Baby name consultation: Little brother needs a familiar+unexpected saintly name with an international feel

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!! We did — my husband took a couple little videos of our boys’ reactions to opening their presents yesterday morning, and he and I watched them a couple of times last night. The sweetness, the anticipation, the innocence, the pure joy … I know you all know why I cried watching them each time. (Also, I’m re-opening my consultations today — details are here.)

Nikki and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — their first boy! Little Mister joins big sisters:

Sonja Rose Marie
Zoie Ann
Viola Grace

Not only do I love these names (familiar but unexpected! I love that!), but Nikki specifically said,

We are recent Catholic converts so this is our first baby that we are naming with Saints in mind

So I love being able to say that, despite the fact that they didn’t name with saints in mind, she and her hubs did an amazing job saint-wise! Sonja is a variant of Sophia, which can be biblical (book of Wisdom) or Marian (Seat of Wisdom) or saintly (St. Sophia), and of course both Rose and Marie can nod to Our Lady, as well as St. Rose of Lima. Zoe was the birth name of St. Catherine Laboure (the Miraculous Medal saint), and St. Ann(e) is one of my faves. Viola is a Violet variant and violets are a symbol of Our Lady, and Grace can be for Our Lady of Grace or the concept of grace, which is so faith-filled. All in all, they did a wonderful job, and their girls’ names fit right in with the families I come across through the blog. So great!

Nikki continues,

We are very open to name suggestions. We want something that goes with our daughters’ names but is clearly Catholic. Some of our favorite Saints are St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Faustina (although husband vetoed the name Faustina), St. Therese, St. Gianna Molla, and St. Catherine of Siena. We would like some kind of Marian name included.

The names that we can’t use because of family are Henry, Daniel, and Robert.”

What a fun thing, to find names that bridge the pre-conversion names with the post-! Though, as I said, it wasn’t too hard — it’s so fun revealing the faithiness of names to those who didn’t realize!

I heard Sonja (Sonia? Sonya?) on a little girl at my boys’ swimming lessons this summer and loved hearing it, such a pretty, unexpected name! We have a relative (Norwegian immigrant) named Sonja, same spelling as Nikki’s daughter, so it has a really Old World feel to me, and that style of name is really coming back. Nikki and her hubs are ahead of the curve! Viola fits in with that old, chic feel to me– it’s a bit more unexpected than Violet — and Zoie is so spunky and has a long history of use though it feels perfectly modern. Really nice job! I feel like each of the names has a distinct feel, but they all go together so nicely!

When I was trying to come up with ideas for their little boy (!!), I focused mostly on trying to find names that were similar to the style of names their girls have, though there are a lot of families that have different tastes in girls’ names and boys’ names, so if my ideas aren’t exactly on the mark, that could be why. Even though I think most people have girls in mind when they say they’d like some kind of Marian name, I included some thoughts in that vein for Nikki’s boy. And knowing their favorite saints was helpful! In fact, of them, I thought Maximilian was a great idea for them! It’s got good international usage and is definitely Catholicky Catholic. In addition, you all know that I use the Baby Name Wizard in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — Max was listed as a match for Zoie! And St. Maximilian Kolbe loved Our Lady so much, his name definitely loops in a Marian feel.

In terms of other ideas, in addition to the BNW, I also used the Name Matchmaker at the Baby Name Wizard web site for this family. Using their girls’ names as inspiration, as well as my own mental files, this is what I came up with (in addition to Maximilian!):

(1) Conrad
Because Sonja has such an ethnic feel to me (which I love!), I really tried to find names that had a similar European feel (Scandi/German/Eastern European) or even just “international” without being “too much.” Conrad was actually listed as a style match for Viola by the Name Matchmaker, and it immediately felt like a good idea to me! It was on our list for my youngest boy, I think it’s such a great name — unusual but not unfamiliar, easy to say and spell. We would have used the nickname Cord for it; Kurt/Curt is another traditional nickname/variant of it, and the mama of this family has told me she uses Kon for her Konrad, which I think is adorable. My only hesitation with Conrad is that I don’t think it comes across as obviously Catholic to most people, though there are loads of Saints and Blesseds named Conrad to choose from for a patron. But maybe Nikki and her hubs don’t need “obviously Catholic”? Just the fact that it *is* Catholic might be good enough?

(2) Jasper or Casper
Viola doesn’t actually have its own entry in the BNW, so before I went over to the Name Matchmaker to plug it in over there, I used Violet in its place when I was looking up names in the BNW book, and Jasper was one of the style matches. I love Jasper! Such a cool name! And it immediately made me think of Casper, which is actually the same name — they’re variants of each other (as is Gaspar) — and Casper has more of a Scandi feel to me, which I thought might appeal to this family. Or not! Either way, I like this name family for them! One of the Three Wise Men has been traditionally known as Jasper/Casper/Gaspar (depending on where you look), and he’d be a great patron for a little boy; others are listed here.

(3) Clement
I might as well get all my C name ideas out of the way up front! Clement is 100% inspired by their devotion to St. Faustina — she’s the saint of Divine Mercy, and Clement means “merciful.” It’s one of the words used to describe Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen: “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary,” which also gives it a Marian character. I saw it pop up quite a bit in Catholic babies’ names during the Jubilee Year of Mercy last year, and it’s also the name of several saints (including a pope). Even if they don’t care for it for a first name, I think it would make a great middle name!

(4) Felix
I really like that each of their girls has a virtue-esque name — Sonja means “wisdom,” Zoie means “life,” Viola’s middle name literally means “grace” — so doing that for their son would be a cool tie-in among all the siblings. Clement (“mercy”) above qualifies, as does Felix — it means “happy” or “blessed,” and it also has that international feel that I think would fit in so well with the girls. There are loads of holy men with the name!

(5) August or Augustin(e)
Continuing the virtue-name theme, the August- names, which mean “great, venerable,” might appeal to Nikki and her hubs. Augustus is a style match for Viola and August for Violet; of those two, I thought August might be more their speed. But then, if they want something obviously Catholic, Augustine might be just the name. St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the most famous and influential saints in the history of Christianity! Spelling and pronunciation can be an issue, but I’m sure this family runs into pronunciation and spelling issues with both Sonja and Zoie, so they can probably pull it off with no problem! There are a bunch of other holy men with that name, too; Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro is another great one who isn’t included in that list.

(6) Damian/Damien
Damon was listed as a style match for Sonja, which made me think of Damian and Damien. I love both! Damian is St. Damian, twin brother of St. Cosmas, and St. Peter Damian, who’s a Doctor of the Church; Damien is all St. Damien of Molokai, who was amazing. I love these names! I’ve done birth announcements for a couple little boys with this name recently: here and here,  and blogger Grace Patton considered Damian for her youngest (she ended up naming him Abraham).

(7) Luke or Lucas/Lukas
My last idea for Nikki and her hubs is one of the Luke names. Lucas and Lukas have more of an international feel (the Lukas spelling is the German and Scandinavian variant), while Luke is simple and solid and handsome. I also think Luke can be considered a Marian name, since his gospel is the most Marian — it contains the Annunciation and Visitation and Our Lady’s Magnificat — so it’s an easy way to work a Marian name in for their son.

And those are my ideas for Nikki’s little boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Sonja, Zoie, and Viola?

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11 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Little brother needs a familiar+unexpected saintly name with an international feel

  1. Leo, Peter, Kolbe, Beckett, Xavier, Anton, Blaise, Linus, Emil.
    From your ideas I love Lukas and Felix for this family, too. When I saw Rose Marie, Ann and Grace as middles I thought Catholic, so I think their style fits in very well with out faith 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes to Conrad and Felix. They are sweet sounding and fit the brief. I wonder if they would like a shakespearian name to go with Viola? Claudio or Orlando perhaps (both have saint connections too) Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My favorites of yours are Maximilian and Augustine! Here’s a few more “clearly Catholic” saint names for the expectant momma to consider..

    Matteo: from Matthias the Apostle. Any of the apostle names (or variants) could work for that matter.. They can all be considered Marian, since one of Mary’s titles is ‘Queen of the Apostles’. Plus, they all would have known Our Lady during her life on earth, which is such a beautiful relationship to ponder.

    Gabriel: I love that his name is Marian not only because of the Annunciation, but also thanks to her title as ‘Queen of Angels’.

    Pio: Padre Pio’s devotion to Our Lady is quite inspiring. His name is also Marian (at least to me), thanks to its meaning of ‘pious’.. I like that it would, in a way, also continue their ‘virtues’ theme! Plus, there’s Mary’s title, ‘Our Lady of Virtue(s)’.

    Bosco: John/Don Bosco also had a deep devotion to Our Lady. One quote from him highlighting this is: “All my work began with a simple Hail Mary for Our Lady’s help.” And Bosco’s meaning of ‘forest’ ties in Mary’s titles ‘Our Lady of the Forests’ and ‘Our Lady of the Woods’.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am a big Twelfth Night fan, and Viola and Sebastian are natural sibling names to me! I know Sebastian is getting more popular in the US, but it still has a kind of Euro feel to it. Great suggestions! I love Conrad, Clement and Felix.

    Liked by 1 person

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