Birth announcement: Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances!

I had the great pleasure of posting a birth announcement for reader Isabelle’s second boy two years ago, and she’s let me know that she’s had a third baby — a little girl! She’s been given the gorgeous names Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances!

Isabelle writes,

So, we have two boys (you posted a birth announcement for our second, Gabriel Nicolas Peter, our eldest is Jude René Marc) and for both of them, the names were fairly easy to find. I had liked Gabriel since I was a teenager, and always intended to use it, but by the time I got pregnant with my first I was feeling more “Jude”. My husband was happy either way, and we pretended to ourselves for a while like we hadn’t decided (we totally had, we never seriously considered any alternative).

When we found out our second was a boy too, Gabriel was the obvious choice, and again although we told ourselves we were considering other options, we really weren’t. All the while, our girl name was all chosen and waiting for a future girl: Alice. But two months after Gabriel was born, my cousin had gorgeous twin girls: Madeleine and Alice.

Fast forward a few months and I am pregnant again. And we’re stumped. A few boys names are swimming about (Nicolas? Can we use a middle name as a subsequent sibling’s given name? Methink we can) but for girls, it was getting complicated fast. I suggested we go for Alice anyway, but it felt a bit too soon. We loved Juliette, but Jude-Gabriel-Juliette felt a bit repetitive, so again, we felt we needed a few more names in the middle before using Juliette. That’s when I contacted you about consultations, but we decided to wait to find out the gender and then ask you if we were still stumped.

We discovered we were expecting a girl shortly afterwards, and my husband (who normally leaves me to talk names at him) was suddenly pushing for Virginia, he’s grandmother’s name (with the intention of nicknaming her “Ginny”, like his grandmother was). Whilst I really liked Ginny, I didn’t want Virginia, or use a nickname as a given name (I’m helpful like that). Besides, Ginny broke our rule (We’re a French-English couple, so we really try to choose names which are the same, or near enough in both languages – Jude was a stretch for the French since it is vanishingly rare as a French given name, people are much more likely to use the “Thadée” form to honour that apostle, but Jude is in the Bible so we went for it).

My long-suffering husband then offered Genevieve as another way to get to Ginny and still honour his grandmother, and whilst I love the sound of it in English, and it is spelled exactly the same way (with added accent in French) I couldn’t really get over the “middle-aged woman” feel the name has for me (due to when the name was popular in France). So stumped again.

I was starting to remind him that you offered a very handy service for people in our situation, when, in a totally unrelated instance of spousal awesomeness, my husband took me to Vienna for a little getaway just the two (and a half) of us. So here I am, on the train from the airport, doing what any self-respecting former PhD candidate in history would do, reading up on the history of Vienna and the Habsburg family, when suddenly, in a random paragraph about the Holy Roman Empire, I come across saint Matilda (she’s awesome). And that’s it. My husband is fully on board (although he pretends like he still favours Elisabeth for a few days), but he wants to spell it the French way, but pronounce it the English way when we speak in English (so, spelled “Mathilde”, pronounced “Matilda”). I’m ok with that. We decide the middle names will be the grandmothers (Agnes and Julia) job done.

Except, not quite.

Plot twist: giantly pregnant by then and extremely overdue, I am given a date for my induction: 9 July. Simon’s sister’s birthday. His sister passed away at just sixteen – she had a brain tumour. Feeling like we can’t just ignore the coincidence, we think of ways to honour Hannah in our little girl’s name and decide to just add a third middle name, even though Simon’s other sister already used “Hannah” as a middle name for her daughter.

Plot twist again: the induction is pushed back to the 10th. What do we do? Without the same birthday, Simon doesn’t feel right about copying his niece’s middle name (I have no such qualms, but then I come from a giant Catholic family where repeats are a fact of life). So I push for Hannah’s middle name, Frances. (I am a big fan of Saint Frances of Rome, and was planning on using “Francesca” as a future middle name – as soon as the grandmothers had been dutifully honoured (another French thing here, people almost always honour family members with middle names, so grandparents would take offence)).

And that was finally that (well, after the quickest, most ridiculously eventful labour).

Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances. Born in 45 minutes on 10 July 2017. All the names, all the saints.”

Can you believe that story?! Amazing! And I love love love all of Mathilde’s names!!

Congratulations to Isabelle and her husband and big brothers Jude and Gabriel, and happy birthday Baby Mathilde!!

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Mathilde Agnes Julia Frances

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Baby name consultation: B/g twins need complementary but not matchy names!

