Baby name consultant: Baby Girl needs an obviously Catholic name

Jaclyn and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little girl! She’ll join big siblings:

Lillian Charlotte
Olivia Kathryn
Henry Sullivan

Which is just such a lovely, elegant set. ((sighing with happiness))

Jaclyn writes,

We have really had a reawakening and increased love for our faith in the last few years, so it’s important to us that that name is a saint (or derivative) or otherwise Catholic in nature…we want someone to hear her name and just know she’s Catholic

We are currently considering Lucia/Lucy, Clare, Gianna, and Azelie/Zelie (though we really want your input on how a Midwestern American would say the name!)

We have always liked Madeline, Eleanor, and Cora as well but they didn’t feel “Catholic” enough. We liked Cecilia but ruled it out as baby has a cousin named that.”

First off, I think Jaclyn’s kiddos’ names are full of faith-y significance! And they’re very consistent style-wise, as are Madeline, Eleanor, and Cora. I’m interested that they don’t think they’re “Catholic” enough — I do know what she means I think, and I have some super duper Catholicky Catholic suggestions below — but at the same time they all can hold their own in the world of saint names: St. Madeleine Sophie Barat is amazing; Eleanor is often given as a form of Helen(a), and St. Helena is wonderful; I’ve seen Cora used recently in reference to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary (see the comments on this post especially) — all heavy hitters!

But there are definitely names that are clearly, obviously Catholic to most people. I love how Jaclyn said, “we want someone to hear her name and just know she’s Catholic” — a beautiful hope! I guess there will always be someone who just isn’t familiar enough with Catholicism and its names to get right away that their daughter’s name is a Catholic name, but some that I think are pretty universally known include:

  • Lourdes
  • Therese, Theresa, Teresa (especially Therese, I think, but they’re all great)
  • Maria, Marie
  • Mary+[something] (Mary doubles tend to come across as nun-like, which I love)
  • Bernadette
  • Regina
  • Philomena
  • Rosary (there was a baby on the blog last spring named Rosary and I LOVE it!)
  • Rosemary, Rosemarie
  • Immaculata, Immaculee
  • Cecilia
  • Benedicta
  • Scholastica
  • Magdalene/Magdalena

Others that definitely ARE very Catholic, and almost exclusively so, but might be less likely than those listed above to come across that way, just because of having other associations as well or being unfamiliar, include:

  • Grace
  • Gemma
  • Catherine
  • Elizabeth
  • Margaret
  • Lucy, Lucia
  • Jacinta
  • Felicity
  • Clairvaux
  • Vianney (the Lourdes mentioned above has sisters Clairvaux and Vianney!)
  • Josephine
  • Genevieve
  • Evangeline
  • Karoline (that “K” points right to St. John Paul II)
  • Avila
  • Ava when paired with Maria as the middle name or as a double first name — like “Ave Maria”
  • Azelie, Zelie (I don’t think anyone else is using these but Catholics, but they’re so unfamiliar that I don’t think enough people know where this comes from)
  • Kateri
  • Gianna
  • Chiara
  • Clare
  • Perpetua (I’ve seen Pia and Pippa as nicknames for this, so sweet!)
  • Pia
  • Frances, Francesca

And then certainly there are a million other names that have saintly connections, but are so widely used by Catholics and non-Catholics that they don’t have an exclusively Catholic feel. Some people love that they just get to choose their favorite names and not worry that they’re saintly because so many (most?) names that Americans use today can trace back to a saint somehow. But when you want an obviously Catholicky Catholic name, I think a name from the lists above are your best bet.

So the names this family is considering — Clare, Lucy/Lucia, Gianna, and Azelie/Zelie — are all ones I’d consider to have that really Catholic feel they want. Clara/Clare and Lucy/Lucia are especially really similar to other names they like, style-wise.

As for their question regarding the pronunciation of Zelie, I’m guessing the pronunciation zellie, like rhyming with Kelly, would be their best bet. The Lourdes, Vianney, and Clairvaux sisters I mentioned above also have a sister named Zellie, spelled that way, which makes their pronunciation really obvious — maybe that would help? I have seen other pronunciations for it too, which I wrote about here.

