Name update: Molly’s name sign!

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception!! What a wonderful, holy day!! I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet on the blog this week! Advent has me scurrying around like a (very happily) busy bee … or elf … 😉 Also, I’m continuing to work away on the consultations for all those who took advantage of the Black Friday deal — I’m still on track to get them to you within the time frame I told you I would, but certainly feel free to email you if you’d like a status update!

I posted a birth announcement for our devoted reader Amy’s baby girl, Molly Victoria, back in July, and I’d previously posted a write-up Amy did on name signs for users of American Sign Language, so I was thrilled that she gave me permission to post this new information about Baby Molly’s name sign:

We have found Molly’s name sign. M hand shape twisting on the side of the jaw/cheek. M obviously for Molly ([big sister] Kristy’s uses a K, [big brother] Kane’s uses both M and K [his given name is Martin Kane]) and in the area for female signs. It mimics the sign for candy, or how you would put your finger to your cheek and twist to tell someone to smile (something my husband would do to me when we were dating, sort of a game with deep meaning/feelings because it’s how we knew we were falling in love). It also resembles the sign for sweet and/or sugar, which brushes off the cheek in that spot with a hand shape similar to M. This is because whenever anyone asks ‘how’s the baby?’ the answer always seems to be ‘so sweet.’ It describes her: always sweet, smiling, happy, delight.”

I love all the layers to Molly’s name sign! The “sweet”ness and the connection to Amy and her husband’s courtship is so wonderful! And I love that her name sign was “found” — such a cool thing to think of waiting and observing until it becomes obvious. Amy had said as much in her previous post where she explained,

Culturally, a name sign should only be given to you by a Deaf person (you can’t just make up your own) and they are also not always bestowed right away. Sometimes it can takes months or longer while you wait for the right one to come along … for the most part name signs are given based on a characteristic unique that person.”

Thanks to Amy for sharing this with all of us!! ❤

Baby name consultation: Uebbing Baby Cinque/Cinq

I’m super excited to post today’s consultation!! Our girl Jenny Uebbing — so called because I had the privilege of doing a consultation for her when she was expecting her fourth baby, and then posting his birth announcement, and she interviewed me for this post on her blog Mama Needs Coffee over at the Catholic News Agency last spring — is expecting her fifth baby in only a few weeks, a little green bean (=gender unknown)!

This little bebe will join big sibs:

Joseph Kolbe
John Paul Francis
Genevieve Therese nicked Evie
Luke Maximilian

Which, I love, of course. So many great names! So many amazing saints represented!

An interesting development between last time, when I really focused on Italian-ish names, because I know Jenny loves all things Italian (and Francesca Rose was a serious contender if Luke had been a girl), is this:

[W]e’ve refined our naming style to be ‘super manly traditional saint names’ for boys and over the top girly, exotic French names (bonus points if it’s a saint we have a devotion to).”

I love the Italian vibe, but I love the French vibe too! Not a problem at all! And it’s very common for parents to have a different taste in names for boys vs. girls, so “super manly traditional saint names” for boys and “over the top girly, exotic French names” for girls is awesome. I love both of those styles!

Jenny continues,

This baby is sex unknown, so for a boy we’ve tossed around Anthony, Benedict, Nicholas, for first names and Blaise, Reid, or Augustine for middles.

For a girl it’s harder. Yesterday I was dead set on Cosette (a feminized diminutive for Nicholas, swoon) Marie-Azelie, but it was a bridge too far for Dave. He suggested Colette as a compromise, but I don’t love it. Other girl possibilities: Isobel/Isabel/Isabelle, Elizabeth/Elisabeth, Zelie, Azelie, Caroline, Grace, Emilia/Emiliana, or some form of Julia/na/ette (for Denver’s own Servant of God, Julia Greeley).

Here are our remaining favorite saints we’ve either yet to use, or whose names we just aren’t crazy about: Mother Angelica, Rose of Lima, Catherine of Siena, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Calcutta, Augustine, Scanlan (some kind of nod to Fr. Mike), and Patrick. oh, and Our Lady, of course!

Names we can’t use:

Gianna
Josephine
Margaret
Mary
Philomena
anything that starts with an F, last name probs 🙂
Gabriel
Veronica
Stephen
Mark
James
Leah
Anne

I LOVE Cosette, and Cosette Marie-Azelie is amazing! Oh what names we’d all use if we didn’t have to deal with husbands!! Haha! 😀 My very first thought was, “What about Colette?” as it’s also a feminine diminutive of Nicholas, but then of course Jenny addressed it in the next sentence! I wanted to make an argument in favor of Colette anyway, though. A friend of mine named her daughter Maria Colette a while ago because she had a devotion to St. Colette — it was the first time I’d heard of her, so I had to look her up, and I was really taken with her story. Here are a couple that are good: here and here, but neither mention what I really love about her (and why my friend has the devotion to her), which is that she’s the patron of stillbirth, women seeking to conceive, expectant mothers, and sick children, due to her role in stories related here. Anyway, if Jenny doesn’t care for it, then she doesn’t care for it! But it does check off her boxes of “over the top girly” and “French.”

I also love her and her hubs’ ideas of Isobel/Isabel/Isabelle and Elizabeth/Elisabeth (I’m a huge fan of the Elisabeth spelling, both because it’s just a little more unusual than Elizabeth and more French, and also because of Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur), Zelie and Azelie, Caroline (more JP2 love!), Grace, Emilia/Emiliana (for JP2 also, I believe, as his mom’s name was Emilia), and Julia/na/ette (Juliet is one of my all-time faves, and Juliette is so French and lovely! I did a Juliet(te) spotlight here). I’m also still loving the idea we discussed last time of Zelie as a nickname for Elizabeth! And they also might like to consider Elise (a French short form of Elizabeth) or Lisette, which is basically “little Elisabeth,” which is so sweet — really, all the -ette names are just so darling, and so French!

Their boy ideas are great too! Anthony, Benedict, and Nicholas are all wonderful and fit their “super manly traditional saint names” criteria perfectly, and I like the more unusual Blaise, Reid, and Augustine for middles.

As for their saints whose names they maybe aren’t crazy about, some ideas I had include:

  • Though Anthony is on their list is because of St. Anthony of Padua, I thought they could possibly think of it nodding to Mother Angelica as well, since her birth name was Rita Antoinette. Additionally, her Order is a branch of the Poor Clares, founded by Marie Claire Bouillevaux, so Clare/Claire could possibly be used in Mother’s honor as well?
  • You all probably already know that St. Rose of Lima’s birth name was Isabel, so that would of course be a great way to nod to her! She also had a great devotion to St. Catherine of Siena, so maybe a name in honor of her could also be considered in honor of St. Catherine?
  • This could be considered a really huge stretch for Cosette, or it might be just perfect to convince Jenny’s hubby: Cosette in Les Miserables’ name was actually Euphrasie (Cosette was a nickname, meaning “little thing,” separate from its use as a variant of Nicholas; Euphrasie is the French form of the Greek name meaning “joyful”), and St. Catherine of Siena was nicknamed Euphrosyne because she was so joyful, sooo … maybe Cosette could be for St. Catherine of Siena?? (It’s this kind of convoluted thinking that makes husbands nervous to hear my ideas I think! Haha!) As a bonus, I actually included Catherine in a list of Advent names I put together last year because of the “joy” connection, so using this same crazy train of thought, Cosette could be good for an Advent baby?
  • I know Therese usually makes people think of St. Therese, but since it’s simply the French form of T(h)eresa, maybe Jenny could think of Evie’s middle name as already nodding to Mother Teresa? And so be able to cross her off the list? Otherwise, her birth name was Agnes, which doesn’t strike me as Jenny’s style for a first name, but would make a smashing middle name
  • Patrick is interesting — it’s definitely a “super manly traditional saint name”! I wonder if Jenny and her hubs would consider it for a first name?
  • Re: Fr. Mike Scanlan and Our Lady, I wonder if they would ever consider something like Marie-Scanlan for a girl? Jenny said they can’t use Mary as a first name (otherwise I would have suggested Mary Scanlan, which really skews very Irish, so probably not a great suggestion anyway), but Marie-Scanlan retains the French tradition of hyphenating, and using Scanlan as the second part of it is so unexpected! If I were to do Marie-Scanlan, I’d consider something like Maisie as a nickname, looove!!

And speaking of hyphenating names, an additional thought about girl’s names before getting into my suggestions: in my opinion, it’s so easy to come up with “over the top girly, exotic French names” by hyphenating one’s favorites! It’s such a French thing to do! Something like Grace-Azelie, for example, would be amazing, and Grace or Gracie could be the everyday call name. It’s fun to come up with different combinations! (Some included below.) And specifically using Marie- as the first part just cements the Frenchiness. Marie-Grace, Marie-Caroline, Marie-Emilia, Marie-Juliette are so beautiful, AND they could consider doing so as a way of nodding to St. Zelie since she herself was Marie-Azelie and she named all her daughters Marie-[something]. Oh, and Marie-Elise could be for St. Elizabeth+SOG Elisabeth Leseur+St. Rose of Lima (Isabel)! I’ve also seen it rendered Marielise, which is beautiful and unusual and maybe easier to deal with than a hyphenated name?

Okay! These are the ideas I came up with (making a point not to duplicate ideas I offered last time, which meant I had to cross Bernadette off my list, which otherwise would have been my no. 1 idea for them this time! Or maybe, in light of the previous paragraph, Marie-Bernarde? Which, as I understand it, was St. Bernadette’s actual given name? Bernadette could be a nickname, or a different nickname altogether); also I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard, but for the girl’s names I found myself going through the list of French names at the back of it rather than sticking to actual style matches for the names Jenny and Dave have used so far:

Girl
(1) Madeleine and/or Sophie
I have these names together in one idea because of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (also called St. Sophie). I have always loved “Madeleine Sophie” (first + middle) or “Madeleine-Sophie” (double first name) because of her, and like with my idea of Marie-Scanlan above, I would have so much fun coming up with nicknames for it, like Maisie. Evie and Maisie! I also love both Madeleine and Sophie on their own for the Uebbings — they’re both gorgeous, girly, saintly French names (though admittedly not very exotic). Madeleine Azelie, Madeleine Grace, Madeleine Isabel, Madeleine Julia, Sophie Eliz/sabeth, Sophie Emilia(na), Sophie Caroline are all just so lovely. And Sophie lends itself so easily to the hyphenated idea! Sophie-Grace (for Grace on their list, which is Marian, as is Sophie — Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom!) or Sophie-Claire (Mother Mary and Mother Angelica together in one!) are amazing! Also, fun fact: the Sophie the Giraffe teether was named for St. Madeleine Sophie!!

(2) Nat(h)alie (or Noelle or Emmanuelle)
How about Natalie (or the extra-French-spelling-but-same-pronunciation Nathalie)? So perfect for a Christmas baby, since Natalie literally refers to Christmas! (Latin natale domini: birth of the Lord.) I also thought maybe they’d like to consider Noelle for the same reason. The Maria Colette I mentioned above has a sister named Noelle, and she’s the sweetest. I also really like the idea of Marie-Noelle or even Marie-Emmanuelle — both so feminine, French, Marian, and Christmasy!

(3) Corinne
Corinne doesn’t come across as super saintly as some other names, but it’s the French form of Corinna, which comes from the Greek for “maiden,” which is kore, which to me screams “Marian”! Also, we’ve seen families using Cora in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and/or the Sacred Heart of Jesus (like this little lady, whose middle name and sisters’ names are right up Jenny’s alley! Also this sweet girl, who also has three big brothers on earth and whose French middle name is also amazing and a great idea for Jenny), so Corinne can be for that as well.

(4) Elodie
Maybe Evie and Elodie is too much E+ee? But I love the name Elodie, it’s so beautiful! It’s the French form of Alodia, and St. Alodia is a pretty great saint for our times.

(5) Rosalie
I offered some other Rose ideas last time (Rosa, Rosanna) as a nod to St. Rose of Lima, but I didn’t suggest Rosalie and I’m thinking it might be a great idea! It’s the French form of Rosalia, which of course is derived from Rose, and it’s one of my current favorite Rose names.

