Taking a new name: One Order’s history

I was thinking about religious names today — the names that a sister or nun, brother or priest might take as their new name upon making their vows — and came across this article: The “Sister Mary” Naming Custom, about the naming tradition of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM).

Until 1920, the sisters of IHM had Mary as the first part of their new religious name. One list given of those received and professed includes, “Igidius, Johanna, Gerard, Liguori, Agnes, Anthony, Ignatius, Xavier, Stanislas, Colette, Gertrude, Clara, it is not necessary to say that every one had the name of Mary preceding the other name as it is customary with us.”

The first sister to have a name that deviated from this tradition was named Sr. Margaret Mary (the change being that Mary was the second name rather than the first. You know, those sisters and their adventurousness 😉 ), and “[a]fter Margaret Mary, others began to have Mary, Marie, or Maria as the second part of their name. We also began to see Latin names like Cor Mariae, Beata Maria, Maria Pacis as well as titles like Marie de Lourdes and Mary de Montfort, Marie Rosary and Mary Immaculate given as religious names.”

I just want to swoon over those gorgeous Latin names! And do be sure to read the comments, where some more names are given.

Do you know any priests or religious who took a new name, and if so, what was their birth name and what is their new name? What name would you take? If you were to include a Marian name, which one would you choose?

For more on the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) see their web site. The Wikipedia entry was also informative.


3 thoughts on “Taking a new name: One Order’s history

  1. We have four Dominicans staffing our parish, Fr. Anthony, Fr. Augustine, Fr. Mark Francis, and Br. Thomas Aquinas. Fr. Mark Francis added “Francis” to his name after joining the order–he says his mother asked him not to change his name from “Mark” and he respected her request. The other three all took completely new names–Anthony used to be Guy, Thomas Aquinas used to be Colin, and Augustine used to be called Thor.

    When I thought, once upon a time, that I might enter religious life, I rather fancied being called “Agnes Cecilia,” but I know that nuns do not always get a choice in these matters. Some orders impose a new name without asking the novice what he or she wants to be called. Others ask for a short list from the novice, and the superior chooses from the list.


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