Ryan and Maggie are expecting twins — a boy and a girl! They join big brother:

Jay Anthony

Which I love for its masculine simplicity. Nice job!

Ryan writes,

So I’m not sure we have a style when it coming to names yet … maybe our style will become ‘Saintly Simplistic’ 🙂

Our first son we named Jay Anthony. Jay is a family name of several generations (also my middle name) and Anthony (St. of Padua, of course). We liked the flow of Jay Anthony [with our last name].

The first names of the twins won’t be quite as simple as Jay, but ideally they could be shortened to a simple nickname.

For the boy a middle name of Kolbe (for St. Maximilian, who I have a devotion to) is likely [although thinking about it as a first name also]

Boy first names we are considering include: Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian.

For the girl we are strongly considering Robyn as a middle name (after my wife’s father [Robin]) or Josephine (St Joseph)

Girl first names we like include: Mariella, Avila, Gianna, and Rosalia.

So that’s where we are. Confused and lacking creativity. If it was just one baby, I don’t think we would be asking for help/ideas; but the twins are presenting a unique challenge. We want the names to go together but not be “matchy“.”

I love working on twin consultations! And I like that Ryan and Maggie “want the names to go together but not be ‘matchy.'”

Since Ryan said he’s not sure they have a name style yet, I was really interested to see if I would see a style emerge after considering their son’s name and the names on their list. I think the first thing that’s pretty obvious is that they have different styles for boy names and girl names, which is really common.

In their boys’ names, I see Old Testament (Elijah, Samuel), Celtic (Ian), surnames (Kolbe and Bennet), and short names (Ian and Jay).

For their girls’ names, I’d say “Italian,” even though I know Avila is Spanish … so maybe “Latin-skewing-Italian” + “very feminine.”

With such different styles for their boy names vs. their girl names, finding names that go together is indeed a challenge! But such a fun one!

I don’t have any twins of my own, so anything I know about twin naming is learned from others’ experience. But you all know that I’ve done some twin consultations (e.g., here, here, here), and I love trying to come up with names that “go together without being too matchy.” I think there are a few ways a couple can do this:

  • Same first sound. This can definitely cross over into “too matchy,” and most twin parents I’ve talked to don’t care for same first initials (makes labeling things difficult), but doing something like G+J or C+K — where the twins have the same first sound but different initials — is an easy way to incorporate different styles of names but still help them feel like a unit
  • Same ending sound. This is probably easier for twins of the same gender, but not impossible for b/g twins
  • Balanced length. I like the idea of two short first names or two long first names — I think that makes for an obvious shared characteristic without being too matchy. Same number of letters always feels really pleasing to me, even if the names themselves are different styles. I also like a long-first+short-middle for one twin and short-first+long-middle for the other
  • Similar meanings. Some people really get into what names mean, and others don’t, but those who do could have some real fun choosing names that have similar or complementary meanings

Before getting into what names might pair up well though, I thought I’d share the name ideas I had for Ryan and Maggie beyond those on their list. This is based on research in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists for each entry boy and girl names with a similar style/feel/popularity. I looked up Jay, Cole (as a stand-in for Kolbe, as it doesn’t have its own entry), Bennet, Elijah, Samuel, Ian, Mariella, Gianna, and Rosa (as a stand-in for Rosalia), and looked for overlap among their style matches. I also had my own ideas, which included creating my own list of similar names for Avila, as it doesn’t have an entry and Ava didn’t seem quite right. Based on all that, these are ideas I thought Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list:

Girl
(1) Cate (Caterina)
Since Jay is the only name they’ve actually chosen, I really wanted to be sure the twins’ names didn’t clash with his. I loved seeing that Kate was a style match for it, and it was listed as a match for Bennet as well, and it seemed like a great idea to me right away. Working with the style of name for girls that they seem to like, I thought Caterina with the nickname Cate would be a great idea, as Caterina is the Italian form of C/Katherine (indeed, St. Catherine of Siena’s first name was actually Caterina — Catherine is the Anglo/French form of it). They certainly don’t have to do the full name with the nickname — they can definitely give Cate as the given name (or Kate — Prince William’s wife Kate’s given name is Catherine — she does C for her formal name and K for her nickname), and take St. Catherine of Siena (or any of the Sts. Catherine) as patron — but I thought Caterina nicked Cate would be closer to their style.

(2) Clare/Clara/Chiara
Claire is a style match for Cole (standing in for Kolbe), Bennet, and Ian, and Clara is a match for Rosa (standing in for Rosalia)! So I thought one of the names from this family would be a good idea. Claire is a beautiful spelling, but since it’s the French spelling, I thought they’d prefer others better. Clare is the one traditionally associated with St. Clare of Assisi; Clara, with its “A” ending, gets closer to the feel of the Latinate names they like for girls; and Chiara is the Italian variant and the actual name of St. Clare of Assisi (like Caterina for St. Catherine of Siena). I also see a lot of families considering/using Chiara today with Bl. Chiara Luce Badano in mind.

(3) Lucy/Lucia
I thought Lucy felt more like Jay, but Lucia leans more toward the names on their girl list. Either way, I like one of these for this family. Lucy is a match for Rosa, and Lucia for Gianna. Pronunciation issues might bother them: the Italian Lucia is said loo-CHEE-ah, while I believe loo-SEE-ah is the Spanish/Portuguese pronunciation (like Lucia in Fatima); LOO-sha is like the island of St. Lucia; and I’ve heard loo-TSEE-ah as well. All they would need to do is be firm and consistent with their chosen pronunciation, but if that feels like too much of a hassle and they like the name, Lucy might be a better fit for them.

(4) Gabriel(l)a
If they decide to go with one of the biblical options from their boy list, perhaps a biblical girl’s name or feminine variant of a biblical boy’s name would be a good match for it. The boy’s name Gabriel is a style match for Elijah and Samuel, but I didn’t include it in my ideas for boys because I thought it echoed the sound of Jay too much. But Gabriella is a match for Gianna, and I thought that felt like a really good fit. Gabriella (or Gabriela, if they prefer) doesn’t feel biblical — rather, it has a nice Italian/Spanish feel —
but of course it is biblical, being the feminine form of Gabriel, so it would make a nice match for a biblical brother. (Mariella from their list would count as biblical+Italian too, since it’s an elaboration of Mary.)

(5) Leah
Leah was another match for Jay, and I really like it for this family because it’s biblical, like Elijah and Samuel, and they already have its sound at the end of Rosalia, which makes me think they might like it.

(6) Zoe or Zita
I admit that when I saw Jay’s name, my mind immediately went to similarly short names, whether one syllable (like Cate) or minimal letters — you can’t get shorter than Zoe! It’s a style match for Elijah and Ian, which I thought was really interesting. It’s St. Catherine Laboure’s birth name, so she’s a good option for patron. Zoe’s zippy Z coupled with their Italian style made me also think of Zita — the traditional St. Zita’s a great patron, but I’ve also been loving Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria. This post might be helpful —
it’s a consultation I did for a family who was trying to find a name to match their son Ezra’s — they were welcoming a baby girl only ten months after Ezra, so they wanted the new baby’s name to go with his, almost like twins. They like their girls to have Italian names, and some of their boys have biblical names! Anyway, one of my suggestions for them was Zita, and I link to her story in that post. Funny enough, they have an Elijah, Gianna, and Samuel, and the mom’s name is Robyn! So many similarities to the names mentioned in Ryan’s email!

Boy
(1) Grant
I’m really interested to see what they think of Grant. It’s a style match for Cole, and Bennet, as well as Kate, and also Dean, which is only relevant because Dean is a match for Jay. So I think they might like it! We were actually talking about Grant on the blog recently in regards to this post (be sure to read the comments) — there’s a mom on there who has a Bennett and a Grant (and a Luke), and I know a family in real life who has a Benjamin and a Grant, so I think families that like Ben like Grant. As for a faith connection, one of my readers loved the connection to the words of the Mass dona nobis pacem, which translates as, “Grant us peace.”

(2) Luke
I mentioned the family above who has Bennett, Grant, and Luke, and I thought Luke might be a great idea for this family! It’s a style match for Cole and the Italian Luca is a match for Gianna. It’s one syllable like Jay, and loops in the biblical aesthetic they like.

(3) Miles
I don’t feel 100% confident about Miles, but I have it on here for a few reasons. One is that it’s a style match for Bennett. Also, it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love Marian names for boys! And the fact that it’s used in Ireland made me think of Ian on their list. Finally, I’ve often thought it can be used as a nickname for Maximilian (rather than the more ubiquitous Max), and since Ryan has a devotion to St. Maximilian and they’re considering Kolbe, maybe Miles would appeal to them. They might even consider Miles Kolbe to be a truncation of Maximilian Kolbe, which is pretty cool.

(4) Garrett
Like Grant, Garrett is a style match for Kate and Dean, both of which are matches for Jay. It’s also got a Celtic feel like Ian, and it’s a variant of Gerard, who’s not only a great saint, but an Italian one, which can be a cool, subtle connection between their boy and their girl.

