Two new (to me) name blogs

I came across two new (to me) name blogs today: Appellation Mountain and Roses and Cellar Doors. It was actually this AM post, in which author Abby* noted, “Roses & Cellar Door’s post It’s Big Overseas is genius!  Why don’t we hear Olga, Joachim, Tecla, Emil – or their equivalents? – in the US?” that sent me to the mentioned R&CD post. I’m a huge fan of names with a pan-European feel — names that have an equivalent in most European languages — and I would argue the vast majority of such names are saints names. Check out the names on the R&CD list — are any of them NOT saint names?? And one of my very favorites is on there: Joachim.

*I just have to note that on Abby’s “About” page she says her and her husband’s naming style has shaken down to “classics on the birth certificate; unexpected nicknames in real life.” Very well articulated — I myself love that approach.


Nicknames: Getting to Bo/Beau

I always find it interesting when parents start the naming process with a nickname they love, and then try to backtrack into a given name. Some really cool first-middle combos can result. I came across this post today that seeks to offer formal given names for for both boys and girls for the nickname Bo/Beau, I really loved some of the suggestions, especially the unexpected ones.

On my bookshelf: The Baby Name Wizard

I have a lot of name books. Each one is beloved for one reason or another, and I plan to post about each one in due time.

The first — the mama of them all in my humble opinion — is The Baby Name Wizard, Revised 3rd Edition: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby by Laura Wattenberg.

You might think that, for a Catholic baby name blog, I might start with a book of saints names. There are many such that are excellent references, but no name book besides TBNW that I’ve ever come across has all the elements that I love in a name book: pronunciation, commentary, popularity, nickname options. Not only does TBNW have all those, but it has a feature that I’ve  never seen anywhere, and I just love it: it offers “Brother” and “Sister” suggestions for every single entry, by which it does not mean names that should necessarily be sibling names of someone with the entry name (though they are excellent suggestions), but more that the sibling names listed are similar to the entry in style and popularity; someone interested in the entry name might very well find that he or she also loves the listed sibling names and is inspired by them. It’s a particularly helpful feature for someone who has a sense of some names that he or she likes, but none of the ones on their list are striking them as *the* one. The listed sibling names might provide that very name, or send them on the path to finding it.

For example: Dakota (girl) has Sedona, Oakley, Montana, Shenandoah, Laramie, and Bryce listed as sister names, and Maverick, Chayton, Ridge, Jedidiah, Coty, and Sawyer listed as brother names. Not only do you have twelve more names to consider, but those names also give a fuller idea of the image that “Dakota” on a little girl projects.

I mentioned the “Saints” section in a previous post, and the names listed are truly delectable. Given that the “quirkier corners of 2000 years of religious history” were plumbed to create the list, there are some really fun options on there, like Amata, Filomena, and Landry for girls; Cormac, Gennaro, and Tillo for boys. Some of the more obscure ones aren’t listed in the main part of the book, but others are, leading to great related options: Felicity’s sisters include Verity, Juliet, and Arabella, and brothers include Crispin, Colin, and Oliver; Rocco’s sisters include Mia, Giada, and Lucia, and brothers include Luca, Arlo, and Jude.

I’ve read TBNW front to back a hundred times or more, and I always learn something new with each read. I can’t recommend this book highly enough (and if you’re a real name enthusiast, you can check out the author’s blog, which she updates weekly, and the various forums available to discuss naming issues and questions).

Men Who Love Mary

Today my second son and I were discussing the name of the baby I miscarried several years ago. I always sensed that the baby was a boy (though I wasn’t far enough along to know for sure) and so my kids have always referred to the baby as their brother. Today my son discovered that, while we’d given the baby a masculine first name, we’d given him the middle name Marie, for Our Blessed Mother. “Marie??” he said. “For a boy??” It was too perfect — a great opportunity to talk about all the male saints who have a form of Mary in their names. Off the top of my head I came up with St. Clement Mary Hofbauer, St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, and St. Anthony Mary Claret. He was semi-interested, and I loved that he got a little lesson in Men Who Love Mary.

I know there are a bunch more — which of the male saints do you know with a form of Mary in their names?

Nicknames: Aloysius and Elizabeth

One of my favorite things is interesting nicknames for more formal given names — the more interesting the better.

I recently read about the nickname “Ish” for Aloysius, which I’d never heard before. And nicknames for Elizabeth, which might win the prize for most numerous of any name, are discussed here, with a link to a longer list here. Some of my favorites: Tess, Betsey, Liza, Ellie, Liesl/Liesel, and Liddy. And I know of an Elizabeth nicknamed Libbet.

Do you know of any interesting or unusual nicknames for more formal given names?

Spotlight on: Veronica

Veronica is one of the most gorgeous names ever, in my opinion, and a great Catholic  name. According to tradition, it’s the name of the woman who wiped the face of Jesus while He was carrying His cross to Calvary; the image of His face was left on her cloth. Though Scripture doesn’t name her, “Veronica” comes from the Latin vera icon, meaning “true image.”

What makes Veronica a particularly Catholic name? Surely non-Catholics use it? Surely they do, but I contend non-Catholics would choose the name Veronica in ignorance of its meaning, or in spite of it. It’s not mentioned in the Bible and it refers to an image, both of which, in my experience with the non-Catholic Christian world, take away from any religious importance that might have been given it. And non-Christians would have no reason to choose a name that specifically refers to the image of Christ’s face on a cloth, and to the woman who wiped His face, except that they like it for other reasons.

