Prayers for a family in mourning

One of our dear readers wrote and asked me to ask you all to pray for a terribly sad situation:

I just found out that my cousin’s baby passed away today. She was 6 years old. Her name is Jazzy. If you could pray for her and for her parents and family, I’d appreciate it. I can hardly comprehend it, it’s devastating. The one comforting thing of course is that she’s in Heaven – and her uncle, my cousin who passed away a few years ago (that was horrible to comprehend, too – we were friends and close in age) is there to take care of her.”

St. Anne, please intercede for this grieving family — please pray for peace and comfort for Jazzy’s parents and family. Dear Jesus and Mother Mary, please keep little Jazzy close to you. ❤🙏


Flowers for Mary, part II

I posted a Flowers for Mary post ages ago, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to it since then in consultations and my own research for other things. And — breaking news! — I just now clicked on the link I refer to in the post, in order to give some examples of the great names there, and it says Forbidden! What! I’ll have to dig deeper on this, but in the meantime, the actual reason I started writing the post (providential timing!) was to direct your attention to this infographic:


from Catholic Extension (infographic used with permission).

How great is this resource?? I’ve suggested Lily, Rose, and Violet a million times as Marian names, and I love the descriptions of their Marian connections here.

And I was so excited to see Daisy as being a Marian flower — I hadn’t ever seen that, and I’m forever going on about how Daisy is such a great nickname for Margaret — I LOVE the idea of a Margaret nicked Daisy being able to claim St. Margaret and Our Lady as patrons!! (I’ve already made a Marian connection with the name Pearl, which is what Margaret means, and the Irish Margaret — Mairead — is so similar to the Irish Mary — Maire … I’m leaning really close to calling Margaret a Marian name!)

I’ve also seen Marigold connected to the Crowning of Our Lady (Mary’s Gold), and of course I love all these ideas for an actual garden of flowers and other plants (not just a garden of blooms of the baby variety ☺).

What’s your favorite floral Marian name?

Birth announcement: Brendan Joseph!

You all remember the consultation I posted for Colleen at the Martin Family Moments blog  on St. Paddy’s Day? She’s gone and had her baby, her sixth boy 🎉💃🙌 , and she and her husband gave him the so-handsome name … Brendan Joseph!

She announced the wee man’s birth on Instagram the day he was born, but they didn’t announce the name until two days later (not that I was obsessively refreshing my Instagram feed and then being sure I missed it anyway and rushing over to Colleen’s feed to be sure or anything), and I’m just delighted — they have an Irish sensibility and, as she’d pointed out in her consultation, all their other boys have an N in their names so they kind of liked the idea of continuing that, so Brendan seems perfect, all in all.

The birth story’s up on her blog, which I just read and loved and cried over (as I do, every.time. I read a birth story), and lots of pictures of her littlest guy.

Congratulations to Colleen and her husband and big sibs John-Paul, Andrew, Eamon, Maggie, Xander, and Declan, and happy birthday Baby Brendan!!

Baby name consultant: Slightly unusual+longer first name with easy nickname

Today’s consultation is for a family expecting their fourth baby — third girl! — and they have a very cool theme going — they like to choose “slightly unusual, slightly longer full names that trim down to an easy nickname.” Right up my alley, right?! Except I didn’t get it quite right this time, so you all really need to bring the great ideas and suggestions (no pressure!). 😀

Their older kiddos are:

J@cks0n Ar+hur/Jack (“we didn’t realize how popular J@cks0n was at the time!“)
El0d!e M@rie/Ellie
Av!ana Th3r3s3/Ava

Such a handsome group, and I’m such a big fan of going all out with given names and using a friendly, accessible nickname for every day. The mama writes,

We’d like to continue this trend, but so far [my hubs] says all my suggestions are ‘weird’ — which isn’t unusual … The first time around I was in love with Magnolia (Maggie) for a girl — now I wonder what I was thinking! This time around, Bronwyn and Anwyn (shortened to Winnie) have both been rejected and I’m feeling stuck — not even my Baby Name Wizard book is inspiring much, though Sophronia (Sophie) just popped out at me this morning.”

So you all know that I had a lot of fun working on this—I’m all about nicknames, and I love this family’s theme.

I personally love Magnolia, and I love both Maggie and Nola, both of which I’ve seen as nicknames for it. It also made me think of Marigold, which isn’t all that different from Magnolia (and probably the Mister would think it’s just as weird), but is little more mainstream because of the Downton Abbey character by that name, and Marigold’s a Marian name! A Marigold could be Mari or Goldie, and I think Maggie could also work … I think Molly could work as well, but maybe sisters Ellie and Molly are too similar?

