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!

Spotlight on: Moira

Whew! Moira caused a little bit of a ruckus yesterday in the comments! Have any of the rest of you heard an Irish person tell you Moira is “made up” or “not a real Irish name”?

So I consulted my trusty sources, and this is what they say:

Withycombe (3rd edition: 1977; originally published 1945)
apparently an attempt at rendering phonetically Maire, the Irish form of Mary. Not uncommon in England now.”

Hanks, Hardcastle, Hodges (2nd edition: 2006; first published 1990)
Anglicized form of Irish Máire, now used throughout the English-speaking world.” (Entry on Máire: “From Old French Marie … Moira (Anglicized form)“)

Rosenkrantz and Satran in Beyond Shannon and Sean: An Enlightened Guide to Irish baby naming (1992)
Sometimes particular individuals were responsible for introducing — or popularizing — their Irish monikers. The Names who carried these names include: … Moira Shearer,” who was an “internationally renowned British ballet dancer and actress,” born in Scotland in 1926.

Behind the Name
Anglicized form of MÁIRE. It also coincides with Greek Μοιρα (Moira) meaning “fate, destiny”, the singular of Μοιραι, the Greek name for the Fates. They were the three female personifications of destiny in Greek mythology.” (The pronunciation they give for Máire is “MOY-ra”)

Baby Name Wizard site, from the comments for the Moira entry:

  • First off, it’s pronounced MOR-a not MOyRAH. Sources: it’s my name. It’s the real, original correct Celtic pronunciation. It aquired the moyrah pronunciation when it was translated into English. I took several Irish dance classes when I was younger, and there were 3 other Moiras In it, all with the correct spelling also and correct pronunciation too. When pronounced Moyrah, in my opinion, it loses it’s beauty and it sounds like an old Jewish woman with nasal problems is trying to pronounce it, unsuccessfully”
  • We named our daughter Moira because we wanted a derivation of Mary that wasn’t too common and we love Gaelic names. I had heard the name before (always pronounced MOY-rah)

Abby at Appellation Mountain
Mary became Máire among Irish families, probably via the French Marie.  Like many an Irish name, there’s debate over pronunciation.  I’ve come across MOY yah, MAW yah, MAW rah, MY rah, and even MAY ree, though I think that last one is probably a novel American interpretation.  In any case, pronunciation seems to have varied over place and time.

She was Anglicized as Moira, and is usually pronounced phonetically – MOY rah.  Except that sometimes she was Maura instead, with a different sound … Occasionally you’ll meet a Moira who pronounces it more like Maura … making the whole thing complicated.

But wait – there’s more.  In Ancient Greek mythology, the Three Fates were known as the Moirai.  Moira means portion or part, but is also related to the word moros – fate, and links to our word merit.  You could argue that Moira implies a proper share, a sense of order in the universe, that one gets what one deserves – making her something of a virtue name, a sister to Destiny … Between associations with the Virgin Mary and the classical idea of man’s fate, that’s quite a lot of meaning for a two-syllable name.”; from the comments: “Irish singer Enya has an older sister who also sings. Her name is Maire Brennan, and she apparently pronounces her first name MOY-yah. Actually, I believe in her latest releases she’s used an Anglicised phonetic spelling of her name

Interestingly, I discovered that the actress Moira Kelly, born 1968, is the daughter of Irish immigrants. I put dates where I could (like the birth dates of Moira Shearer and Moira Kelly, and the publication dates of the books) to see if there was historical evidence of its use rather than a modern innovation, because it seems to me when people talk about a name being “made up,” they mean a new name they’ve never heard before. The funny thing is that so many old, established, traditional names were “made up” at one point! Consider this conversation on one of the Baby Name Wizard discussion boards:

Ceilidh versus Cailey
I love the Gaelic spelling of Ceilidh but I hate how trendy Kaylee and every other spelling is. Do you like Ceilidh or Cailey, however?

