Baby name consultant: Mary, music, and ends-in-a

Mary Dove and her husband Gerry are expecting their seventh baby, a little girl! This little lady joins big sibs:

Maria Paloma (“which is Mary Dove in Spanish, she goes by Paloma“)
Isabella Maria (“goes by Bella, Bellita, Izzy“)
Juliana Marie (“Jules, Juice Cup, Julie Dear“)
Nicholas Matthias (“Nick, Nicko, even Nicodemus which I almost wish we named him because I have come to love it, he was named after Gerry’s Confirmation name, since he didn’t want a Jr.”)
Dominic Karl (“Dom, Domo and Domodemus; Karl is after my dad, Dom was almost Donovan but Dominic felt right“)
Augustine Raphael (“Gus, Gusto, Auggie; Raphael after Gerry’s dad“)

Just an amazing bunch of names! (And those nicknames! “Juice Cup”! 😀 ) I love them all, but I especially love that Maria Paloma has her mom’s exact name, just translated into Spanish — particularly interesting in light of our conversation about girls named after their moms the other day. (Also, the fact that Gerry “didn’ want a Jr.” makes it sound like Mary Dove would have been okay with that — further evidence for the idea that many of the boy Juniors are Mom’s idea!)

Mary Dove shared lots of fun namey info:

I’ll start with me, since my own name needs some explaining. My name is Mary Donovan Z. My mom nicknamed me Mary Dove (like Mary Beth or Mary Jo) and it stuck. My family and close friends call me Mary Dove or Dove. I am part Irish/Scottish and German. My husband’s name is Gerry (Gerald) Micheal, he is European Spanish/Mexican and English/German. I like to have names that reflect family heritage and also the person’s appearance

A couple of things we do with our kid’s names, the girls have a Marian name in their names and the first name ends in the letter a because it flows with our last name (but having a name ending in A is not an absolute). 2 of our kids have blue eyes and freckles and burn in the sun (yup, that’s the Irish) and the other 4 have various light skin tones but tan and have green/grey/hazel eyes. 3 are slender and 3 are stocky (aren’t genes cool!!)

The boys have middle names that are family names. We also use nicknames a lot.”

I just died over Mary Donovan –> Mary Dove or just Dove. So great!

Regarding names for their Little Miss,

[W]e will probably use Monica, as that is a family name and though not Marian, I think I might count it as Marian-ish. Gerry is partial to Felicity. I kinda like Pia (because I love Padre Pio). I prefer actual saint names but have considered the names Hope and Grace, too … [also] perhaps a variation on Bridget [after Mary Dove’s sister] … we are a bit of a musical family and was wondering about musical type names. My sisters and I had an a cappella singing group as teens and I play (though not really much now) the harp, Scottish bagpipes, and piano. My girls all play piano and each a string instrument (cello, violin and viola) my husband is learning guitar and Ukulele! (How cute is that? If you have older kids, the Ukulele is the cutest little instrument and quite easy to learn!) I like the name Cecelia but that seems to be the quintessential Catholic music name and plus I have a friend whose daughter is named Cecelia. Are there any other musical names out there??

And a name that Mary Dove really likes but can’t use as it’s the name of her niece:


Alrighty, I’m going to jump right in with a few quick thoughts about the names Mary Dove and her hubs are currently considering: I love Monica, and I’m interested in her Marian-ish idea — I assume she means because it’s the name of a holy mother? I admit I’ve never heard that argument given before for the name Monica! But if her name calls Our Lady to mind for them, who am I to say it’s not Marian-ish!

I love the name Felicity, and I wondered what they’d both think of Felicita? It’s a legit variation (Italian) and retains their ends-in-a pattern. And speaking of Felicity/Felicita, of course I always think of Perpetua too, and I’ve heard of several little girls recently named Perpetua who go by the nickname Pia, which is a name Mary Dove said she likes — maybe they’d like to consider that as a way to use Pia, and it could also be a nod to St. Pio? Also, Our Lady is described as “pia” in the Salve Regina, so it can be a Marian name too. Maybe Monica Pia? And then they get a Marian name, their St. Pio name, and Monica all in one? (Though Mary Dove’s clever Juliana heard “onomatopoeia” when she heard Monica Pia — deal breaker? Or kinda cool?)

Before I get to my other ideas, I have to say I’m a bit stumped about the music question! I looked up patron saints of music, as there are usually several saints for each category/condition/etc., but there was only one listed besides Cecilia — St. Arnulf of Soissons, which didn’t strike me as terribly inspiring (though he himself is pretty awesome). I did see that a Frisian (from Wikipedia: “The Frisian languages are a closely related group of Germanic languages, spoken by about 500,000 Frisian people, who live on the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. The Frisian languages are the closest living language group to English languages“) variant is Anne, used for both girls and boys and said AH-nah, so I thought maybe Ana or Anna would work as a nod to St. Arnulf? Or are they too close to Anneliese?

I looked up patron saints of singers and had a little more success: St. Andrew the Apostle, King David, and St. Gregory the Great (Gregorian Chant is named after him) are all patrons of singers. Of those, Andrea would fit in well with the other girls’ names (and it’s a style match for Monica!), and I’ve seen Andra and Andrina as well. Greer is used as a feminine form of Gregory — it’s from a Scottish surname derived from Gregory, which is a nice nod to Mary Dove’s Scottish heritage. I don’t think it would work as a first name for this family, but maybe as a middle?

I had the most luck with “saints who were singers” — there are a lot of them (the full list here); these were three of my favorite ideas for them:
— Bl. Anne Pelras (that “Anne” again!)
— Bl. Chiara Badano (looooove Chiara for this family! It’s Italian instead of Spanish, but ends in -a and is so lovely, like the other girls)
— Bl. Marie-Gabrielle Trezel (Gabriela would be a perfect fit!)

And then I had the idea of Aria — as it refers to “song” or “melody” in Italian, and ends in -a, and is beautiful — and looked to see if there was a holy Aria, and there is! St. Aria of Rome! (The Game of Thrones character Arya Stark, said the same is Aria, is good to be aware of though, as some might think the name was inspired by her.)

Okay! I did a full round of research for girl names, where “research” means, as you all know, looking up all the names they’ve used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard, which is an awesome resource as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also went through my own mental files, and here’s what I came up with:

(1) Jacinta
Bl. Hyacinth-Marie Cormier is one of the blesseds who was a singer, and Jacinta — which I’d already had on my list for them! — is a feminine variant of Hyacinth (and actually Hyacinth can be used as a female name as well — see the Pioneer Woman’s best friend Hyacinth). I’d say it jah-SIN-tah, the English way, and I assume Mary Dove’s Juliana is said with an English J? But they could also do hah-SEEN-tah, it’s gorgeous either way. And it’s also Marian-ish, since Bl. Jacinta Marto was one of the Fatima children.

(2) Lilia, Liliana, Lilli
Lilies are associated with Our Lady, and so the Lily names are Marian. Lilia’s one of my very favorite variants, and Liliana’s another (and is actually a style match for Juliana — but maybe two names ending in -ana is too much?). Lili and Lilli are German variants that are specifically diminutives of Elisabeth (as Lily is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth), which is cool, but like with Juliana/Liliana, are any of the Elizabeth variants too much with sister Isabella? I think no, since one could choose a Lily name just because of the flower or Our Lady without any intention of connecting to Elizabeth. (Lillian is also a style match for Isabella, and Lily for Bella).

(3) Magdalena
I love this variant of Mary Magdalene’s name — it ends in -a like the other girls’ names, and has the beautiful nickname options Maggie (which has an Irish feel), Maddy, and Lena.

(4) Victoria, Veronica (or Cora?)
Victoria is a style match for several of their names — Juliana, Nicholas, and Sebastian — and I’ve recently been loving it as a nod to Our Lady of Victory. I’ve also seen the nickname idea Cora for it recently, which not only makes Victoria feel a bit fresher, but can also be a nod to either the Immaculate Heart of Mary or the Sacred Heart of Jesus (“cor” in Latin means “heart”). It made me think of Veronica, which is another gorgeous V name and a great saintly connection. I actually think Cora could also work as a nickname for Veronica, as well as Vee and Via (but not the Nic- names, of course, because of Nicholas. The traditional Ronnie feels a little dated to me, but if they like it that’s another nickname option). I’m also loving just Cora, as a given name!

(5) Natalia
Natalia also did quite well for them in my research, being similar in style to Juliana, Nicholas, Dominic, and Sebastian. I love the name Natalia, and I think Nat, Natty, Talia, Tally, Nia, and Lia are all sweet.

(6) Britta, Breda/Brida
My last girl idea for this baby girl is Britta, 100% inspired by Mary Dove’s sister Bridget, as Britta is a variant of it (and it ends in -a!). I love Britta, and another awesome tidbit is that it’s a style match for Pia! I’ve also seen Breda and Brida as variants/anglicizations of the Irish Bríd, which I believe is said “breed” and is an Irish contracted form of Brighid, which is of course a variant of Bridget.

