Baby name consultant: Saintly, Italian, meaningful name for Baby Girl

You can see how much better I did at staying off the computer last week than I did at Christmastime! 😀 I hope you all had a great week, and I’m glad to be back!

In today’s consultation, Elizabeth and her husband are expecting their second baby, a girl! She’ll join her big brother:

George Francesco

Amazing combo, right? I love that George is handsome and normal-ish, and then pow! You’re hit with an amazing and unexpected middle name! And a fun little tidbit is that I recently did a poll on Twitter — what’s your favorite way to name a baby after Pope Francis — and I included both George (for his birth name Jorge) and Francesco!


So yeah, George Francesco is just a great name all around. 🙂

Elizabeth writes,

We would be so delighted if you were to weigh in on our current naming quandary … I’m Italian and my husband is part Scots-Irish … We like names that are fairly traditional (although we could possibly be swayed by a really great not-so-traditional Catholic name), saintly, meaningful, and not too popular. And there has to be an Italian name in there somewhere. I love love love our son’s name and hope to be equally in love with our daughter’s name.

A little background on our son’s naming: “George” is a family name … We love that it’s strong, traditional, not very popular, a saint’s name, and a family name. “Francesco” we chose for several reasons: George was born just a few months after Pope Francis’s election (fall 2013), St. Francis of Assisi is one of my favorite saints, and [there’s a connection to my maiden name as well]. Other potential first names were Gianluca, Luca, Henry, and James, and even though George was the front-runner even before we knew we were expecting, we didn’t officially bestow the name until he was a few hours old. (Funny story about “George”: I woke one morning in July 2013 and saw on Facebook that Duchess Kate was in labor, and I immediately thought “Oh, no, the baby is going to be a boy and they’re going to name him George, and it’s going ruin everything!” Well, it didn’t ruin everything, but I have noticed the name becoming tad more popular lately. 🙂 )

So, for our daughter, we definitely want an Italian middle name (or even first name but “at least” a middle name). We’d like the Italian part of her name to be obviously Italian (i.e. not something that could be easily confused for another origin or that has a widely accepted American pronunciation, for example Maria or Veronica). If we go with an Italian first name, we want it to be fairly easily pronounceable in English, without having to “put on” an Italian accent to say it properly.”

I always think of really Italian names as “confection” names — beautifully delicious. I was excited to come up with some ideas!

Some more thoughts:

We both love “Francesca” as a first name (for many of the same reasons we love Francesco), but we feel a little weird about using it so soon after naming our son George Francesco… maybe if we have another little girl in the future?

We want our daughter to have a strong saint to connect with (and whose feast day we can celebrate as her “name day”). For George, we celebrate St. Francis’s feast day as his name day, because we love St. Francis and love that there’s so much more to read/learn/emulate about him (in comparison to St. George). I hope that at least one of the saints our daughter is named for will be that way too. I don’t want her to be disappointed if there’s not much to know about her saint or most of what we “know” is as much folklore as fact. (One reason I like modern day saints so much.)

The names Elizabeth and her hubs are considering include (the asterisks are the current favorites):

*Beatrice (Elizabeth’s grandmother is nicknamed Bea)
Alice (“I’ve always written this one off because “alice” means “anchovy” in Italian, but I recently saw that it’s in the top ten names in Italy, so I guess no one cares“) 😀

And their favorite middle name ideas (largely dependent upon first name):

Luisa (“I have a great-grandfather Louis/Luigi“)
Rose/Rosa (“I’m afraid Rosa isn’t obviously Italian enough to work with an English-language first name“)
Marie (“my and my mom’s middle name; but would only work if she had a very Italian first name; I wish Maria were a good alternative, but most people associate it with Spanish-language origins more than Italian, at least around here“)

Elizabeth also said she’d love to honor St. Anne in some way but is struggling with ways to do so that fit their style and taste:

I’ve considered Marianna as a middle name (Mary and her mother!), but neither [of us are] sold on it. And it also has the potential to sound not Italian.”


If we name her Beatrice, we could “get around” the Marian dilemma by using a middle name that starts with ‘v’ — so her initials would be B.V.M. I can’t think of that many Italian ‘v’ names that really speak to me, but I’ve thought about Valentina, Viviana, Vincenza…?

