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.)

Ann or Anne?

I posted some photos of a beautiful stained glass window depicting St. Ann(e) on Instagram earlier this evening (here and here), and found it notable that “St. Ann” was written beneath her image, and then “In memory of Mrs. Anne Quinn” — both spellings on one window.

So I asked how many prefer Ann or Anne and have gotten several responses (Anne by a landslide, which was my grandmother’s spelling, and the one Anne Shirley vastly preferred, and the spelling I always unconsciously default to, though I’m delighted that one follower let us know her middle name is Ann, which is the spelling of my best friend from growing up’s middle name, and she’s an amazing person, so — good company!). I also posted a poll to Twitter and so far everyone’s voted for Anne (three people).

I looked them up, and Anne is the “French form of ANNA. In the 13th-century it was imported to England, where it was also commonly spelled Ann.” Indeed, Ann is described as the “English form of ANNE (1). In the English-speaking world, both this spelling and Anne have been used since the Middle Ages, though Ann became much more popular during the 19th century.” I checked out the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources to see if there was additional info, and discovered the name Tanneken! It’s a diminutive of Ann(e) — I’m loving it! It’s totally the kind of nickname/diminutive that I go nuts for.

Any of you who haven’t yet commented on IG or voted on Twitter — which spelling do you prefer and why?

I wrote about the Kimye baby for

Oh yes I did. Check it out:

The Naming of Saint West


(Isn’t that one of the nicest pictures of them you’ve ever seen? I love how soft and pretty her hair is, and how happy they look.)

I’d love to know what you think of the article! I’m a little bit controversial in it. (I mean, as controversial as Catholic baby naming can be.) One of you may have been quoted in it (not naming any names, I think you’ll you know you are. 😉 ).



Do you reserve names for later use?

The consultation I posted on November 23 was for a family that had picked out Felicity for a girl — a beloved name, full of meaning for them — only to discover they were having a boy.

Grace commented, “My suggestion is Felix! Since she was really excited about Felicity’s meaning and saintly pedigree, Felix really seems the perfect alternative to me! Popular in the UK, Spain, and Germany, it definitely has a hip, continental thing about it while not being unusual or hard to pronounce, and the x-ending makes it flow very well into middle names beginning with either a vowel or a consonant! I think it’s super awesome for them,” which several of us agreed was a great suggestion.

Sarah commented, “We did this with our first. We loved Natalia for a girl, but he was a boy. Naming him Nathaniel kind of nixes a future Natalia. That said, we loved Nathaniel enough to where there are no regrets. I think it just depends on how much they love Felix. If it hits all the right notes, great. If Felicity still makes their heart sing and Felix is just okay, then I say save Felicity,” which I loved, especially this bit: “If Felicity still makes their heart sing and Felix is just okay, then I say save Felicity.”

I’d commented, “My only worry with Felix is that it knocks out Felicity for the future … which brings up a whole other issue, which maybe I’ll do a post on sometime — what are all your thoughts on reserving names for possible future babies? Have you/would you and why or why not? Felix now at the expense of Felicity later (potentially) is a perfect example …”

I have a small example of that in the naming of my own kids: The first name we decided on for a girl has been the same through all my pregnancies — it’s an honor name for my mom and my grandmother and it won’t change. The middle name has changed several times though, most often in order to honor my mother-in-law in different ways; we’ve also discussed variants of her name as a first name possibility for a second daughter. Then we decided to give our youngest boy a first name that was a variant of my mother-in-law’s name, which knocks out of consideration the variants of her name we’d considered for a first name for a girl. I felt the tiniest of twinges at our decision but really. Six boys, no girls — holding a name in reserve for a second girl seems kind of silly when a first girl hasn’t happened and may never. Also, like Sarah said, I love the male variant we chose for my youngest, so I don’t really miss the possibility of using the feminine variants.

I’d love to know what the rest of you think! Do you/have you/would you save names for future use that knock possibilities out of consideration for this baby right here right now?