Birth announcement: Finn Douglas!

I received such a fun email the other day! Cheri is a reader who wanted to let me know about the birth of her baby, and to tell me a little about the names she and her husband have chosen for all their kiddos! I fell in love with all of the names and the stories behind them, and of course I was all, “Can I post this on the blog??” and I’m so delighted Cheri said yes!

She and her hubs recently welcomed their sixth baby — and sixth boy! (My mom-of-six-boys heart always sings upon meeting another!) They gave their littlest guy the swoon-worthy name … Finn Douglas!

Cheri writes,

I just wanted to say thank you for your website!! I was SO close to getting a consultation. I even started typing up an email to send. I think the process of writing it all out in an email helped us narrow down our choices. And reading through consultations was incredibly insightful. It helped us look at the names we had given our children with fresh eyes and helped us articulate why we’ve chosen the ones we did. You helped without even knowing you were doing so!

We had our 6th baby at the end of September. We did not find out the gender at the ultrasound. Probability said that would be a boy since we had already been blessed with 5! Ha! But it was still exciting not finding out until the birth.

We were very happy to welcome Finn Douglas into our family! As soon as the doctor said, “It’s a boy!”, the first thing that I though was, “well of course it is!”

We had a really hard time coming up with a name that fit our criteria, wasn’t used by someone close to us, and fit with our other sons’ names.

I think your website was where I first saw the name Finn. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every consultation where you’ve mentioned it.

[Re: Finn Douglas] Our last name is Irish and we like the stories of Saint Finnian and Saint Finbar. Douglas is both my brother’s middle name and the first name of my grandpa. I was very close to him. He passed away 16 years ago. He LOVED babies! I wish he could have met mine. There is also a Blessed George Douglas who has a very interesting story.”

I’m a HUGE fan of the name Finn, and Finn Douglas is such a great combo! And isn’t this such a great email? I’m so so so happy that the blog helped this beautiful family choose a name! You all have helped me create such a great resource!!

Before sharing Cheri’s older boys’ names, I’ll share the criteria she and her hubs have used:

So our naming philosophy: we like names that are easy to spell, familiar, masculine, and have some Christian/ Old Testament/ Saint connection, with no obvious nicknames (so maybe we’re a little boring? Ha!). We also did not want any first initial duplicates (I’m a homeschooler & list lover and usually label & list things by each kid’s first initial). We kind of have an Irish/Old-Fashioned thing going on. We also seem to have a knack for picking names that rise dramatically in popularity 2-3 years after we use them. Ha!! Oh well…”

I don’t think their taste is boring at all! I love it! These are the names of their older five boys:

Isaac James (“We love the story of Abraham and Isaac, and that Isaac means God laughs. James is both his grandfather and godfather’s name“)

Aidan Xavier (“We were hesitant to use this name because it was fairly popular. But we kept coming back to it. Someone told us at the time, “God names our children, we just have to listen.” Once he was born, we KNEW God had named him. Aidan means “little fire” and he was born with a full head of beautiful auburn hair. We love the stories of Saint Aidan & his generosity. During college, my husband lived with 5 amazing Catholic men in a house named after St. Francis Xavier. This is a nod to them and to Saint Francis Xavier“)

Owen Dean (“Owen was born at 33 weeks & was tiny. It is fitting that he was named after St. Nicholas Owen I read that he was a very small man, under 5 feet – it seemed perfect for preemie. He was such an amazing & heroic Saint! Dean is his Grandpa’s middle name“)

Liam John (“We loved the name and unfortunately the only Saint Liam we could find is a race horse. Ha! But it’s a variation of William so Saint William works. We found out that he was a boy on the feast of Saint John Vianney and his great grandpa’s name is John“)

Eli Anthony (“We like the OT story of Eli and Samuel and how Eli told Samuel to respond to the Lord, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!” We chose Anthony after our family prayed a Novena to Saint Anthony when this son was in utero and diagnosed with some serious growth problems. He was born perfectly healthy so we chose this middle name in thanksgiving to Saint Anthony“)

Amazing, right?? I love each one, and I love them all together!

