Baby name consultant: Baby #8, gender unknown, not popular name please, and girls end in -a

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!! I hope you love and are loved today! (Let me remind you, in case you’re having a hard time remembering: You’re always loved, always, even if people let you down — you’re loved intensely and without end. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

Before jumping into the consultation, I just want to let you know that I’ll be mostly off the blog for the coming week — my kids are home from school and we’ll be vacation-ing it up together! 😀 I’ll still be moderating comments and answering emails, and I’ll post my February CatholicMom column on Wednesday, and I’ll be back to cracking on Monday Feb. 22.

The mama whose consultation I would normally have posted tomorrow made a special request to have it post today — what a lovey day to talk about a lovey baby! ❤

Jenn and her husband are expecting their eighth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown). Their older kiddos are:

Joseph Albert III, called Joey
Theresa Rose, called TT
Michaela Grace, called KK
Nicholas Daniel, called Nick
Hannah Faith, called Hanni
William Thomas, called Liam
Gianna Marie Noelle, called GG

The one name they’ve discussed is:

Vincent Michael

Alrighty, so I’ll start with their boy idea of Vincent Michael: I love it. It’s one of those names that, weirdly, says “Irish+Italian” to me, which is funny that Jenn’s hubs is 50/50 that exact mix. But of course it works with all ethnicities because of it being a saint’s name — I love that the saints’ names are used everywhere, in every country. My only hesitation with Vincent Michael is that they already have Michaela, but I’m sure they thought of that and if it doesn’t bother them it doesn’t bother me either.

So as you all know, I almost always start a consultation by looking up all the names that have already been used and that are liked in the Baby Name Wizard book as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Doing so, and picking through my own namey head, I came up with a few suggestions for each gender that I think fit Jenn and her hubs’ taste and criteria (including girl names ending in the –a sound):

(1) Sarah, Julia
Sarah was a big winner for this family, and it’s my top suggestion. It’s Biblical like Joseph and Hannah but it totally holds its own with the other kids’ names, which are all classics. Sarah used to be quite popular, but it’s dropping quickly — it was #5 in 2000 but has dropped each year since and was at #50 in 2014 according to the Social Security baby name stats. So I don’t think Jenn and her husband need to worry that it’s too popular. They have great nicknames for their girls too, and the traditional Sarah nickname Sadie would fit in well I think.

I grouped Julia with Sarah because it’s also a biblical name, and I think it goes great with the big sibs, I just wasn’t sure they’d want to follow Gianna with Julia — too much J sound? It’s on a downward popularity arc, at #86 in 2014. Following their nickname style, I could see something like Leelee, and I’ve also seen Jilly for Julia, which I think is adorable. Or JJ?

(2) Clara, Eliza/Elisa
St. Clare is always a great patron for a little girl, and at first I was going to suggest Chiara, which is the Italian version of it and goes really well with sister Gianna … but it just seemed too Italian — Clara seemed a better fit to me. (#108 in 2014) Not sure about nicknames though? Kiki seems like it would work because of the hard C- beginning of Clara, but they already have KK. Maybe Clari, in the style of Hanni?

Eliza is because Elizabeth was a big style match for their name taste but it doesn’t end in –a. Eliza has the same sweet classic feel as their other girls’ names. A similar option in this same vein is Elisa, which is also really pretty and gets closer to the style of Gianna. (Eliza: #212; Elisa: #498) (I considered Isabella and Elisabetta as well, but Isabella seemed too popular [#4], and Elisabetta too Italian. Both gorgeous though! And I read recently about Ven. Elisabetta Sanna …) Ellie would be a great nickname with their other girls (and Izzie for Isabella, or Lizzie/Lissie and Betty [!] for Elisabetta).

