Spotlight on: Joan

One of you recently requested a spotlight on Joan and I’d been thinking about it and looking up bits and pieces here and there and then I read this on the DMNES blog:

Joan: Many people may not realize that this is in fact a Biblical name, the name of a woman healed by Jesus and who later accompanied him as a disciple. She was later venerated as a saint, but it was the use of this name by many medieval queens, in addition to the “Maid of Orleans”, Joan of Arc, that helped the name maintain its place as one of the most popular women’s names throughout history.” (emphasis mine)

And knew it was time for the spotlight. 🙂

So Joan is a feminine form of John, which is a great way to start — any of the Sts. John could be honored with a little Joan. But there are loads of amazing Joans (in various forms — I’ll get to that in a minute) that are great patrons for a little girl.

First off, the biblical Joan mentioned above is, I believe, the woman whose name is usually given as Joanna; she’s mentioned briefly in Luke 8:3 as one of the women who accompanied Jesus as He “went on through cities and villages, preaching bringing the good news of the kingdom of God” (Lk 8:1):

And the Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.” (Lk 8:1-3)

The footnote in my Bible (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Second Edition RSV) is particularly awesome regarding those verses (Lk 8:1-3):

Jesus’ urgent mission left no time for him and the disciples to settle into a trade. Several women thus accompanied them to offer provisions and financial assistance. This challenged Jewish custom, which discouraged men from associating with women in public (Jn 4:27).”

(That reference to Jn 4:27 is this: “Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman …”) (The woman was the Samaritan woman; interesting that they marveled that He was talking with a woman, rather than with a Samaritan.)

Then of course there’s St. Joan of Arc — a totally awesome warrior woman! She’s also known as Jean/Jeanne/Jehanne.  A personal favorite of mine is the mother of St. Dominic, known variously as Bl. Joan/Jane/Joanna/Juana of Aza. There are a whole bunch of others (lots of Sts. John included in that list as well).

Speaking of variants, these are all listed in the DMNES entry on Joan — they all had medieval use (I’m not listing all the variants — there are tons! But these were either my favorites or the ones I was most surprised by):

Genne, Genet
Jane, Jayn, Jayne, Jeyne, Jaen, Jaine
Jean, Jeanne, Geane
Jehanne, Jehenne, Jehanette
Joana, Joanna, Johanna
Joane, Jone
Juana, Juanita
Zoana, Zoanna

Awesome list, right? So many great ways to honor a Joan! Re: Ione, I’d recently come across this book, which lists several places in literature (like Shakespeare) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan (read the bottom of p. 156 and top of p. 157 — the link takes you right to it).

As for Joan itself, I’ve always thought the nickname Joanie is sweet, and Jo/Joey could also work; I’ve also seen Nonie. In this case, of course, the nicknames would be more affectionate or spunky rather than true diminutives or need for something shorter — you can’t get much shorter than the one-syllable Joan! There are a million nicknames for its variants too (Jane et al.), but I won’t get into them here.

What do you all think of Joan? Would you consider it for your daughter, or have you? Do you prefer one of its variants? Do you know any Joans (big or little), and if so, what do they think of their name? Do they go by nicknames?

Birth announcement: Edmund Terence Emmanuel!

It’s a two-birth-announcement day!! Wooo!! 😀

A mama I did a private consultation for not too long ago let me know her baby boy has arrived, and she and her husband gave him the incredible name … Edmund Terence Emmanuel!

She writes,

I’ve been meaning to write and tell you about our finally born and named little Christmas present!

Edmund Terence Emmanuel was born on December 27 – a week late!

We didn’t finally agree on our boy name until Christmas Day, so I guess it was good he was so late.  And I honestly thought he was a girl, so I didn’t think we would be using the boy name!

So, here are the details on his name:

Edmund has practically always been on my boy name list, since I began to love St. Edmund Campion when I read Evelyn Waugh’s biography back in middle school.

Since my husband finally agreed to Edmund, I let him pick whatever he wanted for a middle name, and he ended up with the uncommon name Terence, since it had been used in his family.

