Baby name consultant: Unusual name needed for baby No. 7

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!! 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

Before I jump into today’s post, could I just ask you to keep my oldest son in your prayers? (And thank you to all of you who have been praying!) I posted a couple pics explaining the situation on Instagram this weekend — he and I have been in the hospital all weekend for a mysterious swelling on one side of his face that turned out to be an abscessed tooth. Lots of strong antibiotics have really done the trick — last night his face was finally starting to look normal-ish, 48 hours after it started, and this morning he looks wonderful. The doctor will be calling the dentist today and hopefully we can go home in a few hours!

Also, one of you readers emailed me with this very important prayer request:

My acquaintance/new friend Anne Marie, unbeknownst to me, has a mental/spiritual imbalance that has caused her to be certain that Jesus has asked her to fast to her death. Apparently she has several times fled to distant 24-hr Adoration chapels to pray and await death.

A week ago she again fled the Portland area with nothing but cash, as I understand, leaving behind her new husband of just 15-ish months, and their small son Joseph, 4 months, whom she had been exclusively breastfeeding.

Anyway, since you have many devout readers around the nation, I thought perhaps someone would spot her. She is 5’8″, very thin, conservatively dressed, with long, somewhat greying wavy hair. She has a soft, deep voice, an intelligent demeanor and dry sense of humor. It is best to contact the authorities, rather than acknowledging that you know of her. They suspect she will follow her pattern of fasting until collapse, be hospitalized, and refuse to identify herself.”

This is a news story that tells more about her. Thank you all for being such great prayer warriors! One of the loveliest parts of our little community is how we can ask each other to pray. 🙏

Okay! On to today’s consultation! Cait and her husband are expecting their seventh baby and third girl! She joins big siblings:

Aquinas John Paul (Quin)
Gabriel Benedict
Magdalena Grace
Maksymilian Paul (“spelling due to husband’s bad association with a Max in grade school and finding a book written by St. Maksymilian Kolbe where they spelled his name that way — I think it’s the Polish way“)
Augustine Francis
Socorra Perpetua (often called Corra; named “after Our Lady of Perpetual Help (succour)“; my note: Nuestra Señora del Socorro is a Spanish title referring to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succor)

Aren’t those amazing names?? I love the nicknames and the alternate yet totally legitimate spellings and the all-around creativity. Great job, Mom and Dad!

Cait writes,

I LOVE Penelope, but she seems to be a saint in the Eastern Church and not ours.  I’m having my husband research that, as it seems, from her story there, that we should grab her as a saint too.  I also had a dream the baby’s name should have something to do with peace… something we need in our family right now (who doesn’t?)!  That’s one way we found Saint Penelope- when she became a Christian she changed her name to Irene, so we’d likely do Penelope Irene, if only I can internally justify not using a Roman Catholic Saint as a first name … [then later I received this update from Cait] As for Penelope, we just found out it’s one of the top 40 names for last year so, sadly, it’s off our list.  While we do have a Gabriel, which is ever popular, we tend to shy away from top 100 (or minimally top 50) names.”

So I was shocked to discover that Penelope’s in the top 40! How did that happen! It had barely cracked the top 1000 in 2001, talk about a meteoric rise! I’m sorry that Cait and her hubs have to cross it off their list, I love it! (And there’s a new holy one to use as patron: Ven. Ersilia Penelope Frey!) In its place, I wonder what they’s think of Philomena — it’s similar to Penelope to me, being long and starting with a P, and it’s a really Catholicky Catholic name — it might make a good replacement?

I’m also really interested in Cait’s dream that the baby’s name should have something to do with peace — I did a quick search on behindthename for names that have “peace” in their meaning, and the only one I thought they might be interested besides Irene was Salome. It means “peace” (related to “shalom”) and I posted a really cool tidbit about the name a while ago, which connects the name to Christmas — nice for a baby born this time of year.

Otherwise, I took to my Baby Name Wizard as I always do, looking up the names Cait and her husband have used and those they like/are considering as you know it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research and my own mental files, these are my ideas:

(1) Liesse, Lourdes
These are, of course, the names of two Marian apparition sites, and I love them both. Liesse is so pretty with such a feminine sound; it’s a bummer it’s not as well known but I really like how unexpected it is. Lourdes has more use (like Lindsay daughter from My Child I Love You), and has such lovely nickname options like Lulu and Lola.

(2) Archangela
Reader Lisa alerted me to Bl. Archangela Girlani a while ago as a way of having an authenticated saintly connection to Eleanor (because the Helen connection is problematic), and I immediately loved her religious name! Archangela has a familiar feel, because of the archangels and the name Angela, and yet I’d never heard of Archangela as a given name before finding out about Bl. Archangela — familiar yet uncommon is such a great combo!

(3) Anne-Catherine
One of the Sancta Nomina families has a little girl named Anne-Catherine after Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich — I love this idea for this family! Cait’s older kiddos have, on the whole, fairly unusual names, and double names have an immediate “more unusual” feel to them, even if the names themselves are fairly “normal.”

(4) Sidony/Sidonie
During one of the very first consultations I did, I came across the name Sidony/Sidonie and was blown away by what I read about it: “this name was formerly used by Roman Catholics for girls born about the date of the Feast of the Winding Sheet (i.e., of Christ), more formally alluded to as ‘the Sacred Sendon’. Sendon or Sindon (from Latin sindon … ‘fine cloth’, ‘linen’) was used in Middle English for a fine cloth, especially one used as a shroud. The Sacred Sendon is supposed to be preserved at Turn [Turin] … Sidonie is not uncommon in France, and the Irish Sidney is probably really Sidony” (from one of my favorite name books, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names by EG Withycombe). The feast of the Winding Sheet is/was celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, and as Ash Wednesday this year is March 1, the Sidonie feast is Feb. 28, and since Cait’s little one is due in February, I thought it might be perfect.

(5) Charis
There’s a section in the BNW called “Exotic Traditionals,” which I often like to peruse for families like Cait’s who have used names like Magdalena, Socorra, and Augustine, as they have a lot of old religious and/or saints’ names that aren’t used so much anymore. Charis is one of them — it means “grace, kindness” according to and “favor, grace, gratitude” according to Merriam Webster, and I actually read about a family who used the name because it’s contained within the word “Eucharist” (and that element of Eucharist is the “favor, grace, gratitude” meaning of Charis). So pretty!

(6) Jacinta
This is another Exotic Traditional, and one I just love—Jacinta’s one of my favorite favorite names, I totally wish it had more play! I have it on my own list, and love the nickname Jess for it.

(7) Rafaela/Raphaela
There wasn’t a huge amount of overlap in the names similar to the names Cait and her husband like, according to the BNW (which is likely just because the BNW doesn’t look at the world with Catholic-colored glasses like we do!), but Rafaela was listed as a style match for Benedict and Raphaela for Maximilian, so I felt like I definitely needed to suggest it! Such a pretty name, and not as matchy with Gabriel as if they used Raphael.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister of Aquinas, Gabriel, Magdalena, Maksymilian, Augustine, and Socorra?


54 thoughts on “Baby name consultant: Unusual name needed for baby No. 7

  1. Oh my these names are so similar to my own style! Magdalena Grace is totally a name on my list! And the nick Quin makes Aquinas totally doable for me!!

    My suggestions are Avila (a name at the top of my list) and Vianney. I also love Raphaela! Bernadette might fit their style as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I first skimmed the post I initially misread Penelope as Philomena because I think it makes a more natural sibling within the group.

    I also adore the name Irene largely because of the meaning! Maybe it could work as a first name?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh I love their bold taste! (And Magdalena is one of my all-time favorites!!) I usually agree that it’s best to avoid the most popular names unless it’s class/you really love it (aka James), but ohh I wish in this case they’d be willing to throw that rule out the window because Penelope Irene is amazing!! (Plus, I kinda like that it would balance out with Gabriel, making it so his name isn’t the only “common” one!) Whatever they choose will be great though, I’m sure.