RESPONSES (a sampling)

  • “When you say Ceilidh are you talking about the Gaelic folk music festivals?”
  • “the Gaelic spelling is a word for a type of party, not a name. The word happens to sound the same as Kaylee”
  • “I do know how to say ceilidh, but as far as I know it’s not a name. It strikes me as similar to naming a child Potluck or Rave” (that one made me laugh!) 😀
  • “As a Scottish person, though not a Gaelic speaker, I can tell you definitively that ceilidh is not a name, it’s a word for a traditional party. I know it sounds like the name Kaylee but it’s not a name”
  • “The Gaelic word ceilidh just happens to sound the same as Kaylee. That doesn’t make it a name. This is true the other way, too: I’ve met people who turn up their noses at Kayleigh/Kaylee/etc. because “that’s a type of party”, but they’re wrong: the name isn’t Gaelic, it just happens to sound like it.”

But then:

  • “I think Ceilidh, like the dance party, is a great name, specifically because it’s an Irish word that sounds like a familiar name. Just because it isn’t used much as a personal name doesn’t mean that it can’t be — I suppose Rose/Daisy/Pearl/Noel/Colleen/any-other-noun-turned-name started out that way as well?

    I say “isn’t used much” rather than “isn’t used” because I do know a little girl with this name. Her mother spelled it differently, in order to make it clearer to Americans — I think she used the spelling Kaeli — but her intention was to give her daughter the Irish word ceilidh as a name.”

  • “I think “you were named for a dance party!” would be a very satisfying name origin story that would help a little Kaylee/Kaeli/whatever spelling feel distinctive from the other Kayleighs/etc”
  • “I probably wouldn’t choose Ceilidh because the pronounciation isn’t clear to me, but I agree, I don’t see why it cannot be used as a name. There are plenty of names that are essentially non-English words.”

I’ve also seen Irish people fuss about Colleen, Erin, and Tara, because those names are more familiar to them as words rather than names. Perhaps like our Tiber, Vesper, Rosary? This also reminds me of the list of invented literary names that have become so commonplace that many (most?) of us don’t realize they came straight out of an author’s head. Like:

  • Imogen — a particularly good example for our purposes here, since Imogen appears to be a mistranscription of the princess Innogen in Shakespeare’s Cymebeline, where Innogen “is probably derived from Gaelic inghean meaning ‘maiden.'” Not too much different from Colleen, which is “from the Irish word cailín meaning ‘girl.'”
  • Miranda — “Derived from Latin mirandus meaning “admirable, wonderful”. The name was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play ‘The Tempest’ (1611). It did not become a common English given name until the 20th century”
  • Vanessa — “Invented by author Jonathan Swift for his poem ‘Cadenus and Vanessa’ (1726). He arrived at it by rearranging the initial syllables of the first name and surname of Esther Vanhomrigh, his close friend”

But in all of this, it’s just a matter of unfamiliarity — if a person from Ireland, who’s only familiar with the noun ceilidh, meets someone named Ceilidh, I can see why their first reaction is, “That’s not a name!” Similar to the Rave/Potluck comment above.

But that’s not the case with Moira — it’s got a good history of use among those who are Irish and Scottish, even if some might disagree about whether it’s an appropriate anglicization of Máire or not, and disagree on pronunciation as well; not only that, but I would say its use is almost exclusively as “an Irish form of Mary,” the connection to the Greek word for the Fates notwithstanding. Truly, I think Moira is absolutely legitimate as an Irish Marian name. (There’s also a place named Moira — a town in Co. Down (Northern Ireland) — so from that perspective it could be considered similar to Bethany, Belén, Roma, and even Clare (Co. Clare), if you preferred.)

Would you be intimidated against using Moira if someone from Ireland told you it was “made up” or “not a real Irish name”? Has this post helped clarify that it absolutely can be considered an Irish Marian name, or do you disagree with my conclusion? (Feel free to be honest! And if you know any more about Moira, please share!)


Baby name consultant: Little Miss after 5 boys, and rethinking the planned name

Genie, who blogs at Barefoot Abbey, and her husband are expecting their first girl after five boys! She writes,

Our moniker muddle is that after 5 boys we are expecting a girl (in the middle of February) and are now rethinking the previously intended girl name philosophy from our courtship.

Being Anglo/celtophiles and my husband’s pride in his Scotch-Irish heritage have been factors in our sons’ names. We also try to use repetitive or similar sounds in each child’s name as a whole. For girls, our original philosophy was for our first daughter to have a Mary inspired name and then saint names (many my patronesses) for any subsequent daughters.

