Baby name consultant: “Nothing is too strange if it honors a saint”!

Today’s consultation is from a dad, which I always love! Chris and his wife Ali are expecting their fifth baby, their third boy, who joins big sibs:

John-Paul Padraig (“Named for St. John Paul the Great. We decided to hyphenate the name in order to try to ensure that he was always called John-Paul. We really emphasize with him that John-Paul is his name and quickly correct anyone who calls him John or (shudder) JP. Padraig is an Irish twist on my own middle name “Patrick” that my wife permitted as a middle name after I called our baby Padraig for the entirety of his time in the womb. I have no desire to name any of our children [Junior] so this is as close as we’ll be getting to that“)

Jude Peregrine (“The first of two children whose names were largely influenced by their due dates. In the fall of 2010, my father was diagnosed with AML and after failing to achieve remission with his first chemo, the decision was made for him to undergo a stem cell transplant, which we were told would have a 20% five year survival rate. When we found out we were pregnant with our second son, God wowed us when we found out his due date was November 8th, my father-in-law’s birthday and the day that my father received his transplant, a day many in cancer treatment call a patient’s “New Birthday”. We debated back and forth between the name we gave him and a very close second “Thomas Albert”, in honor of our two fathers (my father’s middle name and my father in law’s first name). We also thought Thomas Albert was just swell because of the connection between St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas. In the end we went with Jude Peregrine, in thanksgiving for my Dad’s health and to honor and ask the intercession of St. Jude (patron of hopeless cases) and St. Peregrine (patron of cancer patients). By the way, 6 years later and my father has beaten the odds and remains cancer free. Praise God!“)

Mary-Teresa Agnes (“Our second “due date” baby name. In 2008, just when Ali and I were beginning to seriously date, Ali’s mother, Teresa, suddenly and unexpectedly died from complications of a serious infection and subsequent pneumonia from influenza. Clearly, one of the most difficult times in her life and the life of her family. God’s grace flowed even from this tragedy, as it brought Ali and I closer together rather than splitting us apart, as it could have. Ali’s mother went to Jesus on March 24 of 2008. While God wowed us with Jude’s due date, he floored us with Mary-Teresa’s due date. Though she ended up being born earlier due to the need for a c-section for placenta previa, our due date was March 24. Though we went back and forth on the combinations of the names, we knew we wanted to name our first daughter after our two Mothers in Heaven (Mary our Lord’s Mother being the other) We also took the opportunity to honor one of St.John Paul II’s buddies, as we ended up with Mary-Teresa Agnes, in honor of our two heavenly Mothers, with a nod to Blessed Mother Teresa as well combining it with the middle name“)

Zelie-Louisa Brigid (“Probably our most unique name, and I absolutely love it. No due date connection, but as we were nearing the canonization of the parents of St. Therese, this name became a necessity in our eyes in the light of the secular attack and redefinition of Marriage that were going on at the time of Zelie’s birth. She was named in honor of them and in the defense of Sacramental Marriage, which we are given the opportunity to evangelize about any time people ask about her name’s origin. Brigid was my second touch of Irish – how could you not love a saint who prayed for a lake of beer?!“)

Aren’t these names and stories amazing?? I love each one! Each so thoughtful and purposeful and fantastic! Of course you know I love the Irish bit, and the lake of beer is one of my mom’s favorite stories. ☺☘

Chris continues,

We would love if you could help us with some advice regarding the name of our upcoming baby #5. In the past, my wife, Ali, and I have been extremely good at deciding baby names at the last minute, or even after birth, once calling a “Baby Name Conclave” in the post-partum room at the hospital. While this process, in my opinion, has produced some excellent names, I think we’d both love to be able to have a definitive before our next child is born.”

(A “Baby Name Conclave”!! 😂😂😂)

As far as #5 goes. Heaven help him and us! I would summarize my views on names by saying that NOTHING is too strange if it honors a saint. I am also all for a traditional saint name if it it makes sense and has deep meaning or intercessory purpose to it. I also love throwing in Irish saints or touches as well. My wife, Ali, is a bit more wary of stranger names, though honestly and oddly enough she pushed for Zelie more than myself (though now I can’t imagine anything else for our second daughter).”

(“NOTHING is too strange if it honors a saint”!!! 😍😍😍)

Names they’ve considered in the past for boys include:

Thomas Albert (“as above“)
James Gerard (“the other combination of our father’s first/middle names“)
Andrew Edward (“who would be named after my Best Man and priest Father Andres Gutierrez (Ali wouldn’t go for Andres I believe, so Andrew would be as close as possible), and my late Grandfather Edward who was probably the closest to a living saint I’ve ever known“)

Names that Chris particularly likes include:

Ambrose Augustine
Andrew Edward
I also like Seamus, Dominic (Dom), Marcellinus (Linus), and potentially Vianney
I would also be interested potentially in somehow incorporating Fulton Sheen or Emil Kapaun … Finally, some of my favorite writings include those of St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Bernard. I’ve also been known to throw out ancient/old/odd enough names as Irenaeus, Ignatius, Aloysius, Majella, etc

Names that Ali particularly likes include:

Henry (“[for] John Henry Newman, but we already have a John-Paul“)
Francis (“I REALLY do not like that name much“)
Joseph Benedict (“clear intent there“)

And in order to help with inspiration, these are some girl names they’ve considered in the past:

Lucy Perpetua (“perpetual Light“)
Margaret (“Maggie“)
Molly (“though Ali may blackball this“)

This was really fun to work on! So looking through Chris’ explanations of his kiddos’ names, Jude’s runner-up — Thomas Albert — strikes me as so handsome and full of significance, so I love that idea for he and Ali for this baby, as well as James Gerard, Andrew Edward, Ambrose Augustine (the editor of Catholic Digest, Danielle Bean, has an Ambrose Augustine!), and Joseph Benedict — all those combos are great! I do hesitate though over James and Joseph as first names, since their two other boys also have J- first names. Or maybe that kind of thing doesn’t bother them?

As for the other names I love Seamus (if Ali would go for it, I love the idea of Seamus Gerard instead of James Gerard) and Dominic (I’m a lay Dominican), and I’m interested in Linus as a nickname for Marcellinus — very cool! I wonder if they would consider just Linus?

Unfortunately, Vianney and Majella are all girl to me — the former because of blogger Lindsay Boever’s beautiful daughter Vianney; the latter because those of my name books that list Majella say it’s a girl’s name (and one of my older books particularly says it had decent use in Ireland). That might not matter to them, but I think it’s something they need to know and accept before moving forward with either of those names for their son. (I do know a little boy whose middle name is Vianney — that might be a nice way to work in the name.)

I wonder if they’ve considered Fulton as a first name? And that same Lindsay that I mention above has a little boy named Kapaun! So that’s an option too. We named our miscarried baby Ignatius and I sometimes think of him as “Natey” so I have a soft spot for Ignatius as a first name. 🙂 Actress Cate Blanchett has a son named Ignatius, too, and I believe he goes by Iggy; I’ve also seen Nash. I guess I tend to think of Ignatius as the most usable of those ancient/old/odd names Chris mentioned (Irenaeus feels a bit feminine to me because of Irene; Aloysius will never be spelled right), but those are very subjective opinions of course — I will always encourage all of you to completely disregard me if you love a name I’ve said something potentially negative about!

I love Henry! I assume Chris’ concern is that people would automatically tack “John” onto the front of it in their minds (their last name is very similar to Neumann), and then wonder why they named two sons after saints who have John as their first name? I can see both Chris’ and Ali’s perspectives on Henry, and I’m interested to see what you all think.

Bernard could be great I think! Old, obviously saintly (which I think is what they want), and I know a Bernard who goes by Ben, so they could do that too, which I love!

I’m guessing Francis and George are not huge contenders, since Chris said he really doesn’t like Francis, and he uncharacteristically made no comment on George. I wonder what they’d think of the Irish Francis — Proinsias — perhaps as a middle name? George also makes me think of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati — apparently Giorgio was what he preferred to be called, so maybe they’d like to consider that as a first name? (Though of course that’s not even close to being Irish … going back to George for a minute, Geordie is a traditional Scottish nickname for it, and I hear Geo sometimes too, both of which are super cool.) I also heard of a baby Frassati recently!

As far as new ideas, because they’ve considered due dates in the past I went through the feast days for Dec. 23–Jan. 14 (the baby’s due early January) on to see if there are any saints whose names I thought might be a great fit for them. There are actually a whole bunch!

— One of the Holy Ancestors of Jesus: Their feast day is Dec. 24, and I did a post on Jesus’ genealogy a while back … from that I like for this family Isaac (there’s St. Isaac Jogues too), Boaz (I love Boaz!), Jesse (except for the J- thing) … I also did a post on Mary’s genealogy and I love Joachim (but J) and Simeon (and there’s also Simeon in the temple).

— Any Christmas name! I wrote about a bunch here, here, and here (and an Advent one here, in case the baby comes early)

— St. Stephen the Martyr’s feast day is Dec. 26, and he’s great and all but my favorite thing about Stephen is the way Danielle Bean (the same one who has an Ambrose Augustine!) did it — she named her son Stephen Matthias — they’re next to each other in the Eucharistic Prayer and I love the way they sound together!

— St. Thomas a Becket’s feast is Dec. 29, and I know they’re already considering Thomas, but what about Becket? Cool name!

— There are three Irish saints on Jan. 1 that I thought would be great for this family: Brogan, Colman mac Ronan, and Colman Muillin of Derrykeighan! Colman was actually a name I was going to suggest to them anyway! It’s a good Irish name with the possibility of the awesome nickname Cole.

— Jan. 2 is Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and Doctors of the Church. Such heavy-hitting guys! I see Basil from time to time in the families that I come across through the blog, and Gregory’s one of my faves — Greg is overly Brady for a lot of people, but I like the ideas of Rory (which Chris might love because Irish!) and Gus (perhaps for Gregory Stephen? Gregory Aloysius?) as nicknames for it.

— The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus is on Jan. 3 — lots of good possibilities there, see the Christmas articles I pasted above.

— St. John Neumann (different than John Henry) has his feast on Jan. 5! I don’t suppose that’s helpful though … And St. Simeon Stylites is Jan. 5 — I mentioned above that I love that name (I really do!).

— Jan. 6 is the Epiphany! (Or at least it used to be, but I still consider it to be so, because my son was born on Jan. 6 and I love that he was born on the Epiphany 🙂 ) Great names for the Epiphany are the names of the Three Wise Men: Balthazar, Casper/Caspar/Gaspar/Jasper, and Melchior, and all of their feast days are also Jan. 6.

— Another saint with a feast of Jan. 6 is Felix of Nantes … and Felix of Heraclea is Jan. 7 … and Sts. Felix of Nola and Felix of Rome are both Jan. 14 … backing up, Felix of Bourges is Jan. 1 as well. So Felix is a big winner for this family date-wise!

— I don’t know how they feel about the name Atticus in light of the new To Kill a Mockingbird book (Go Tell a Watchman), but it’s such a cool name and Atticus of Constantinople’s feast is Jan. 8.

— Dermot of Inis Clothrann’s feast is Jan. 10 — how about Dermot? I really like it — I think it’s one of those really Irish names that’s doable outside of Ireland (not like its Irish counterpart Diarmiud).

— Nicanor of Cyprus is also Jan. 10 — I feel like I could really see Chris liking Nicanor! He’s one of the seven deacons chosen by the Apostles themselves, and a really fun twist on the Nic- names.

So those were all my ideas based on some likely dates of the baby’s birth, but I have a few more ideas for too (of course! 😁), based on their taste in names and my own ideas. You all know that I almost always start a consultation by looking up in the Baby Name Wizard the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that and my own mental files, these are my additional ideas:

(1) Kolbe
Kolbe is for St. Maximilian Kolbe of course, and I think it’s perfect as a brother to all Chris and Ali’s kiddos! I don’t know if you’ve seen the Sibling Project I’ve been working on, but I did an entry for John Paul to see what names the readers and I considered to be style matches (basically trying to fill in some of the holes in the Baby Name Wizard, as it doesn’t have John Paul as an entry), and Kolbe, Jude, and Mary (alone or as a double name) all made the cut! And if I were to do an entry for Kolbe itself, Zelie would totally be one of the style matches. So I think Kolbe is a great fit for this little guy.

(2) Campion
To continue with the last-name idea for a minute, I think Campion could also be a great fit, for St. Edmund Campion. I’ve also always loved Cam as a nickname for a boy, and Campion’s a great saintly way to get to it.

(3) Eamon
Speaking of St. Edmund Campion, maybe they’d like the Irish form of Edmund, Eamon? Danielle Bean (of Ambrose Augustine and Stephen Matthias fame) also has an Eamon!

(4) Bosco
Another last name! Though Chris might have the same issue with Bosco as he does with Henry, because of course we’re talking about St. John Bosco. But I love it!

(5) Xavier
Ditto Kolbe, Campion, and Bosco: Xavier’s another great saintly surname, but it’s had enough use as a first name that it has less of a surname feel.

(6) Malachy
I wonder if they’ve ever thought about the name Malachy? It’s the name of an Irish saint, very similar to the name of the prophet Malachi, and I think Mac can totally work as a nickname, I love it!

(7) Leo
My last three ideas were the result of trying to think of Irish names that weren’t *too much*. Leo is papal and saintly, a really really great name for a little guy and a grown man. That -o ending is hot right now too! I know, you’re all probably thinking, “But Leo’s not Irish!” And of course you’re right, but in my super Irish family there are loads of Leos, so to me it’s Irish. 🙂

(8) Brendan
Brendan is a great one — I think it’s obviously saintly to most people, and certainly Irish … blogger Colleen Martin recently named her sixth boy/seventh baby Brendan (they also have a John-Paul!).

