Currently popular Catholic names

In Monday’s consultation an interesting question was raised. The mom of the post, Kym, had said:

names often heard in Catholic circles: Rose, Therese, Mary-Agnes, Bernadette, Zelie — all would be out.

Cara commented,

I would love a post or follow up on what names are Catholic popular? The only one that comes to mind is Zelie.. . . . . Would love to hear your opinion on others

And Kym shared,

In my area, the Catholic popular names are: Therese, anything with Mary or Anne (Anne-Marie, Anne-Elizabeth, Mary-Grace, Mary-Helen), Kateri, Bernadette, Gianna, Zelie, Genevieve, and I’ve come across a lot of Veronicas.

Boys would be Benedict, Joseph, John Paul, Michael, Francis, Dominic, etc…”

What a fun topic to discuss! It’s related to but just a little different from the lists of Unmistakably Catholic boy names and girl names we compiled recently.

When I think of Catholic popular names, I think of the names that are being used a lot *now* — not the names that have always been popular with Catholic families, but the ones that are popular with 21st century Catholic families. There’s some good overlap, for sure, but not totally, especially when it comes to the new saints/blesseds like Zelie, Kateri, Gianna, Chiara, Maximilian and Kolbe, and John Paul. I thought Kym did a great job listing the ones that show up frequently in current Catholic families; in addition to those I thought some others I might add would be (rifling through the Catholic families I know):

Caroline and Karoline
Clare and Chiara
Helen and Helena
Lily and Lillian
Lucy and Lucia and Lucille


In those lists (mine and Kym’s) I see a lot of distinctive names — names that parents choose because they’re not heard so much in secular (American) circles and they have great faith connections, like Kateri, Karoline, Chiara, Evangeline, Faustina, Gianna, Magdalene, Seraphina, Zelie, Augustine, Benedict, Blaise, Fulton, John Paul, Jude, Kolbe, and Sebastian. I also see the vintage/retro/nursing home names that are coming back in style in society as a whole: Agnes, Bernadette, Cora, Edith, Helen, Lillian, Lucille, Rose and Rosemary, Stella, George, Leo, and Louis.

I’d love to know what names all your Catholic friends are using! When you all get together, which names are worn by multiple children?

73 thoughts on “Currently popular Catholic names

  1. Josephine and Grace are getting TONS of play as middle names in our circles. And we have a lot of Gabriellas. For boys, I’m a little surprised how many plain Johns there are. We are seeing a surge in Francis too, after Pope Francis.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In my group of Catholic homeschoolers we have multiple kids named: Luke, Jude, Joseph, Jack, John Paul, Thomas, Maximilian, Kolbe, and Andrew. For girls we have a lot of Mary- names and also Catherine, Clare, Lucy, Lily, Cecilia, Theresa, Grace, Elizabeth, Edith and Margaret with a sprinkling of some like Gianna, Zelie, Gemma, Felicity, Adelaide, and Madeleine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In Wisconsin, I am starting to see an upswing in the Catholic use of the name Adele due to Adele Brise, the Belgian immigrant nun to whom Mary appeared to three times in Champion, WI near Green Bay about 150 years ago. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is the only Vatican approved Marian apparition site in the US. Sister Adele is not officially a recognized Saint yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised she were to be canonized in the next 50 years (which would lead to further increased usage of her name.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Popular in our area are: Cla(i)re, Thomas and Isaac.

    More uncommonly used names I’ve heard through church are : Joachim, Bernard, Mary, Mary-[name], Bethany, Avila, Theresa/Therese, Rachel, Anna, Beckett, and Kolbe.

    I have a name crush on Campion, but it doesn’t go with our kids names. If I ever get a horse, I think I’ll name him Campion because it’s so awesome. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  5. All the Anne, Mary-X and Claire’s, Gianna and Kateri seem to be top here for girls. Nicholas, Lucas, Benjamin, etc. traditional boy names. My area seems to be a little behind on the hip new popular Catholic names lol. Question, though, why has Elijah fallen out of favor? Growing up I always thought that was a super Catholic-y name but I never hear it anymore. Is there a reason or just the natural life cycle of names?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting observation about Elijah! I never really heard it growing up; even now, I think I only know one? And his parents converted recently and had already started an ultra-biblical theme with their kids as Protestants, so Elijah fit right in. It’s currently the most popular it’s ever been, at no. 9, so it’s definitely not out of favor with America at large — did you mean among Catholic families?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, sorry I meant Catholic families. I saw it had broken the top 10 and was shocked because I think I know two Elijahs total and one is in his 30s and the other is a teen, neither are religious. I wasn’t sure if there are certain Catholic-y names that have become taboo to use. Naming babes is seriously so hard!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. The ones I know + some unusual names of whichI only know 1 or 2 namesakes (not quite alphabetical):