We have had “Moira Immaculee Clare” as our first girl name for 10 years. [Clare is a family name] … I like Therese in that spot as well.

We know about 5 Moiras over the age of 5 … Also concern was voiced that Moira did not match the other future girl names on our list.”

It’s an interesting dilemma, having had the same name chosen for ten years and five other babies, only to be unsure when it actually comes time to use it!

Genie shared the other girl names on their list, so we could see if it’s true that Moira doesn’t match the other names:

Moira Immaculee Clare
• Moira – Irish/ Scottish variant of Mary, we like the possible nickname of Molly – we just aren’t “Mo” people.
• Immaculee – obviously Marian name, we love the sound but don’t think it will work for us as a first name, coincidentally Ladybird’s (our baby) due date is near the feast of OL of Lourdes.
• Clare – family name, saint

Josephine Felicity Marie – “Josie/Jojo”
• Josephine – for Bl. Josephine Leroux martyr of the French Revolution.
• Felicity – love the meaning of the name and Ss. Felicity & Perpetua
• Marie – Marian

Genevieve Imelda Faith “Gigi”
• Genevieve – patroness, my baptismal but not legal name
• Imelda – patroness, confirmation saint at my reception into the Church from Anglicanism in ’11
• Faith – meaning

Margaret Gemma Therese – “Meg” (Little Women)
•Margaret – patroness, Ss. Margaret Clitherow & Margaret of Scotland, my 3rd baptismal name.
•Gemma – love the modern saint’s story
• Therese – love the simplicity of her little way.

Lucy Elinor Hope
• Lucy – St. Lucy day is one of our family’s favorites in Advent, Lucia of Fatima, C. S. Lewis, Lucy Maud Montgomery
• Elinor – my husband was born in the Feast of St. Helena, Austen spelling (Sense & Sensibility)
• Hope – meaning

Emmelia Magdalene Rose – “Emmie/Mila”
• Emmelia – patroness, mother of saints
• Magdalene – love that she was the first follower to see Jesus after the Resurrection, first son was due on Good Friday and was almost “Moira Magdalene Clare”
• Rose – Marian

Elizabeth Azelie Jane – “Eliza Jane” (Little House)
• Elizabeth – patroness, St. Elizabeth of Hungry, my legal middle name
• Azelie – patroness
• Jane – my husband’s grandmother & aunt, Jane Eyre

Beatrix Evangeline Hope/Anne – “Beasy”
• Beatrix – St. Beatrix of Nazareth
• Evangeline – love the sound of this, I want to say there is an obscure connection to Mary here?
• Hope – meaning
• Anne – St. Anne (Mary’s mom) & St. Anna Maria Taigi, Green Gables spelling

Aren’t they each gorgeous? I love all the meaning behind each one! The faith significance, the literary references, the nicknames (Beasy!) — wonderful job all around!

Some further info about girl names:

Our sons are pushing for Charlotte but that’s most likely due to their love of Charlotte’s Web, and not the martyr of Compiegne. Lol!

The other philosophy we are currently considering is forgoing Moira or a Marian first name. For that theme, we would go straight into girl saint names but have a Mary connection in each daughter’s name. Unfortunately, we’re having a hard time being that creative with Marian derivatives.”

Genie’s little Miss will be joining the following well-named brothers:

Malachi Benedict Aquinas
• Malachi – first canonized saint of Ireland, “Carrots” is one of his nicknames
• Benedict – St. Benedict was a big part of our pre-marriage prep, Pope Benedict XVI
• Aquinas – Our courtship began on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Noah Oliver Francis
• Noah – my husband liked the sound & justified it as being close to the Gaelic word for saint
• Oliver – last canonized saint of Ireland, he usually goes by “Noah Oliver” or the Gaelic pronounced “Ollibear”
• Francis – the patron of the parish we’d attended all our marriage. He took me there after the pub on our first date.

Liam Michael Damien
• Liam – Bl. Liam Tirry one of the 17 Irish martyrs, his nickname is the Scottish term of endearment “Ducky”
• Michael – St. Michael is one of my husband’s patrons along with St. Thomas Becket & St. John the Baptist.
• Damien – St. Damien of Molokai, my dad used to go build for the remainder of his colony.