    Of your suggestions I really love Rafaela with their other kids’ names. And yes Mary-Agnes!! Paloma!! I was going to suggest the same thing! I love the dove-peace connection, and seems like a name this family is bold enough to use!!

    There’s also Pax, which I’ve seen thrown around as an idea for boys and girls because parents like the meaning of peace or peaceful. I don’t think it’s even slightly long enough for a first name for this family, but maybe as a middle or second middle? Rafaela Pax Marie, Rafaela Rosemary Pax, Philomena Pax Marie, etc. There are ways to make it work, if they wanted to. (Though I still think Salome, Irene, and Paloma are ideal for them! But just an idea to throw out into the world, haha.)

    Side note: I’m kind of loving Maksymilian! Like, I think I might prefer it to Maximilian now?! Ah! (Because the nicknames! Think of all the nicknames! Max/Maks of course, but also Maksy without that annoying maxi-pad association haha and perhaps best of all, just Mak! Makes me think of a hockey player or a football player – just a cool, manly nickname as a boy grows up! 🙂 )

    Praying for your son and for Anne Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a few thoughts. The first one was Dove. Invokes the Holy Spirit and obviously Dove is a sign of peace. My grandmother had a friend named Dove and I loved her name. There is a Saint Frederick and I know his name means “peaceful ruler.” Maybe Fredericka?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree that penelope would help gabriel feel less alone with his more common name 🙂 also, philomena is a bit too close to magdalena in my opinion. they cover a lot of different styles with their names: aquinas and soccorra are super unusual, maybe even unique, magdalena and augustine are somewhat popular in some catholic circles (from my understanding) and definitely familiar, maksimilian is also familiar but the foreign spelling makes it waaay more uncommon.

    if not penelope, I like paloma because it would go with both maksymilian (foreign) and gabriel (which is popular in hispanic communities). magdalena, soccorra and paloma is cute! paloma irene would be such a peaceful name. OR they could use penelopi, the greek version (just like maksymilian), definitely less popular.

    i also like seraphina and theodora. and from your list raphaela and jacinta.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I was growing up, I knew of a girl called Angadresma, which I thought was a very exotic way for the family to get to Angie, which is what she was called. Her father did call her after the saint. I suppose Dresma would be a more modern nickname. It sounds rather dreamy to me. Here’s more about the saint:

    Also Flavia or Theodosia.or Petronilla, if they want a really ancient feel.

    or Maria Immaculata, which would go with Corra’s name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder if Theodosia is going to surge a bit soon thanks to “Hamilton”? Because that’s the first thing I think of when I hear that name. Did not know it was a saint.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The song “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton is very pretty, too. I’m curious to see if it appears on the popularity chart for 2016. Last year there were fewer than five U.S. girls given the name. In the song, the name is pronounced with four syllables — Thee-uh-doe-zhuh. I would have said it with five — Thee-uh-doe-see-uh.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. How cool that they used the Polish Maksymilian – I did not know that version, but yes, the Polish variation. I really like that. And Quin as nickname for Aquinas – brilliant.

    Like you, Kate, I was shocked about Penelope. I read that and thought that has to be wrong – no way it jumped from obscure to top 50 in a few year – but well, it certainly has. Where did that come from? My thought on that is that it will drop out equally fast. Seems trendy and as soon as perceived as popular will drop. I have heard one little Penelope that is all so doesn’t seem all that common.

    So that name that came to me as being most similar to Penelope is Calliope. It has the same Greek origin and sound-(l(i)ope ending. We discussed it in a post/comments a few months back as muse of epic poetry and a musical instrument. She (St. Kalliope/Calliope) is also an early century saint/martyr more commonly celebrated in the Orthodox tradition. I know of a little Calliope who is called Poppy, which is adorable. 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 was suggested in the earlier post/comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Penelope is the name of one of a daughter of one of the Kardashians and pictures of their children are constantly in the tabloids and gossip columns. Penelope is also a character on a couple of popular TV shows. I think it’s probably just in the air and people think it sounds cute. But top 50 is really not all that popular. It’s highly unlikely that a girl named Penelope will have a classmate with that name or even that there will be another girl in the same school. Popular names are really used much less frequently than they were when we were kids. If that’s a name that the parents like, I think they should just go ahead and use it. Maybe call her Nell or Nellie or even Poppy instead of Penny if they want something different.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. What about Serenity? (The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.) I like Charis as well, and it reminds me of Chiara (Bl. Chiara Luce Badano), as it it similar.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so glad others suggested Paloma. I love Kate’s suggestion of Salome. I have a soft spot for Jemima which also means Dove. I also think Petra or Francesca could be nice for this family. Good luck! What great names you have gifted your children.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I am digging Agatha for this family. Ends in an a like the other girls and seems like a bold choice, more so than Philomena.
    I vote no one Penelope. I could see name regret creeping in on that for not following the named after a saint pattern you have going.
    I LOVE the names they have going . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love how bold their taste is, and I’m LOVING all of the suggestions in the comments. Paloma, Theodora, Seraphina, Sidony—all great!! Seraphina was actually the first name I thought of after reading the post.

    As for peace names, Winifred means peace and there’s a St. Winifred with a great story. I love the nickname Winnie. Also, the Welsh spelling (she’s a Welsh saint) is Gwenfrewi, which is a great unique name with Gwen as an accessible nickname.

    Other unique, bold, saintly name suggestions they might like are Euphemia, Adelaide, Aurelia (means gold), Genevieve (means woman), and Beatrix (means blessed). I especially like the last three with a middle name meaning peace (such as Irene or Paloma). Aurelia Paloma = golden peace; Genevieve Irene = woman of peace; Beatrix Irene or Beatrix Paloma = blessed peace.

    Also, St. Elizabeth of Portugal is invoked for peace (especially within families). She is, in fact, known as The Peacemaker. Elizabeth might be too common for them, but it’d be great as a middle name, or they could use any of the rarer variants as a first name. Unique Elizabeth variants they might like include Elspeth, Elisheva, Elisheba, Lizaveta, Elzbieta (the Polish version!), Liesel, Eilish, Lisette, Bettina. Lillias, Belinha (the Portuguese version), Babette. Kate’s suggestion of Liesse is actually a variant of Elizabeth!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I didn’t know Liesse is a variant of Elizabeth! I only know it as the place in France where Our Lady appeared (Our Lady of Liesse). Such a pretty name! I love your other ideas too — lots of great suggestions!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I haven’t read the comments yet because I wanted to keep my suggestion “fresh” and not influenced by anyone else’s comments, but my very first thought after reading this was the name Guadalupe!! It is unusual, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of the Americas, and Our Lady in general is definitely the patron of peace in my opinion! Not to mention the absolute miracle of OLOG, so many conversions in so short a time, a successful way to meet native peoples where they were…I just LOVE her and I think this family could really make her name work!

    Another idea I have is Perpetua. Very Catholic, saintly, and the letter P.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. My little Alexis is named after Our Lady of Perpetual Help because Alexis is Greek for help/helper.

    Have you done an article on all the Marian name approaches? Global versions of Mary itself, apparition place names, titles of Mary…I’m sure there’s more?

    My other daughter is Eva after Mary the New Eve … also Eva is Ave backward, so double connection that apparently medieval scribes loved too (you can find it in a bunch of illuminations and wood carvings, the Eva/Ave thing). I guess we have a Marian title thing going 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the meaning behind both your daughters’ names — beautiful!! I have a tag called “Mary” that I’ve used for all the posts that have Marian names — and I like the idea of a post of all the approaches!


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