Bronwyn and Anwyn nicknamed Winnie made me think of the consultation I posted recently in which the parents are considering Maewyn, which was St. Patrick’s birth name! Though it started as a male name, it’s got such a pretty feminine sound, and one of the readers suggested Winnie as a nickname for it, and I totally thought of this family! Maewyn nicked Winnie is sweet!

Sophronia nicked Sophie is adorable, I love it! Along that same line of thinking, I totally think Sophie could work for Seraphina (as could Sera, Phina/Fina, Phia/Fia), and Josephine as well (I love the idea of Sophie for Josephine! Though Josie is also adorable, and I’ve seen Posy too, which I loooove, and is similar to Magnolia flower-wise).

So I think they’re swirling around some really great ideas, even if they don’t think they’ve hit upon “the one” yet!

As I do, I looked up the names they’ve used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, which I know this mama’s also done, which is probably one of the reasons my ideas didn’t resonate — in addition to Marigold, Maewyn, Seraphina, and Josephine that I mentioned above, I also suggested:

(1) Rosemary nicked Romy (or Rory)
Rosie is the most common nickname for Rosemary I think, and I love it with sibs Jack, Ellie, and Ava, but Romy is also a traditional nickname for it, and it makes Rosemary—which is “slightly longer” but not really “slightly unusual”—have a more unusual edge, which might be a nice thing for this family moving forward, as it breaks them out of the “need to stick with longer unusual name with common nickname” pattern into “longer given name with shorter nickname, and one of those is ‘slightly unusual,’” which is a bit more freeing/offers more options. Rory is a nickname possibility that takes Rosemary even farther down the “slightly unusual” line—it’s spunky and tomboyish—but I’m not convinced that’s what they’re going for. I wanted to mention it anyway though, just in case (and here’s a sweet Rosemary nicked Rory.)

(2) Louisa nicked Lucy or Lulu
As with Rosemary, Louisa’s not terribly unusual, but I really like the idea of Lucy as a nickname for it, and that gives it a nice unusual twist, as well as two saints! If they didn’t care for Lucy for it, I’m totally loving Lulu recently—it’s a little bit hipster and a lot of chic, and so darling.

(3) Caroline nicked Caddy or Cassie (or Catherine)
Yes, another not-so-unusual given name idea, but I saw Caddy as a nickname for Caroline a while ago and thought it was brilliant. I love Callie too, but thought it was too close to Ellie. And Cassie’s one of my favorite nicknames for a girl, and I think it could work as a mashup nickname for Caroline and the right middle name, like … Caroline Sabeth (Sabeth is so cool! It’s an Elizabeth variant with a cool new patron), or Caroline Sabine, Caroline Sophia, Caroline Seton (for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton) … I’ve also seen Cass(ie) as a nickname for Catherine, which I thought was sort of brilliant. If they went with something like Caroline or Catherine for a first name (or Louisa or Rosemary or any other name that might be a bit more “normal” than they’d prefer), an unusual middle is another awesome way (besides an unusual nickname) to jazz it up.

(4) Cassia or Cascia nicked Cass(ie)
The previous idea of Cass(ie) reminded me of Cassia, which is just so cool and pretty. You can say it CASS-ee-ah, or CASH-ah, and it’s a spice name! It’s a form of cinnamon! It’s also a form of Keziah, which is a biblical name—one of Job’s daughters. If they like the CASH-ah pronunciation, they might also be interested in Cascia, which is the name of the town in Italy St. Rita of Cascia came from, and I would consider it an honor name for her.

(5) Bernadette nicked Betsy
I have a friend who considered Bernadette nicked Betsy for her baby, and I thought it was so inspired! She ended up having a boy, but I’ve never forgotten her idea for a girl. St. Bernadette’s a great patron for a girl!