    Ambrose, Augustine, Bede, Benedict, Blaise, Bosco, Caius, Cian, Clement, Conor, Conrad, Damien, Dominic, Dunstan, Edmund, Felix, Francis, Fulton, Gerard, Gregory, Giovanni, Henry, Ignatius, John Paul, Jude, Justus, Kieran, Killian, Leo, Louis, Lucien, Matthias, Magnus, Marcus, Martin, Maximus, Maximilian, Oliver, Otto, Osmund, Pascal, Pius, Raphael, Roche, Ronan, Sebastian, Severin, Silas, Simon, Simeon, Theodore, Titus, Victor, Vincent, Vitaliy, Xavier

    Ada, Adelaide, Avila, Aurelia, Bernadette, Bridget/Brigid, Carmella, Cecilia, Chiara, Claudia, Dorothy, Faustina (middle), Flora, Frances, Anne Frances/Jane Frances, Gemma, Gianna, Gregoria, Helen/Helena, Irene, Imelda, Imaculee (middle), Jacinta, Josephine, Karolina, Kateri, Katharine/Kathryn, Lucia/Lucy, Lydia, Madeleine, Magdalena, Marcelina, Margaret, Maria/Marie/Mary, Marian, Miriam, Mariana, Marina, Matilda/Mathilde, Maura, Moira, Melanie, Michaela, Natalie, Nina, Olive/Olivia/Olivine, Paloma, Perpetua (middle), Philomena, Petra, Pilar, Rose, Rosemarie, Ruth, Sabine, Sarah, Sarai, Severine, Siena, Stephana, Stephania, Thais, Tesia, Teresa, Therese, Veronica, Verity, Zelie, Zita

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The family I know with the most Catholicky named kids has: Josef, Charles, Veronica, Estelle (middle name Maris), Evangeline (mn Marie). (The first three have family middles).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. well I guess my husband and I are into “popular Catholic” names, because all of our children are on this list: Chiara, John Paul, Magdalen, and Azelie! I also see our next two boy names we’ve chosen on the list as well. I’ll have to save this post when it comes time to name future babies!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Looking at your own list of Birth Announcements, I see some repeated names:

    Girls: Lucy/Lucia, Margaret, Clare/Clara/Claire, Rose/Rosalie/…
    Boys: Luke and Maximilian

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m due with our 5th child. Fourth girl..we are naming her Rita after my husband’s grandma (Rita was popular in the early 1900s) and St Rita!

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  11. Here are the popular names where we know more than one child named this but I do know several others whose name is on your list!
    John Paul

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t think I saw Peter on anyone’s list yet…but I know two catholic baby Peters born in the past year, and I met an 8yo Peter at mass a few weeks ago. From my circles I can also confirm the catholic-popularity of Mary-Claire, Elizabeth, Sebastian, and Luke. I know at least one little Cecilia–for some reason I think I might know another but can’t place the family in my mind. And I have a Miryam plus I know one more Miriam under 3, although I haven’t heard it around enough to say it’s “popular” even among Catholics.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. For the most part, I see names on the Catholic school roster that look mostly like the one at the public school. The names that were common here for that age group were of the Braden, Caden, Jaden and Kaitlyn, Kaylee, Braylee variety. There’s even a school chaplain, a fairly recently ordained priest, called Jadyn. This is in North Dakota. The baby boy Karol, named for Pope John Paul, is an exception to the rule, though he may well be in kindergarten in five years at Catholic school with more trendily named peers. His family is very, very Catholic. I have noticed the name Clare being used some for Catholic babies among my Facebook acquaintances.

