but hubby nixed because it won’t age well“)

Additionally,

Some other names we looked at because they are family names were Patricia, Patrice, Eleanor, Alice, Ann, Renee, Lucille, Sadie.

Our whole family has a special devotion to the Sacred Heart and to our Blessed Mother. Don’t know if that helps or not! 😉

We really have no front runner names right now and we are completely stumped as nothing sounds right. We would like it to be a nice compliment to Ezra since they are so close [in age]. But we don’t want it to be too matchy.”

This was so much fun to work on, I LOVE Italian girl names, they’re so pretty and feminine! And so many super saintly ones! I also love that their family has a devotion to the Sacred Heart and to Mother Mary — I took both of those into account when thinking of names for them. Another big thing that informed my ideas was their hope that the name be “a nice compliment to Ezra” but not “too matchy.” As well as, of course, biblical + Italian.

First though, I thought I’d give some feedback on the (gorgeous) names they have on their list:

— Philomena: I love Philomena! I’m not sure why people get a funny look on their face? I think it’s a great name! I might think of changing to Filomena though, as that’s the Italian spelling (as I understand it). Mena’s a great nickname.

— Serafina: a gooorgeous name!! If nicknames are the only thing holding them up, I can think of a bunch more besides Sera, like Fina, Fia, Sofie, and Sunny. Some fun options!

— Chiara: I love this one too, and I tend not to worry too much about pronunciation with a name like this — with Gianna and Giada part of our vernacular now, it’s not a huge stretch to add in Chiara — a quick correction is all it takes. As for nicknames, the only ones I’ve come up with are Key (I read an article when I was a teen about a girl named Key and thought it was THE coolest name!) or Kiki, which is cute (it’s actually the name I called myself when I was little, not being able to say Katie correctly).

— Gemma: I agree it’s too close to Gianna, and such a bummer, because otherwise it’s perfect!

— Kateri: I love Kateri and Kat too, and this seems an easy fix to me — St. Catherine of Siena (for whom St. Kateri was named) was actually Caterina (Catherine is our anglicization of her name), and Caterina’s so similar to Kateri! And Cat is an obvious nickname, really cute.

— Zelie: I would have thought Robyn’s hubby nixed it because it’s not Italian! I mean, obviously it *does* age well, because St. Zelie was a grown woman with the name, but even for her Zelie was a nickname — since her given name was Marie-Azelie, maybe they could do something like Maria-Zelie, to give it an Italian touch? If they did that, they could even use Zelie as the everyday call name, and when she’s an adult she can choose to go just by Maria if she prefers. I searched and searched for the Italian variant of Azelie, but since Azelie’s origin is unclear, there wasn’t any Italian variant offered. Some think it’s a variant of the flower name Azalea, so I looked up what the Italian variant of azalea is and just got … azalea! So I think Maria-Zelie might be the best Italianate option (and I love it! What a cool name Maria-Zelie would be! And I love the Z of Zelie with the prominent Z of Ezra — that to me suggests complementary without being too matchy). Also, both other girls (MaryPat and Gianna Marie) have a form of Mary in their names, so something like Maria-Zelie would continue that theme AS WELL AS the biblical connection! I’m dying. So swoony.

Okay, as for new ideas, first I tried to think of Italian names that I thought would complement Ezra, and the biggest characteristics I had to go on (not having yet done research to see what names are actually similar to Ezra’s style) was that it’s four letters, followed by the fact that it has a prominent Z. A few names that came immediately to mind were:

(1) Zita
I can’t think of any name that has more of an Italian feel than Zita! St. Zita’s an awesome saint too. I love that, like Zelie, Zita has that prominent Z, as well as four letters, and ends in A. I don’t think Ezra and Zita are too matchy, especially because one is super duper Old Testament and the other is super duper non-biblical Italian! I’ve also been crushing lately on a more recent holy Zita: Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria (her full name was Zita Maria delle Grazie Adelgonda Micaela Raffaela Gabriella Giuseppina Antonia Luisa Agnese! Wow!).

(2) Rosa
This is another four-letter, Italian name that ends in A, and has a Z sound even though there’s no Z in the name. And it’s Marian! Ezra and Rosa are sweet together!

(3) Cora
Cora is 100% inspired by their love of both the Sacred Heart and Our Lady! I’ve seen families use it to honor both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because of its similarity to the Latin for heart, “cor.” I don’t think Cora is Italian, but it’s similar in spelling and rhythm to other Italian girl names (especially since it ends in A), and I love that it’s four letters and ends in A, which is nice with Ezra.

(4) Dora
This too is because of its meaning — “gift” — as well as the fact that it’s four letters and ends in A. This isn’t an Italian name either, and has a bit of baggage because of Dora the Explorer, but the meaning can’t be beat.

I then tried to think of other names that I thought could connect to Ezra that might be more do-able for the middle name, and I thought of these:

(1) Norcia
Robyn said she loves Italian place names, and Norcia has special meaning to them because they loved their visit there, and it helped inspire Ezra’s middle name. It would make a cool connection to give their daughter Norcia as a middle name!

(2) Schola, Scola, Scholastica
Continuing with the St. Benedict theme, Benedict and Scholastica are famous saintly twins, and while I love the full Scholastica — especially as a middle with a shorter first name like the four-letter ones I list above (Zita Scholastica, Rosa Scholastica, Cora Scholastica, Dora Scholastica … ohhh my!) — I thought they could legitimately shorten it if they felt more comfortable with that. Scola is a Sicilian surname that means “school” or “retreat” according to Ancestry.com, a nice way to shorten Scholastica.