(3) Maria, Olivia
I know they used Marie for Gianna’s middle name, but if they’re okay with using Michael as a middle even though they have Michaela, maybe Jenn and her hubs would be okay with Maria as a first name? It was the first idea I had for them after reading their email. All the other girl’s have names that could be considered Marian — Rose, Grace, Faith or Hannah (with Hannah being a form of Anne and Anne being Our Lady’s mom), and Marie — so it makes sense to have a Marian first or middle for another girl. And Mimi totally rocks as a nickname, and totally fits in with the other girls; Mia’s another great option as a nickname, a la Mia Farrow, whose given name is Maria. (Maria’s #115)

I wouldn’t have thought of Olivia for this family on my own, but the Baby Name Wizard said it was a style match for them, and it reminded me that one of our mamas named her daughter Olivia after Our Lady under the title Our Lady of Olives — a title I’d not been familiar with, but how great is that? And Livi! One of my favorite favorite girl nicknames! (Unfortunately Olivia’s the most popular of my suggestions—#2 in 2014! So maybe I should have included Isabella in my official suggestions, since I included Olivia …)

(4) Cora, Cecilia
Cora is totally drawn from my own life, because I know a family with a Michaela and a Nicholas, and they also have a Cora. I love it for this family because it ends in -a and we’ve had some discussion of Cora on the blog recently as a name for the Sacred Heart or the Immaculate Heart of Mary — or both! (Check out the comments on this post, as an example.) A Marian and a Jesus name in one! (#103) Coco would be a really fun nickname, or Cori.

I’m including Cecilia with Cora because both are my own ideas (i.e., not listed in the BNW). I thought of Cecilia mostly because of the nickname option of Cece, which so fits what they’ve already done with their other girls, and isn’t too popular (#206). And actually, CC could work for something like Cora Cecilia or Cora Clare or Clara Catherine. I’m loving that!

(1) Francis nicknamed Finn
I had a harder time with boy names for them! Joseph, Nicholas, William/Liam, and Vincent are all great, classic names, but the names that matched style-wise didn’t seem to work for them for one reason or another (Thomas has already been used as a middle; James is a great name but would they want to repeat the J of Joseph, especially after Gianna? Edward just didn’t seem … right, even though it’s saintly and masculine). But the fact that William goes by Liam made me think of one of my favorite suggestions, which you all know I’ve tried to push on lots of people (haha!): Francis with the nickname Finn. I think it totally works! And: Pope Francis! (Francis: #234, Finn: #234, though sure to rise because of Star Wars. Which I don’t think is a terrible thing. At all. 😉 Especially with Francis as the given name.)

(2) Dominic
Dominic is another name that says “Irish+Italian” to me, like Vincent. I actually did a post a while ago about non-Italian Dominics, because I’d heard some people say Dominic didn’t work for a fair-haired boy. I don’t know what Jenn’s kids look like, but, as I noted in my post, I first fell in love with Dominic in Kindergarten Cop — he was the little blond boy. 🙂 I’ve seen Nick used as a nickname, which obviously won’t work for this family, since they already have Nicholas, but I’ve also heard Dommy for a little boy, which is adorable. The full Dominic is really my favorite though. (#69)

(3) Andrew
Andrew seems the most likely to be a name Jenn and her hubs would like, I think. It’s classic and biblical, and has the great nicknames Andy or Drew. Or even something like Ace, if they paired it with a C middle name (Andrew Charles? Andrew Christopher?). (#22)

(4) Charles
Speaking of Charles, it’s my last suggestion for them — I’ve been seeing it a lot in honor of St. John Paul (birth name Karol=Charles), and the day before I did this for Jenn was the feast of St. Charles Borromeo (and I read that JP2 was actually named for St. Charles Borromeo! Can anyone verify that?). Charlie is a great nickname, but they might not love it with their last name, so there are some other fun ones too, like Cal, Hutch, and Huck, among others. (#51)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for a little brother or sister for Joseph, Theresa, Michaela, Nicholas, Hannah, William, and Gianna?

+ xoxo ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ xoxo +

Are you waiting to hear from me?

I’ve had a couple of snafus recently where some of you wonderful readers have tried to get a hold of me, both over Facebook and email, but I never saw your message until you tried again a different way — I’m so sorry for that! My intention is to write back as soon as I get an email/message — sometimes I’m a day or two later — but if it’s been a week or more since you wrote and I haven’t responded, please do try again! One of you messaged me on Instagram to ask about an email — I thought that was great, it’s hard to miss those orange notification alerts! Or even leave a comment on a post here, if you’re worried that an email/FB message hasn’t been seen.

And again, I apologize for anyone I’ve missed! I’m certainly not ignoring anyone!

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:

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 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.

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?

Guilty pleasure names

Charlotte from To Harriet Louise mentioned her list of “guilty pleasure names” the other day and now I’m dying to know what they are! And yours too!

By “guilty pleasure” I mean names you kinda really love even though, for whatever reason, you could never see yourself actually choosing them for your own children. Mine include:


I know there’s a bunch more — I’ll add in the comments as I think of them. Let me hear what you have! I bet I’ll be adding to my own list after reading yours. 🙂

(Also — the Jennifer Fulwiler show went really well yesterday!! I was so nervous but once we started talking it was so fine. She’s a great host — she really directed the conversation and there weren’t any awkward pauses … she had great thoughts and questions … and I think she liked my ideas for her! If I make it into her highlights podcast, I’ll definitely post it when it’s available!)

I’m going to be on Jennifer Fulwiler’s radio show today

Before I address that ridiculously amazingly awesome post title, I just want to thank all of you who participated in the Zelie & Co. Charity Auction yesterday! A lot of money was raised for some wonderful, worthwhile causes. Special thanks to Theresa, our dear reader and the mama behind the Happy Nest Home Goods Etsy shop, for creating such a beautiful set for the auction, and for asking me to partner with her in the first place. It was an honor!

Back to that post title … aahhhhhh!!!!! Yes!!! It’s true!!! I’ll be on Jen‘s show this afternoon!!! I don’t even know how my life has taken the direction it’s taken — well, of course, I do know: it’s all God, every bit of it, He has blessed me something fierce — but I’m just saying, if you’d told me not that long ago that I would be on Jen’s show I would not have believed you. That’s for big deals, not for normal me and my fun name ramblings!

It should be a lot of fun — Jen’s asked me to give her a name consultation, which you know I love to do (!!), and I have some good ideas for her — I’m excited to see if she thinks I’m spot on or if I totally missed the mark. It’ll be a nail biter! 😀

Her show runs from 2:00-4:00 Eastern time, and I’ll be on around 3:20 (maybe a few minutes earlier, maybe a few minutes later) for about twenty minutes. Here are the details for tuning in:


And I know not everyone has Sirius XM (myself included), so there’s this info also:

jen_fulwiler - Copy

Once Jen posts that free highlights podcast I’ll be sure to share it here if my segment makes the cut! (The other links from that image are here.)

So please say a prayer for me that I don’t make a huge fool of myself, especially because it’s *live* (eek!), and if any of you are able to listen, please let me know your reactions!

I hope you all have a holy and blessed Ash Wednesday!

Lenten almsgiving (to Catholic Charities) PLUS fill your Easter basket … all in one go!

I swiped the title of this post from Monica’s post of the same name over at Catholic Bloggers Network (I hope she doesn’t mind!), in which she talks about today’s Zelie & Co. Charity Auction — she lists all the bloggers and artisans who have teamed up for this endeavor, and all the charities that will benefit. Be sure to check it out!

All of the action is happening on the Zelie & Co. Instagram feed today. I’ll be posting on my own Instagram as well, but all of the bids have to happen at Zelie & Co. The auction starts at 9am Central (10am Eastern) and will go all day until midnight Central/1:00am Eastern tonight.

Here’s our beautiful set:

HappyNestZelieCharityAuction Full Set Collage2

All in all, our set includes:

The whole thing’s valued at $145! If you have babies, you know know these would be such great things to have, and they would make a wonderful gift for a new mama too — so nice to have beautiful, useful, baby-friendly things! And all of the money raised goes to charity — ours is PerpetuaLife Care, Inc., which is a 501C3 not-for-profit dedicated to supporting my local affiliate of the National Gianna Center for Women’s Health and Fertility™, Gianna of Albany.

Thank you for any support you’re able to give this effort!


