Spotlight on: Mercy names

I’ve gotten a few different requests recently for more info on names connected to Mercy, so I thought it would make a perfect Spotlight post.

This Jubilee Year of Mercy is such a great reason to consider a Mercy name for a baby during it! There’s also the Divine Mercy connection, which, in my mind, includes a connection to both St. Faustina and Pope St. John Paul the Great (I really like typing out his full title. So cool), and there’s Our Lady of Mercy/Mercies. I love them all!

First, of course, is Mercy itself. I love the name Mercy. I’ve seen it used as a middle name, which is a perfect spot for a name that might feel a little too adventurous for one’s style, but I love it as a first name too — I think it holds its own nicely with Grace, Faith, Hope, Sophia, Felicity — all the virtue-esque names. It could have a Pilgrim/Puritan feel also, with their children named Patience and Chastity and Temperance, but that’s not a terrible thing either in my opinion. A pretty variant is Mercia.

Other versions of Mercy that might appeal include:

Mercedes
I love the name Mercedes. I did a mini spotlight here, really just pointing you to a great post by Laura Wattenberg (the Baby Name Wizard herself) on “how such a devout Catholic name became a car brand.” I loved hearing it in Jim Caviezel’s The Count of Monte Cristo, and that movie made it seem do-able to me for non-Spanish families (the characters were French). I’ve also gotten swoony over the idea of Sadie as a nickname (could also be spelled Cedy? I’ve also seen Cedes), and Merche is a traditional Spanish nickname for it; Mercy also certainly works. I’ve seen the combo Maria Mercedes, which is such a heavy hitting name and really emphasizes the Marian aspect.

Clement/Clementine
Clement means “merciful” or “gentle” (think: clemency), so any of the Clement names could work if you’re going for a merciful meaning. I’ve considered Clement for my own boys (just can’t get my hubs on board!), and Clementine is such a great name for a girl (I love the nickname Clemmie, and Emmy and Minnie are also possibilities). I don’t mind the folk song reference either.

Piedad
The meanings of the Spanish Piedad can include “mercy” or “pity.” Piedad is inspired by the Marian title Nuestro Señora de la Piedad (Our Lady of Pity). You can see the connection between “pity” and “mercy” when you think of the phrase “have pity on me” — it’s similar to “have mercy on me.”

 

Behind the Name offered a bunch of other names that have “mercy” in their meaning, but they were so unfamiliar to me I thought I’d just list them and you can check them out if you’d like: Armo, Chesed, Chifundo, Ebele, Eir, Eskarne, Hanan, Remiel (this is said to be a name of one of the seven archangels according to the apocryphal Book of Enoch. I’d be careful with this, as the Church has not included this name in its list of Archangels’ names).

What do you think of Mercy or the other Mercy-meaning names? Would you consider using them for your child, or have you? Do you know any little ones with any of these names?

71 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Mercy names

  1. My second daughter’s name is Louisa Mercy. I love it! It’s an honor name for my husbands paternal grandmother, named Mercedes, who raised her four children by herself after her husband died early in their lives. She was wonderful and warm and hospitable. We also love that it highlights the mercy of God, since it’s such an unusual middle name choice in our circle.

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  2. A few thoughts:
    1. I’ve only known one person named Mercedes, and she was Jewish! Isn’t that funny?!

    2. Though I wouldn’t name my child Chesed, the concept of chesed, which in Hebrew means “loving-kindness”—God’s tenderness for his children, is so beloved to me. I started a 4-year Catholic biblical school in the fall of 2010, not knowing what to expect and having a bias against the Old Testament (like many people, I thought God seemed so cruel in it). The experience of biblical school TOTALLY changed me, including my feelings about the OT. Chesed is a very OT concept, and I love it, talk about it often.

    3. The Orthodox Church accepts a few additional books of the bible as canonical and reads even a few others as “extra-canonical”, so I wonder if this Enoch book is accepted by them?

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  3. Yay! You have done so many recent posts that relate to how my husband and I name our kids, it’s like multiple name consults 🙂 we are very intrigued by the idea of a name related to this year of mercy, and have Louis Clement and Gloria Mercy in our mix!

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  4. I actually never knew Mercedes was a common name until I spent time in Nicaragua a few years ago and met a girl with that name. I was so confused at first. Haha. I think it is pretty but I have trouble getting over the car connection.
    I love Clementine too! So sweet and spunky. 🙂

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  5. Timely post, this just crossed my mind yesterday as I started the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska.

    Very close to Mercedes is the Catalan name Mercé (Mair-say) – just heard this on a real life person recently.

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  6. So interesting…love the “virtue-esque names!”
    I have one fun thought here, though…Clementine…will always image delicious little oranges to me!!! 😄…not a bad thing…not so saintly, though!
    Nice post!

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  7. A few years ago I would have not been keen on Clementine – probably due to the folk song (and fruit lol) – but some friends named their daughter Clementine and it has really grown on me. First of all she is completely adorable, a curly haired 3 year old bundle of energy. She rocks the name. Her nn is Tiny. I love the connection to St. Clement, and have loved the connection to Mercy/clemency. It is definitely much higher in my name likes.