Okay, so I love their list of girl names. Beatrice seems so perfect — it can be Italian, but not necessarily. I also LOVE their idea of using a V middle name for initials BVM for Our Lady. Brilliant! I like Valentina, Viviana, and Vincenza, and another idea is Vittoria — a friend was telling me recently about Our Lady of Victory — Vittoria could be a nice nod to her! It seems that the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was originally the feast of Our Lady of Victory, after the victory of Lepanto, which Our Lady of the Rosary points to as well. Kind of like two Marian titles in one name!  I also like that Vittoria is specifically Italian, as opposed to Victoria, which is used across multiple ethnicities but not Italian. Do you all have other ideas for Italian V- middle names?

Mary, Lucy, and Bernadette are all great — impeccably saintly, beautiful, feminine.

It would be so great to get St. Anne in there! Marianna is a beautiful idea, but if they’re not loving it, I wonder what they would think of Annetta? Behind the Name says it’s a diminutive of Anna with exclusively Italian usage. I could see it being beautiful as either a first or middle name. Mary Annetta? Lucy Annetta? Beatrice Annetta? (Probably not Bernadette Annetta!)

I have similar feelings to Elizabeth about Francesca — gorgeous name! But perhaps for a later girl?

From the rest of their list, Alice, Claire/Clara, Jane, and Eleanor seem great matches for the style of George. All beautiful! Gianna, Guilia/Julia/Giulianna, Alessandra, and Elena definitely skew more Italiany Italian. George and Mary or George and Alice will likely come across as very English, while George and Gianna or George and Alessandra (especially George and Alessandra) will be more surprising. I like both options! I might suggest Elizabeth and her husband give a quick thought to how they see the rest of their children’s names playing out, if they have more. Do they want to feel like they’ve set an English bookish vibe and then if they choose something more Italian sounding it’ll sound out of place? Or do they like the freedom that comes with choosing a different style name from George right now for their second baby, which preserves the possibility of both English-y and Italian names in the future?

I loved their list of Italian middle names! Several of them were ones I’d scribbled down as I’d read Elizabeth’s email initially, before I’d gotten to that part (especially Lucia and Chiara). Benedetta, Maristella, Luisa, Rose/Rosa are all beautiful … I wonder if an Italian Rose variant like Rosetta, Rosina, or Rosella would appeal to them? I love that Marie is Elizabeth and her mom’s middle name — maybe the variants Marietta and Mariella would be good to consider? I like that they contain “Marie” within them, but they also have that Italian twist.

I had a few more ideas for super Italian middle names:
Amalia (I know someone from Italy named Amalia)
Annamaria (despite that both elements could seem Spanish on their own, put together they read really Italian to me. Am I crazy? There’s a character in a book I recently read named Annamaria, so pretty)
Assunta (I wrote here about how women from Italy named Assunta sometimes anglicize it here as Susan!)

Annnnd there are just a lot of gorgeous names! A great list with a lot more options is here (you can see I only got through the A’s!).

I liked this bunch of specifically Marian super-Italian names:
Incoronata (I have a friend whose daughter’s middle name is Incoronata after her Italian grandmother, and it’s hard to find on name sites, but this one says it’s only used in Italy)
Consolata (from Behind the Name: “Means “consoled” in Italian. It is taken from the title of the Virgin Mary, María Consolata.”)

And I’m sure there’s more of those too at that link above! I also love Josephine and wondered if they’d considered the variant Giuseppa?

Alrighty, so I have a few more ideas for this family, based on the names they’ve already chosen and those that they like:

(1) Gemma
Gemma was the first name I thought of. St. Gemma Galgani was an Italian saint and a pretty well known one, so Elizabeth’s little girl would definitely have a feast day — April 11, right near her due date! I also really like that even though Gemma’s an Italian name, it’s been fairly popular in England for a while, so I think Gemma could serve as a nice bridge between George and a future daughter named Alessandra for example.

(2) Stella
Maristella on their list made me think of Stella right away, and I love it for this baby for a first name. As with Gemma, even though it *is* Italian I like that Stella doesn’t necessarily come across as Italian, so it can be that kind of “bridge” name between George and some of their more ethnic options for later daughters.

(3) Carmela
I know Elizabeth might not like this because it’s apparently both a Spanish and Italian form of Carmel, but I think of Carmen as being more common as the Spanish form, while Carmela’s all Italian for me, probably because I know a young Carmela whose family is very Italian, and an older Carmela who’s from Italy. A reader asked for nickname ideas for her little Carmela here. I love that it’s also Marian!

(4) Maddalena
I love Magdalene in any form, but the Italian version is so beautiful, I had to suggest it! It’s got really cute nickname options too — Maddy, Lena.

(5) Giacinta (Jacinta)
I wouldn’t have thought to suggest this except Elizabeth and her hubs have Julia/Giulia/Giuliana on their list. Jacinta’s one of my favorites, and I love the Italian spelling as well (I didn’t even know there was an Italian spelling until discovering that Halle Berry’s character in the Bond movie she was in, who went by Jinx, was actually Giacinta, and Jinx was a nickname. God works in mysterious ways. 😉 ).

(5) Catherine or Caterina
Finally, my favorite idea of these two is Caterina, which was St. Catherine of Siena’s actual name. So beautiful! And so fun that this family can pull it off with their Italian heritage! (I have none!) But I was starting to feel like I was leaning too heavily Italian and not considering the other names they like, and loved discovering that Catherine is a style match for several of their favorites (George, Mary, Alice, Julia). Either one would be just beautiful.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the baby sister of George Francesco?


60 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Saintly, Italian, meaningful name for Baby Girl

  1. Yes!!! I love this post!! I think I’ve mentioned that I speak Italian on here and am completely obsessed with Italian names. I’m not Italian at all, so I always feel like it would be weird for me to use them, but I love seeing other people using them. I’m probably going to lean pretty heavy in my Italian suggestions too, lol, but how can you not with how beautiful the names are??

    I adore the suggestion of Caterina!! Love this name so much. I might not use Catherine though, because Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is Prince George’s mom.

    My first thought reading George’s name was Chiara, so I was delighted to see it on their list! How cute would it be to have the connection of St. Francis and St. Clare between siblings?!? I also love that Chiara literally means clear and that’s just wonderful to me for some reason.

    My next thought was Giuliana so I was happy to see it on their list 🙂 I think with the right first name, Giuliana could be gorgeous. Maybe Alice Giuliana?

    Again, I then thought of a name on their list which was Lucia! I love Lucia, especially with the Italian loo-CHEE-uh pronunciation.

    So then I was like, okay, I need to suggest some names not on their list. One of my close friends is full Italian, and her name is Cristina, which I think it is beautiful, but it might not be Italian enough for Elizabeth and her husband. Maybe Cristiana? You suggested one of Cristina’s siblings names, Antonella, which I think is lovely. They call her Lelly. Antonella made me then think of Annabella, which to me is strikingly Italian, but so on trend and wouldn’t be weird at all to hear.

    My first Italian instructor was named Bettina, which might be of interest to them. It’s a diminutive form of Benedetta, which is obviously connected to Benedict, which has some great Catholic connections 🙂 It also reminds me of Elizabeth, because they could both be called Betty.

    I’ll stop here because I could literally keep talking forever, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jacinta/Giacinta is a great suggestion! I love the connection to Francesco (Our Lady of Fatima).

    What about Bianca? It’s one of my favorite Italian names. Not a saint’s name, unfortunately, but maybe they can make up for it with a strong saint name for the middle (perhaps Bianca Clare?).

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The thing with many Italian names is that they can easily sound Spanish or pan-European. Many of Elizabeth’s choices fall into the pan-European category, but I get the sense she is looking for a distinctly Italian name.

    Ilaria – a very early female saint and has a nice meaning of cheerfulness. Far removed enough from Hilary to avoid questions about its connection to politics for a girl born this year or next.
    Cosima – after St. Cosmas, means order and decency.
    Adriana – after St. Adrian, meaning is an ancient Italian place name and of course related to the Adriatic sea.
    Donna – A lovely, classic Marian name, yet I rarely come across it.
    Sabina – Italian saint and ancient Italian-region place name.
    Valeria – Italian saint and name meaning comes from valor.

    Unfortunately, Valeria, Ilaria, and Sabina don’t have the most detailed histories in comparison to the rest of these saints. I know that is important to Elizabeth, but I still thought it was worth mentioning them, as they’re such great names.

    Finally, I think just giving a name an Italian spelling or pronounciation can be wonderful if you want to honor an Italian heritage, as with Alice. Julia (several St. Julians and a St. Julia) is an eternally beautiful and international name, but spelling it Giulia gives it an instant Italian air. A similar thing with Laura (either after St. Lawrence or St. Laura); the spelling doesn’t change, but the pronounciation LAU-rah rather than LAW-rah makes it unmistakably Italian