A few short hours until the Zelie & Co. Charity Auction!

I’m getting so excited about the Zelie & Co. Charity Auction — tomorrow’s the day!

Theresa has worked so hard to put together a simply beautiful set of items for the auction, which will benefit PerpetuaLife Care, Inc., which is a 501C3 dedicated to supporting my local affiliate of the National Gianna Center for Women’s Health and Fertility™, Gianna of Albany.


I’ve been posting pictures of the pieces in our set all afternoon/evening over on my Instagram — be sure to check them out!


Be sure to follow the hashtag #ZelieCharityAuction to see all the beautiful items being offered by so many beautiful ladies!

The auction will start at 9am Central (10am Eastern for my part of the country) and will run until midnight CST. Highest bidder wins the set! (And the second- and third-highest bidders on our set will also get a NamePrint from me. 🙂 )


Baby name consultant: Baby #4, awesome initials please

Dianne and her husband are expecting their fourth baby and third girl! Their older kiddos are:

Ava Lilian
Sophia Elizabeth
Caleb Augustin

Love. Love. Love.

Dianne writes,

My husband prefers initials that spell things, but so far we haven’t done that well with the other children! Ava’s initials are ALM (and we stretched that to say she’s our almsgiving). It’s obviously not a deal breaker, but it’s nice.

We liked Ava because it was close to “ave”, the start of a Ave Maria … “Lilian” is her aunt’s name. Spelled with one middle L, being the Filipino way to spell it. (My husband is Filipino and I’m white, so our kids are mixed race. We considered more traditional Filipino names, but they’re mostly hispanic in origin and we don’t feel like that works well in the US with our heritage).

Sophia’s name was almost going to be Olivia, but my grandmother (middle name Elizabeth) died shortly before her birth. And for whatever reason at the time, I didn’t like Olivia Elizabeth and decided that Sophia went better with it. Since then, my cousin named her daughter Olivia, so I’m not keen on using it again.

We thought that Caleb Augustin was just a real strong name. We dropped the “e” on Augustin because we thought it helped to pronounce it as “Au-GUS-tin” instead of “AUG-us-teen.” His first name was almost Augustin, but I didn’t want a Gus (we did like the nickname Augie!), and I ultimately thought it would be too “weird” sounding outside of our Catholic circle.

We didn’t consult “top name” lists until after we named our kids. We had no idea how popular they are. I would probably prefer a name not at the top of the popularity list like our other kids, but again, not a deal breaker. I do want names that are common enough to 1) be pronounceable, and 2) not seem too weird on future job applications, etc. We would also love a very strong saint’s name, or at least some obscure connection to a saint.”

This was so fun for me to read, I love being given lots of information about the hows and whys a couple named their children.

For this baby, their top name contenders are:

Siena — (“Catherine of Siena is my patron saint. I don’t really like Catherine“)

Seraphina — (“we like that she could go by something more common sounding — Sera — while still having a beautiful name, that reminds us of the angels”)

Adele — (“A beautiful saint name. We don’t love the mental association with the singer, but we don’t dislike the musician, so it’s still a contender.. ha“)

Charlene, Charlotte, and Madeline — (Dianne likes but her hubs doesn’t care for Charlene or Charlotte, and Dianne’s not confident Madeline goes well with their last name)

Basically, it all boils to these three things:

1) Are these names too similar to Ava or Sophia’s names?
2) if we have future girls, are we locking ourselves into a name ending in “a” if we choose Siena or Seraphina? I’d lean towards Adele because of that reason, but I think Siena Adele sounds prettier than Adele Siena.
3) what nicknames would be good for these names?

Alrighty, first off, I love that Ava’s name was chosen because it’s close to Ave! I actually know a little girl named Ava Maria, for that same reason. Ava Lilian is a beautiful combo, and I love her initials!

Sophia is a beautiful name, and sounds lovely with Elizabeth. I do see what Dianne means about Olivia Elizabeth not flowing well!

I love Caleb Augustin, so handsome! We almost named our youngest three boys Augustin, that spelling, for the same reason Dianne and her hubs used that spelling—we wanted au-GUS-tin, not au-gus-TEEN. In the end, just like them, we just couldn’t pull the trigger! But I do still love it.

As for the names on their current list:

Siena is a great name, and a great way to honor St. Catherine of Siena if you don’t care for Catherine. It is similar in sound, rhythm, and length to Sophia, but with Caleb between them I don’t think it’s a huge deal. They could also consider a variant of Catherine — there are so many! Caterina was Catherine of Siena’s actual name (Catherine is an English and French version), and there are a million more variants here. I wouldn’t think of nicknaming Siena, would you? I could maybe see Sia working, if you really wanted to shorten it, but there’s the singer reference there as well (who’s actually quite well named: Sia Kate Isobelle. Gorgeous!).

Seraphina is one of my favorites, such a gorgeous name! But it is very similar to Sophia, more so than Siena I think, because it shares the beginning S-, the ending –a, and the –ph- in the middle. If Dianne and her hubs decided they wanted to use it anyway, there are some sweet nicknames for it: Sera, as mentioned; also Fia, Fina, Fifi, and even something sweet like Sunny! Another way to make it just a little different is to use the French Seraphine instead, which eliminates the –a ending. It also made me think of Josephine — it has a similar length and rhythm and some shared sounds, but that it starts with J- automatically makes it more different from Sophia.

Adele is great if they want to move away from names that end in –a. I agree that Siena Adele sounds nicer than Adele Siena, but of course they could do a different middle. Something like Adele Josephine, for example, or even Adele Seraphina — both sound lovely to me! I think the most natural nickname for Adele is Ada, which doesn’t work with their Ava, but I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t do Elle or Ellie, or even Dell — kind of sweetly tomboyish.

Charlene I was surprised by! It’s feminine and pretty, but has more of a mid-century feel to it (style matches would include Marsha, Gayle, and Francine) than the other names on their list. Charlie and Lena are both cute nickname ideas.

Charlotte, on the other hand, didn’t surprise me at all! It’s very consistent with the other names they like style-wise. It (along with all the names on their list) helped inform my ideas for below.

Madeline is also beautiful and consistent with this family’s style. I don’t mind alliterative first name-last name combos as much as some others do — I think Madeline M____ could be really kind of M-memorable! 🙂 And with an I- middle name, MIM is a cute nickname option. This is me being crazy, but I’ve seen Mim as a nickname for Miriam, so they could possibly see MIM initials as a super subtle nod to Mother Mary? I know, my thought process is not to everyone’s taste … 😛

I did come up with some other ideas, of course! I can always come up with name ideas! As you all know, I almost always start a consultation by looking up all the names that the parents have used and like in the Baby Name Wizard book, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. I then look for names that show up as similar to more than one of the names they like, and I comb my own head for ideas as well. With all that, I had six ideas for this little baby girl on the way:

(1) Isabel or Isabelle
I know they already used Elizabeth for Sophia’s middle name, and Isabel(le) is a variant of Elizabeth, but its sound and appearance is so different — and it would be in the first name spot instead of the middle — that I thought Dianne and her husband might be willing to consider it. It’s very similar in style to the other names they like, and going with Isabel or Isabelle rather than Isabella gets away from the ends-in-a names. As for the initials spelling something, I’m reminded of the little girl named Isabelle Verity who goes by Ivy because of her initials I.V., so sweet! That doesn’t work with sister Ava, though … or what about something like Isabelle Helen or Isabel Hope for initials IHM=Immaculate Heart of Mary? (Other good initials-as-nicknames ideas here.)

(2) Violet
Violet is kind of, ahem, flowery (haha!), which is how I’d describe Seraphina as well, and yet it also reminds me of Adele in some way — pretty and feminine but also solid and traditional. It can also be considered Marian, which is always a huge plus in my book! Violet Isabelle M___ would have the initials VIM, like “vim and vigor” (vim means “robust energy and enthusiasm,” love that!).