(6) Nickname Sadie (Mercedes, Sara-[something])
Sadie has a similar feel to me as Jack and Ellie especially, and it’s a style match for Maggie and Sophie, and I thought it could be great for this family as a nickname for the right formal name. Mercedes is one—I’ve seen Sadie as a nickname for it spelled S-a-d-i-e, but also Cede, which is pronounced the same way, but is far less obvious. I’d heartily suggest the Sadie spelling to this family, and Mercedes is a great name for a baby born during the Year of Mercy! If they didn’t care for Mercedes, Sadie is also a traditional nickname for Sara(h), and while I thought Sara(h) on its own would be a little too commonplace for them, I thought a hyphenated double might be awesome. Sara-Kate/Sara-Cate is my favorite (and one I’ve had on my list for a long time), but I also love Sara-Mae (or Sara-Maeve, if they’re into Irish names), Sara-Beth, Sara-Claire, Sara-Grace … I used the Sara spelling in these examples because I prefer it to Sarah, but of course Sarah is beautiful and the “h” points to its biblical roots; also, they could do a non-hyphenated double name, like Sara Kate (I prefer the hyphen because it makes it more obvious it’s one name and not a first and middle, but it’s totally a personal preference kind of thing). I think a double first name can make two otherwise “normal” names really sparkle—those two normal names become something unusual when put together.

(7) Beatrix or Beatrice nicked Bea, Trixie, Tris, Betty
Beatrice is a style match for Winnie, and when I saw it I thought I had to add it to my list of suggestions. Both Beatrice and Beatrix are lovely and underused, and I think Bea is an adorable nickname (and lends itself to honeybee decorations, which is so cute!), but there’s also Trixie for Beatrix, and Tris for Beatrice (though be warned that Tris is the name of the main character in the Divergent series [books and movies], and likely pretty associated with just her, since I’d never heard of Tris as a nickname for Beatrice until those books), and even Betty could work and be really cute and retro.

(8) Juniper nicked Junie (or Junia nicked Junie?)
St. Junipero Serra is newly canonized and long beloved, and though he was a man, the English variant of his name totally works for a girl. Juniper is a similar style to Magnolia and Marigold, and has the a-dorable nickname option of Junie, which I just die over. Junie makes me also think of Junia, which is a biblical name, so pretty.

(9) Nickname Pippa or Poppy (Josephine, Perpetua, Philippa)
Pippa and Poppy were striking me as a really cute addition to the other kiddos, and there are several ways to get to them that might appeal. The Posy-for-Josephine idea I suggested above made me think that something like Josephine Petra could totally take the nickname Poppy. How cute and floral! I’ve also seen Poppy for Perpetua, which totally fits their “longer and more unusual” criteria, and it’s super saintly. I’ve also seen Pippa for Perpetua, but more commonly for Philippa, which I also really like.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I received feedback from the mom that my suggestions weren’t quite right for them, and indeed, as I reviewed, I see that I offered a lot of unusual nicknames for “normal” names, which is the exact opposite of what they wanted! Some were okay — I still like Cascia, Mercedes, and Juniper (Cass, Sadie, and Junie) — but I took a quick look again at my notes and thought these might be worth mentioning, as they’re on the more unusual end with easy nicknames:

(1) Amelie
Amelie’s a style match for El0d!e, a French name that’s said AH-mel-lee. Amy could definitely work as a nickname, or Mel/Melly.

(2) Salome
Also a match for El0d!e, and Sally is a natural nickname for it.

(3) Ariadne
Ariadne was, surprisingly, a match for Bronwyn (via Rhiannon, which I also would have suggested if I could think of a good nickname for it … Ree maybe? Annie?), and I think something like Addy could work really well.

(4) Philomena
This one’s a match for Sophronia, and there are a lot of possible nicknames: Fia, Fila, Fina, Finn, Finna, Lola, MenaMinnie, Pia, Pim, Pina, and Pippa. For the purposes of this consultation, I think maybe Lola, Mena, and Minnie might be the most appealing.

(5) Leocadia
Finally, going really far out, what about Leocadia? It’s another match for Sophronia and a saint’s name, and Cady is the greatest nickname for it! I wouldn’t be surprised if Leocadia is just too far out … but maybe not?

And those are my ideas! I’m dying to hear what you all think — please share your ideas for “slightly unusual, slightly longer full names that trim down to an easy nickname” for this baby girl!

Names for things

My 4-year-old declared the other day that his two “blankies” now have names: Leo and Isaac. Not only do I love hearing what my boys name their loveys (usually only stuffed animals — this was my first experience with blankets!), but I particularly loved Leo and Isaac! What a distinguished and saintly pair! My third boy’s stuffed seahorse from when he was tiny was the similarly sophisticated Baby Harold and my oldest’s stuffed pup was appropriately named Biscuit, but it has not always been so: my second boy’s pretty notorious for naming his un-alive friends funny things like Bandaids (yes, plural) and Primary (which I thought was sort of brilliant), and the same boy who named Isaac and Leo has always called his stuffed lamb D2.