I also thought these posts, which focus on or discuss really French girl names, might be helpful: here, here, here, here.

Boy
(1) Michael
So Michael was specifically listed as a style match for Anthony and Joseph, but I also know a ton of Nicholas and Michael brothers, so I’d say it’s definitely a match for Nicholas too. I know it was the no. 1 boy name every year but one from 1954 to 1998, and it’s still in the top ten and has been since 1943, but it’s certainly a “super manly traditional saint” name, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately because of St. Michael and how very powerful he is and how very needed his protection is needed these days. In fact, even though I prefer less popular names, I’ve added Michael to my own list specifically for that reason. Though I don’t think Jenny and her hubs are into unusual nicknames for boys, since I am I’ve been thinking of options for Michael, and Miles and Milo are my favorites. This post by Abby at Appellation Mountain acknowledges a possible connection between Miles and an Old French form of Michael (Mihel), as well as possible connections to words meaning “soldier” and “gracious,” which add some great layers of meaning. In addition, as I’ve mentioned a bunch of times here on the blog, Miles (and Myles and Milo) has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of Maolmhuire, which means, “servant of the Virgin Mary,” which I think is amazing. So! Lots to think about it, much of which may not be appealing to the Uebbings, but I can see them liking Michael.

(2) Vincent
Vincent’s a style match for Anthony AND it was Fr. Mike’s real first name! It’s super manly, traditional, and saintly, and thought it’s not necessarily explicitly Italian, it has that feel (like Anthony and Nicholas can also have), which is kind of cool since Jenny likes the Italian vibe.

(3) Thomas
Thomas is a natural brother to Jenny’s older boys! Sts. Thomas More, Aquinas, a Becket, and the Apostle are all amazing, and it’s because of them (and the scads of other holy Thomases) that the name is so traditional and saintly.

(4) Nathan
I really liked the idea of tying in the baby’s name with the fact that he or she is due during the Christmas season. They already have Nicholas on their list, and I would have suggested Andrew (I saw on Facebook that Jenny’s a fan of his novena, which started Nov. 30 and goes until Christmas Eve, the first Sunday of Advent is set according to his feast day) except that sound-wise it’s just not different enough from Anthony (who I know her family has a special devotion to), so I went and scoured my posts on Advent and Christmas names for ideas and while most of them were no good (not their style, or already used by them, or on their “no list”), Nathan jumped out at me from this post I’d done on Jesus’ genealogy as presented in the Gospel of Luke (different than that presented in Matthew, and it’s suggested that Matthew’s might be Joseph’s lineage while Luke’s is Mary’s!). Nathan is one of the ancestors of Jesus who’s not included in Matthew’s list, and the reason it jumped out at me is because Nathaniel was listed as a style match for Nicholas in the BNW and Nathan was listed as a match for Luke. So I definitely thought Nathan was a good idea! It’s certainly manly and traditional and biblical, and it’s SO cool to be able to say he was an ancestor of Jesus, as well as the possible Marian connection.

(5) Miscellaneous
I had a hard time coming up with a fifth boy idea for this little one! I considered Peter, Martin, and Robert, but they all seemed to lack … *something.* I’m not sure what and maybe I’m way off — maybe Jenny and Dave would love one of those names! So I thought I’d put them together as my fifth idea.

And those are all my ideas for Jenny’s fifth baby! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Joseph, John Paul, Genevieve/Evie, and Luke, taking into account their criteria?

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 ❤

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 ❤

Special intention — please pray!

Our very own Grace, whose consultation I posted in March of 2016 for a then-hypothetical fifth baby, is nearly due with her actual fifth baby and she needs prayers!! She’s in the final stretch, but she’s been on bed rest for weeks (including part of the time in the hospital) because of hypertension/pre-eclampsia. She desperately wants to avoid a c-section after a very difficult time she had with the c-section and recovery after her previous baby, and she’s scheduled for an induction, but the baby’s position keeps changing. Her inability to take care of her family the way she’d like to and the worry and stress of the upcoming labor and delivery and hopes to avoid another c-section are taking their toll not only on her, but on the whole family.

Please keep Grace and her baby and her whole family in your prayers!! ❤