(3) Benedetta or Bettina
Both Benedetta and Bettina are Italian feminine variants of Benedict (Bettina’s a diminutive of Benedetta). Could be cool to give Ezra’s sister the feminine Italian variant of his middle name for her middle name! It also means “blessed,” so it can be for Our Lady too (“blessed among women”).

After coming up with these ideas, I then looked up all the names they’ve used for their older kiddos and those they have on their list in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and I looked through the results for names that I thought particularly complemented Ezra. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Eva or Ava (or Ave?)
Obviously they have a super biblical theme with their boys, and even with the girls — Mary is biblical of course, and so is Gianna by the fact that it’s a John and Joanna variant. So I really liked finding other biblical names that were also Italian and even Marian if I could. Both Eva and Ava fit the bill! They’re both variants of Eve, and Mary is the New Eve — how lovely! I particularly like Eva with Ezra — though I probably wouldn’t usually suggest the same initials to actual twins, the fact that Ezra and the new baby are so close in age seems to validate the idea of same initials, to me anyway. But then, maybe they’re done with E’s because they already have Elijah as well?

If they like the idea of an Eve name but not an E initial, Ava is great, and I’ve seen Ava paired with Maria as a middle name in order to mimic the Ave Maria. And really, I see no reason why Ave itself couldn’t work! Though it’s not technically an Eve variant, there is that beautiful stanza in the Ave Maris Stella that says about Our Lady:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Such a cool connection between “Ave” and Eve! So they could consider Ave a Marian name, especially when paired with Maria.

(2) Stella (or Maristella)
Speaking of the Ave Maris Stella, what about Stella? It’s Italian and Marian and ends in A like Ezra, but is decidedly non-matchy with it. If they wanted to up both the Marian and Italian aspect, they could use the lengthier Maristella, which is such a confection of a name! I’ve done two birth announcements for baby Maristellas, here and here.

(3) Sofia
I know the Sophia/Sofia/Sophie names are popular right now, but it’s a style match for Noah, Elijah, and Gabriel, and given that it means “wisdom,” it’s also the name of a book of the bible. The Sofia spelling is Italian, and it can also be considered Marian, via her titles Our Lady of Wisdom and Seat/Throne of Wisdom (which of course points to Jesus — a great two-for-one name!).

(4) Isabella, Bella, or Elisabetta
Going along with the biblical theme, the Italian variants of Elizabeth are so beautiful! Isabella and Bella are both lovely, and with Bella meaning “beautiful” in Italian, it’s a great nickname for a girl, or even a given name, which can take any of the Sts. Elizabeth as patron. Elisabetta ratches it up a notch, what a gorgeous Italian name! And as with Eva, I like that it begins with an E as a sister to Ezra. But also, it’s another E name, and on top of that another El- name, like Elijah, so maybe too much?

(5) Lidia
Another great Italian variant of a biblical name is Lidia. Lydia/Lidia’s such a great name for a girl not only because it’s the name of a Christian woman in the New Testament, but also because she was a seller of purple cloth, so a little Lydia/Lidia would have her own color, so fun!

(6) Lucia
With this year being the 100th Anniversary of Fatima, Lucia would be a pretty great name for a little girl born this year! And though Lucia of Fatima was Portuguese, of course Lucia is the Italian variant as well, said loo-CHEE-ah. This would tie in nicely with the Lucille on their list of family names.

(7) Carmela
The Mount Carmel referenced in the Marian title Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a mountain mentioned in the bible, which they probably already know from their Elijah, as it was on Mount Carmel that the prophet Elijah defeated the pagans. The Carmelite Order traces its origin back to Elijah on Mount Carmel, which is so cool! So I love that Carmela, which is such a traditional Italian name, is also biblical! I did a post on nicknames for Carmela here — there are some good ideas both in the post itself and in the comments.

(8) Maddalena
Finally, since I was already in the biblical place name frame of mind, I thought of Maddalena — the Italian form of Magdalene. What a beautiful name Maddalena is! I like both Maddy and Lena as nicknames for it.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What Italian name would you suggest for Robyn’s little girl, taking into account earth-side sibs Noah, Elijah, Aaron, Gianna, and especially Ezra, who will be less than a year older than her?

Religious names: One community’s tradition

You guys. Three of my boys had the amazing opportunity to be part of a week-long Vacation Bible School with two of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville), finishing up today. I can’t even. It was so amazing. Not least because my boys LOVED it, and they started out not loving the idea of having to go to school in the summertime. But mostly because the Sisters were awesome. I know a lot of you have the opportunity to be around Sisters, but we don’t, and this week has just been such a gift. Check out a photo here.

But! What I really wanted to write about was their names! The Sisters we had this week are Sr. Mary Celeste and Sr. Vincent Marie, and I was dying all week to ask them about how they chose their names. Joy of joys, today they let the kids ask any question they wanted, and one of them asked about their names, and they shared that, in their community, on the day of their profession they receive their habit and their new name. They can give three ideas to Mother Superior of names they might like, and she might choose one of them, or she might choose a totally different one. I was so interested by that! I just assumed you got to choose your own!

I would have loved to have chatted with the Sisters about their particular names, but alas, we all wanted to be with them every second, and there’s only so much of them to go around and so many minutes in a day, so I didn’t have the opportunity. I know there are some of you here who have contemplated religious life, even having spent time in the convent as a postulant and/or novice — please tell us about the name traditions you’re familiar with! And please pray for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia!