Spotlight on: Ryan

We’re going to finish up Irish week with an Irish spotlight! ((irish twinkle eyes!!) (Thanks too for all the great ideas for Colleen yesterday!)

Not too long ago, Katrina of Hatch Prints (hand lettering and art shop on Etsy, goorrrgeous) and Cedars and Tiny Flowers (mama blog) fame posted about her oldest’s name, Ryan Donald (he who looks uncannily like my oldest nephew in several of his photos — Mom/sisters/sisters-in-law, do you agree?), and wrote,

We didn’t put much emphasis on for having a saintly base to his name. We think our names get a passing grade as long as there is just one saint that can be connected. I have all the hope in the world that there will be a St. Ryan someday even with my ordinary mothering especially after reading this the other day. There happens to be a St. Donald, but it is kind of a downer because there is almost nothing known about him. I do wish we had a specific intercessor picked out to call upon for Ryan. Maybe Kate could do a spotlight on Ryan? Hint, hint.”

I totally picked up the hint (:) ) and thought it would be the perfect name to spotlight not only at the end of Irish week (because it’s Irish, just in case you weren’t sure), but also as we go into Holy Week, since I’m totally thinking that the best faithy connection for Ryan is Jesus Himself.

Ryan is said by behindthename and babynamesofireland (which only has an entry for Ryanne, “a female form of Ryan,” but not Ryan. Weird) to come from from ri (=king) and the diminutive –in, in essence meaning “little king,” which is, to me, all that tiny Babe in the manger. How cool. I might then consider it a possible Christmas name as well. I’m totally loving this idea!

Further digging shows there may indeed be a St. Ryan, under the name St. Rhian, and he is a mysterious (but so intriguing!) fellow. There’s a Welsh town called Llanrhian, where “llan” means “place of” (according to my Welsh expert friend Clare from Name News [a treasure trove of name info] — check out her comments about Welsh names and pronunciations on my post here, so cool!), and “There are lots of place names that are Llan + saint’s name, e.g. Llanfair (Mair = Mary), Llanbedr (Pedr = Peter).” so Llanrhian is named after someone named Rhian, and despite the fact that behindthename says Rhian is a Welsh female name meaning “maiden,” this site says about St. Rhian,

Little is known of this saint, or of any other dedications to him. A few suggestions have been made:

  • The name may originally have been Rian, Rayn or Ryan, as early documents spelt it this way, and he could have been one of St David’s followers.

  • He could have been Rein, or Rhun, son of Brechan Brycheiniog, whose children have churches dedicated to them in various parts of Pembrokeshire

  • He could have been Reanus, Abbot of the 7th century

  • The name could have been descriptive – rian was an old Irish word for a trackway and Llanrhian might refer to the church on the trackway

  • It would recall some local chieftain who had embraced the Christian faith (rhi = king, an = little)

  • The Welsh word for maiden is rhiain, so the dedication might be to the Virgin Mary.”

(What’s that? A possible connection to Mother Mary?? ((heart eyes!!)) ) You can read more about Llanrhian and its founder/saint in this great document, and he even has a feast day (March 8).

So I’d say, if Katrina, or anyone else, wants a known patron for Ryan, I’d look to Jesus, and how awesome is that. But if a saint with the actual name is desired, St. Rhian’s the best we got, and not a terrible option at all.

What do you think of Ryan as a Jesus name? Do you have any other ideas for a patron saint for Ryan? Thanks to Katrina for the shout out and request!



14 thoughts on “Spotlight on: Ryan

  1. Ahhhhh! THIS MADE MY DAY! I love the possible Marian connection and it is so awesome to have Jesus. I should have seen the connection right away especially since my mom has always had a big devotion to Baby Jesus. Thank you, Kate!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, that’s my brother’s name! Actually, it’s his middle name; his first name is Jon, after a relative. But literally no one calls him Jon, not even my mom. In fact, I was 8 or 9 before I even found out his first name wasn’t Ryan! But because of that, I subconsciously think of “Ryan” as a variation of “Jon” even though I know for a fact the two names aren’t remotely related. Still, it brings up sort of an interesting point that I saw you refer to in the discussion about Eleanor/Helen–if someone calls their baby something intending it as a variation of a saints’ name, even if it isn’t really, does it still honor that saint? Maybe not when the names are as dissimilar as “Ryan” and “Jon” though, I don’t know!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha! This made me laugh! “‘Ryan’ as a variation of ‘Jon'”!! I totally get it! So you mean calling a boy Ryan in honor of a St. John? I feel like you could make a very good argument, because your brother’s name is a variant of Jon, but he goes by Ryan, so if you named a son Ryan for your brother, your brother’s patron saint makes sense for your little Ryan to have. Of course, that doesn’t make Ryan a variant of John, and others who don’t have the same situation would have a hard time intending to name their son for St. John by using Ryan (that still makes me laugh!!). But crazier things have happened! Family name stories are the best, I love them!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband is Ryan Mackenzie and even though he’s a lifelong Catholic, he doesn’t have a saint’s name. His parents just liked how it sounds. We make a daily litany of all our family’s patrons, so we decided on the Child Jesus for his, because of the “little king” meaning. I’m glad you have validated us on retrofitting a patron!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s