Congratulations to Cheri and her husband and big brothers Isaac, Aidan, Owen, Liam, and Eli, and happy birthday Baby Finn!!

Finn Douglas with his big brothers ❤

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Birth announcement: Gregory Conrad!

I posted a consultation for Amanda and her hubs a couple of months ago, and she’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the amazingly perfect name … Gregory Conrad!

Amanda writes,

Gregory Conrad was born yesterday, the feast of St Cecilia (patron saint of musicians) and the anniversary of when this sweet little guy’s daddy asked me to marry him 13 years ago.

Our Little “Rory” is named after Pope St Gregory the Great, who was also a wonderful musician and created the Gregorian Chant, and his daddy, Vincent Conrad, who was named after a grandfather Conrad as well. 🙂

I thought you would also like to know that on the way to the hospital, we looked up male patron saints of musicians and Gregory was at the top of the list. That kind of made up our minds, even before we saw his face, because Gregory and Sylvester were our top two at that point!! If that’s not a sign from Heaven, I don’t know what is 🙂

We let [daughter] Ellie pick his middle name when the kiddos met him, giving her the choices of Lucas, Conrad, or Jonah (because it means stubborn!). She was pretty tickled to get to help. We will also shorten it to “Rory” or even ‘Gregor’ … but not ‘Greg,’ as I’m just not crazy about one syllable. Please keep baby and I in your prayers, as it was a very long and difficult labor and delivery. So thankful he is here and healthy!

Gregory with the nickname Rory was on Amanda’s initial list this time around, and it’s an option I’ve long loved and suggested on the blog! I love it! There’s so much meaning in this little guy’s name and birth, from the connection to music (Amanda’s a musician), to his birthday being the anniversary of the day Amanda and her hubs got engaged, to his name being a five-syllable combo, just like his big brothers and sister, wow!

Please do keep Amanda and her baby boy in your prayers! Congratulations to the whole family, including big sibs Oliver, Elizabeth, Theodore, Henry, and Adrian, and happy birthday Baby Gregory!!

Gregory Conrad with his mama and big brothers and sister

Baby name consultation: Our Family Fiat’s number 3!

Do you all follow Amy at Our Family Fiat (web site and Instagram)? She and her husband Ryan have the CUTEST twin girls with the gorgeous names:

Adelaide Ryan
Clairvaux Elizabeth

Amazing right? As Amy explained, “both names are long, french in origin, honor saints and are names of places (Adelaide, Australia and Clairvaux, France).” They did such an amazing job choosing names that share characteristics without being matchy!

Now they’re expecting their third baby girl!! I was so excited when Amy emailed me for a consultation — I love her taste and couldn’t wait to come up with some ideas for Adelaide’s and Clairvaux’s little sister!

Amy wrote,

I’d love for this little girls’ name to follow suit [meaning: “long, French in origin, honor saints and are names of places”] …

Some other girl names we love are Gemma and Isla but I have some reservations being that they are short and not at all french sounding. I may feel more excited about them, especially Gemma if I had a long, french feeling middle name and bonus points if it’s also a place.

If we found a perfect first name that fits well with Clairvaux & Adelaide I’d be open to a more masculine middle name like Adelaide’s (more than likely “James”)

We clearly don’t mind if a name is unique and we love if they have nickname options. (We often call Clairvaux “Vauxie” but love that she can go by Claire one day if she desires a less out-there name, etc)

The only name my husband has ever liked (without my prompting) is Kyla but I can’t bring myself to agree.

Names I proposed but he has declined: Hawthorne, Genevieve, Hildegard, Xavia, Vivienne, Juniper

Names ending in x are no longer an option.”

So exciting!!

Alright, so though Amy said she’d like this little girl’s name to follow suit, and I certainly went on a hunt for the unicorn name that would check all those boxes (and had a blast doing so!), I wondered if finding a name that exactly fit all that criteria would be too limiting for them in the future? That is, I think they can easily find several long French saint names … or long place names … or French place names … or long saint names … but “long French saint place names” is, I think, hard to keep up in the long run! So when I was researching ideas for Amy and Ryan, I tried to include a mix of all those, even if they weren’t exactly perfect.

