One of you wonderful readers emailed me recently asking for a spotlight on Chiara, and it’s kind of been on my mind now as we prepare for Christmas because of the carols It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and Silent Night: the title of the former (“clear”) and these lyrics from the latter, “All is calm, all is bright” (the “bright” part).
What is going on in her head? you’re likely asking yourself, but wait! It does make sense! Chiara is the Italian form of Clara, and Clara is from the Latin for “clear, bright” (Claire is the French form of Clara, and Clare the English form). So I personally think, if Christmas carols make you think of a certain name, there’s something Christmas-y there. Therefore, Chiara can be a Christmas name. 🙂 (Once again, I *am* the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where everything turns out to be originally Greek. “Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word himona, is mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!” 😀 )
Anyway, Chiara: did you know it was St. Clare of Assisi‘s actual name? I mean, we call her St. Clare because that’s how you say Santa Chiara in English, but her name was actually Chiara. And our recent, beloved, and oh so relevant for today’s young girls Bl. Chiara Luce Badano (died 1990 at the age of 19) is another amazing namesake. I’ve also read recently about Chiara Corbella Petrillo, who died in 2012 at age 28 for Jesus and her own child in St. Gianna fashion. Beautiful beautiful role models and intercessors for a little girl.
Likely the first question one would have is how the heck do you pronounce Chiara? The Chi- is said like “key,” the -ara is said like “ah-rah.” key-AH-rah. So pretty, right? It can sound a lot like Keira when said quickly, I think, but it’s definitely three syllables. And like Gianna, I think it’s one of those names that transcends ethnicity, as does the Church — St. Chiara of Assisi and Bl. Chiara Luce Badano are ours, whether we’re Italian or not, so I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest this beautiful name to any family.
As for nicknames, it’s one of those names that might not feel right to nickname, if that makes any sense. Kind of like Siena — also a name I wouldn’t think to nickname. But maybe Chi (said “Key”) or Kiki? Kind of like Gigi for Gianna?
What do you think of Chiara? Do you know any Chiaras, especially non-Italian Chiaras? Do they ever go by a nickname, and if so, what is it? Do they like their name?
ETA: I’d also be interested in hearing if you’ve heard other pronunciations besides key-AH-rah. This may be a Gianna situation, where the authentic Italian pronunciation is JOHN-nah but we’ve anglicized it to jee-AH-nah.
ETA2: Gah, sorry! I forgot I’d wanted to reference the art term chiaroscuro — it’s said like Chiara (key-AH-rah) with “scuro” added on, if that helps with pronunciation. (And the chiar– bit references light, it’s the same root as Chiara.)