Spotlight on: Ruby

Julie asked me to do a spotlight on Ruby, which I’ve been really loving in the last couple of years, so I’m delighted to do so! She was specifically hoping for faith-based references beyond the mentions in Proverbs in some translations referring to the value of Wisdom (3:15; 8:11; 20:15) and a good wife (31:10) as being greater than rubies (other translations say “corals,” “jewels,” and even “pearls” instead of rubies — this is a pretty good explanation of why).

This web site said, “The ruby has long been seen as the gem of passion, love, and courage for its vibrant red tone” and this site said rubies signify “friendship, fire, love, royalty, happiness, the opening of the heart,” all of which got me thinking about the courage and blood of Jesus and the courage and blood of the martyrs, and the Passion of Christ and His love for us, and His Sacred Heart, so I did a little research down that path and discovered several products with actual rubies used for Jesus’ heart (e.g., Sacred Heart medal; Sacred Heart with Ruby pendant), and several instances of “ruby” being used instead of “red” to describe the color of an object having to do with the Sacred Heart (e.g., Sacred Heart of Jesus Rosary with Ruby Crystal Beads; Sacred Heart Ruby Chaplet).

As for “ruby” and “red” being interchangeable, I found that “ruby” comes from the Latin ruber, meaning “red,” I loved this description of the reason behind red vestments:

Red has a dual imagery: On one hand, red symbolizes the shedding of blood and is therefore used on Palm Sunday (when Christ entered Jerusalem to prepare for His death), Good Friday, any other commemoration of the Lord’s passion, the votive Mass of the Precious Blood, the days marking the martyrdom of the apostles (except St. John), and the feasts of other martyrs who offered their lives for the faith.

On the other hand, red also signifies the burning fire of God’s love. For this reason, red vestments are won on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and tongues of fire rested on their heads; for the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation; and for the votive Masses of the Holy Spirit.” (source)

I really wanted to find the significance of rubies in art, but couldn’t find anything — do any of you know?

So I’m totally loving the idea of Ruby for the Sacred Heart or for Jesus’ Passion and Death or for the martyrs, and I like that Ruby could also be sort of a Holy Spirit name, based on the red of the tongues of fire that descended upon the Apostles … using Ruby in these ways feels similar to the usage of Cora for the Sacred Heart, and Halle as part of Hallelujah: they require a little explanation but the intention behind the name is impeccable (and you know how I feel about intentions).

As I’ve mentioned before (here and here), I once saw Ruby used as a nickname for Rebecca and I fell head-over-heels for that first name/nickname combo! I thought of other ways of getting to Ruby as a nickname and came up with ideas like:

Rosa Beatrice
Ruth Abigail (although why you wouldn’t go with Ruthie is beyond me)
Roma Benedicta
Regina Kolbe

But I definitely think “just Ruby” could work with the beautiful connections I mentioned above.

What do you think of Ruby? Would you use it on its own as a given name, or would you prefer it as a nickname? Do you know any little girls named Ruby?

69 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Ruby

  1. Another awesome post! I’ve been wanting a name to honor the Sacred Heart. It was very important in my dad’s return to the Faith and with this baby due in June it feels particularly appropriate. The only name I had considered before was June but Ruby is another great option. I wonder what else would work?

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    • Such a great idea! Hmm I’d love to do a post of names for the Sacred Heart … Cora is such a great one too … Something like Ruby Coraline (a little far afield but I think it could work) or Ruby Emmanuelle or Cora Victoria (“victorious heart,” wow!) or Cora Victoire (if you didn’t like the -a/-a of Cora Victoria) or Cora Santina/Sancha … I’m going to be thinking about this! I’m going to do a post on more ideas very soon!

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      • So funny…I was coming back to also recommend the double whammy Sacred Heart name of Ruby Cora (though didn’t like the abrupt sound of it) so also thought of Ruby Corrine (which is close to your Ruby Coraline) or Ruby Cordelia.

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      • The Italian Quorra also means heart from the same etymology. It has almost exactly the same sound as Cora, and is a rare ‘Q’ first letter name. You can take inspiration from the Spanish Corazana, and go with Zana. Zana is sweet and simple but not as potentially too popular like Cora, and it’s one of those cool names that multiple cultures claim as their own, like Nina and Kai.

        Now for names that means sacred, no doubt there are many international names with the meaning, but I can’t think of any Christian ones. However, Jerome comes very, very close, meaning ‘sacred name’. It’s derived from the Greek Hieronimos, hiero “sacred, holy” and nimos “named”. The feminine version is Jeronyma, which I rather like, but suspect many wouldn’t. Anyway, I think the “Jer” or “Jeron” beginning that means ‘sacred’ lends itself to many creative nicknames or other full names.