Just today, Barb from CatholicMom told me that her car’s name is Maxine as a “nod to “Uncle Max” St. Kolbe” — I loved that! It reminded me of my idea that Ratzinger would be a great name for a cat and one of you said it would be great for a German Shepherd as well! Ahhhh I love both of those ideas!! 😄 Those comments were actually in response to a post that included ideas for saintly/faithy names for a puppy, and I’ve talked a very wee bit about naming houses with Kendra in response to her comment here on her post about her new house with it’s awesome name, and today I’d love to hear what you and/or your kiddos are naming your things — from stuffed animals to other loveys to cars to houses to …? Computers? What else? Bonus points for faith connections, but I’d love to hear them all regardless!

Reading roundup et al.

Thank you all for your prayers for the mama I wrote about earlier! I don’t have any update — I will let you all know when/if she lets me know.

Otherwise today has been wonderful — autumn cool and sunny and I’m wearing green, which always makes me happy. 🙂

I have some fun things to share from here and there:

I was mentioned by Catholic Hipster Tommy Tighe recently in his The Chimney podcast (Episode 047)! I publish under Katherine Morna Towne because I love my full name, but I always go by Kate (or Sancta Nomina sometimes, which I also love 🙂 ), so it was funny to hear myself mentioned as Katherine Morna Towne. But so cool too! (And really, Grace deserves the kudos, because she was the one who told me the particular factoid that Tommy referenced!)

Ireland’s annual Rose of Tralee International Festival, which seeks to connect “the global Irish Diaspora in an international celebration of Irish culture in Co Kerry, Ireland,” finishes today. The highlight of it is the selection of the International Rose of Tralee — a girl chosen from among those representing all the parts of the world that have a concentration of those with Irish ancestry (tonight on live TV!). The names are always amazing — this year there’s:

Dearbhladh (the Abu Dhabi Rose)
Meabh (Armagh) and Meabhdh (Kildare)
Eimear (Derry)
Fainche (Down)
Mairead (Fermanagh)
Sile (Luxembourg)
Fionna (Mayo) and Fiona (Tipperary)
Treasa (Meath)
Aisling (Newcastle/Gateshead) and (Roscommon)
Blathnaid (Scotland)
Niamh (West Meath)

As well as the more manageable Ciara (Arizona), Sheena (Florida), Shannon (New Orleans), Kathleen (Ohio), Brigid (Philadelphia), Erin (South Carolina), and Molly (Western Canada). I also loved seeing Zoe (Donegal), Lorna (Dublin), Caroline (Longford), Petra (Toronto), Genevieve (Tyrone), and all the Marys and Annes: Annmarie (Leitrim), Marie (Limerick), Hannah (New Zealand), Anna (Newfoundland & Labrador), and Anne-Marie (Yorkshire). And all the Kates/Katherines 🙂 : Kate (Laois), Kathleen (Ohio — mentioned previously),  Katie (Sligo), Katherine (Texas). And I haven’t even mentioned everyone! Head on over and check them all out! (And as I’m writing this, the 2016 Rose has been selected: Maggie McEldowney from Chicago! A big congratulations to her!!)

Anyway, I’ve mentioned before that I had the great privilege of being the 2001 New York Rose (and one of you readers let me know that you, too, are a former Rose! So fun! 🌹), and my mom’s been posting pics of my time there on her Instagram (which follows the adventures of Finney the Leprechaun) this past week, so if you want to catch a glimpse of what the festival and I looked like fifteen years ago, see here (a Tralee street [Denny Street?] strung with lights for the parade), here (me signing autographs for the little girls), here (different day, different girls, more autographs), here (me and the Dublin Rose on our parade float — I’m wearing black), here (a mama in the crowd handed me her baby for a photo, one of my favorite moments), here (another of me and Dublin with some lovely bagpipers), here (me onstage with former MC Marty Whelan live on TV), here (the bit from the song The Rose of Tralee that sums up a Rose), and here (today’s my birthday so Mom posted a collage 🎂 — the two in the middle on the bottom are Rose pictures). It was an amazing experience, for sure!

I’ve also been bustling around the blog recently — I set up a Nicknames page where I list all the unusual/offbeat nicknames I’ve heard of or thought of for various names, and I also started a Sancta Nomina Pinterest account for (so far) the consultation posts, birth announcement posts, and my CatholicMom and Nameberry articles — I’m working on pinning them all there. I’m also working on adding the T(h)eresa bit to the Sibling Project page — hopefully I’ll have that added soon.