(9) Timothy
And finally Timothy — nice and biblical like John, Paul, Jude, and Mary, and with a definite Irish feel. I love Timothy; Timmy’s great for a little guy; and Tim’s solid and handsome for a man. Great name!

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What would you suggest to Chris and Ali for their little boy?


20 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: “Nothing is too strange if it honors a saint”!

  1. I love all your suggestions for this family, but especially Kolbe, Campion, Xavier, and Leo!

    My inclination for them would be James Gerard, to honor the two fathers in a really special and saintly way, and because I think James Gerard sounds AH-MAZ-ING. I personally wouldn’t be that concerned about the J thing. I have two J boys and I don’t feel like I’m boxed in, and I would very strongly consider a third J boy and still probably not feel boxed in by it because there are other non-J siblings scattered throughout. Plus there are just so many wonderful J boys names! Aaah! So hard to limit them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to laugh at your point on Vianney. I have the exact opposite reaction. It’s a reasonnably common definitely BOY name in France, so seeing it used for a girl seems so odd to me. Almost like a girl called John or Andrew!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If they’re interested in unusual saint names, what about Wenceslas as a middle name for Dec. 26? (“On the feast of Stephen…”) We used it as our son’s middle name, paired with a less unusual first name, and we love it. Think of the story in the Christmas carol: a great and powerful man (king) who used his strength to help and protect the weak.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohhh their children have such beautiful names! I really love your suggestion of Seamus Gerard! Plus, the nickname Ged! Thomas Albert is wonderful, too. (Is it odd that I like the idea of calling a Thomas Albert “Tabby” lol??) Timothy almost feels like a slight Christmas name to me because of Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol. 🙂

    I also looove the nickname Pip. I kinda like that it appears in Epiphany – could be a subtle connection there by using some name that gets to Pip. (I know it’d be a stretch haha, but it could be like an “add-on” – like use Philip because you love the saint, and smile knowing that the nickname Pip also shows up in Epiphany, which was around the baby’s birthday! Does any of that make sense???) *I’m* not bold enough to go all out and use Epiphany (and if I were, I think it’d be better for a girl), and I’d recommend Pippin if not for already having a Peregrine – unless they realllly want to show LotR some love. 😉 But Philip works!

    And totally agree on Ignatius – plus, John, Jude, Mary, Zelie, and Nash sound AWESOME together. (I know it’s John-Paul, which still sounds great!)

    Congrats on their baby on the way! Can’t wait to see what name they use. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know a Thomas who goes by Tab! I think they’re his initials, but I love it for Thomas Albert! And Pip from Epiphany?? That’s brilliant! I love the name Philip, and now I’m dying over a Christmas baby named Philip called Pip because of the Epiphany!


  5. Oh, this is a fun one! Their kids’names are fantastic (swooning for Peregrine) and they have some really great options. James Gerard is movie star handsome. Thomas Albert feels brilliant (my first thoughts were Edison and Einstein). Tommy is one of my favorite nicknames on the planet.

    I love Malachy for this family! I also really like the idea of a connection to the Epiphany in some way. I agree with you, Kate. Leo and Timothy are Irish by tradition if not actual origin.

    Congrats! Good luck!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “NOTHING is too strange if it honors a saint.”

    Gonna have to disagree with you there. Case in point: St. Sexburga (:D)

    Regarding Brendan, apparently St. Brendan is part of the “trinity of Irish saints” along with St. Patrick and St. Brigid.

    My suggestions:

    Oliver (St. Oliver is the patron of peace and reconciliation in Ireland)
    Damien, after St. Damien Molokai

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Leo Benedict could be a roundabout way to honor Bl. John Henry Newman. He was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII and he was beautified by Pope Benedict XVI. Or maybe Dominic Leo, as Fr. Dominic Barberi was the name of the priest who received him into the Church.

    Also, his best man’s last name (Gutierrez) is the Spanish form of “son of Walter,” so Walter could be a nod to him as well. There’s a St. Walter who is the patron saint of vintners, so you could have a daughter with a beer connection and a son with a wine connection. I like the combos Walter Henry and Walter Brendan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOW I LOVE the idea of Leo Benedict and Dominic Leo as nods to Bl. John Henry Newman!! Great great ideas!! And Walter from Gutierrez! I never knew that! And the wine connection! Am I using too many exclamation points! 😀 These are really great, thank you!


  8. I personally know this family and their names are wowsers and it was so great to hear from Chris on his thoughts! (Hiya, you two!!!) And Ali and Chris, I have always loved that you had JP initials for the boys!!! And if I’m not mistaken, their kids rarely use nicknames (though Pip for Epiphany- yes!!!) and are introduced with their first and middle names! As for my suggestions, I need to think more on it! Thanks for the wonderful name postings here!

    Liked by 1 person

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