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  8. Of the Mercy related names suggested, I think I am drawn to the Clement and Clementine names most. And also Faustina and John Paul for their saintly connections to mercy devotion.

    Mercedes is pretty but while I don’t associate it with the car, I do think of it as a predominately Hispanic name so culturally wouldn’t be one I would use. Interestingly I do know a Anglo woman (in her 30s) named Mercedes. She goes by Mercy and I didn’t know until recently that her name was actually Mercedes. I love Sadie as a nickname for Mercedes though. Mercy is pretty and I think I like it more for a middle name. Prefer the other virtue names like Faith, Hope, Grace, and the more subtle virtue-connected names like Sophia and Felicity more and think Mercy stands out as too different for me.

    From the list of unusual mercy names, I recognized Eskarne as Basque, though I didn’t know it meant mercy. Interesting.

    I also found Venitia (Italia, mercy) and Annalies (Dutch, merciful) on a list of mercy names. http://www.meaning-of-names.com/search/index.asp?nm=mercy&stype=1&gndr=2

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    • And regarding Annalies being on that list – I was wondering if it is really due to the Hannah/Anna/Ann connection. Hannah/Anna/Ann meaning “grace” or “favor” but I am seeing that some baby name sites/lists also give mercy as a meaning for those names. Grace and mercy are different but similar so I see how some might use them interchangeably – maybe that is how it is getting on the name lists with mercy or merciful listed as a meaning for Hannah, etc.

      So how to you feel about including the Hannahs and Annas in mercy names?

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      • Interesting about Anna/Hannah for mercy names. I never think of grave and mercy as the same thing so that would trip me up. My mom’s name is Nancy, so as a diminutive of Anne, we’ve always joked that I’m named after her in reverse. ☺️

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      • The whole name meaning thing is a bit foggy … some sites are good and some aren’t, and even the ones that are good sometimes seem off … and the Catholic understanding of grace and mercy might be a bit different than the person making the lists (or, I should say, the person making the lists might not have the same understanding of grace and mercy … I’m just thinking that “grace period” sounds like a merciful thing … maybe there’s something like that going on in their heads?)

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      • Though, Google says this:
        “grace
        ɡrās/
        noun
        simple elegance or refinement of movement.
        ‘she moved through the water with effortless grace’
        synonyms: elegance, poise, gracefulness, finesse; More
        2.
        (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”

        So given that, wouldn’t most people assume the first meaning—which is VERY far from mercy?!

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      • I guess I am so far removed from secular culture – that while I know “grace” has the meaning of elegance – all I associate the name Hannah/Anna with is grace as in the unmerited favor. : )

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      • Oh, I definitely think Hannah and its many derivatives are about the unmerited favor. But I’m surprised anyone would correlate the meanings of grace and mercy, whether Christian (because they are NOT the same thing), or secular (because I would think most secular people would be thinking of the first definition of grace).

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      • Ahhh I think you could be right. I’m not sure — grace/favor are similar to mercy but not exact … I almost included Piedad in the list because pity is similar to mercy as well (in the sense that “take pity on me” and “be merciful” seem almost the same) … I don’t know, if parents felt like the connection was strong enough for them, I think the intention is great. For myself I don’t think the Ann- names would be close enough if I really wanted a mercy name …

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    • You’d definitely know best about Eskarne! I did a search for names with “mercy” in the meaning on behindthename, but it could totally be wrong! I didn’t know that Venitia and Annalies meant mercy(iful) either, so pretty!

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      • Eskarne does seem to mean mercy. I wasn’t questioning that. Just saying I hadn’t known it. I am pretty good with knowing the translation of the Basque forms of common names, but not the modernish names, like Eskarne, since I don’t speak the language. I recognize almost immediately by hearing them or seeing them that they are Basque because of how unique they are, but don’t necessarily know the meaning or translation.

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  9. This also got me thinking about Saints with devotions or connections to Mercy through religious orders. There are several religious orders with a charism/name devoted to mercy where we could gleen names.

    Obviously, the order St. Faustina was in – Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.

    There is also the Religious Sisters of Mercy, whose foundress is Venerable Catherine McAuley.

    The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (also called Order of Mercy or Mercedarian Order) was founded by St. Peter Nolasco. Other Mercedarian saints – St. Raymond Nonnatus, St. Serapion, St. Peter Pachasius, St. Peter Armengol, St. Mary Cervellon, Bl. Mary Ann de Jesus – http://orderofmercy.org/our-saints.html

    My son had told me about this order – he was very intrigued by it. In addition to poverty, chastity, and obedience, their members take a special fourth vow to give up their own selves for others whose faith is in danger. Big time mercy focus here. I notice Peter is a big name with several of Mercedarian saints – interesting.

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      • Offering oneself in substitution to free/ransom another from captivity.

        It is fascinating to read the history. The order was founded in the 13th century to ransom Christians who had been captured and often enslaved by the Moors, mostly in Spain. They would pressure them to convert. To be freed they needed to be ransomed. Nobles and the wealthy could usually pay their own ransom, but the poor could not. During this time, Mary appeared in separate visions to St. Peter Nolasco (the founder), St. Raymond of Pennafort (his confessor), and King James I (of Aragon) and asked them to found an order especially devoted to the ransom of captives. In the vision Mary was holding 2 bags of coins. Its members would undertake to deliver Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as payment. The order ransomed over 490, 000 slaves between the years 1218 and 1632. There were Mercedarians on the ship with Columbus. Order still exists and members still profess a vow to give his own life, “if it will be necessary, as Christ did for us, to free from the new forms of slavery the Christians who are in danger of losing their Faith.” I read they mostly work with the poor and in education and prison ministry, but I think some are involved in helping free those from human trafficking.

        From this specific apparition of the Blessed Mother she is known both as Our Lady of Mercy (Nuestra Madre de la Merced) and Our Lady of Ransom (feast day Sept. 24). The Mercedarian order takes its name from that Spanish for mercy – merced (full name of order originally was The Order of Our Lady of Mercy and the Redemption of the Captives.) So OL of Lady of Mercy and the Redemption of the Captives seems to be shorted as OL of Ransom. In this context mercy and ransom are used together/interchangeably. Ransoming captives is one of the corporal works of mercy. This got me thinking that Ransom could be a interesting mercy name for a boy. Or variations which could be given name or nicknames, Rance, Rand, Rande. Ransom is connected to name Rudolph as well in some places, so any names associated with that as well. It isn’t in the top 1000 but has been increasing in recent years, being given to almost 100 boys last year.

        What do you think of Ransom as a mercy name?

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      • Oh yes! Ransom for a boy, for OL of Ransom!! Love it!! Yes, I would totally consider it a mercy name, especially now that you’ve explained it all. How beautiful! I think eclare mentioned Ransom recently, and I’d thought of both OL of Ransom and also pirates — it seems like a great boy-friendly name (pirates!) that’s also Marian! I’m a little swoony over it!

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  10. I am finding I have a lot to say or think about on this…lol

    “In Latin, mercy is signified by ‘misericordia.’ This is two words combined, the Latin ‘miseriae’ meaning misery and the Latin ‘cor’ or ‘cordis’ meaning heart. It is the nature of God’s mercy that His heart extends into our misery and redeems it.” -http://catholicexchange.com/misericordia-the-roots-of-mercy

    Since I knew the latin for mercy included cor/heart it made me think of all the great Sacred Heart connection names we were discussing previously. Would you all included heart names like Cora or Cordelia as possible mercy year names?

    And what about the name Jubilee itself? Jubilee years are always associated with mercy and forgiveness in Church history. I would say that Jubilee would be too out there for me, but figure it would be the style of some. Interestingly a commenter at Appellation Mountain has both a Mercy and Jubilee as daughters. http://appellationmountain.net/jubilee-baby-name-of-the-day/

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  11. My post got lost, but in summary: Faustine!!!! Irene (St Faustina’s spiritual director or Mother Superior?)!!

    And Mercy needs to be used more, for sure. Just read that the pop star Madonna has a Mercy. So she’s cornered the market on Mercy, Lourdes, AND Madonna… or has she?? #catholicsreclaimournames

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    • I forgot she has a Mercy! I don’t fuss about her kids’ names … she has a Rocco too, but I never think of her when I hear Rocco … she’s got great Catholic taste! Her own name was impeccably Catholic until her … it’ll come back around. And who knows, her taste in names might be her redemption — she’s got a whole lot of Mother Mary in there!

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  12. I would absolutely use Mercy or Clement if we repeated initials or for a middle name!

    I know a handful of young Clementines (10 and under) — the two I think of first were both born in Detroit metro area but were/are definitely not Catholic, although one dad may have been raised Catholic,

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  13. I went to school with a Clemency who was a few years younger than me. Her sister was in my grade and her name is Verity. If I remember correctly there were a few more unusual and lovely virtue names in their family of seven children.

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  14. This one is being named Mercianna (mercy anna) Emmanuel. First for our jubilee year of mercy and second because of our 3yr olds recitation of the divine mercy chaplet (have mercy on us…). The Emmanuel for the meaning and in part for a sister of the visitation who greatly impacted my life this year.

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  15. […] (5) Mercy (or Mercedes?) Mercy was inspired by Hope, of which it’s a style match per the BNW, but also this Jubilee Year of Mercy, which they are so lucky to be having a baby born in! I do worry that maybe Elsie and Mercy share too many sounds? Especially with their birth order being next to each other? In which case, I think Mercedes could work—it means “mercies” and also points to Our Lady of Mercy (as does Mercy, of course, Marian names for the win!), and has a more international feel than Mercy, which fits in nicely with their other kids. I discussed Mercedes more here. […]

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