Before I get into my ideas though, I want to address their other ideas. I love Gemma and Isla too, and I thought Isla was a great way to nod to the sounds of Kyla while still finding a name they can both agree on. I kept Amy’s idea of long French middles in mind when I was coming up with ideas — I think several of my ideas could work as middles for Gemma and Isla. I also love the idea of James (or other male name) in the middle like they did with Adelaide’s middle name—I can see that being a nice complement to the perfect first name.

I used all the names Amy mentioned that they both like (Adelaide, Clairvaux, Gemma, Isla) as inspiration in my research, as well as Kyla, Genevieve, Vivienne, and Juniper (my trusty Baby Name Wizard [which, as you all know, is my right-hand man in baby name consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity] doesn’t have an entry for Hawthorn, Hildegard, or Xavia, and I actually used Claire as a stand-in for Clairvaux, and I think the results were helpful!). Okay, so based on all that, these were my ideas for Amy and Ryan’s littlest girl:

(1) Juliette
I totally understand if you’re all tired of me suggesting Juliet(te) a lot in other consultations, I just love it! And it seemed like such a good fit here—using the “ette” ending totally makes the name obviously French and lengthens it out as well. And it’s so feminine that it can easily take a masculine middle—I love Juliette James. I thought it would also go great as a middle—Gemma Juliette sounds pretty great to me (I love alliteration). I did a spotlight on it a while ago, which offers some good faith connections too. AND on a whim I googled “place name juliette,” just in case, and discovered there’s a Juliette in Georgia!!

(2) Immaculée
Juliette and Immaculée were tied for me as coming immediately to mind as I was reading Amy’s email. I love that Immaculée’s a Marian name, and a French name, and though I didn’t find it as a place name, I think it’s so tied with Immaculée Ilibagiza that Rwanda comes right to mind when I hear it. I like that Adelaide has Australia, and Clairvaux has France, so they could think of a little Immaculée as having Rwanda. Maybe? Immaculée James works really nicely, and I like it as a middle too—Gemma Immaculée and Isla Immaculée both sound fine to me. It would certainly be easier in the middle spot, especially with the accent, but if they used it as a first name, Imma is so similar to Emma that it’s quite do-able as a nickname; others that might work include the boyish Mac and Max, and maybe even Molly.

(3) Vienna or Vienne
One idea I had was to suggest Amy and Ryan pick a place name they like and use the French form of it. Vivienne on their list made me think of Vienna, which I think is one of the best examples—it’s gorgeous and very namey, and changing it to the French form Vienne is really lovely. Though it’s short, I had the thought several times while working on this that they could lengthen (and “Frenchify” even more) certain names by adding Marie and making it a hyphenated first name, as is so common. Marie-Vienna or Marie-Vienne are lovely examples. (But would Ryan still decline it, because it’s basically Vivienne with the “Vi” cut off?)

(4) Maylis
Though this isn’t a long name, it was one of my favorite ideas for Amy and Ryan. Maylis is a town in France, and though I couldn’t find a definitive source that said so, most places I consulted say it’s a combination of “Mary” and “lily,” from the French title “Marie à la fleur de lys” (Mary of the Lily). I also found three acceptable pronunciations: may-LEES, may-LIS, and MAY-lis, all of which I think are workable within America, and I’ve seen Maëlys and Mailys connected to it as possible variants. Such a pretty name!

(5) Salette
Salette is for La Salette, which you all probably know is a Marian apparition site in France, and I think it’s such a gorgeous, delicate name. I’d never thought of it as a given name until I saw it on this family’s short list, and I loved it right away.

(6) Lourdes
Since Lourdes is such an obvious one for their criteria, I assume they considered it and decided against it? But just in case, I couldn’t not include it! Lindsay’s little Lourdes is a perfect recommendation for this beautiful name (and she also has a Clairvaux!). Also, Mia Farrow’s given name is Maria de Lourdes, gorgeous!

(7) Liesse
This is a Marian name that I’ve fallen in love with. Liesse means “joy” in French, which is an amazing meaning, and refers to Our Lady of Liesse/Our Lady of Joy, AND there’s a town named after her in France! The only criteria this one is missing is length! And again, I think adding Marie can fix that easily. Marie-Liesse is beautiful!

(8) Landry
So I had a lot of L names for them! Haha! Landry’s another that I’ve long loved—it’s an old French surname, and as a first name there are a few Sts. Landry—all male and it’s currently no. 805 for boys, probably because of former Cowboys’ coach Tom Landry (which I realize may be a deal breaker for Amy and Ryan, depending on their football loyalties)—but the BNW lists it as a girl’s name, and it’s a place name—there are towns in France, Canada, and the U.S. with the name. Because it’s mostly used for boys, I wouldn’t pair it with a male middle name, but Landry Immaculée or Marie-Landry sound lovely I think.

(9) Madeleine or Magali
So, we have basic perfection here: a long, French, saintly, place name! Madeleine is the French for Magdalene, which of course refers to the place Mary Magdalene came from (Mary of Magdala). Magali is the Occitan form (Occitan is a language spoken in southern France, as well as parts of Italy and Spain; I believe “Provençal” refers to the dialect of Occitan spoken in France). Madeleine is likely more popular than they’d prefer, especially when you add in all the other forms: Madeleine is 350, Madeline is 91, Madelyn is 62, and there are other spellings as well (Madalynn etc.). But having a more common first name makes an unusual middle name more possible; Madeleine James is beautiful. Magali’s certainly more uncommon—it’s not in the top 1000. I met a Magali once and loved her name. However, I hope I’m overthinking this, but I keep feeling like both Madeleine and Magali are too similar in rhythm to Adelaide—do you all agree? I do love Isla Madeleine though …

Those were all my official suggestions, but I also wanted to list several place names of French origin that might have appealed to Amy and Ryan for first names or middle names: Lorraine, Laramie, Marietta, and Normandy.

Also, along with the idea of adding Marie, I also thought they could Frenchify some non-French place names in the same way, like Marie-Avila or Marie-Siena. And though this gets away from the place name idea, they could incorporate their affinity for boy names in this way as well, like Marie-James and Marie-Becket — so feminine and unexpected!

Finally, I was struck by the fact that there was a name that was listed as similar to both Gemma and Isla: Zara! I had to list it here, just because of that.

And those were all my ideas for Amy and Ryan! I’d love to know what other names you all would have recommend for this family, but only in order to help other families who might have similar sensibilities because … in the time between when I did this consultation and today, Amy and Ryan have chosen their girl’s name!! Go check it out on their Instagram announcement — I looooove it!!

Black Friday Special: Ordinary Consultations!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

I’m jumping into the Black Friday craziness with my own little deal: Today all my Ordinary Consultations are $10 only! (Regular price: $50)

I tried to set up a special button and something’s not working right (probably me — I’m tired today!), so email me if you’d like one and I’ll send you an invoice: sanctanomina at gmail dot com.

This is for today only!

If you’d like to make it a Christmas gift, let me know and I’ll send you a certificate you can print out to present to the lucky recipient! Have a wonderful Friday!!

Spotlight on: Stanley and Stanislaus

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!! Today’s the last day of a novena to St. Anne I’ve been praying, in which I included all of your intentions; your children both living and deceased; those of you who are hoping for babies and those of you struggling with your motherhood; and in thanks for all of you. ❤ Be sure to check in again on Friday — I’ll have a special Black Friday gift for you all!!

Meghan asked for a spotlight on Stanley in light of the recent beatification of Bl. Stanley Rother, and Natalie had previously mentioned considering Stanley because of that same Blessed, and Annie said she *couldn’t wait* for this spotlight, and I heard Bl. Stanley mentioned quite a bit in the press for Bl. Solanus’ beatification this past weekend including in this article (in which my sister is also mentioned! Nbd), so! I think we need a Stanley spotlight!