Aelred Dominic John (this is the son we lost)
• Aelred – St. Aelred the English St. Bernard, Spiritual Friendship author, one of our sons’ favorite lullabies is Robert Burns’ “A Red Red Rose” – he was due in June.
• Dominic – St. Dominic, OL of the Rosary, meaning (belonging to God)
• John – my husband’s brother (has all daughters), patron, meaning (God is gracious)

Henry Andrew James
• Henry – St. Henry Walpole & Bl. John Henry Newman
• Andrew – St. Andrew of Scotland, my husband’s middle name, he was conceived the day after praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena
• James – St. James the Great, my grandfather’s name, his nickname is “Camino” (he’s the path God chose for our family)

And the names they’d considered if this baby had been a boy:

George Ignatius Eliot
Charles/Maximilian Joseph Louis

Just sighs of happiness all around! Great great names.

So, to start, I love Moira Immaculee Clare, a really lovely name. I’m so surprised that Genie knows multiple Moiras! I don’t think I’ve ever met any in real life, being more familiar with Maura, which is my first suggestion — perhaps they’d consider changing to Maura Immaculee Clare? I know a little Maura who goes by Molly. Maybe that would be different enough to distinguish from the other little Moiras they know, but close enough to still feel like that got to use their beloved name? Secondly, when it comes to Irish and Scottish names, I tend to not worry about, for example, sisters Moira and Josephine not matching in style — especially in Ireland, which is what I’m more familiar with, families often have a mix of super-Irish names and others, usually saints. I know a family with a Kevin, Michael, and Dermot, for example, and another with Mary and Padraic, and another with Robert and Maeve. So I think it’s totally fine.

I know Mary isn’t as exciting as Moira, but I wondered what they’d think of that? Mary Immaculee Clare is wonderful, and Molly can still be used as a nickname. Or maybe Molly Immaculee Clare? My sister is just Molly and my sister-in-law is Molly and I grew up with multiple girls named Molly/Mollie — just that, not as a nickname for Mary or another variant. Maria is also quite well used in the British Isles/Ireland (you could even pronounce it like Mariah if you wanted to be really British and confuse everyone! 😀 I have a friend who gave her daughter the middle name Maria, with Maria pronounced Mariah). Or Mariah itself? I’ve always loved it.

I posted the other day about the idea of reserving names for future babies and something one of the commenters said that has really stuck with me — and I think might be helpful here — is “which name would I be sadder not to use?” In that example, a family had chosen Felicity for a girl, only to discover they were expecting a boy, and someone had suggested Felix, which would mean they couldn’t/wouldn’t use Felicity if they ever had a girl. Would they be sadder to never get to use Felicity? For Genie, would she and her hubs be sadder/would it bother them more to cross Moira off their list, or to use a name that might bother another family and potentially be seen as not fitting with future sisters?

Regarding Evangeline as having an obscure connection to Mary, I don’t know of any official (though obscure) connections, but I think one could make a case for it, since Evangeline means “good news” and Mary was the first hearer and the bearer of Good News — perhaps she could even be thought of as the First Evangelist? I’ve often said that intention matters the most, more than a name’s actual meaning etc., so if one’s intention is to honor Mary with Evangeline and you feel you have a good way of making it all connect, I say go for it!

I didn’t know about the martyr of Compiegne, Sr. Charlotte of the Resurrection! I did a post a while ago on patrons for Caroline/Charlotte, and my heaviest focus was on the male saints (JP2, Borromeo, etc.) — I’ll have to add this new Charlotte! It’s actually a really strong style match for a lot of the names Genie and her hubs like, and with the new baby princess being Charlotte, they’ve got a great Anglophile connection there!

As for Marian derivatives, there are so many! They’ve done a great job already with Moira, Immaculee, Marie, Hope (OL of Hope), and Rose. Others that might interest them include Grace; Marian (always makes me think of Maid Marian, not a bad association!); Maureen/Mairenn; Miriam; Perpetua; Assumpta and Carmel, both of which are used in Ireland; Regina and Caeli, as well as some others I include below in my “official” suggestions.