Then we both felt that since our son Peter’s full name is so long it would make sense to give another boy at least one more name, plus you know I really wanted that Christmas connection.  Emmanuel was not really being considered before, but it just fit in perfectly, and it gives Edmund the same number of syllables in his full name as Peter has.  And of course, it’s about as Christmas-y a name as you can get!

And you might have noticed that we now have an Edmund and a Peter!  More people than I expected have noticed the Narnia connection!  And we now have two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve too. 😉

In the end, his name was a compromise, but it continues to grow on me as I fall in love with my sweet baby boy.  I call him Edmund, but my husband and kids have been saying Eddie a lot, which is sweet too.”

How amazingly handsome is that name?? I LOVE Emmanuel for a Christmas baby, and I LOVE the Narnia connection! Two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve! 😀 And St. Edmund Campion. I mean, really. So great.

I also love (LOVE) how she says, “his name was a compromise, but it continues to grow on me as I fall in love with my sweet baby boy.” I’ve experienced that myself, and I’m sure you have too — it gives good hope that whatever name your give your sweet wee one will likely quickly become a favorite, even if it started as a compromise.

Little Edmund joins big sibs:

Grace Elizabeth
Helen Ann
Michael Eugene Gerard Peter, Jr. (“This mouthful of a name is the same as my husband; he very much wanted a junior. But my husband goes by Michael, and our son goes by Peter“)

Such wonderful names! I also love how they worked with Dad’s desire for a junior, but Dad and Son go by different names. I also love that new baby Edmund’s name matches his big brother’s in number of syllables — Master Class naming!

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

Edmund Terence Emmanuel and his big sisters and brother

Birth announcement: Kyteria Quinn!

I posted a consultation for Shannon from Organic Mama’s Shop back in March, and I’ve actually referred to it quite a bit in my own research for other families as it was the first time I’d heard about Ven. Edel Quinn, and the info I found about her and her name that I put in Shannon’s post has been so helpful for me and for others.

I recently connected with Shannon, and she told me that her baby was born April 11, and they named her … Kyteria Quinn!

Shannon writes,

My husband googled ‘bad ass Saint’ and found St. Quiteria! (Cool story, truly bad ass!) We went with the more ancient spelling of the name so that there wouldn’t be 2 Qs 😉 “

How cool is that?? I’m particularly impressed because Katrina and Kateri were both on their list, and Kyteria is pretty similar in appearance and sound, but totally different and unique at the same time. Also, once again, thanks to Shannon and her baby naming, I’ve learned about a new holy lady: St. Quiteria.

Congratulations to Shannon and her husband Zach and older sibs Trinity, Isabelle, Veronica, Gabriel, and Seraphina, and happy birthday Baby Kyteria!!


Kyteria Quinn

Camp Patton is back!

I know from the number of clicks over to Grace Patton’s blog from old posts on mine over the past few months that many of you were as devastated as I was when she stopped blogging. But good news! She’s back! If you’ve been missing the Camp, or if you have yet to be introduced to it, hop on over! She’s a mama with some insanely well-named kiddos!

Men Who Love Mary: MFVA

Grace shared a link in the comments yesterday to an ah-MAZ-ing group of men — the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA).


Rev. Fr. Patrick Mary
Rev. Fr. Leonard Mary
Rev. Fr. Anthony Mary
Rev. Fr. Joseph Mary
Rev. Fr. Mark Mary
Rev. Fr. Dominic Mary
Rev. Fr. Miguel Marie
Rev. Fr. John Paul Mary
Rev. Fr. Paschal Mary
Br. John Therese Marie
Br. Leo Mary
Br. Bernard Mary
Br. Tarcisius Maria
Br. Matthew Mary
Br. James Francis

I did search around a little trying to find an official explanation of why they use a form of Mary as their last names and how they choose their religious names, but couldn’t find anything. I did find this, from their Constitutions:

9. Our two pillars are the Eucharist and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the mantle of the Magisterium of the Church.

So yeah, they’re big Mary Men. I also love that Br. John Therese took Therese as part of his name! And I found this article, which gives a little paragraph about why Fr. Paschal took the name Paschal.

All in all, a very satisfying start to today’s name thoughts!

Reading round-up

Buckle up guys, I’ve been adding to my “reading round-up” list for months now — today’s the day! I’m getting it done!

Grace told me about a NYC gathering she’d gone to called Catholic Underground, which is totally the kind of thing I would have loved when I was in college, and the name of the director:

Of course, it was fabulous with an hour of adoration and getting to see one of the actual missionary images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But the reason I’m emailing you is not just to tell you about a great experience but to share with you an awesome religious name I spotted. On the little flier we got walking in the door there was a nice little letter from the director of Catholic Underground, and his name is…….Br. Mark-Mary!!! How cool is that!? It’s so rare that you see men take feminine names, so it just makes me so happy to see it when it happens!

I love that!! #MenWhoLoveMary

Emma wanted to be sure I’d seen this post (from early December) over at Swistle’s blog, saying, “Oh boy, does Swistle ever need Sancta Nomina over at her blog today!!!!” Haha! The mom writing is expecting her third, and her older two are Harriet Paloma (“Hattie”), and Hugo Campion. Ohh my! In her dilemma letter she writes things like,

Their middle names feel (to my ears) more modern and have religious significance (“Paloma,” meaning “dove” which stands both for peace and for the Holy Spirit, “Campion,” after St. Edmund Campion)


[regarding the fact they’re considering Consuelo] I have always been fascinated by the French and Spanish-language tradition of naming children after the Virgin Mary, but using her many titles or apparition locations. English is pretty limited when it comes to honor names for the Blessed Mother. We have Mary, Marie, and some more unusual, but related, variants such as Mae, Mamie, Maren, Molly. But nothing compared with the range and diversity of the French/Spanish naming tradition: Lourdes, Carmel, Soledad, Guadalupe, Luz, Amparo, Araceli, Socorro, Belen, Pilar, Delores. And on and on! My daughter’s godmother is Monserrat after Our Lady of Monserrat (love!!).”

I would indeed have loved to get my hands on that dilemma! But this bit from Swistle sums up my feelings pretty exactly (the question was Margaret vs. Consuelo as a first name):

Margaret Consuelo is a pretty kick-butt name, and coordinates beautifully with Harriet Paloma and Hugo Campion. Paloma (peace) and Consuelo (solace) are particularly well-matched.”

Speaking of Swistle, I also loved the sib set in this post: Charles (Huck), Isaac, Katherine, and Seth. (I love Huck for Charles!!) One of the commenters (our very own eclare!) said she guessed the family might be Catholic, based on the size of the family, the kids’ names (which she accurately described as “saint/biblical”), and some on their list (including Xavier), and I agree. I was disappointed by Swistle’s reply though — she said, “I don’t think Seth or Charlotte are saint names,” which is misleading. Seth the Patriarch (from the Old Testament) appears in Book of Saints by the Monks of Ramsgate as well as Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints, and his feast day is March 1. There are also several Blesseds Charlotte, and, as eclare correctly pointed out, Charlotte can be and is often used as an honor name for any of the Sts. Charles/Karl/Carl/Carlo/Karol.

One more Swistle post: Baby Names to Consider: Classic/Traditional Names with Atypical/Non-Traditional Nicknames. I loved reading the ideas from her and the commenters!

Shelby told me about this article: The Saint behind the Jagermeister Logo is also one of the 14 Holy Helpers. I love finding out stuff like that! As Shelby put it, it “goes well with your post about Catholic things in plain sight like the Sophie the Giraffe.” “Catholic things in plain sight”! I love that!

It reminds me of something else I read recently: Nutella Founder Dies, Said Secret of Success Was Our Lady of Lourdes: Devout Catholic took employees to visit site of Marian apparitions. Yes, Nutella is now my new favorite food. 🙂

Then there was this: A 3yo boy named Diesel will only answer to Popcorn, and so his parents are going to legally change his name.