I’m coupling it with Stanislaus because of their shared first four letters and nickname; because Stanislaus is another name and holy man I’ve had on my mind for a while because of the JP2 story included in this post; and because Stanley has been used as an anglicization of Stanislaus/Stanislaw (but they’re actually two totally separate names).

First, Stanley: from an Old English surname meaning “stone clearing” (according to behindthename). According to the SSA it was a top 100 name from 1900 until 1960, peaking at no. 34 in 1915, 1916, and 1917. I did some brief research into what might have inspired that peak, and found this comment on this post:

Stanley was extremely popular among Polish-Americans at the turn of the century. It was used as an Anglicization for Stanislaw. In fact, it was so common among them, that some areas refered to any Polish guy as Stan or Stanley.”

I looked for events in 1914 that might have contributed to the first year of the Stanley peak of popularity and found the 1914 naval Battle of the Falkland Islands that involved its capital, Stanley, and the 1914 Stanley Cup Finals, which is described as “the first officially sanctioned series for the Stanley Cup between” the champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the National Hockey Association. I don’t know enough about either historical battles or hockey to know if either/both of these events might have really inspired the peak, though. Do any of you?

One of the interesting things about Stanley is that, until Bl. Stanley, it wasn’t a holy name — not the kind of name Catholic parents might have considered (unless it was a family name, or a nod to Stanislaus, etc.). It reminds me of this sentence from this post by a Canon Lawyer on whether today’s Catholic children need to be given saints’ names:

Perhaps if we all raise our children as committed Catholics, names like ‘Ashley’and ‘Jennifer,’ ‘Curtis’ and ‘Todd’ may some day in the future indeed be the names of saints.”

And now Stanley! (It’s important to note that his middle name was Francis, which satisfied the then-requirement for a Christian name; this article about him noted, “When he arrived at the mission, the Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the village took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis.” So if Stanley isn’t your style but you love Bl. Stanley, Francis is a good alternative. Or Rother, if you prefer more unusual names? I’ve heard RO-ther, is that how you say it? Or RAW-ther?)

Now for Stanislaus: “Slavic stan ‘to stand, to hold, to become’ + Slavic sława, slava ‘glory, fame'” (according to the DMNES), and also known in variants Stanislav, Stanislaw, and Stanislas. Besides the St. Stanislaus of the JP2 story I linked to above (St. Stanislaus of Cracow, patron saint of Poland), another one that I love is St. Stanislaw of Jesus and Mary, also known as Stanislaus Papczynski, founder of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA (they call him Father Founder) who was canonized in 2016. I’ve also seen Kostka used as a name in honor of St. Stanislaus Kostka. There are a few other holy men with this name, and I even included Stanislaus in my CatholicMom article Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names.

Whether Stanley or Stanislaus, Stan is an easy, natural nickname. It’s funny too, because before I’d ever heard of Bl. Stanley or had Stanley/Stanislaus on my radar anywhere, my husband told me he kind of likes the nickname Stan! At first I was like Stan?? But I’ve been thinking about it, and I can totally see it! Stan is a familiar, friendly nickname — easy to say and spell and with that old-man feel that’s currently so appealing. In fact, when I was researching this name, I saw a couple different places online where people likened Stan to Max and Gus, so clearly it’s the next Big Thing. Like Max and Gus, it also has usage as a given name on its own — Stan was a top 1000 name from 1933 to 1973. If Stan isn’t your thing, there are other nicknames that are traditional to Stanislaus that are kind of cool, like  Stas and Stane (I’m assuming it’s not actually said to rhyme with rain — Forvo has the Czech pronunciation more like “stah-NEH” — but rhymes-with-rain is do-able here in America I think). (I might advise American parents to stay away from the traditional Stanko though).