(3) Caroline
Caroline is long like Seraphina, and was inspired by (and is a variant of) Charlotte; its –ine ending also calls to mind Seraphine, Josephine, and Madeline. A lot of Catholic parents have been loving Caroline recently because of St. John Paul’s birth name of Karol (and I’ve seen Karoline and Karolina as well, to get even closer to his name). I can’t think of spelling a word with initials, but Caroline Adele M___ would be CAM, which could lead to nickname Cammie.

(4) Grace or Faith
Grace and Faith are virtue-esque names, like Sophia. Grace is also a style match for Charlotte and August (Augustin(e) isn’t listed in the book), and Faith is similar to Caleb. Grace can refer to God’s grace, as well as Our Lady of Grace, and of course Faith refers to all of what we believe. They are so similar to me in terms of faith-y significance that I would think popularity would be the deciding factor, if they decided they like these ideas. Faith is vastly less popular than Grace, but just as sweet in my opinion. I don’t have any ideas for initials-words for Faith, but Grace Emmanuelle M___ could be GEM — great initials for their little gem!

(5) Vivian or Vivienne
People who like Seraphina tend to like other long, frilly, saintly/faith-y names like Genevieve, Evangeline, Veronica, and Vivienne (lots of V’s!). Of those, I thought Vivienne would be of interest (perhaps more likely as the spelling Vivian, being shorter and closer in length to the big sibs’ names). I don’t *think* it’s too similar to Ava, with the V’s, but maybe you all think it is? Especially if they go with the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, but very like Ava. See Violet above for an initials-word idea.

(6) Abigail or Chloe
I’m listing these two together because neither one are names I’d come up with on my own, but they both were similar to several names Dianne and her husband like: Chloe to Ava, and Abigail to Caleb, Madeline, and Olivia. Both are biblical names — Chloe was a woman in the New Testament who housed St. Paul, and Abigail is in the Old Testament (King David’s wife) and is referred to as Abigail the Matriarch, with a feast day of September 1. Chloe Adele M___ (CAM, like Caroline above) or Abigail Irene M___ (AIM, like “aim for heaven”)?

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would suggest for a little sister to Ava, Sophia, and Caleb? Any other initials-make-words ideas?

Naming regret

I’ve heard from some of you about using or not using a name you wished you hadn’t/had for one of your children (and I posted a little about it here), but I’ve been thinking about naming regret recently — specifically, how do you move on from it? Does the less-than-perfect name you chose become a name you like because it’s associated with your beloved baby? Does the beloved name you didn’t choose fade into the background as you fall in love with the name you gave your baby?

Would you/have you ever considered changing the baby’s name after having already named him/her?

If any of you have experienced this, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and whether there’s any advice you might offer someone who’s having a hard time with their child’s name, whether soon after birth or even years later.

Spotlight on: Philomena

This was yet another reader request, and I’m really glad for it, because Philomena’s kind of a funny duck.

On the one hand, there aren’t a whole lot of names that are exclusively Catholic. I mean, I claim lots of names as ours, for impeccable Catholicky Catholic reasons, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world agrees. But when it comes to Philomena, I think the whole world *does* agree: it’s Catholic. Catholicky Catholic. Oozing Catholic cachet. Do you agree?

The funny part is, though St. Philomena is the source of our love and devotion for this most Catholic of names, she’s no longer on the liturgical calendar, having been removed in 1961 at the directive of Pope Paul VI because of lack of historical evidence.

Is this news to any of you? Because it was to me when I first found out from the mama of this consultation a year ago. Up until I then, I was blissfully ignorant, and from what I can tell, much (most?) of the Catholic world is as well.

So this is the story, according to this site: In 1802 a tomb was discovered with an inscription that could say “Pax Tecum Filumena” if the words were reorganized, and inside was the skeleton of a 14-year-old girl and a vial of her dried blood. Then:


I don’t think “since the 1960’s, she has been almost forgotten” is totally accurate, both because I know there are people still bestowing her name on their children, and because of the laity perhaps not being totally clear on what exactly the Church was saying.