Not only do Catholics love tradition and images of holy people, but we remember Veronica and her act of love toward Jesus every Lent in the Sixth Station of the Cross: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. And names that are heavily used by Catholics tend to travel well — most languages will have a form of a very Catholic name. Some of Veronica’s variants are beautiful, like  Véronique (French), the Russian spelling Veronika, and Berenice/Bernice is related as well (Greek).

One potential downfall of the name Veronica, in my opinion, is the lack of good traditional nicknames, but I think that’s easily remedied with some research and creativity. There’s Ronnie and Vera, maybe Nicky or Nica, maybe even Vicky, but for this namer, none of those are appealing. Reading the comments for the Veronica entry on Behind the Name reveals some other intriguing possibilities: Ronja (pronounced RON-yah), which is said to be the Russian short form of Veronica; just “V” (I think I’d prefer the spelling Vee. Although, signing one’s name with one letter is so romantic and intriguing); Evie (a stretch but doable); and Nona (sweet).

Another potential point against Veronica is the Archie comments. That’s my husband’s first and overwhelming thought every time I mention the name. Sigh.

What do you think of Veronica? Do you have any other nicknames for it to offer? What do you think of the Archie association?

Edited to add: Ha! Funny enough, when I was writing this last night I almost included a bit about St. Veronica Giuliani, just as an example of a saint with the name. I decided not to, but then this morning (July 10) I saw on Facebook that today is the feast of St. Veronica Giuliani! You can read more about her here.

Edited to add (2): I think Via and Vica/Vicka could work as nicknames as well.

Alumni mags=baby name bonanza

We receive a couple alumni magazines, and every time I see one in the mail I get excited and plan my day around when I can sit and savor the names of alumni’s children as listed in the class notes section  (called different things by different schools).

One I get particularly excited about because of its alumni’s penchant for having large families and bestowing uber Catholic names on its children, as well as the announcement of vow-taking and new names by religious and priests,  is that of Franciscan University of Steubenville. It just arrived today and I found in its class notes section (cleverly called “Alma Matters”) the following that caught my eye:

Girls named Avila (x2!) and Christiana

Boys named Dominic, Ignatius, and Fulton

A recently professed sister who took the name Pia of John Paul

Popes and baby naming

You might have wondered about this bit in “Guest Post: Ana on Baby Naming” linked to in one of my previous posts:

“… one day my wanna-be theologian husband came home and told me that the Pope had written some beautiful letter on the importance of Catholics using names of great saints in the Church when naming their children …”

I believe Ana was referring to an oft-misrepresented homily by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in which he said:

“It is not by chance, in fact, that every baptized person acquires the character of the Son, starting from their Christian name, an indisputable sign that the Holy Spirit brings man to be born again from the womb of the Church. Blessed Antonio Rosmini says that ‘the baptized person undergoes a secret but most powerful operation by which he is raised up to the supernatural order, he is placed in communication with God.'”

My favorite take on the misrepresentations is by the Baby Name Wizard herself: Pope Benedict on Baby Names: A global game of telephone. And Pope Benedict isn’t the only pope in recent memory to have had an impact on naming discussions — Pope Francis caused quite a stir when he chose Francis as his papal name, the first pope to have ever done so, and since then has taken the baby name world by storm. Some examples:

Pope Francis inspires baby names

Naming the Pope

The 2013 Name of the Year

Papal Baby Names: Possibilities beyond Pius and Innocent

The Pope Francis Effect: ‘Francesco’ now Italy’s most popular baby name

What do you think of Francis or Frances or any of the other variations of the name for boys or girls? What about Benedict and John Paul? Or how about their birth names: Karol (Charles, Carl) (JPII), Josef (Joseph) (BXVI), or Jorge (George) (PF)?

A Rose by any other name

Rose is a Marian name — it can refer to Our Lady of the Rosary for one, or Our Lady of Guadalupe with the roses that fell from St. Juan Diego’s tilma; she also often appeared with roses on her feet, as at Lourdes and Knock (there’s a beautiful song about Our Lady of Knock that calls her the “Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland”). It’s also saintly — there’s also St. Rose of Lima, and the roses associated with the intercession of St. Therese.

When parents seek to honor someone — a relative or saint or other respected person — in the naming of their child, it’s not unusual to look for different variations of the name.  Aunt Marguerite might have a little namesake named Margaret, or Uncle John who always went by Jack might have a little namesake bestowed with just Jack or maybe Jackson. “Catherine Marie” might have a nicer flow to it in the opinions of the parents than “Catherine Mary,” and so Grandmother Mary is honored with “Marie.” Grandpa Stephen might have a little Stephanie named after him. Flow, the preferences of the modern-day ear, and gender differences are some of the reasons parents may veer away from the actual name they’re inspired by and replace it with a variant.

I was thinking of Rose yesterday because my boys were playing the Wii game Super Mario Galaxy and they said the Star Mother (I think?) was named Rosalina. I’d never heard that variation before, and I admit — I liked it. Some of my other favorites are Rosa, Rosalie (despite the Twilight connotation), and Roisin (with an accent over the ‘o’ and the second ‘i’ — I don’t know how to do that here — can anyone tell me?), which is my very favorite — it’s the diminutive of the Irish for Rose, Rois (accent over ‘o’). I also love Rosey/Rosie — one of the sweetest nicknames in my opinion.

What are your favorite Rose names? Do you have examples in your own life and family when a child was given a name in honor of someone but with a change like those mentioned above?