So now, onto those suggestions! Not that I think they really need any, their list is amazing! But I thought these might strike the right notes:

(1) Annabel
Given Genie’s husband’s love of all things Scottish and her hope for a Marian name, Annabel was one of my very first thoughts for them! Behind the Name says Annabel is a “Variant of AMABEL influenced by the name ANNA. This name appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages” … Amabel is a “Medieval feminine form of AMABILIS,” who was a fifth century (male) saint, but Amabilis is a “Late Latin name meaning “lovable”” — the very name used in the Marian title Mater Amabilis — Mother Most Amiable (where amiable=lovable). How great is that?? A pretty specifically Scottish Marian name! I love Annabel (could also spell it Annabelle), mostly for its Marian meaning, but also because visually it connects to St. Anne, one of my personal patrons and of course the patroness of this blog.

(2) Eva or Eve
I was thinking of Aoife for them, and I do love it, but I suspect they’d want something a little easier to work with, and Genie’s idea of Evangeline made me think of it. Eva can be pronounced EE-va or AY-va and goes back to Mary as the New Eve. They could also consider just Eve — I had a convo on the blog recently with a mom who was considering Eve, for Mary, but worried it wasn’t Marian enough and asked for any ideas for a middle that would help remedy that … I suggested Eve Immaculata, which just has a beautiful, meaningful ring to me, and the mom responded that she also really liked Immaculee, and given that Immaculee already features prominently in Genie’s girl list, it seems a great idea. They might also want to consider Evangeline for a first name?

(3) Rosemary/Rosemarie, Rosary
I had a friend in Ireland years ago named Rosemarie and I loved it. I also love Rosemary. Nicknames for both can include Romy or Rory/Rorie, which are the kinds of nicknames I love — a little offbeat, but with a great, solid, traditional given name. And Rosie/Rosey are of course really great nicknames.

A reader on the blog actually named her daughter Rosary! I love love love it! That family had some Irish names for their other kids, so I thought Genie might be interested in checking them out. Little Rosary herself has the full name of Rosary Brigid Elise, and her mom recently said that she often calls her Rose.

(4) Lourdes
One of the great things about the Irish (and I know I’m focusing a lot on the Irish, but I’m just not as familiar with Scotland — I hope my thoughts are transferable!) is that they use holy names of all kinds, ethnicities, languages, etc. I know of Irish girls named Jacinta and Philomena and Gemma — especially in the old days I think, they just used a lot of names of our faith, no matter where they came from. So Lourdes (as with Carmel above) strikes me as just the kind of name they might use, if they wanted to use a Marian name. I’ve written a bit about the family at the blog My Child I Love You, because the parents have scrumptious taste in names, and their youngest is Lourdes Marie Talbot. I could see Lulu and Lola working as nicknames for Lourdes, and I even think Lucy could work! Especially with a middle name like Cecilia — Lourdes Cecilia has all the sounds of Lucy. And Genie’s baby is actually due right around the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes! (The Lourdes I mentioned above was born on that same feast day!)

(5) Stella
Finally, Stella. It’s one of my favorites — I feel like I suggest it to everyone! It’s from the Marian title Stella Maris — Star of the Sea. Stella on its own is a lovely nod to Our Lady, or perhaps they’d prefer to use Stella (first name) with Maris (middle name). Or, Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas has a daughter Gwen with the middle name Stellamaris (all one word). And a reader of my blog named her daughter Maristella, which is a totally legitimate variant of the Marian title (birth announcement here, and I posted a pictureposted a picture of Our Lady, Star of the Sea on my Instagram that had “Ave Maris Stella” underneath). I kind of love the connection of the sea to Ireland and Scotland! My grandfather was born and raised in Ireland, in a coastal town, and he worked his way to the U.S. on a ship; the UK’s Apostleship of the Sea has “Stella Maris Masses” said for the seafolk in places including Aberdeen and Glasgow. So cool, right?

And those are all my thoughts and ideas for Genie’s little baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest?

March for Life: Comfort and confidence in the Holy Name of Jesus

I really wanted to write about the March for Life today, I feel like my heart’s right in D.C. with the marchers who are braving the cold and snow and ridicule and hatred and silent media all for the babies. And I thought — what better way than by writing about the Holy Name of Jesus? I found such comfort in the Holy Name during the height of the Planned Parenthood Videos expose, even writing about it in my August column: Planned Parenthood vs. the Holy Name of Jesus. I also looked into devotion to the Holy Name a little more, and was delighted to discover that the saint my alma mater was named after, St. Bernardine of Siena, was THE promoter of the Holy Name! And then yesterday my mom and I were talking about Jesus’ different names and what they mean, specifically Christ, Emmanuel, Jesus, and Messiah. So I thought I’d do just a small bit of info about each:

From Behind the Name: “Means ‘anointed’, derived from Greek χριω (chrio) ‘to anoint’. This was a name applied to Jesus by early Greek-speaking Christians. It is a translation of the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (mashiyach), commonly spelled in English messiah, which also means ‘anointed’.”

There are a lot of names connected to Christ that are familiar, like Christian, Christopher, Christine/a, and some that are unfamiliar, like (according to the DMNES): Christophera, Christred, Christwin, and Christwina! I think my favorite version is Christiana.

From Behind the Name: “From the Hebrew name עִמָּנוּאֵל (‘Immanu’el) meaning ‘God is with us’. This was the foretold name of the Messiah in the Old Testament. It has been used in England since the 16th century in the spellings Emmanuel and Immanuel, though it has not been widespread. The name has been more common in continental Europe, especially in Spain and Portugal (in the spellings Manuel and Manoel).”

I know you’ll laugh, but ever since seeing Manny the Mammoth in Ice Age, I’ve though Manny was a pretty great nickname for a boy, and I love the meaning of Emmanuel. It would be great for a Christmas baby! I love the feminine variants Emmanuelle and Emmanuela as well — lots of good nickname options! Emma, Ella, Nell(a), and even Manny (my husband’s godmother’s name was one of the Emmanuel variants [I’m just not sure which] and she went by Manny).

From Behind the Name: “English form of Ιησους (Iesous), which was the Greek form of the Aramaic name יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a). Yeshu’a is itself a contracted form of Yehoshu’a (see JOSHUA). Yeshua ben Yoseph, better known as Jesus Christ, was the central figure of the New Testament and the source of the Christian religion. The four Gospels state that he was the son of God and the Virgin Mary who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. He preached for three years before being crucified in Jerusalem.”

“Yeshua ben Yoseph” always jumps out at me — it’s equal parts so cool and also so common. Does that make sense? I always think of Him as Jesus, which equals God in my mind; seeing Yeshua ben Yoseph makes Him seem so “normal.” Which of course he was, both, God and Man, fully. What an awesome mystery.

This is the Joshua bit: “From the Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a) meaning “YAHWEH is salvation”. Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan by Moses, as told in the Old Testament. After Moses died Joshua succeeded him as leader of the Israelites. As an English name, Joshua has been in use since the Protestant Reformation. The name Jesus comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic short form יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a), which was the real name of Jesus.”

See Christ above. The entry at Nameberry references that Tennessee judge who ruled that parents couldn’t name their son Messiah “because there’s only one” — it was overturned, and in fact the name Messiah was #298 in 2014!

I was delighted to discover recently that the month of January also happens to be devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus! I’m sure it’s no coincidence — even if the organizers of the March for Life didn’t realize that in the beginning, we all know Heaven did.

So I have a small giveaway today! I have three copies of Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P.’s book The Wonders of the Holy Name, and how I’d like to do it is offer them first to any of you readers that might be at the March for Life today. I know you’re probably not reading this if you are! So I won’t choose the recipients until Sunday evening, in hopes that gives enough time to get home, thaw out (!), and catch up on your blog reading. 🙂 Second, if none of our readers are marchers, I’d like to give them to any of you who personally know a marcher, who can pass it on to that person. Finally, if there are no marchers and no friends of marchers, I’ll pick randomly from those who comment on this post. It’s a powerful little book! And I love the dedication: “This booklet is lovingly dedicated to the Sweet Mother of Jesus. No one loves the name of Jesus as she does.”

Therefore God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth …” (Philippians 2:9-10).

From the footnote in my bible (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Second Edition RSV): “heaven … earth … under the earth: The three principal realms in the worldview of ancient Israel (Ex 20:4). Homage will come from all creatures great and small — the angels and saints above, the family of man and beasts spread over the earth, and the dead and the demons of the underworld.”

(You might also be interested in reading my post from the summer: I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names, which doesn’t mention the Name of Jesus but totally should. It does reference Call Him Emmett and the 50 Million Names project.)