I think that’s all I have for now — have a wonderful rest of today!! ❤

Baby name consultation: Biblical and/or first-millennium Saint’s name needed

This past February Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia met in Cuba, a meeting which was called “the first in history.” Though Kirill doesn’t speak for the whole of the Eastern Orthodox Church (being that the Eastern Orthodox Church is a group of self-governing churches in communion [including the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church], though without a single head — different than the Roman Catholic set-up with the pope as head), he’s certainly an important figure in Eastern Orthodoxy, and, movingly, in Francis and Kirill’s Joint Declaration they said,

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart … With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her …

When today’s mama — who’s Eastern Orthodox — emailed me for a consultation, I felt a similar joy and gratitude and “heart to heart” connection, as I do with all of you who love the names of our faith! ❤

This was a new kind of challenge for me, as I’m most confident with Roman Catholic saints and naming practices, both of which are sometimes somewhat different in the Eastern Orthodox church. Fortunately the mama, Arielle, was eager to help, explaining:

We are Eastern Orthodox, and our naming conventions are a bit different. These are not hard and fast rules, but in general, a child is given the first name of a saint, and this name is very liturgically important – they are ceremonially named on the eighth day of life, they are baptized with that name, the priest gives them communion by name each week, they are married with that name, etc. If for some reason they are NOT given a saint’s name (some people give their child a family name or just a name they have always liked), they still receive a saint’s name at baptism for all those liturgical uses, so in practice they have two names (or their middle name is their saint’s name). Which works for some, but we like to avoid that and give all of our children their saint’s name as their first name. Children do not choose a confirmation saint (they are confirmed at baptism), so this is the only saint’s name they get, unless they are ordained or tonsured.

It also is conventionally the saint’s actual name – not a place related to it (like Avila would be). Marian title names are a possibility (like Despina, Panagiotis). Translations of the name are fine (John/Johan/Ioannis/Evan/Ivan or Mary/Miriam/Maria/Mariam for instance), as are names related to major feasts – Evangelia/Evangeline would be named for the Annunciation, for instance, or Theophania would be named for Theophany (Epiphany in the West).”

It’s also really helpful that we share all the saints canonized before 1054, including Biblical saints, so:

Many names are shared (like Catherine would be for Catherine of Alexandria, instead of Catherine of Siena) but others, like Claire are not, without a real stretch (like Claire for Photini – similar meaning).”

It was easy enough to focus on those shared names, and fun to be challenged in a new way!

Arielle and her husband aren’t currently expecting, but they’re planning ahead for the possibility of Baby #5 (as she said, “I also really wanted to ask you about #4, but she was born before I got to it!“). Their kiddos’ names are:

James Benedict (“James is named for his grandfathers and for St. James the Brother of the Lord (Iakovos). Benedict is for St. Benedict of Nursia. I like the idea of including names from among the ‘Western saints’ (Benedict, Ambrose, Augustine, Brigid, Genevieve, etc.) as a nod to the fact that while we are of the Eastern Church, we are of Western heritage.”)

Miriam Anna (“Miriam Anna is named for the Theotokos (Blessed Mother) and the grandmother of Christ, who we always call St. Anna.”)

Sophia Catherine (“Sophia Catherine is named for St. Sophia of Thrace, the Mother of Orphans, and St. Catherine of Alexandria. Both are a nod to my husband, who studied ancient Greek and Roman history and philosophy. [Sophia = wisdom, St. Catherine studied Greek rhetoric and philosophy]. He also stayed at St. Catherine’s monastery in Sinai, and we have both been to the top of Mt. Sinai where her body was taken by angels.”)

Elisabeth Eleni (“Elisabeth Eleni is for St. Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia, a nun martyred by the Bolsheviks. Eleni is a common Greek form of Helen, the Finder of the True Cross. I used the “s” spelling both because I just think it is beautiful and elegant, and because our last name is very German and I wanted to use the nickname Elsa (which we do). I’m not sure I love that I mixed languages here.”)

I just love all these names! I love that they’re obviously faithy, and I love their really elegant feel. I also love how Arielle said they “like the idea of including names from among the “Western saints” (Benedict, Ambrose, Augustine, Brigid, Genevieve, etc.) as a nod to the fact that while we are of the Eastern Church, we are of Western heritage.”

A few other considerations:

I love names that are Scandinavian or German forms of saints’ names, but am rather conservative when it comes to names that seem too ‘weird’ or ‘harsh’ for English-speaking ears. I would love more ideas here. I also love saints’ names from the British Isles (my heritage), especially Irish names, many of which are pre-1054 saints.