From what I can tell, the Church isn’t saying she’s not a saint. This article made a good argument (though based on research that the author doesn’t link to so I can’t verify):

Now, a question that must be addressed in this essay is what the Sacred Congregation of Rites said in regard to Saint Philomena. They removed the feast of Saint Philomena from the calendar based on the lack of historical evidence for her existence. It is very important to note at this point that the Congregation of Rites did not have any ecclesiastical power of any kind. It was only a “liturgical directive”. This directive however left many people confused, and rightfully so. In fact, it left bishops concerned too. Bishop Sebastião Fernandes of Mysore, India, whose cathedral was consecrated in Philomena’s honor, sent a letter to Pope Paul VI in 1964. This correspondence was sent to Mugnano by Bishop Fernandes as follows:

“What must I do for the people in my diocese who are greatly troubled by the decree of the Sacred Congregation regarding St. Philomena?” Paul VI responded, “Do not let it disturb you and do not disturb your people; let devotion to St. Philomena continue as before” (proseguiva come prima)[vi].

These words should be a comfort to those who have faith in the intercession of Saint Philomena, and reinforce the notion that devotion to her has never been officially abolished or suppressed.”

I love what now Bl. Paul VI’s response was! I also love this from that same site:

We have the bones of a young girl, we have a grave that shows the marks of martyrdom, and we have more approved miracles coming from the intercession of this saint than most canonized saints of our times. What does it matter if her original name was Philomena or not? Does it matter whether or not we have no historical documents to prove her existence? No! We have papal approval, and we have miracles. The only way to deny the existence of Saint Philomena is to deny that the miracles which catapulted her to public veneration just 35 years after her buiral discovery in Rome. I assure you, venerating Saint Philomena will be most providential for your soul, for she is powerful with God. Saint Philomena, pray for us! For the glory of God, and the salvation of souls, Amen.”

I like how he says, “What does it matter if her original name was Philomena or not?” I’ve often had the same thought about Sts. Joachim and Anne — we get their names from the Protoevangelium of James, which is not canonical, so there’s a chance those aren’t the names of Mary’s parents, but so what? If they’re not, we have no others to put in their place, and Mary DID have parents, so why not remember them as Joachim and Anne? When we think of their names, we’re thinking of them, you know? This site gives some more really good info, including:

[To St. Pio] St. Philomena was the “Princess of Heaven”. After the liturgical reform of 1961, Father Pio used to imperatively reply to whoever dared to doubt the existence of the Saint: “for the love of God! It might well be that her name is not Philomena, but this Saint has performed many miracles and it is not the name that did them.” This is the wisest reply: who wants to understand, will understand!

Speaking of whether Philomena was actually the girl’s name or not, the name itself has a beautiful meaning. The site I just cited says, “The name Philomena (fee-lo-MAY-nah) is of Latin origin. The inscription on the original loculus tiles, is Filumena. The word filia is Latin for daughter. The word, lumena, is Latin for, light, lamp, lantern; light of day; the eye; clearness; understanding,” while Behind the Name says, “From Greek φιλος (philos) “friend, lover” and μενος (menos) “mind, purpose, strength, courage” … [Filumena] may have in fact been a representation of the Greek word φιλομηνη (philomene) meaning “loved”.” So whichever of those is correct, they’re all beautiful meanings for a little girl and easily full of faith significance if you so desire.

St. Philomena certainly has a history of love in the Church, by Popes and Saints even, and with the name having the Catholic cachet it has, I still think it’s definitely a beautiful name for a Catholic family to consider. Do you agree?

There are the spellings Philomena (English, German, Greek) and Filomena (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch), and I myself go back and forth as to which spelling I prefer. There are also loads of nickname options, which I’ve mentioned before: Fia, Fila, Fina, Finn, Finna, Lola, MenaMinnie, Pia, Pim, Pina, and Pippa. Each one so darling!

I’d love to know you what you all know about St. Philomena! Especially if you have any further light to shine on the subject from sources that aren’t critical of various Popes and the Church (I found too many of those when I was doing this research).

And tell me also your thoughts on the name — would you/have you considered Ph/Filomena for a daughter? Which spelling do you prefer? Do you know any Philomenas? Do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname?