Baby name consultation: Italian (+ biblical?) name for little girl that complements big brother

Robyn and her husband will be adopting their sixth baby on earth — second girl! — this fall! This little lady will join big sibs:

Robert Noah (who goes by Noah)
Elijah Christian (nn is Eli)
Aaron Joseph
Gianna Marie
Ezra Benedict

+Gabriel William
+Mary Patrice (MaryPat)
+Samuel Peter

Aren’t they just wonderful names? I love each one!!

Robyn writes,

After our losses [Gabriel, MaryPat, and Samuel were miscarried after Noah, Eli, and Aaron] we looked to adoption to continue to grow our family. In 2013 we were blessed to adopt a beautiful baby girl. [We named her] Gianna Marie — named after St. Gianna, a name I have always loved since first hearing of dear St. Gianna. Marie of course after our Blessed Mother and also a beloved grandmother. Also, I loved the meaning of Gianna — God is gracious, so appropriate for that time in our lives.

Last summer we felt called to start the adoption process again and in November we were blessed once again! This time a beautiful boy. [We named him] Ezra Benedict — Ezra to continue the old testament theme and Benedict after St. Benedict. We had just taken an amazing trip to Italy and one of our favorite places was Norcia the birthplace of Benedict. Also, we loved the meaning of his name. Ezra meaning helper and Benedict a blessing.

[They recently found out they’ve been selected by a birth mom to adopt her baby girl] Now we will have two babies 10 months apart as this baby comes in Sept and Ezra doesn’t turn one until November. Almost like twins!

(What an amazing story!! God is so good!!)

We like names that are saints, or variations of saint names. And it has to be an Italian name as my husband’s family is Italian and he would really like for his girls to have his heritage in their names. (Could be the middle name though) We love names that aren’t overly popular but unique and fairly easy to pronounce and spell. The meaning of the name is important to us, so something that means, blessing, gift, loved, happiness, peace along those lines. The middle name would be great if it was after family, but it doesn’t have to be. We also love Italian place names like Assisi or Siena. Perhaps a virtue for the middle name as well.”

What a fun challenge, to come up with an Italian name that goes well with Ezra!

Names on their list include:

Philomena (“Have always liked this but everyone we tell it to gets a funny look on their face. I like the nn Mena“)
Serafina (“So pretty but don’t like the nn options, don’t like Sera“)
Chiara (“Love this one, as well as the saint behind it but afraid that it will be mispronounced her whole life. Also what nn go with it?“)
Gemma (“Too close to Gianna“)
Kateri (“So pretty but not Italian so hubby’s not a fan. Love the nn Kat“)
Zelie (“I liked it but hubby nixed because it won’t age well“)

Additionally,

Some other names we looked at because they are family names were Patricia, Patrice, Eleanor, Alice, Ann, Renee, Lucille, Sadie.

Our whole family has a special devotion to the Sacred Heart and to our Blessed Mother. Don’t know if that helps or not! 😉

We really have no front runner names right now and we are completely stumped as nothing sounds right. We would like it to be a nice compliment to Ezra since they are so close [in age]. But we don’t want it to be too matchy.”

This was so much fun to work on, I LOVE Italian girl names, they’re so pretty and feminine! And so many super saintly ones! I also love that their family has a devotion to the Sacred Heart and to Mother Mary — I took both of those into account when thinking of names for them. Another big thing that informed my ideas was their hope that the name be “a nice compliment to Ezra” but not “too matchy.” As well as, of course, biblical + Italian.

First though, I thought I’d give some feedback on the (gorgeous) names they have on their list:

— Philomena: I love Philomena! I’m not sure why people get a funny look on their face? I think it’s a great name! I might think of changing to Filomena though, as that’s the Italian spelling (as I understand it). Mena’s a great nickname.

— Serafina: a gooorgeous name!! If nicknames are the only thing holding them up, I can think of a bunch more besides Sera, like Fina, Fia, Sofie, and Sunny. Some fun options!

— Chiara: I love this one too, and I tend not to worry too much about pronunciation with a name like this — with Gianna and Giada part of our vernacular now, it’s not a huge stretch to add in Chiara — a quick correction is all it takes. As for nicknames, the only ones I’ve come up with are Key (I read an article when I was a teen about a girl named Key and thought it was THE coolest name!) or Kiki, which is cute (it’s actually the name I called myself when I was little, not being able to say Katie correctly).

— Gemma: I agree it’s too close to Gianna, and such a bummer, because otherwise it’s perfect!

— Kateri: I love Kateri and Kat too, and this seems an easy fix to me — St. Catherine of Siena (for whom St. Kateri was named) was actually Caterina (Catherine is our anglicization of her name), and Caterina’s so similar to Kateri! And Cat is an obvious nickname, really cute.

— Zelie: I would have thought Robyn’s hubby nixed it because it’s not Italian! I mean, obviously it *does* age well, because St. Zelie was a grown woman with the name, but even for her Zelie was a nickname — since her given name was Marie-Azelie, maybe they could do something like Maria-Zelie, to give it an Italian touch? If they did that, they could even use Zelie as the everyday call name, and when she’s an adult she can choose to go just by Maria if she prefers. I searched and searched for the Italian variant of Azelie, but since Azelie’s origin is unclear, there wasn’t any Italian variant offered. Some think it’s a variant of the flower name Azalea, so I looked up what the Italian variant of azalea is and just got … azalea! So I think Maria-Zelie might be the best Italianate option (and I love it! What a cool name Maria-Zelie would be! And I love the Z of Zelie with the prominent Z of Ezra — that to me suggests complementary without being too matchy). Also, both other girls (MaryPat and Gianna Marie) have a form of Mary in their names, so something like Maria-Zelie would continue that theme AS WELL AS the biblical connection! I’m dying. So swoony.

Okay, as for new ideas, first I tried to think of Italian names that I thought would complement Ezra, and the biggest characteristics I had to go on (not having yet done research to see what names are actually similar to Ezra’s style) was that it’s four letters, followed by the fact that it has a prominent Z. A few names that came immediately to mind were:

(1) Zita
I can’t think of any name that has more of an Italian feel than Zita! St. Zita’s an awesome saint too. I love that, like Zelie, Zita has that prominent Z, as well as four letters, and ends in A. I don’t think Ezra and Zita are too matchy, especially because one is super duper Old Testament and the other is super duper non-biblical Italian! I’ve also been crushing lately on a more recent holy Zita: Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria (her full name was Zita Maria delle Grazie Adelgonda Micaela Raffaela Gabriella Giuseppina Antonia Luisa Agnese! Wow!).

(2) Rosa
This is another four-letter, Italian name that ends in A, and has a Z sound even though there’s no Z in the name. And it’s Marian! Ezra and Rosa are sweet together!

(3) Cora
Cora is 100% inspired by their love of both the Sacred Heart and Our Lady! I’ve seen families use it to honor both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because of its similarity to the Latin for heart, “cor.” I don’t think Cora is Italian, but it’s similar in spelling and rhythm to other Italian girl names (especially since it ends in A), and I love that it’s four letters and ends in A, which is nice with Ezra.

(4) Dora
This too is because of its meaning — “gift” — as well as the fact that it’s four letters and ends in A. This isn’t an Italian name either, and has a bit of baggage because of Dora the Explorer, but the meaning can’t be beat.

I then tried to think of other names that I thought could connect to Ezra that might be more do-able for the middle name, and I thought of these:

(1) Norcia
Robyn said she loves Italian place names, and Norcia has special meaning to them because they loved their visit there, and it helped inspire Ezra’s middle name. It would make a cool connection to give their daughter Norcia as a middle name!