Stan- has some pop culture references that may or may not be interesting to parents, like Stan Lee (stealth way to name for a Blessed AND your comic book obsession!) and Stannis on Game of Thrones (which is a [nick]/name I would find SO COOL if it wasn’t for GoT), and the Stanley Cup mentioned above (holy+hockey!). I’ve always been interested in the fact that Obama’s mom’s given name is Stanley, and by her name story as presented on Wikipedia: “According to [her], she was named after her father because he wanted a son, though her relatives doubt this story and her maternal uncle recalled that her mother named Dunham after her favorite actress Bette Davis’ character in the film In This Our Life because she thought Stanley, as a girl’s name, sounded sophisticated” (in that movie, Bette Davis’ character was Stanley and the character of her sister, played by Olivia de Havilland, was named Roy!).

You all know about my devotion to St. Anne, and because I have all boys, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways to honor St. Anne with a boy’s name — I’ve known a couple of parents who have also wanted to do so, and the ideas they and I have had have revolved mostly around the “Ann” sound — Anselm, Anthony, Anton, Anson, Ansel. But more recently I’d thought that the Stan- names could do it — you know, ST ANne! So Stanley/Stanislaus could nod to her as well. (I love getting lots of saints into one name!)

What do you all think of Stanley and Stanislaus? Would you consider either one for your son, or have you? Do any Stanleys or Stanislauses that you know like their name? Do they go by a nickname other than Stan? Do you think Stanley is the next Big Thing, both secularly and Catholicly?

Birth announcement: Damian John Francis!

(If you didn’t see the photos I posted on Instagram over the weekend of my parents and sister at the Beatification Mass for Bl. Solanus Casey, be sure to check them out! What an amazing experience!)

I posted a consultation for Christie and her husband over the summer, and Christie’s let me know her little guy has arrived and been given the handsome-and-heavy-hitting name … Damian John Francis!

Christie writes,

Baby Boy Collins was born on October 27th. We don’t reveal our baby names until the baptism so that was his name to everyone else at the time (fun family tradition — it remains a secret among parents and siblings for a couple of weeks!). The baptism was last night, so I wanted to write you today and let you know how it all turned out!

Firstly, we came to the realization that this fifth gift might be the last biological child we are called to have — my pregnancy was not easy on my body or on our family, and at one point I couldn’t do more than get to the bathroom and back to the bed/couch on full codeine pain meds. So then the naming pressure was ON! Last call for ALL the patrons! As a result, my husband decided to ditch part of our naming schema and not stand firm on having a British Isles reference.

Secondly, I was inspired by your suggestions and by your post on double middle names. I fell in love with the name John Dominic after John Paul II and St. Dominic, but we already have a nephew named John. Ah, but we could switch them! So Dominic John was my starting answer, but it was missing something at the end, and my husband really wanted to name the child after his favorite patron, Francis de Sales (who really had no other shortcuts/names to use but Francis). And he wasn’t sold on Dominic. But we came to an agreement- John Francis as a double middle name sounded really fun.

Given that middle name, we realized we like a D or a B up front (after eliminating repeat letters from other kids). We settled on a Final Four of naming: Dominic, Declan (still a British Isles pick), Damian (after St Peter Damian, patron saint of moral theologians like my husband), and Benedict (as in the saintly founder). Pretty quickly we realized that Benedict John Francis sounded like a litany of recent popes, so that one fell behind. Until the end, I was rooting for Dominic and my husband couldn’t decide between Declan and Damian. Once he was born, my husband decided on Damian (I have always let him have the final decision). At first I was saddened not to have a Dominic, but within two hours of whispering Damian in his ear while snuggling, I was totally sold.

So Damian John Francis became our family secret — and the other kids LOVED it. And then last night, surrounded by friends and with family on FaceTime, the priest asked us what name we give this child, and my husband quite literally beamed forth “Damian John Francis Collins” and our secret was out — he had his Christian name and a hearty 3 patrons to pray for him. Damian had already proven himself up to the name, and we are still in awe that God would give us this little one to hold and to guide.”

Isn’t that such an interesting tradition, of keeping the baby’s name secret until the baptism?! And this is such a moving story — this little guy is so blessed to have so many amazing patrons!! I LOVE all three of his names!!

Congratulations to Christie and her husband and big sibs Kolbe, Isaac, Eva, and Alexis, and happy birthday Baby Damian!!

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Damian John Francis with his big brothers and sisters ❤