And those are all my thoughts/ideas for this baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for this beautiful family?


72 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Mary, music, and ends-in-a

  1. So I know it’s out there, but would’t Hildegaard be an awsome middle name for Catholic musicians (after , of course the amazing abbess and composer Hildegaard von Bingen)?
    I also have a friend Brigitta (bruh-gitt-uh not bruh-geet-uh as in the sound of music) which might be a nice Bridget variation for this family.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Such beautiful names! I love Britta; it was one on my mom’s list since my brother and I are Blair and Brice! And I like that it honors her sister. Maybe Britta Miriam or another Marian name like Regina? What about Cecilia for a middle name since they love music? Eva Cecilia is pretty (Eva as a nod to Mary as the “new Eve”), or they could even use Cecile or Cecily as a middle name with Monica. I also like Monica with May/Mae/Maeve as a middle name to honor Mary.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My first thought was Hildegard. I could NOT get my hubby to yield to Hildi.

    Next, I think of Gloria, as the Gloria is the song of the angels. 🙂

    Caroline is “little carol,” right? That could work…

    You could get really out there and look at the modes of Gregorian chant. (Modes are like scales.) A little Frigia? 😉

    Great suggestions in this post! This is a tough nut to crack.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My first thought was Regina, after the hymn “Hail Holy Queen.” Then I got to thinking that Seraphina would work as well, since the hymn references seraphim. Maybe a stretch but I thought they were worth mentioning!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know of a little girl named Gregoria. . . . . Also, there is nothing wrong with the quintessential name for something. Can a saint be honored too much? Some times we look for something different and miss the obvious best fit. . . . you could spell it differently . . . Caecilia is actually the original spelling. Most Catholic families had a Mary/ Maria and a Joseph. No one ever thought I cannot use those names.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. – Pilar seems like it would shorten to Pia.
    – Calliope could shorten to Pia. Calliope is the muse for poetry and is the name of an instrument.
    – Selah came to mind. Mainly because it appears in Psalms, which seem musical to me, and some people think it means “pause” which Seems like a musical annotation to me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I was thinking also of combos with Monica that add the strong Marian connection and I love all the star of the sea or morning star possibilities. I think I prefer Monica as the first name. It seems one they really like and are kind of set on but wasn’t sure which position they were thinking.

      Monica Estelle
      Monica Estrella
      Monica Realta (RÉALTA f Irish (?) Means “star” in Irish, from the word réalta, “star”.)

      Monica Immaculata
      Monica Concetta
      Monica Dolores
      Monica Pilar
      Monica Lourdes
      Monica Rosemarie

      And I think Monica would be pretty with any of the angel names.
      Monica Gabriela (St. Gabriel and the Annunciation connection could be Marian) OR
      Monica Gabrielle-Marie

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Brigitta was one of the Sound of Music children.and it’s a form of Bridget.

    I also like Lucia, which I tend to say Loo-see-ah as in the Scandinavian St. Lucia’s Day, instead of like Loo-sha or Loo-chee-ah. I picture a little girl with a crown of candles on her head in a white night gown singing Christmas carols as she serves her parents breakfast during the Christmas season.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. JMV mentioned Calliope (muse of epic poetry and a musical instrument). I recently heard this on a little girl and had been wanting a chance to mention it. So my son’s coach is a Catholic momma and has the most adorable little one year old who I heard called Poppy. I wondered if it was a full name or nickname, kind of assuming nickname. And since Poppy has been mentioned here a few times as a name people would like and there were suggestions of names that might work, I was excited to find out this little one’s full name is Calliope. So Poppy nn for Calliope. What I didn’t know until today in my researching was that there is a St. Kalliope/Calliope. She is 3rd century martyr, more commonly known in Orthodox tradition. The name is used quite a bit in the Greek Orthodox community. Popi is a common nickname. Others listed: Pitsa, Kallia, Kelly, Lia, Callie, Cali. I really think Pia also works as JMV suggested.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. As Seraphina was mentioned above, I think any Angel delivered name would work for the music connection. Angels are associated with singing praises and as heralds very frequently shown with horns or trumpets.