Probably no more ‘J’ names, as our last name starts with ‘J’ and one is enough. Possibly for a middle name (I like Joseph and Jude). I like that no one has the same first initial yet, but that’s not a deal-breaker. I love names that start with ‘E.’

Names they’re considering for a girl include:

Lydia (“current front runner. I love the musical sound of the name, and love that when we shorten the names of the girls it fits right in (Miri, Sophie, Elsie, Lydie!) Downside – we know a lot about our other childrens’ saints, and not a lot is known about St. Lydia. It also doesn’t mean much linguistically – just “from Lydia.” Not sure about a middle name here – Lydia Grace? Lydia Mirabel/Mirabelle? Lydia Genevieve? We love St. Genevieve, and it is the name of my great-great-grandmother. But I’m not sure that suits the musicality of the name“)

Emmelia (“one of my all time favorite saints, St. Emmelia the mother of five saints. I had to do some linguistic research for this one (I mean *ahem* have my husband do it). She is clearly a Greek-speaking saint, and so the common explanation that it is from the same root as Emily didn’t make sense. Turns out it is from a Greek word for “melodious.” I love Emmelia Rose together. Only downside is that it is so close to the common Emily, and might get pronounced like Amelia. Which is a lovely name, but different.”)


And for boys:

We have a hard time agreeing on boys’ names. Husband chose James really on his own (I wanted Benedict as a first name) and now he really wants a Thomas, so Thomas Ambrose has been on the list. I like that it goes well with James Benedict (Apostle + Western saint). I like Brendan Thomas better. We would like to include Matthew in a boy’s name at some point, for a dear friend who died.”



Names that they  like, but probably won’t use include:

Annelise (“love, but already have an Anna and Elisabeth, so seems repetitive“)

Madeleine (“Also love, especially as it goes with the French spelling of Elisabeth, but so very common. We have several little friends named Magdalene (called Maggie), so that version is out“)

Mirabelle/Mirabel (“maybe for a middle, but way to close to Miriam for a first“)

Lucia (“loved, but then a niece got it!“)



What do you think? Is this too far outside your expertise? I LOVE your site and would love to hear what you think! I feel like I’ve had the same list of names since I was a teenager and have a hard time thinking outside the box for others.

One very specific thing I could still use help with is a Scandinavian- or German-sounding name that could be a sub for Lydia. I do love Lydia. But I feel like there might be a name I’m not thinking of that goes well with sister Elsa and has that sweet musical sound and Scandi feeling. Annelise fits that bill for me, but just doesn’t go with Elisabeth/Elsa because of being the same base name!

Whew! All so interesting, right?! Okay, so first, some thoughts on Arielle and her hubs’ current ideas:

Lydia’s one of my favorite names! It’s true that its meaning is not terribly inspiring, but I’ve always loved that Lydia was a seller of purple cloth—it’s not often that a little girl has her very own color! I like how Lydia Grace and Lydia Mirabel(le) sound together, and funny enough I kind of agree about Lydia Genevieve—they’re two gorgeous names, but they don’t sound totally right together … From their girl list, I love how Lydia Magdalene and Lydia Madeleine sound. And Lydie’s one of my favorite favorite nicknames, love love love! It is true that something like Lydia Madeleine/Magdalene technically means “from Lydia + from Magdalene” but I have never really focused on the meanings of names, because they don’t tell the whole story (although I do admit that more recently, a great meaning can sway me to like a name I might not otherwise like). Lydia to me doesn’t mean “from Lydia,” it means “St. Paul’s first European convert, the lady in the Bible who sold purple cloth.” You know? Lydia Madeleine would say to me “gorgeous New Testament name (with her own color!) plus a feminine French middle that has connections to some great, holy women.” I think of names like Francis (“Frenchman”) and Cecilia (“blind”) and Blaise (“lisping”) and even Mary (whose meaning is debated, but I usually see “bitter” and some think maybe also “rebellious”) and those meanings are definitely not what people think of when they hear the names, you know? (Arielle’s email was actually one of the inspirations behind my piece at CatholicMom on name meanings!)