It was fun to put together the lists above of names that are likely to be recognized as belonging to a Catholic girl, but of course I’m sure they don’t all fit the particular taste and style of this family. So I went through the Baby Name Wizard, as I almost always do for consultations, and looked up all the names they’ve used and liked, looking for patterns and overlap, and thought these names (which are included in the lists above) are the closest fit:

(1) Grace (or Mary Grace)
Grace seems a great fit for Jaclyn and her husband! It’s similar in style to their other kids’ names, and has such beautiful meanings, from the grace of God to Our Lady of Grace. Lovely! I especially like that I consider Lillian and Olivia to be Marian names (lilies are associated with her, and another of her titles is Our Lady of Olives), and Grace would fit right in with that. It is quite popular though, which they may not like, as the more popular a name the less any one association sticks to it, so I wondered if they might like Mary Grace? They could still call her just Grace, or Gracie, but the full Mary Grace definitely has Catholic cachet.

(2) Mary, or Mary+, or Maria
Mary on its own is being used less and less these days, which makes it kind of a bold yet very traditional and very Catholic choice. Mary could take Molly as a nickname, as Molly started out as a nickname for Mary, as did Polly; the nickname Mae would be sweet too — I’m offering all of these in case Jaclyn and her hubs like the idea of Mary as the first name but not as the everyday call name, if that makes sense.

Putting Mary in front of any names immediately “Catholicizes” it, I think, so I wondered if they’d consider something like Mary Madeline (reminds me of both Mary Margaret and Mary Magdalene, which are such traditional Catholic combos!), Mary Eleanor, Mary Cora … all so pretty! The middle names could be the call names, or both names all the time — it seems a good way to try to work in names they really like but want to be more heavy hitting faith-wise. Mary Elizabeth is another pretty combo, I know one who goes by M.E. (sounds like Emmy, so cute!). Sophia was a name that is really similar to a lot of names Jaclyn and her hubs like — maybe Mary Sophia? Maria Sophia? Which reminds me that Maria is a great option on its own, and Maria Teresa or Maria Therese would be really pretty too.

(3) Elizabeth, maybe nicknamed Zelie?
Another way of getting around the Zelie pronunciation issue is to use it as a nickname for a more common name. It’s kind of a crazy idea! But I did a consultation for blogger Jenny Uebbing a few months ago, and one of her readers suggested Elizabeth with the nickname Zelie, which incidentally I had just thought of myself before even reading it and thought was brilliant, and a reader here recently reminded me of it as well.

Even just Elizabeth on its own would be a lovely choice (or as Mary Elizabeth, as mentioned above) as it’s definitely saintly and Catholic — The Visitation is considered a really pro-life mystery, because of John the Baptist leaping in his mother’s womb for joy — so I always think of Elizabeth as a really pro-life and even Marian name, in a sense. But I know it’s been used so much that it might not come across as Catholic enough.

(4) Ava Maria
Ava showed up in my research quite a bit as a name that’s similar to others this family likes. On its own it’s certainly lovely, but pretty popular these days, and I think most people would think of Ava Gardner or other associations, but if it’s paired with Maria as a double first name, I think it’s really very Catholic sounding, as Ava Maria sounds so much like Ave Maria. It could even be hyphenated (Ava-Maria) or make it one name (Avamaria or AvaMaria).

(5) Magdalen(e)/Magdalyn/Magdalena
Finally, I wondered what Jaclyn and her hubs would think of Magdalen(e)/Magdalyn/Magdalena? It’s the origin of Madeline/Madeleine/Madelyn — they’re all variants of Magdalen(e) — but I think I’m correct in thinking that Magdalen(e) et al. come across as extra Catholic. With Magdalen(e) (or whatever spelling) they could have the nickname Maggie, which is the kind of thing I love — a bolder, more offbeat given name with a more accessible, familiar nickname. (Since they’re thinking of Clare, I was also reminded of this little Clare Magdalene, which is a combo I love!)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Lillian, Olivia, and Henry’s little sister?


