Backing into a patron saint

This topic is one of my very favorites,  because I frequently come across families who chose names they love for their children but later regretted not having figured out a patron saint connected to their names, whether because they hadn’t really thought about the saint thing or because they’d had a later conversion/reversion/strengthening of their faith. I’ve seen some real suffering because of this! And I really really love being able to put a mama’s mind at ease. I wrote about the idea of “backing into a patron saint” in my CatholicMom article “Finding your patron saint (or being found),” but I wanted to share with you a real-life example from one of you wonderful readers. She writes,

I’m wondering if you can help me with a “reverse” consultation. I’m Catholic, but didn’t necessarily prioritize choosing a Saint’s name for my first two children. My Catholic faith has grown a lot recently and I’m a little sad that I didn’t intentionally give my son a Saint’s name. My first born daughter’s [middle name is] Marie. Marie is my middle name, and while that was the main reason we gave it to her, I’m happy that it also honors Mary. My son’s name is Flynn Carlson. Flynn is my husband’s grandmother’s maiden name and Carlson is my maiden name. My husband … loves anything and everything Irish. When we found the name Flynn in a baby name book he fell in love and had to have it. I’m one of four girls, so my maiden name will not be carried on by anyone in my family, so I really wanted to give my maiden name as a middle name to my son.

I’d love for my son to have a Saint that is associated with his name, if possible. I know that a patron Saint doesn’t have to be associated with a name and I realize that ideally the qualities of a Saint should inspire parents to choose a name rather than trying to match a Saint to a name after the fact. St. Patrick is an obvious choice for a patron Saint, as Flynn is an Irish surname, but my husband’s middle name is Patrick and we may end up using that name as a middle name for a future son if we are so blessed. I’ve also always had a connection to St. Francis, and have always sung the prayer of St. Francis to my son to put him to sleep. I would have had a hard time naming a boy Francis, so even though I’m inspired by him, the name didn’t really stand a chance. Is it horrible that I’ve told myself that since Flynn and Francis both start with F, I can make a case that St. Francis is his patron Saint?

Anyway, I thought I’d just propose a challenge to you to see if you could come up with any Saints that might be associated with his name (Flynn Carlson). I think you have more expertise in this area than I do, and it would be fun to see what you come up with (if anything – I’m prepared if this is too strange of a request).”

It’s not a strange request at all, and I’m so delighted to offer my thoughts.

Flynn Carlson is SUCH a handsome combo!! I looked up Flynn first, which said means “descendant of Flann,” so I looked up Flann and it’s said to mean “red.” Another of my resources, Dictionary of Patron Saints’ Names, picks up on this meaning in offering a patron for Flynn—it points to St. Rufus, which means “red haired,” of which there are many, as well as a person in the New Testament.

But my favorite idea for a patron for Flynn Carlson is based on his middle name. It means “son of Carl/Charles,” and there are some great Saints by that name! My personal favoriteis St. John Paul II, whose given name at birth was Karol—the Polish form of Charles/Carl. But I think this mama (who has German ancestry) might love Bl. Karl, Emperor of Austria. I know Austria doesn’t equal Germany, but they’re so close I’m hoping it might hit her just right! I read about him just recently after Theresa mentioned in a comment  and love him—he lived recently enough that there’s a photo of him, which I actually posted on my Instagram recently. There’s also St. Charles Borromeo, who’s awesome, and a few others, some of whom are known as Carl/Carlo. If my maiden name was Carlson, I would be so excited to use it for a son, knowing that it would have both family and saintly connections!

I also really love the connection this mama has already made between Flynn and Francis — I think that’s lovely, especially since she’s always sung the Prayer of St. Francis to him. It’s kind of like St. Francis chose Flynn!

If any of you are struggling with a similar issue, please feel free to email me! Every little one should have a patron saint! ❤


13 thoughts on “Backing into a patron saint

  1. I definitely think that St. Francis can be this little guy’s patron saint! I’m of the opinion that someone’s patron saint doesn’t actually have to relate to their name. Sometimes we just have connections with saints who have names that have nothing to do with our names. Also, like you said, it seems a little like St. Francis chose Flynn 🙂 I also see the connection of Francis and Flynn both starting with the letter F.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I thought of the many St. Charles/Carls/Karls as well! Also, if Dad really loves Irish names that was the motivation for Flynn, then I think they can…pretty much choose any Irish saint as a patron! After all, they already have an attachment to Ireland. Aside from Patrick, there are 2 other patrons of Ireland that they might consider, St. Bridget (although they may prefer a male saint) and St. Columba (a ninth-century male saint whose name variations include Colm and Callum.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What about Saint Finbar if dad wants an Irish Saint? Also might be cute if Flynn is fair haired, “e was renamed “Fionnbharra” (Fairhead in Irish), reportedly when, on being tonsured, the presiding cleric remarked: “Is fionn barr (find barr, in the Irish of the time) Lócháin”, meaning, “Fair is the crest of Loan”), and he then became known as “Findbarr” (“Fionnbarra” in modern Irish).”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Having gone to my daughter’s confirmation last night, and hearing about the relationships with saints that some of these young people already have made me realize how much the patron saints we encounter and who seek us out during our lives may surprise us. I understand this mama’s (and other parents’) desire/regret over this subject, but all is not lost! Teach your child to cultivate a relationship with the saints and the right patron saint will present him- or herself.

    Liked by 1 person

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