It’s also kind of cool that Lydia and Magdalene are two female biblical names that describe where the women were from — it’s kind of apt to pair them together! And place names are all the rage anyway, so Lydia and Magdalene/Madeleine are way ahead of the curve — place names used before any of the Dakotas or Brooklyns or Parises. 🙂

But, all that said, they could play with the meaning of Lydia in terms of connecting to the middle for a meaningful phrase … like Bebinn/Bebhinn/Bevin (and even sometimes anglicized as Vivian!) is apparently Irish for “fair lady,” so something like Lydia Bebhinn could mean “fair lady from Lydia” altogether, which nods directly to Lydia in the bible both by using her name and describing her? Or Lydia Madonna, where Madonna means “my lady” in Italian (and has the awesome Marian significance. But then, Madonna. I do think it works as a middle name though!). Or Lydia Matrona, where Matrona means “lady”in late Latin and was the name of some early saints! (Matryona in Russian, pretty!)

As for some other names that make me think of a Scandi Lydia because of their sound, I wonder what Arielle and her hubs would think of: Linnea, Livia, Tilda, Mila, Lovisa/Louisa? St. Matilda of Saxony and St. Louis of Cordoba make the cut date-wise … Linnea’s not a saint’s name and Livia (St. Agostina Petrantoni) is post 1054, but maybe they’d like them enough to use them as non-saint names? Mila’s a great one I think — I did a spotlight on Ludmila, who died before the year 1000, a great saint, and I think Mila’s a great way to honor her and not use the full name.

Re: Emmelia: I’ve never seen this name! It is beautiful! Emmelia Rose is lovely! Arielle’s right though—it will get heard as Amelia and seen as Emily. Maybe it would be best as a middle name? Brigid Emmelia and Tamsin Emmelia both strike me as lovely combos.

Brigid, Theodora, Anysia, Seraphina, Tamsin, Zoë, Naomi, and Matea are all gorgeous! I do think though that Seraphina is too close to Sophia in sound—do the rest of you agree? I love Seraphina though—maybe as a middle? With a short first name? Like Zoë Seraphina maybe? I’d never seen Anysia before—pretty name! Tamsin is one I myself considered, after a relative named Thomas– it’s so pretty and unexpected! Matea I looooove!! Brigid is beautiful, but strikes me as so different from their other kids’ names … Theodora and Naomi would fit in nicely I think.

I also love all those on their girl list that they love but won’t/can’t use, and I’m glad Arielle included them—they gave me a fuller idea of their taste, and I used them in trying to determine new ideas for them.

Thomas Ambrose is an amazing combo. Really really handsome, and would fit in really well with the other kids.

Matthias, Sebastian, Basil, Cyprian, Gabriel, Silas, Felix, Elias: These all really feel like Arielle’s kids’ names and her faith tradition to me. Love them all.

Brendan, Evan, Ciaran: These are like Brigid to me—I love them (you all know how I love the Irish/Celtic names!), but they seem sort of out of place as first names for this family to me. They’d make cool middle names though! (And really, who cares what I think … if they named a boy Ciaran, then all of a sudden it *would* fit in with their family, of course.)

Martin seems to me to be a really great bridge name—it’s not quite Matthias/Basil/Cyprian, but it seems closer to their style than Brendan/Evan/Ciaran. Martin’s great!

Okay! So what I did was I looked up the names they’ve used (firsts and middles) and those they like (even if they can’t/won’t use them) in my trusty Baby Name Wizard, as it lists, for each name, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. My goal was to compile a list of names that I thought Arielle and her hubs would like. Then I whittled that list down to names that are pre-1054 saints. So hopefully all these ideas are acceptable faith-wise, even if they don’t really do it for them taste-wise (though I think they’ll at least think, “Ok, these are definitely heading in the right direction”):

(1) Natalia
I get all swoony over Natalia, I love love love it. Just gorgeous! There are two Sts. Natalia, the one I’m familiar with (died 4th century, wife of St. Adrian), and one that died in the 9th century—she was half-Moorish and a convert to Christianity, she’d be a powerful intercessor for today’s troubles.

(2) Felicity
I hesitated to include Felicity, because she’s so obvious to me that Arielle must have considered the name and purposely decided against it, especially since they have Felix on their boy list, but I just had to list it just in case. Such a beautiful name and a beautiful saint!

(3) Lilia or Liliya
This may be flirting with the rules, or breaking them altogether, because there’s no St. Lily as far as I can tell—my inspiration was Our Lady, and lilies are associated with her, but is that too distant a connection? I love the variant Lilia, it’s so beautiful, and then I saw the Russian/Ukrainian spelling Liliya, and I love that too.

(4) Aurelia
Aurelia is so pretty and feminine, and St. Aurelia Petronilla was cured by St. Peter himself, so that’s pretty cool!