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ilaria!!! I love how musical and joyful it is. It makes me feel like laughing (in a good way) every time I hear it. I’ve had similar thoughts about Ilaria in relation to “Hilary,” but I don’t think many people would make the connection. Cosima and Valeria are also lovely!
      Adriana would be cool. Both sides of my family (paternal and maternal) are from the Adriatic side of Italy.
      I love the Italian pronunciation of Laura, but I’d hate to have to correct people all the time. (I feel similarly about “Irene” (ee-RAY-nay). So beautiful in its Italian form!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad you like them. The pronounciation correcting is the bane of choosing a foreign-inflected name, isn’t it? Even when when the pronounciations in question are not difficult at all, as with the Italian Laura and Irene. In Greek, we spell LAU-rah phonetically as Laoura, but I’m afraid it doesn’t help things at all in English, creating both spelling and pronounciation confusion. Best wishes for your family and baby girl.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I pronounce my name LAH-ra and have constant trouble with people telling me that I’m saying it incorrectly. Or they just can’t hear the difference. LAU-ra would be a lovely middle name, though, and would avoid the annoying mispronunciations.
        Mia Beatrice is my best friend’s name, and her very Italian family pronounces the Beatrice the Italian way. Other family members are Giovanna Magdalena (nn Gianna with the Italian a JAH-nah pronunciation) and Marie-Elena.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Some great ideas here! Cosima jumped out at me right away, what a pretty name. And you’re so right about Donna — I suspect it still feels too dated/time-stamped — do you all agree?


      • I agree about Donna. And, even though it is Italian (it’s literally the word for “woman” in Italian), I think it’s too broadly accepted as it’s own name in the States to meet my strict Italian naming criteria. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true, Donna’s definitely lost a lot of its Italian feel just through a lot of use! I bet a lot of people don’t know it’s Italian, and certainly not that it means “woman.”


  4. What about Marissa? It seems very Italian to me, as the only Marissa’s I’ve known are Italian! Though there is no Saint Marissa, it apparently can mean “of the sea” or “little Mary”, which gives it Marian creibility. Paired with a saint name it could be quite strikingly Catholic and beautiful. 🙂

    Marissa Chiara seems wonderfully Italian without being a mismatch with George Francisco.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the B.V.M. initials and all the V names are beautiful. That would be so cool. I really like Vittoria and also Viviana.

    I am also very partial to Elena. Could be either Italian or Spanish – I prefer the Italian pronunciation.

    Italian girls names are really lovely! Like so many of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “I wonder if an Italian Rose variant like Rosetta, Rosina, or Rosella would appeal to them? ”
    What about Rosalia (St. Rosalia, the “Little Saint”, Sept. 4). Lia is an Italian nickname – for the other “lia” ending names as well – Emilia, Natalia. I have a Leah so am partial to it. We know a little girl (with Italian surname/heritage) name Lia (not nn).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What about Angela for St. Angela Merici? Italian saint, easy pronunciation, same spelling both in English and in Italian (so it allows that future children have both English and Italian names), and the saint’s story is known and actually very inspiring! (

    Or Martina? It could be a reference to any of the many Sts. Martin or even to St. Therese’s parents!

    And there’s Margaritta! Exclusively Italian and just beautiful! The only problem is the association that one could make to food and drinks…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh I really like Vittoria. How about Vanna as a short form of Giovanna? That could be cute too.

    I also like Anastasia, not sure if it sounds Italian enough for Elizabeth though. Callista? I am enamored by its meaning (the most beautiful). Cecilia works in both Italian and English. Felicita/felicity/Felicia? I have friends called Felicia and they go by Felly. Monica. Pietra (nn Pippa?).

    Would type more but I broke a wrist bone and it hurts so bad to type 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Felicia is beautiful! The patron saint would be St. Felicity, right?
      And I like Cecilia, too.
      I wish you get better soon, Sabrina!


    • I had never thought of Vanna as a nickname for Giovanna. It made me wonder if Vanna White is Italian. (She doesn’t seem to be, but she did marry an Italian and name their daughter Giovanna!)
      I have a little Italian friend name Felicita`. She’s adorable, so of course I think it’s an adorable name. 🙂
      I was just thinking about Pietra the other day, on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter! Pippa is precious!
      (Sorry about your wrist!)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel like Vittoria is just so spot on, you can’t mix it up as anything other than Italian. Beatrice Vittoria would be so beautiful! Lots of other great suggestions here, I love Bianca, Angela, and Emilia—all of those sound so very Italian to me. And any of the Gi- names! Gianna, Giovanna, Giulia, Giuliana, etc. I’ve always loved having G for an initial, too. It’s quite unusual and it’s fun to write. ☺️

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What about Madonna? I know there’s cultural connotations here, but I think they may be fading. Beatrice Madonna would pair well with her boy, in my opinion (in the Brit-meets-Italian way). I also really liked Chiara from their list.


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