    Angela, Angelica, Angelina, Evangeline, Evangelina – and so so many cute nicknames from any of these. I think several of these would be good style matches for the family. I have a cousin sib set with names Julie and Angie.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I just met a little baby named Allegra, which would be the female form of Allegro (musical term for upbeat and lively).
    Also, how about Aurora (“Goddess of the Dawn” – sounds Marian to me) or Viola (for “violet” and I feel like nearly every flower has a Marian connotation, but maybe I’m wrong on this one). You could nickname Aurora down to Aria, too?
    I love the previous recommendation of Regina and Selah. (I have an acquaintance that has a girl named Selah.)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Not for girls, but maybe future boys (unless one uses female variants). Some other music associated saints:

    St. Francis Solano – played the violin
    St. Dunstan – played the harp
    St. Jean Brebeuf – wrote the Huron Carol
    St. Ambrose, St. Ephraem, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Hilary of Poitiers – all included as writers of hymns (also Gregory as noted) –

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sorry, kind of obsessed with this music connection thing…

    This painting, Virgin of the Angels (Bouguereau) is both Marian and musical.

    So it brought to mind some name ideas for me. Virginia is another V name I like (you suggested Veronica and Victoria) and is a nod to BVM. It has cute nicknames. I have a cousin, Virginia who goes by Ginger. Then any of the angel name variations as middle (or other way around).

    Virginia Angeline/a
    Virginia Evangeline/a
    Virginia Gabriele/a
    Evangelina Virginia
    Gabriella Virginia
    Angelina Virginia

    ::Marian nod, first name ending in “a”, some of the variations are Spanish/Mexican for heritage

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My first thought was my aunt’s name Shelagh, which is pronounced and more often spelled as Shiela. It’s the Irish form of Cecilia.

    I like the suggestion of Gloria, that immediately made me think of music. As someone who also loves the name Anneliese, I smiled at Kate’s suggestions of Veronica, Magdalena and Britta, since those are some more of my favourite names!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. i love love love cecilia, such a good name (i prefer it with that spelling though). paloma, isabella, juliana and cecilia is just perfect! and if isabella is not too popular for them, cecilia should be fine, right?
    other ideas:

    allegra (like the movement in music)
    viola or jolanda

    allegra is a family name for me and i’m toying with miriam allegra or miriam isabella, or miriam isobel allegra.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. St Cassiane/Kassiani! She was a Byzantine hymnographer who had a huge impact on the church. Her hymns are still used today.

    There’s also an amazing story with the iconoclast emperor Theophilos, who during his “bride show” said to Kassiani, “From women come the baser things.” As in, you’re from Eve, know your place. And she replies without skipping a beat, “From women come the better things.” As in Mary, and I do know my place, thank you very much. So he tucked his tail and chose Theodora instead, and Kassiani went off to found a monastery and write amazing hymns for the rest of her life. (Theodora went on to restore icons and end Theophilos’s persecution, so it’s a great story all around.)

    And best of all, my favorite version of her name: Cassia. Ends in an A.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I know it has been a few weeks, but I have been thinking about this consultation. Mary Dove really likes Anneliese but can’t use it because of a niece. The separate Elise has always been one of my favorites and could be a middle for a variety of name like their top contender, Monica Elisa which has a similar sound flow. Or Elisa could be paired with a Marian name. Since they already have a Maria going with more symbolic Marian name like rose, star, grace:

    Rosa Elise
    Stella Elise
    Hannah Elise (sounds almost like Anneliese but so different)

    Or the Cecilia variant: Celia Elise

    One like Roseliese could be mashed to actually get something closer to Anneliese but different (and has Rosalee vibe).

    I think Mary or Marie mash well with this for Marielise (or Mareleise or Marileise) or something like that. It seems to be actually used but rare, which is surprising. It’s very sweet – a unique combination of Mary and Elizabeth. And if it is one name could be a middle since they already have a Maria. Example – Monica Marielise

    I am not usually about making up names…

    But leads me to another one that came to me with a somewhat similar feel. It is one I am surprised has not (to my knowledge) been used by a Franciscan University grad yet (again only going by no showing in SS records). Mariazell is a small town in Austria and the name of the Basilica Shrine there. Zelle refers to a monastery cell, so is Mary’s cell. It is a very meaningful place to the FUS students who have studied abroad in Gaming Austria. I could see it being a very pretty name for a little girl – Mariazell. It also could be seen as a mash-up of St. Zelie Martin’s full name, Marie-Azélie

    Could go by nicknames: Zell, Zelie, Mia, Mari, Mazie

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love these Elise mashup ideas! Roseliese and Marielise are both really appealing to me, and Mariazell! Wow!! I love that!! Such a great idea and you’re right, I’ve never seen it used as a name!


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