(5) Philippa
Philippa could either be a nod to any of the Sts. Philip, or it could be for St. Philippa who was crucified around the year 220. It also has the awesome nickname Pippa! Philippa/Pippa is a nice nod to Arielle’s English heritage.

(6) Adelaide
The German form is Adelheid, but I was thinking that even with Arielle’s love of German names the part of her that doesn’t want a name that’s too harsh for English ears would prefer Adelaide. It’s so pretty!

(7) Phoebe
What about Phoebe? It’s pretty and quirky and biblical, I kind of like it for this family!

(1) Clement
My two favorites inspirations for Clement for this family are Pope St. Clement I, who was the fourth pope, and St. Clement of Ireland, who had strong ties to France (I believe he died in Paris in the 9th century).

(2) Leo
Pope St. Leo the Great!! I love the name Leo, a great name for a little boy..

(3) Linus
Of course, Pope St. Linus, the immediate successor to St. Peter. A really cool name!

(4) Casper/Caspar/Gaspar
This is a nod to Arielle’s love of German/Scandi names, and also one of the Three Wise Men! These are all legit variants of the same name (as is Jasper, but they don’t want another J name), and they’re each so cool in their own way.

(5) Tobias
Another German/Scandi name, and biblical, and a 4th century martyr. Such a cool name, I love it.

(6) Samuel
I love all the names I’ve listed up until now, but since their other boy is James, I could understand if Arielle and her hubs think they’re a bit too exotic for first names. But what about Samuel? There’s the biblical patriarch, with his awesome story, and there’s a 4th century martyr. I love the name Samuel, but what really makes it, in my opinion, is the nickname Sam. So. Great.

(7) Edmund
Finally, Edmund. Like Samuel, I love Edmund as a brother to James, and it’s an E name, which Arielle said she’s drawn to! St. Edmund of East Anglia (aka St. Edmund the Martyr) was born in Germany but beheaded in England in the 9th century, so it’s kind of a cool way to bring in both her German and English sensibilities.

And those are all my ideas for Arielle and her husband! What do you all think? Is anything here helpful or inspiring? I kept checking and rechecking Arielle’s email as I was working on it to be sure I hadn’t missed a rule, but there’s a good chance I did, inadvertently, so I apologize in advance if some of these aren’t quite right!

Birth announcement: Taavi Orion!

I’d done a private consultation for Lynda, who was also the winner of the Annunciation Designs giveaway last week!, and she’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the amazingly handsome name … Taavi Orion!

Lynda writes,

Baby got here on Friday! His name is Taavi Orion (last minute change)! … My husband’s name is David so this was too perfect.”

What a great week for her! 😀 Excitingly for me, Taavi — a Finnish form of David — was one of the names I’d suggested to her after being inspired by this little Taavi — it’s such a cool name, I love it! He joins big sibs:

Mirai (meer-eye) Luna
Evander Sol
Aviva Estrella

What a family! Such beautiful names!!

Congratulations to all, and happy birthday Baby Taavi!!


Taavi Orion (I’m dying over his thumb! 😍 )

Birth announcement: RoseMary Immaculata!

I posted a consultation for Cara and her husband last month — though they were expecting a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown), they were all set with ideas for a girl and only needed help with ideas for a boy. In the end it wasn’t needed, though, as they had a girl! Their Little Miss has been given the gorgeous name … RoseMary Immaculata!

Cara writes,

I wanted to let you know that baby number six, a little girl, arrived for us, on the First Saturday of this month.  The husband and I, looking at the calendar had agreed to use a Marian name for a daughter born on a Marian feast or First Saturday.  For any other day a girl would be Agnes.  

The first Friday of this month was our Lady of the Snows or the Feast of Dedication of St. Mary Major where they drop white rose from the dome of the Chapel of Our Lady at St. Mary Major.  The following day was first Saturday.  For either of those days we agreed on RoseMary Immaculata.  RoseMary after the Rosary and the aforementioned roses.  We capitalized the M because it seemed like we should.  Immaculata is after the Immaculate heart of Mary.  I told my husband earlier in the week that I thought it was going to be a girl after the Blessed Mother.  Come Saturday morning after praying my rosary and attending Mass I went into labor and she was born later that day. 

She was baptized today on the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe founder of the Militia of the Immaculata.

Thanks for your help, even though we didn’t have a boy!

I love all the significance behind each part of her name — what a great name story!! If you remember, RoseMary joins big sibs:

Blaise Gerard
Ambrose Lawrence
Benedict Augustine Joseph
Caecilia Majella
Anastasia Lucia

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby RoseMary!!