(2) Schola, Scola, Scholastica
Continuing with the St. Benedict theme, Benedict and Scholastica are famous saintly twins, and while I love the full Scholastica — especially as a middle with a shorter first name like the four-letter ones I list above (Zita Scholastica, Rosa Scholastica, Cora Scholastica, Dora Scholastica … ohhh my!) — I thought they could legitimately shorten it if they felt more comfortable with that. Scola is a Sicilian surname that means “school” or “retreat” according to Ancestry.com, a nice way to shorten Scholastica.

(3) Benedetta or Bettina
Both Benedetta and Bettina are Italian feminine variants of Benedict (Bettina’s a diminutive of Benedetta). Could be cool to give Ezra’s sister the feminine Italian variant of his middle name for her middle name! It also means “blessed,” so it can be for Our Lady too (“blessed among women”).

After coming up with these ideas, I then looked up all the names they’ve used for their older kiddos and those they have on their list in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, and I looked through the results for names that I thought particularly complemented Ezra. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Eva or Ava (or Ave?)
Obviously they have a super biblical theme with their boys, and even with the girls — Mary is biblical of course, and so is Gianna by the fact that it’s a John and Joanna variant. So I really liked finding other biblical names that were also Italian and even Marian if I could. Both Eva and Ava fit the bill! They’re both variants of Eve, and Mary is the New Eve — how lovely! I particularly like Eva with Ezra — though I probably wouldn’t usually suggest the same initials to actual twins, the fact that Ezra and the new baby are so close in age seems to validate the idea of same initials, to me anyway. But then, maybe they’re done with E’s because they already have Elijah as well?

If they like the idea of an Eve name but not an E initial, Ava is great, and I’ve seen Ava paired with Maria as a middle name in order to mimic the Ave Maria. And really, I see no reason why Ave itself couldn’t work! Though it’s not technically an Eve variant, there is that beautiful stanza in the Ave Maris Stella that says about Our Lady:

O! By Gabriel’s Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
Established peace below

Such a cool connection between “Ave” and Eve! So they could consider Ave a Marian name, especially when paired with Maria.

(2) Stella (or Maristella)
Speaking of the Ave Maris Stella, what about Stella? It’s Italian and Marian and ends in A like Ezra, but is decidedly non-matchy with it. If they wanted to up both the Marian and Italian aspect, they could use the lengthier Maristella, which is such a confection of a name! I’ve done two birth announcements for baby Maristellas, here and here.

(3) Sofia
I know the Sophia/Sofia/Sophie names are popular right now, but it’s a style match for Noah, Elijah, and Gabriel, and given that it means “wisdom,” it’s also the name of a book of the bible. The Sofia spelling is Italian, and it can also be considered Marian, via her titles Our Lady of Wisdom and Seat/Throne of Wisdom (which of course points to Jesus — a great two-for-one name!).

(4) Isabella, Bella, or Elisabetta
Going along with the biblical theme, the Italian variants of Elizabeth are so beautiful! Isabella and Bella are both lovely, and with Bella meaning “beautiful” in Italian, it’s a great nickname for a girl, or even a given name, which can take any of the Sts. Elizabeth as patron. Elisabetta ratches it up a notch, what a gorgeous Italian name! And as with Eva, I like that it begins with an E as a sister to Ezra. But also, it’s another E name, and on top of that another El- name, like Elijah, so maybe too much?

(5) Lidia
Another great Italian variant of a biblical name is Lidia. Lydia/Lidia’s such a great name for a girl not only because it’s the name of a Christian woman in the New Testament, but also because she was a seller of purple cloth, so a little Lydia/Lidia would have her own color, so fun!

(6) Lucia
With this year being the 100th Anniversary of Fatima, Lucia would be a pretty great name for a little girl born this year! And though Lucia of Fatima was Portuguese, of course Lucia is the Italian variant as well, said loo-CHEE-ah. This would tie in nicely with the Lucille on their list of family names.

(7) Carmela
The Mount Carmel referenced in the Marian title Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a mountain mentioned in the bible, which they probably already know from their Elijah, as it was on Mount Carmel that the prophet Elijah defeated the pagans. The Carmelite Order traces its origin back to Elijah on Mount Carmel, which is so cool! So I love that Carmela, which is such a traditional Italian name, is also biblical! I did a post on nicknames for Carmela here — there are some good ideas both in the post itself and in the comments.