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  2. I really like Ruby! I already think of Ruby as Christian, because girl names Ruby, Rubini, and Rubina have a feastday in the Greek Orthodox church, after Jacob’s son Ruben/Reuben, also a name associated with red. Ruben has a feastday in several Catholic countries, for which there are some female “Ruby” variants, and possibly more that aren’t listed: http://www.namedaycalendar.com/search/ruben I dislike the name Ruben for some reason, not in terms of sounds, but because of connotations that I cannot place, but isn’t Rufin great? Notice also how Robin and Robina are Slovakian variants for Ruben and Ruby. Robins are red-chested birds, so clearly the words share etymological roots. Do robins have any Christian symbolism?

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  3. Of the “jewel” names (Pearl, Opal, Amber, Jade, etc.) Ruby is my favorite. I think it is a cute name though wouldn’t personally use it as it differs from my style.

    I think Ruby would be a great nickname for a Ruth with middle name or last name B, Ru-B. (Ruth Beatrice, Ruth Brigida, Ruth Bernadette)

    A reference to gems in medieval art said rubies provided strength and prevented lust.

    I also found this reference in A Handbook of Symbols in Christian Art, which says “rubies symbolize the blood of Christ” https://books.google.com/books?id=Km3Y6k06azgC&pg

    An interesting reference to gemstones in Scripture is on Fisheaters site. Several charts there which show various names that gemstones were called and likely counterparts – though there is confusion because ancients had different names. For example some versions of Bible (NIV) use Ruby as one of the stones (6th) of the new city in Revelation 21: 19-21 (other translations use: carnelian, sardius) It also has the 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles associated with those gemstones. Ruben is one obvioulsly and is linked to sardius which we see is sometimes translated ruby. http://www.fisheaters.com/preciousstones.html

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    • Ruth Bernadette! Ohhhh my!! I love what you found in the Handbook of Symbols in Christian Art — perfect! And that’s so interesting about Ruben being linked to rubies! This is exactly the kind of stuff I hoped to find, thank you!!

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    • This is so fascinating, all the connections you can make. The page you link is presented in a rather obscure way, so I dont understand parts of it, but it confirms to me once again that becoming more familiarized with the history of folk wisdom/traditions (such as Western astrology) enrichens our understanding of Christian symbolism and rituals.

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  4. Kate, you and the Holy Spirit did it again: a post on Ruby/Reuben on the very day we named our son Reuben. Amazing!

    Thanks to all for the links about the name Reuben! Keep ’em coming!

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    • eclare! I didn’t see this comment til just now — I didn’t know about little Reuben til I saw on IG last night — but I also thought how cool it was that the Ruby post linked to info about Reuben the very day of your Reuben’s birth day!! So cool!!

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  5. I LOVE the name Ruby!! I love that you were able to find some awesome faith based connections for it!!

    I have a little bit of a funny story about Ruby. I know I’ve talked about my mother’s rather outspoken nature about names she doesn’t like before, but my grandma (her mother) is a completely different story. First off, her name is Ruth Evelyn, which is perfection, but she thinks it’s ugly and old lady-ish so that gives you a starting point about her name taste. Her best friend has two great-grandchildren named Ruby and Oliver, and oh my, the first time she talked about them was the funniest thing. She was like “What the heck?? Do they think they’re naming people who live in a nursing home?? What’s wrong with good popular names Brenda?”

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    • Brenda! 😂😂😂😂😂 THAT is an old lady name!!!!

      My sister loves pointing out to her husband, who is 13 years older than her and ONLY likes names of girls he grew up with (Michelle, Nicole, Brenda, Chantal, Julie, Lisa, Amy, Desiree, Jennifer [of course!], Brandy, etc.), that THESE are the old lady names of today. He DOES NOT get it and they fight A LOT over names. Of course she gets all her naming ideas by stealing things directly off my lists: Josephine, Pearl, and Jasper are examples, although she couldn’t get him to agree on Pestl or Jasper yet. They are incredibly more fertile than we are so they have 2-3 babies for every one we have, so she names a lot more children than I get to.

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    • Funny (“Do they think they’re naming people who live in a nursing home??”)…I enjoyed that. Yes, your grandmother’s generation didn’t name their children after their own generation (who are now in nursing homes…lol), so they went with the “fresh” names and variants of the mid-century (Brenda, Pamela, Susan, Vicki, Nancy), and that generation didn’t want to name from their generation or even their own parents, so went with novel (Tiffany, Melissa, Heather, Amanda) or started some throwback to great-grandparents (Emma, Hannah)

      In most recent decade, parents are continuing with the turn of century throwback and to those names that peaked in the 20-30s – nursing home names… ; )

      I think it takes more than two generation skips (like even though I now like some of what I consider grandparent names – Ruth, Helen, Josephine) I wouldn’t have considered them in my own baby naming days (16-28 years ago) because they were “old lady” names (and those old ladies really were only 60ish, – funny how your perspective changes when you are actually the one getting close to “old lady” age).

      Thanks for a fun conversation.

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      • My favorite part about Brenda was us all trying to convince her that it wasn’t popular anymore. She was like “Karen (my mom) you grew up with so many.” And my mom was like “yeah, in the 60s.” She simply couldn’t believe a good name like Brenda wasn’t used anymore.

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      • I was laughing about this again this morning and thought I remembered the BNW saying something about it relevant to this convo, and I was right: “Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter made her debut in the Sunday funnies in 1940. She was the perfect modern girl, looking like Rita Hayworth and living like Lois Lane. Her fresh Scottish first name fairly bounded from the page. For 30 years that image of Brenda held, but a name can stay modern for only so long.”

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  6. Ruby discussion now has me humming “Ruby Tuesday” in my head (Rolling Stones) and in checking, Ruby is name in many songs including “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” (Kenny Rogers) and more recent “Ruby” (Kaiser Chiefs). Ruby is actually very common in a bunch of country songs and early R&R songs.

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  7. Ruby is my birthstone 🙂 I was born in July. I love the color red with a passion and my greatest joy was finding a birthstone rosary. I carry that beauty everywhere with me, even overseas!

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  8. Thank you for such a beautifully informative spotlight!! I knew you’d do a great job! Since I asked for the spotlight we have hooked onto another name, but this makes me pause and reconsider. 🙂 I just love Ruby so much! Ruby Cordelia was a great suggestion! So lovely!

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  9. So I am totally digging this conversation! Love it all 🙂 Anyway, I love Marian connections in a name, not that Jesus isn’t superb on His own with Ruby, but! I really like Ruby Victoria after our Lady of Victory(ies). I have been sorta stuck on Victoria for about a week after a read about Our Lady of Victory and turning it to Victoria as an honorary tribute to Her

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    • I love that!! Ruby Victoria is beautiful — I love the Our Lady of Victory(ies) reference! — and I love that Ruby could point to the Immaculate Heart of Mary too, right? Being that her heart is red as well and has fire on it and is pierced by a sword? Lovely!!

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  10. Just reading this now — We have a baby ready to come in the next few days, and my husband and I are considering Ruby for a Christmas baby, red being a Christmas color and all! But I love all the other Catholic connections that you listed here too. We are also considering Violet for Advent if she is born this week, maybe Scarlett as another Christmas option. My husband and I have such a difficult time agreeing on names that I can’t believe we are even tossing a few around with themes no less! Our other kids: Jeremiah, Elise, Forrest, and Sylvia…and those were hard-won negotiations to the last minute too :).

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    • WOW Elizabeth! I love your taste in names! Your kiddos are an eclectic bunch — I love it! Ruby, Violet, and Scarlett are all favorites of mine, nice! I’d love to know what you end up choosing, if you care to share! Prayers for you!

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      • I’ll definitely share when we know :). I think this baby is coming on Dec. 21st (midwife plans to keep me and induce since I was 3-4 cm last week, a VBAC, and she is 1.5 hours away through mountain passes). The O Antiphon for that day would be perfect for something like Violet or Ruby combined with a middle name that means “dawn” or “light”…with the violet/ruby color of the sunrise. I’m glad I found your blog — Gives us new inspiration for naming, which has always been a challenge for us!

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      • I thought we’d never have a name because my husband didn’t like anything. But we finally settled on Violet Gloria, which still fits into my hoped-for theme :).

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      • Ohmygoodness I love it!! Beautiful!! Congratulations Elizabeth!! (I’d love to do a birth announcement post, if you’d be ok with that! I love to include photos too [though of course not necessary]…if you’re interested, you could email me! sanctanomina@gmail.com) What a wonderful Christmas present for you!!

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  11. I have a Ruby Beatrice and I am grateful to have read your connections, we chose Ruby as it is a family name but the religious connection to the Sacred Heart is wonderful ( I am a Sacred Heart (RSCJ) girl as a student). Thank you.

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