117 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Baby Girl needs an obviously Catholic name

  1. Gosh, their children who are already born have such wonderful names!!

    As a Midwestern American, I do pronounce Zelie as rhyming with Kelly 🙂

    I love that they’re considering the name Clare! It’s one of my favorite names, Claire is my godmother’s name, and St. Clare of Assisi is my favorite saint!! I think Clare, especially without the i comes off super duper Catholic to me!

    Lucy would also go marvelously.

    I of course love the suggestion of Grace 😉 And I think Mary Grace is beautiful. I definitely agree with you that Mary doubles come off sounding like a nun, which is awesome! Mary-Clare comes of as Catholicky Catholic to me.

    Branching off of just Mary and double Mary names, what about Rosemary (which you mentioned, but I think needs more thought for them) or Mary-Rose? Those seem super Catholic to me. I’ve also been loving the name Rosemarie a little more than Rosemary lately, so maybe that is a possibility?

    I love the name Elizabeth and while it doesn’t come of automatically as Catholic (even though it is super Catholic, there are so many St. Elizabeths) I think with the right middle it could be!! Elizabeth Regina? Elizabeth Maria?

    I feel like if you also look towards more “dated” names you tend to come across some nice Catholic ones, like Teresa which you mentioned. Colette is another one that strikes me as super Catholic. Also maybe Christina!

    I kind of like the idea for them of using Madeleine Sophie as a full name if they don’t use family middle names or already have a middle name in mind. It would be SO cool to have the same full name as a saint!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would vote for Magdalene or its variants, — the ‘g’ makes the Biblical connection clearer, in my mind. Another option is Stellamaria. I’d also suggest Coeli except I suspect that in the absence of Regina, it’s unlikely to be pronounced correctly.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think Eleanor would be the perfect match to Lillian, Olivia and Henry!

    But, for a more obviously Catholic name, I like all of your ideas, specially Therese! It’s obviously Catholic and very elegant, like the sibling’s names.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Speaking of Midwestern pronunciation, is there a difference between Magdalen/Magdalene? I’ve heard Magdalene both with a “len” and a “leen” but don’t know which is correct!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree that Eleanor is a perfect match style wise. But I completely understand wanting a more “obviously Catholic” name. We had Anneliese as our girl name for years and then ended up nixing it last minute, opting for a clearer (not derivative) saint name.

    I like Gemma for her sibling set. Lillian, Olivia, Henry, and Gemma all have a bit of that English feel to me.

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  6. With respect, many of these choices are not obviously Catholic, not even in the first list; Mary, Magdalene, and Teresa (and all their variants). Regina and Philomena too are names in other Christian traditions. They are obviously Christian, although a few (ex. Lucy, Gemma, Grace) do appeal to non-theists because of their meanings. Moreover, some names are so classic (ex. Catherine, Elizabeth, Frances) that they have an appeal across the board, even to more secular parents.

    I took Jaclyn’s name search request as meaning that she wants a name that is unquestionably and clearly Catholic. And while I agree with you that the names of her previous children are awesome, I can see how they don’t fit into this category. Names that do fit into this category would have to be:

    1) Post-Schism Catholic saints, martyrs, and other people and traditions associated only with the Catholic faith.
    2) Names that are only used in Catholic cultures. For example, Jacinta is clearly a Catholic-only saint, but the name is actually quite popular in various English-speaking countries by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
    3) A Catholic name that is not so obscure or new, because otherwise it’s not obviously Catholic, for example Azelie/Zelie as you mentioned, or Vianney, or Kateri, for people not from America.

    This may seem like a lot of limitations, but I think there are still many names to choose from. I find that many Spanish names are unmistakably Catholic to me. I have a soft spot for Immaculee ever since coming across it here a while ago.

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    • I respectfully disagree on the Spanish names, because where I live, there are A LOT of Spanish-speakers and people with Spanish names, and they’re just as likely to be Protestant or non-theist as Catholic.

      However, I really understand their desire to choose a name that sounds very Catholic. I do think there are names, like Gemma, Magdalene, Regina, and Philomena, for example—at least here in the western US—that do sound unmistakably Catholic.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I respectfully disagree as well. Maybe it’s different outside of America, but I feel like even if a name is exclusively Catholic, it can still be super Catholic. Like yes, not all Teresas are Catholic, but I think that people still associate it with Catholicism, which seems like it would be enough for this mom. I don’t know if there is actually a thing as exclusively Catholic.

      Liked by 2 people

    • You’re totally right about names in other countries/languages — whenever I give my thoughts on Catholic names, it’s almost always with only my very limited perspective: English-speaking American from the northeast. That’s definitely one weakness of my blog! So great to have perspectives from those who are more familiar with Catholicism around the world.

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  7. This names of the children in this sib-set gives lots of options for the next child they are expecting! They haven’t boxed themselves in. I like all five suggestions.
    I followed the link to the My child I Love you blog and have a new pronunciation question: How do you say Damaris? On what syllable is the emphasis?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The emphasis in the original Greek pronounciation is on the first syllable: DAH-mah-rees. But in English I’ve heard the emphais on the middle syllable and pronouced dah-MAH-ris, and sometimes the da is pronounced as in the word “dam’, not ‘dahl’.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Great question!! I always hear “dah-MARE-iss” in my head when I read it but behindthename says “DAM-eh-riss” — do any of the rest of you have experience with Damaris and its pronunciation?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was thinking the same and referring to the name ‘Maris’ for pronunciation, like ‘de-Maris’. However, I thought it likely that the emphasis would be on the first syllable- DAM-ah-riss, or as the first commenter suggested, DAH-mah-rees.

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      • Funny, Damaris was the first thing I thought of when I saw “exclusively Catholic” then I thought that I should ask you to spotlight it!

        I say-think it like the Latin would be, like the Maris in Stella Maris. “deh-MAHR-ees.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll add it to my list! I admit I’m completely unfamiliar with it except Lindsay’s daughter (no idea that it comes across as exclusively Catholic!), so a spotlight will be helpful to me as well. Stay tuned! I have a couple requests on the list ahead of it, so sometime in the next couple of weeks.


      • I had Damaris on my baby name list a while ago with little intention of using it…I heard it in a Greek mythology something in high school?

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  8. With the sisters Lillian and Olivia, I hear the pretty L’s. This makes the names match (in my mind). Therefore, I think new little sister needs an L in her name, like Lucy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. With one l, I would probably pronounce Zelie as Zeely. The double l would be Zellie. I am definitely a Midwesterner with a typical accent and also Catholic. I know enough about French, though, to pronounce the name Zaylee when I know it’s a French name. I wonder how many ordinary people will realize it’s a Catholic name as opposed to a creative rhyming name akin to Kaylee, Kelly, Keely, etc.

    If you want an obviously Catholic name, I would suggest Mary Margaret, Mary Magdalene. Lots of Protestants are also named Mary, but Magdalene is very, very Catholic. I think Magdalena is even prettier. Call her Maggie or Lena, etc. I know a family with a Magdalene, called Maggie. Her big sister is Monica and her older brother is Dominic.

    I agree about Catholic names that other Catholics might identify as such: Gianna, Gemma, Therese, Theresa, Loreto, Bernadette, Kateri, Jacinta, etc. I would personally avoid Spanish origin names if the family isn’t Spanish or Latino. Scholastica, Immaculata, Benedicta etc. sounds pretty out there, especially given the sibling names.

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  10. Another Mary associated name I’ve always rather liked is Richeldis. She had a vision of Our Lady of Walsingham in England in medieval times and is associated with the Catholic Church in England.

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  11. I wouldn’t shy away from the name Mary on its own! I think it sounds very fresh and cute on a little girl since it’s not used as much. I’m biased though bc we have a little Mary Eleanor 🙂

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  12. I personally pronounce Zelie like “zaylee” and don’t think it would be that hard to get people used to that pronunciation if you like it. With only one L, it doesn’t necessarily have to go into the “rhymes with Kelly” direction if you don’t want it to.

    I really get what this mom is saying about wanting an unmistakably Catholic name. I know I’ve told the story here before about showing up to a Catholic moms’ group when my second baby was a newborn. Our two children were named Elisabeth and james, after family members who were Protestant, so they didn’t have a specifically Catholic background for us, even though of course I knew of saints with both names. But at the time, I felt very un-confident with my faith. I always had this sense that everyone else had it so much more “together” with regard to their faith than I did, and in this group in particular, I felt at a real disadvantage. I remember feeling so out of place with my two little “Protestant named” children in a group of Kolbes, Giannas, Faustinas, Mary Thereses, and the like. I had not even heard of St. Maximilian Kolbe before and just felt so out of it.

    Over time, I grew in my own faith and learned how little this really mattered. I ended up naming my next two children Fiona (not a saint’s name) and John (even more generic than Elisabeth and James! Lol!), and I feel so good about it. And I totally realized that whatever it FEELS like in a sea of devout Catholics who seem to have used more “officially” Catholic names, that’s not necessarily true. It’s one of the reasons I love this blog so much. It reminds us of what a great deposit of names we really have as Catholics, and how we baptize the world and not the other way around.

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  13. I grew up in a very Catholicky area in the midwest but was not catholic (I converted four years ago) and I suppose it perhaps depends on the area where they live whether a name will scream Catholic. In the area where I grew up if you were a Mary-something, you were Catholic. Other bible based names usually meant you were Protestant. Now, I see Clare (especially spelled that way) and several other names you mention in your post that way.

    My son was named after a Catholic priest who died during WWII, while both his first and middle names really scream more English-Irish names than Catholic, he has a name story that does scream Catholic. So I would go with one of the names they are leaning towards and teach their daughter about what makes her name Catholic.

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  14. I took the time to really think about what names non-Catholics would immediately associate with the Catholic faith. And what came to my mind was this TV series called “The Big Bang Theory”, which portrays several scientists that come from different religious backgrounds (Jewish, Protestant, Hindu…). One of them was raised Catholic and her name is Bernadette Maryann.

    I really think Bernadette is exclusively Catholic and even if it wasn’t obviously Catholic before the series, it is now, thanks to it. People will associate Bernadette with that Catholic character and I suppose the producers did their research to purposely choose a name that would stand out as Catholic.

    So, I think that if Jaclyn and her husband want an obviously Catholic name, they have Bernadette as the perfect contender. But I agree with grace: we don’t have to name our children super Catholic names in order to be “good Catholics”, and honestly I don’t think Bernadette would fit their name style.

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  15. I’ve lived in PA, MI and now WA and would have always said Zaylee because the name is French, but as I’ve shared before, with an oddly spelled name I am probably always going to overcompensate making sure I don’t mispronounce or misspell other people’s names!

    To match the siblings and/or be obviously Catholic I’d go with Felicity, Katharine, Mary _______, Mercy, Therese, or Virginia.

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  16. Anecdotal stories of the Catholic identity (or lack thereof) to the general public for name Clare/Claire.

    I have a 2 year old niece, Claire. After she was born my brother was talking with the mom of his childhood best friend (who has known my very Catholic mom for 35-ish years). She is not Catholic and said something along the lines of: “Claire? – oh, your mom is not going to like that name. It is not a saint (or Catholic?) name.” So she has no idea how very saintly.

    But on another note, there are significantly more Claire/Clare named girls in the 20 year old age range in Catholic circles than in general population. My daughter is 20 and attends a well-known, orthodox Catholic college. There are at least 10 girls named Claire/Clare in her class, so when she mentions a Claire/Clare I get confused who she is talking about. Out of approximately 250 girls, that is actually huge because at that time Claire/Clare was not even in the top 100 like it is now (#129 & #116 those birth years). So 1 in 25 girls there is Claire/Clare – 4% of girls in her class are Claire/Clare compared to .1% in general population for those years – that is significant. Compare to some other most frequent (Catholic-y or Catholic-ish) names in her class: 6 named Emily (#3 & #1 those birth years), 9 named Sarah (#5 & #4 those birth years), 4 named Rachel (#12 & #9 those birth years), 6 named Elizabeth (#10 & #10 those birth years), 6 named Rebecca (#28 & #24 those birth years), 9 named Mary/Maria (#40/#44 & #44/#37 those birth years). By far the most popular name in her class are versions of Kate/Katie/Cate, K/Catherine, K/Cathryn, Katarina, Caitlin/Katelyn which number about 26 but that covers multiple names in the rankings. And all these at least somewhat Catholic names outscore the other top 10 names from those years (Jessica, Ashley, Samantha, Taylor, Hannah, Brittany, Amanda) which only account for a few girls each in her class. I thought this was so interesting considering how not yet popular Claire/Clare was 20 years ago – for it to have spiked early in Catholic circles and be percentage-wise way above the national rankings. And actually Claire was a name we considered for our daughter, but knew two other Claires born a few months before her in our circle of friends so didn’t.

    All that to say – yeah – I think the Catholics were on Claire/Clare before anyone else.

    And I would agree that the Clare spelling much more likely signals Catholic.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Very interesting about the college girls!

      I very much agree with you about the spelling Clare.
      Interesting to me about my (public) university experience was how many more girls there were named Katherine/Catherine/Katie/Kate in my dorm than any other name. Yet Katherine was only about #40 in those birth years and Catherine #75, while Jennifer was #1 by a much bigger margin than #1 ranked names are today. But there were far fewer Jennifers in my dorm. Quite surprising and puzzling!

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      • Very interesting and intriguing, Grace. I do think part comes from the SSA not counting variations together (Aidan vs. Aiden) so you can’t always get a picture of the popularity of a name by sound. My example above had that same issue with the Kate/Katie/Catherine/Kathryn/Caitlin names being huge overall. If you do take ALL the possible Katherine spelling variations and also similar names that might end up with Kate/Katie nicknames (Katherine, Kathryn, Catherine, Kathleen, Katie, Katrina, Kathy, Kate, Katharine, Caitlin, Cathryn, Catharine, Katelyn) for say the year 1978 and compare to Jennifer that year and her very limited-use variations (Jennifer, Jenny, Jennie, Jenifer, Gennifer, Genifer) you can get the numbers much closer – 58,954 to 60,583. That makes Jennifer seem a little less of a dominant name. Doesn’t account for your experience in total—but I wonder…if a name becomes so popular (like Jennifer did) when it is at its height of popularity for total numbers, is it so common that it filters to all levels of society or even becomes dominant in some over others. And could a lesser used name that is climbing be more innovative/unique and used by those looking for classic and less “common” and and could that explain maybe a likelihood to be college bound as well? Does that make sense?

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      • That was true in my experience too! I was one of three Katherine-called-Kates in my class growing up (very small class of 56), but I didn’t have any Jennifers in my class. One of my college roommates (part of that circle of my close friends I referenced the other day) is Katherine/Katie as well.

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      • Mary, that is so interesting about the numbers on the Catherine variants compared to Jennifer! I didn’t even think to tally it all up in that way!

        And I have often thought the same about names being used across wide swathes of society vs. concentrated pockets, particularly because we used the name Fiona, which I think is just such a name. There are entire regions and social groups where it is unlikely to ever encounter anyone Fiona, and then small concentrated pockets where it appears somewhat common. *Ahem.* Urban middle/upper middle class. *Ahem.*

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    • I love this!! So cool to see it all broken down this way! Funny about the spelling — I saw a tweet just the other day pointing out that Clare is the Catholic spelling and Claire isn’t (when of course Claire is just the French spelling of the same name).

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    • As a 20 year old college student, I can speak to the Katie phenomenon. I swear, like half the girls I meet go by the name Katie. It’s a lovely name but now I just hear it SO much. The first month of my freshman year, I would just call girls who’s name I couldn’t remember Katie, and most of the time I was right.

      I also go to a Catholic College, not Orthodox really, we’re Jesuit, but there’s a strong Catholic identity here, and there are a lot of Claire/Clares. But I’ll never complain about that, it’s my favorite name. (I’m the rare person in the world who likes it when their favorite names are popular because it means I get to hear them more often 😀 )

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      • Ok, so I hate it when my favorite names are common, but I still named one of my children John. D’oh. Actually, it’s not very common for kids, at least around here, besides in Catholic families. We’ve actually had people stop us, ask us to repeat his name, give a puzzled look, and even a couple of people have said, “Wait. You mean like, J-O-H-N?!?!” 😂

        And actually, weirdly, John was never a name that has made it onto any of my favorite name lists. I’m still not sure I “like” it, but it was very clearly given to me in adoration one day when I had almost despaired of having another child. It was almost as dramatic (not quite, but almost) as a voice saying, “You will have a child and name him after St. John the Baptist.”

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    • Also, something I’ve noticed about my Catholic friends vs my friends of other faiths, is that Catholics tend to (not always) use more classic names, probably because of the connection parents want to Saints. So maybe that is why even though names like Claire/Clare aren’t super popular in the general public, they become more popular in Catholic circles, because Catholic parents possibly are less likely to just choose a name because they like it.

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      • Unless you are me. 😉
        I only have one (of four) children explicitly named after a saint. (My John is named specifically for St. John the Baptist.) Luckily two of the others have the names of great saints, leaving poor little Fiona to have to rise to sainthood herself. 😉

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      • But overall, I really think you are very right about this, Grace! I don’t know a single observant/orthodox Catholic family with children named Baylorie or Kaysen. Not that there’s anything wrong with those names, and I still say we baptize the world not the other way around, but the ONLY children under 10 that I know named John are Catholic. Lol!

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      • grace, I’ve found that the name Fiona is super popular in Irish Catholic groups, at least in my area! I grew up going to church with 4 or 5! I had a very warped sense of what a popular name was, lol. I’m still a little like “What do you mean you’ve never met a Fiona?!”

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      • That’s interesting and cool! Out here in the Wild West, we don’t really delineate by cultural group much/at all, or at least not any more. So there are not, for example, entire groups of “Irish Catholics.” It’s all just a hodge-podge, melting pot sort of thing. But also we’re the only Catholics we know with a Fiona. But not the only people! There are a lot in my previously mentioned urban middle/upper middle class group.

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      • Interesting. I’m in the northeast, not too far from the other Grace, and we definitely delineate by cultural group a lot — much of it’s just for fun, but it also does have real implications on, for example, which parish in town people attend (still! not as much as it used to but there are still vestiges) and definitely which names parents choose. Not always nor for everyone, but it’s definitely there!

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      • What’s interesting to me is that I’ve found both in the Midwest (where I grew up) and in the Northeast (where I go to school) we delineate by culture groups! It makes me wonder about why!

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    • That’s awesome to read! We almost named our eldest (17 years old now) Clara or Claire, but our niece was born 6 months prior and her name is Claire after her Mom’s middle name. I love the name!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, and when I think of Claire, I think of Pretty in Pink and a lady I worked for named Clare who went to Ursuline schools and was super Irish-American Catholic, but then converted to Judaism for her husband and their children (I’m sure for her own sake, too, but as tradition goes the sons can’t be Jewish if their mother is not)…her in-laws were Holocaust survivors and this was of the utmost importance to them to have the whole family remain Jewish. I kind of love that, but for us in the context of Catholocism, of course 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Since they like Madeline and it is a form of Magdalene definitely fits the bill. Madeleine to me is still very Catholic. It makes me think of the Cathedral of the Madeleine which is the beautiful cathedral for the diocese of Salt Lake City. So even in the US the french spelling is used for Magdalene in this location.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Cathedral of the Madeleine is the one with the verse for Galatians 1:8* over/behind the altar that made my head spin when I learned of it. My dad is a convert from LDS and raised us to think LDS is an invented religion. Not until I learned about the use of Gal 1:8 in this cathedral did I ever consider the possibility that it might have (dark) supernatural origin.
      Galatians 1:8 “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (The “accursed” here is actually “anathema”.)

      Liked by 3 people

  18. I have a friend named Zellie, and she pronounces is like Kelly, though I think it’s interesting that some people here it has something closer to Bailey.

    Liked by 1 person

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