The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources is one of my favorite resources, and I was so struck by one of its recent blog posts about the rise of certain names in Protestant records after the Reformation that I raised a question:


The Apocrypha in this context are the books (or parts of books, as in the case of Daniel) that are part of the Catholic bible but not part of the Protestant bible. (As opposed to books Catholics consider to be apocryphal, like the Protoevangelium of James.) It was so strange to me that Judith (the book of Judith is rejected by Protestants) and Susan (the English form of Susanna(h), from the part of the book of Daniel that’s considered apocryphal by Protestants) would receive an uptick in use by Protestants after the Reformation. So interesting! And even better — the DMNES team (including our own Sara) is on it!


I find stuff like this so fascinating. As I said to Sara, I learn so much about culture, religious, politics, history, and language through names. I can’t wait to read what she comes up with!

I was also interested by this bit in the DMNES post on New Testament names after the Reformation, about our dear St. Anne:

Anne: This name could be classified as either an Old Testament name or a New Testament name. In the OT, this was the name of the mother of Samuel (more often modernly transliterated as Hannah); in the apocrypha, Anne is usually identified as the mother of Mary, though she is not named explicitly in the NT. Whatever the origin and whatever the spelling, this name was always common; it was, in fact, one of the most common feminine names throughout all of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, due primarily to the early veneration of the mother of Mary. The name was so well entrenched that the Protestant turning away from the veneration of the saints did not cause any reduction in its popularity.” (emphasis mine)

How cool is that! It’s also particularly funny that its entrenchment was “due primarily to the early veneration of the mother of Mary” — not only a saint, despite “the Protestant turning away from the veneration of the saints,” but a saint who’s never named in the bible we all agree on, nor even in the apocrypha rejected by Protestantism — Mary’s mother’s name is only given in the Protoevangelium of James, so its use is totally due to Catholic tradition. She’s a great lady, that St. Anne. 🙂 ❤

Finally, I was enjoying these dilemmas on the Baby Name Wizard site recently:

Thoughts on Gemma

Bishop as a first name?

Religious or not religious? (this mom has since figured out a solution, but I really liked some of the ideas offered in this post)

(Also, I think the commenter Optatus Cleary would like it here. 🙂 )

Whew! I think that’s all I have for today!

ETA: Oh! Also this: Twitter Reveals That All Kids Hate Their Names (my takeaway: pray and do the best you can, and then don’t worry), and this: Are There Any More Z Names? Neither the author (Laura Wattenberg herself) nor any of the commenters mentioned Zelie/Azelie!



Five Facts Name Tag

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the Five Facts Name Tag I posted the other day. It was fun! I thought I’d post it here for those of you who haven’t seen it, and I’d love to see your answers.

1. What would you name your alter ego?
Vesper Verity Vita. It refers to prayer, truth, and life; Vesper’s also a Bond girl & Verity’s the sweet & determined Poldark character; and it’s alliterative like a Stan Lee superhero. Boom. 😀

2. What name would people be surprised you like?
Caden & Caley

3. What would you name your house?
Ballyboys! 😀 Bally’s Irish for “place of” and there are eight people in my house and I’m the only girl.

(I should also note that Ballyboys was a last minute idea — I’d previously named our house [yes I did] Acorn Manor [I think. I can’t remember for sure!], because we have a lot of oak trees and a looooooooottttt of acorns, and because Manor sounded hilariously grand for our modest not-big home. I named our first house, which had been my grandmother’s and was smaller than a postage stamp, An Cead Cottage — which I believe means The First Cottage [an cead means “the first” in Irish, unless it doesn’t — anyone who knows Irish, feel free to correct me!])

4. What would you rename yourself if you had to use a name that had none of the letters from your name?

5. What would you rename Instagram?

There were a few other Instagrammers who participated, and I was particularly impressed with some of the ideas for renaming Instagram, like Meagan at Tulip By Any Name who said “Happy Snappy” and Alexia Mae at Names Daily who said “Pixel Place.” So clever!

A couple of you also participated on IG but I won’t link to them unless you want me to (I live in fear of publicly posting something I shouldn’t!), or feel free to leave your link in the comments! Or just your answers if you prefer!