Spotlight on: Ludmila

Grandparents — especially grandmothers — have been on my mind this week. Feb. 20 marked the 17th anniversary of my paternal grandmother’s death; Feb. 23 was the 25th anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s; and my mother-in-law — my boys’ grandmother — is rapidly being called home, it won’t be long. Please pray for her and for our family.

In light of all this, today’s spotlight is perfect. Months ago Amanda emailed me this image from the Magnificat:

ludmila

And said,

I love the story! It seems like more and more of these parent/grandparent saint stories are emerging lately, which makes perfect sense. The saints had to learn from someone!

And I was so struck by that thought — the impact of grandparents on the faith of their grandchildren — that it’s stayed with me all this time. My boys have been very very blessed to have two grandmothers who have contributed in immense ways to their faith formation, as well as a living grandfather (my dad) who’s a great model of Catholic manhood, and a grandfather in heaven (my father-in-law) who I know has been praying for all of us, and who himself was also a great model of Catholic manhood. And of course we can’t forget our dear St. Anne, Grandmother to the Divine, who holds the Sancta Nomina community close.

But — as much as I’m loving the story of St. Ludmila — that name! Oof! So what can we make of Ludmila. I think the secret lies in the second part of her name: Mila’s got a totally current look and sound, and according to behindthename the -mila element of Ludmila means “gracious, dear.” How lovely! Another spelling is Ludmilla, so –> Milla, a la actress Milla Jovovich, whose given name is actually Milica (said MEE-lee-tsah), from the same element that renders -mila in Ludmila; behindthename says Milica was “originally a diminutive of names that began with that element.” Lida is also given as the Czech diminutive of Ludmila, and the comments on behindthename’s entry for Ludmila list Luda, Lulu, Lidka, and Lila as nicknames for it (among other more ethnic options) — Lulu and Lila seem particularly suited to today’s tastes. The DMNES has an entry for Luda, which is from the same word as the Lud- part of Ludmila, and says that Luda can be a pet form of any Slavic name beginning with that element. Could be cute?

I’m also tagging this as a possible Christmas name, since St. Ludmila’s grandson Vaclav/Wenceslaus, who she had so much influence over in terms of teaching the faith, is the King Wenceslaus from the carol “Good King Wenceslaus.” Cool, right?

What do you all think of Ludmila? Would you consider using it as either a first or a middle? Or would Mila/Milla/Lulu/Lila/Luda be more the way you’d go, if you wanted to name a little girl after this saint? Do you know anyone with this name? What do they think of it? Do they go by a nickname?

“Father in heaven, through the intercession of St. Ludmila, bless all grandparents who seek to share the faith with their grandchildren.” ❤

 

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48 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Ludmila

  1. Is it wrong that I really just like Ludmila? It’s obviously old fashioned, but in a cute, hipster-ish sort of way. I also think it follows on the heels of the Lucy trend really nicely, so it doesn’t seem totally out there. I feel like if someone had a baby Ludmila now, in five or ten years there’d be a bunch of little Ludmilas running around and the first mom would seem really cutting edge. That said, Lulu is a great nickname, as is Mila.

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    • I wondered if there would be any of you who like the full Ludmila! It kind of has the same feel to me as Edith and Hildegard, which are popping up now and again (esp Edith). When I started the post this morning I was kinda like, “Ludmila, ugh” and by the end — after reading about her in various places — I was feeling all affectionate toward her, which *always* affects my opinion of names — it’s seriously growing on me!

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      • That is so funny…even before I was all 😍😍😍😍 about Edith, I never thought of it in the Hildegard/Gertrude/Wilhelmina/Matilda/Helga/Ludmila camp. It always to me seemed old-fashioned and maybe uncool like Agnes, Alice, Mavis, Frances, etc. but maybe not quite SO out there! Lolololol! 😂😂😂😂

        Ludmila always makes me think of the opera Ruslan and Ludmila. I believe it’s set in pre-Christian Russia. What I mainly know is that the overture is a beast to play! Soooo hard. I remember my sister shedding on it for hours at a time when she was in an orchestra that was performing it. I was not in the orchestra with her because, I believe, this was after I’d already started college.

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      • Funny! I tend to think of Agnes, Alice, Mavis, Edith as being on the same spectrum as Hildegard etc. … a little further toward the other side of the spectrum, but the same spectrum nonetheless, which is why I can totally see those heavy clunky names coming back — we’re creeping closer and closer to their end of the spectrum!

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    • Yeah, I just plain like it, too! There was a teacher with the Russian school our suburban Detroit school did exchanges with named Ludmila and she was so nice and always smiling so that I associate her disposition with the name 🙂

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  2. Wow! That’s a wonderful story 🙂 Grandparents are so important!!

    I don’t know how I feel about the name Ludmila. It seems like you’d have to be a really cool person to pull it off, and knowing my cool-factor (which is about a zero), I wouldn’t want to saddle my child with it. I was going to mention that I thought Mila could be a cool way to honor St. Ludmila. Or maybe Camila because they have the same ending (though that could be more of a stretch).

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  3. Yes, it would be very hipster (unless the family had Slavic connections) but I still love the full name even though I would probably never be brave enough to use it.

    Please accept my thoughts and prayers for your mother-in-law and your wider family at this sad time.

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  4. I’ll be praying for your family as well, especially your MIL.