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  14. When I read this post a few days back I thought of Peter. Then yesterday I was as at a park and overheard a mom call her toddler Peter and was thinking that I don’t tend to hear that much these days. Sure enough a little later on I saw him sporting a Notre Dame baseball hat.

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  15. I was thinking a little more and remembered a favorite professor in college had sons named Augustine, Benedict, Jerome, and Dominic–a Catholicky Catholic bunch if ever I saw one! Also, another professor had a Leo and a Karol (pronounced Carl), though I don’t really remember his other kids’ names.

    I was thinking though–is Paul not used as much in Catholic circles? Obviously there are a lot of John Pauls, but I haven’t seen a lot of Pauls personally. As a convert, I was wondering if it was a theological point–Protestants reject the Pope and love Paul’s epistles, so there are more Protestant Pauls than Peters. Does the inverse hold true? Do Catholic tend more toward Peter than to Paul? Maybe I just don’t have as much experience with Catholic naming, so maybe there are a lot of little Pauls out there I know nothing about!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have a Paul and I know several other young Catholic Pauls. My Catholic OB named his son Paul after Pope Paul VI. To me it seems like Protestants are picking predominantly Old Testament names instead of New Testament names like Paul.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That’s probably true. I like your point about interesting Old Testament names being more popular with Protestants–I actually know a Gideon, too! Which leads to another thought: Johnny is a very popular name among all my friends, but now I wonder, is Jonathan the source for the nickname with the Protestants and John the source for the Catholics? Food for thought…

        Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting about Paul! My convert husband’s middle name is Paul, and I always assumed it was in large part because of what you said: “Protestants reject the Pope and love Paul’s epistles.” But I don’t know if there are more Catholic Peters than Pauls? Pope Paul VI is a great example of a Catholic Paul, and I know a couple little Catholic Pauls (first or middle name), and I grew up with one as well, but funny enough I only know one little Peter!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like Peter is just hard for a lot of people (mostly men) to get behind bc it’s a common euphemism for male genetalia. This is 100% why my husband wouldn’t agree to it. And the fact that we only know one little Peter (though I’ve seen it in the middle name spot more) seems to confirm that for some reason, it’s simply not catching on. It’s a shame, it’s in my top two boys’ names.

        Liked by 2 people

    • The only baby Paul I know is Catholic. I have never heard of any catholic parents shying from Paul because of its use among protestants, though it is an interesting question I wouldn’t have thought of. Paul is one of my favorite saints–I may put this name on my own list come to think of it. (:

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Gianna, Lucy, Clare (only without the “i” do I pin it as Catholic), Therese for a middle name (I don’t know any with it as a first), Francis always nn Frankie, Jude, Dominic

    All of these names I know at least 2 kids with. I’d love to see a post and comments on the most unique or out-there Catholicky Catholic name people have ever used ir known a person with that name.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. We know soooo many Josephs (which surprises me, actually), and Lucy is huge, too. Kolbe and Chiara, of course. Lots of baby Zelies. And John Paul, a ton. Also just plain John (again, surprising to me). Also a fair number of Graces. My prediction about Oscar becoming the new “it” name has not proven to be true, at least not around here. I hear lots of chatter about Caeli and Jubilee but have yet to meet any.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I am new to this blog and noticing all the Zelies… Is it really that popular?? We attend a Catholic parish booming with children and big families and I have yet to meet a Zelie. Lots of Therese/a, Lucia, Cecilia, Elizabeth, etc. Maybe people in my area (southern US) are just more traditional? Is it a regional preference?
    I have always wanted a Ruth and a Zelie, as they are a good mix of familiar and uncommon names (like mine). Though I’m happy the Martin fam is getting attention, a bit disappointed that name is so trendy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only ones I know of are through the blog — I don’t know any in real life, and there were 86 born in the U.S. (with that spelling) in 2016, 50 in 2015, 25 in 2014, so it’s definitely increasing in popularity BUT those numbers are so low that Zelie doesn’t even make the top 1000 names. It’s that, between all of us here, we probably know all of them!


  19. “Reese” as a nod to St. Therese is huge here!

    We try to avoid using each other’s names I think so that is the only one that overlaps but some others I know that haven’t been mentioned are

    Aviana (from Ave I believe)
    Josephine “Josie”


    Liked by 1 person

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