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):
Jane, Jayn, Jayne, Jeyne, Jaen, Jaine
Jean, Jeanne, Geane
Jehanne, Jehenne, Jehanette
Joana, Joanna, Johanna
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?