    It makes me sad that your husband will have lost both of his parents at such a young age. My maternal grandparents died when my mom was in her 30’s (her dad when she was 36 and her mom right before she turned 38). Often when I’m having a crisis and need my mom, I think about how she had lost her parents by the time she was my age and I’m so sad for her, but also so grateful I have her with me still.

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  5. I’ve heard it before among eastern Europeans, usually shortened to Mil(l)a, as you mentioned. I’d consider Ludmila a strange choice for a child that didn’t have those roots. There are many beautiful Slavic names that translate well to other culatures, including Mil(l)a, but Ludmila as a full given name seems specifically ethnic to me. (By the way, Mila can be short for several Slavic and northern European names, not just Ludmila.)

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  6. It’s the “Lud” part that makes me hesitate…I think it sounds strange and even borderline ugly to American ears, along the lines of “Sigrid” or “Clothilde.” That being said, I think someone with a Slavic background could definitely pull it off, especially if the last name was also Slavic. I almost feel like naming a baby something like this without the Slavic heritage would be sort of…poser-ish? Does that make sense? I’m thinking, I don’t know, “Ludmila Valacek” is bad-a@@ sounding, while “Ludmila Davis”…Hmm. Obviously just my opinion though.

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    • I agree. Either it’s said, “Ludd-” which is not a pretty or feminine sound to my ear, and recalls the term Luddite. Or it’s said, “Lude-” which has the unfortunate homonym Lewd.

      But! I think it’s on similar ground with Agnes, usability-wise. Some people will think it’s ugly and unusable, and some people will think it’s amazing and totally usable. And a few will think the saint makes it worth it.

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    • Haha! I love that! “‘Ludmila Valacek’ is bad-a@@ sounding, while ‘Ludmila Davis’ …Hmm.” Funny about your examples — I tend more toward your thinking about Sigrid, but I quite like Clothilde!

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  7. I know a Russian born woman called Ludmila who uses Lucy as her nickname/American name. She was probably born sometime in the 1950s when the name was more popular in Russia. I have the impression that Lucy may be a common translation of the name in English. I’ve always kind of liked the full Ludmila.

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    • Ooh Lucy! I like that! Interesting too that you think Lucy may be a common translation of it … reminds me of Susan used as an anglicization of the Italian Assunta … and a friend was just telling me recently that Walter is a common anglicization of Ladislaus (I think I have that right? Or Ladislaw? I know she’ll correct me if she reads this, or if one of you know …)

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  8. Being eastern Orthodox myself, I know several Ludmilas. The one I know the best goes by Luda among her Russian friends, and Lucy in more American settings. I love the Mila/Milla nickname, and could even see using Millie! Luda is also cute, but feels very ethnic to me, since I hear it in that Russian accent.

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    • How cool! Millie’s sweet too, you’re so right. Speaking of Russian accents, one of my Instagram followers said in Russian it’s more like Lyudmila (and spelled that way too I think?), and that the Russian L is very difficult for Americans (who don’t speak Russian) to pronounce.

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      • Yes, I would say that they do say it with a subtle “y” sound in there. Maybe it depends on region, too, on how it is spelled and pronounced. One thing I’ve noticed is that while the spelling may be pretty uniform in Russian, they’ll transcribe their names various ways in English (Sophia might spell her name Sofia one day, and Sophiya another).

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      • Yes, exactly! Our culture has gotten very particular about consistent spellings, but people coming here and adopting English as their second language are much like our ancestors used to be… spell it how it sounds, and maybe that sound subtly changes from day to day. In my own family tree there is a Finley-sometimes-spelled-Finlay. 😉

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  9. I love this post, and your thoughts on sanctity passing down through generations.

    The thing that jumped out at me, though, was the fact that Wenceslaus is the same as Vaclav! How have I never known that? I’ve spent time in the Czech Republic, and belonged to multiple St Wenceslaus parishes, and never made that connection. My parents even tried to think of a way to name a son after him, but couldn’t find a wearable way to do so. But I could see Vaclav as a middle, probably Americanized to Vatslav to clarify the pronunciation. Especially with an extra normal first, like Andrew Vatslav, or something.

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    • I love when a new little tidbit is discovered through our conversations! How cool! Perhaps Vaclav/Vatslav could go on your future-boys list? 😉 I love it as a middle for “an extra normal first”

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  10. On getting to Mila, I read a book recently where the main character was known as Mila but her full name was Maria Elena. I loved that instantly! Although I suppose that’s pretty Hispanic, but for some still more accessible than Ludmila.

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  11. I’m so very sorry, Kate. My MIL died Friday the 19th and we just got home from Michigan where we attended her visitation, funeral Mass and burial. Such a sad time, but our faith goes a long way ❤

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  12. I am in the camp of it being workable really only if there is some Slavic heritage/surname. It is a cool name and great example of sanctity though. I think with the popularity of the name Mila, I would tend to go with that as a full name – knowing that you could have Ludmila as patron saint anyway.

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  13. My husband’s grandmother is Ludmiła (Lood-mee-wah) and has the nickname “Lusia” (Loo-sha). I think we’ll use it as a middle name if we have another girl (first girl is Emilia Patrycja, called “Emi” or “Emilka” (Eh-meel-kah)), possibly with the first name Sylwia. So she could be “Sylvie Lou” to my American relatives! 🙂

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