(8) Maddalena
Finally, since I was already in the biblical place name frame of mind, I thought of Maddalena — the Italian form of Magdalene. What a beautiful name Maddalena is! I like both Maddy and Lena as nicknames for it.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What Italian name would you suggest for Robyn’s little girl, taking into account earth-side sibs Noah, Elijah, Aaron, Gianna, and especially Ezra, who will be less than a year older than her?

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30 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Italian (+ biblical?) name for little girl that complements big brother

  1. Wow Kate! Your suggestions for this consultation were SPOT ON!! I started to list my favorites but I was basically rewriting every single one you listed!

    I can’t wait to see what they choose!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I added it in the comments on the Carmela post, but I’ll put it here as well. My daughter has a friend Carmelina, which might be another idea to go along with Carmela. I just love this name!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Since Gianna still comes from hebrew, maybe another Italian version of a biblical name could be cool? Naomi or Noemi (meaning sweetness)? Ada (meaning ornament)? Anita from Anna? Dalia? Elisa? Miriam? Zara (meaning dawn)? I love them all and they’re all names actually used in Italy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • oh wow, i just checked and there were only THIRTEEN girls named gianna in Italy in 2015! and giovanna went from 900 to 200 born girls in 10 years. Miriam, Elisa, Anita, and Noemi (as well as Rebecca) are all top 50 names in Italy, to give you an idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      • See, I’m actually finding it difficult because American Italian names are NOT the same as Italian names (like the Gianna example). In Italian Italian it just doesn’t sound the same (even the way we pronounce it), also, Gianna is a diminutive, so to us it would be like naming your child Cate (less common than Catherine, I would imagine).

        That being said Chiara is a super common Italian name, very modern in a way. Something like Lidia is more in line with Gianna (119 babies were named Lidia in 2015, so not quite so uncommon). Filomena (I like the Italian spelling) is pretty rare.

        I just thought of Tessa, which is short for Teresa just like Gianna is short for Giovanna. Gianna, Tessa and Ezra! (62 babies were named tessa in 2015 vs 10 in 1999).

        Other ideas: Bianca, Linda, Vera (meaning faith) (I know a few people named Anna Vera, which I really like), Alma, Costanza, Nadia (meaning hope).

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is all really interesting! I didn’t know Gianna is a diminutive, do you think it was considered odd that St. Gianna was so named? You have some other great ideas here too!

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      • Yes I was also looking for her birth name! Not surprising that it was really Giovanna 🙂 but we did and still do diminutive names like Nina, Lina, Mina, etc. as given names (it0s just not very common). My grandpa Giovanni was always ever known as Nino. I go by full name (easy to guess at this point!)

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  4. They have a lovely taste in names. I think Cora would work so well for them! Or Maddalena which is feminine and beautiful. They made me think of Bethany or Alessandra as other possibilities. Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you all of the suggestions! We still can’t come to a decision. So many great choices! Please give me your honest feelings about Philomena, and what middle names would possibly go with it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You already know my feelings! I love Philomena! I like Philomena Rose, Philomena Zelie, Philomena Kateri, Philomena Grace, Philomena Mae. My faves would be Rose, Grace, or Mae, because they’re short (to balance the long first name) and Marian (to go with her sisters).

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  6. LOVE Stella for this family! And my suggestion would be Faustina… She started the devotions to the Divine Mercy, and I love their devotion to the Sacred Heart, which is similar! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As soon as I started reading this, the very first name that came to my mind was Chiara! So I was thrilled to see it on her list. It is such a beautiful name!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Philomena Rose as well as Philomena Grace stood out to me. While others may give looks at the name Philomena I think it is quite beautiful and it reminds me of my home church named after St. Philomena. I love the nn Mena, but yet again Phila really came to mind as well! Feminine and unique!

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