(5) Xavier or Isaac
I’m including these two together because of the prominent “Z” sound they both have. Isaac seems like a great addition to their list, since it’s biblical like Elijah and Samuel, and is one of the few boy names that begins with “I,” like Ian. It’s a style match for Samuel and Miles. Additionally, its nickname Ike reminds me of Jay. Xavier is a saintly surname like Kolbe, with good first-name usage, and I would say it’s a style match for Avila as well. According to the BNW, it’s also a match for Mariella (in its Spanish version, Javier), Elias (which is a variant of Elijah), Gabriel (which matches up with Elijah and Samuel), and Maximilian.

So those are my ideas that Ryan and Maggie might like to add to their list. Some pairings that I thought might go together include:

Kolbe and Cate(rina) — the shared first sound with different initials is great, I think

Kolbe and Clare/Clara/Chiara — not only do they share the same first sound, but Kolbe and Clare/Clara have the same number of letters! And if I met twins named Koble and Chiara, I would assume their parents were uber Catholic

Kolbe and Avila — same number of letters, and ditto the uber Catholic feel. Also, though Avila’s not technically a surname (it’s a place name — St. Teresa of Avila), it has that feel, which goes well with Kolbe.

Bennet and Chiara — same number of letters

Elijah and Lucia — same ending sound

Elijah and Mariella — same ending sound, and both biblical

Elijah and Avila — same ending

Samuel and Gabriella — both biblical, and both have “el” at the end

Samuel and Mariella — ditto

Ian and Zoe — not only are these both three letters, but Ian is a variant of the biblical John, and Zoe is a variant of the biblical Eve — a couple of great connections there!

Ian and Gianna — Ian is a variant of John, and Gianna is a feminine form of John, so normally I’d caution a family against using both. BUT, when we’re talking about boy/girl twins, my opinion is exactly the opposite. I think it could make the perfect connection without being matchy at all. Any of the Sts. John can be Ian’s patron, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla is perfect for Gianna.

Bennet and Mariella — I consider Benedict to be a Marian boy’s name, since it means “blessed,” so since Bennet is a variant of Benedict, it might pair perfectly with a Marian girl name.

Grant and Avila — same number of letters

Miles and Avila — ditto

Ian and Avila — I like that they both start with a vowel

Isaac and Avila — ditto; and same number of letters

Grant and Gianna — though normally I’d say matching initials isn’t ideal, I like this pairing because the G’s say different sounds

Garrett and Gianna — ditto; also St. Gerard and St. Gianna were both Italian

Bennet and Rosalia — both Marian

Miles and Rosalia — ditto; also Miles ends in the “Z” sound, and the “S” in Rosalia makes the “Z” sound

Isaac and Rosalia — the shared “Z” sound

Isaac and Zoe — ditto; also Ike and Zoe have the same number of letters (they could also do Zac and Zoe but that’s probably too matchy)

Isaac and Zita — ditto the “Z” sound

Xavier and Zoe — the ZAY-vyer pronunciation would be especially pleasing to me here, and the coolest initials ever

Xavier and Zita — ditto

Ian and Lucy — there’s a nice British Isles feel going on here

Isaac and Leah — both biblical

Samuel and Leah — ditto

Elijah and Leah — ditto; if they did Eli instead of Elijah, then Eli and Leah are sort of the reverse of each other sound-wise (and Eli’s got three letters like Jay, which is a nice connection between brothers)

Grant and Clare/Clara — same number of letters

Miles and Clare/Clara — ditto

Garrett and Rosalia — ditto; also the Italian connection

Garrett and Majella — they didn’t have Majella on their list, but it’s so similar to Mariella, and is St. Gerard’s last name … would Garrett and Majella be amazing together? Or crazy? And also, Maiella is the Italian version of his last name, which they might like even better than both Mariella and Majella in honor of him. (I posted last year about a visiting priest who did a mission at my church last Lent, and he told us that he’s a twin, and his mother gave the name Gerard as a middle name to both he and his brother, for St. Gerard Majella, because she’d prayed to him throughout her whole pregnancy.)

Luke and Clare — both one syllable, like Jay

Luke and Cate — ditto

In general, I would say I prefer Robyn as a middle name for the longer girl names, and Josephine for the shorter ones …

And those are all my ideas and thoughts for Ryan and Maggie’s twins! What do you all think? What name(s) or combos would you suggest for Jay’s little brother and sister?

Baby name consultation: Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas!

You guys! I’m SO EXCITED to post today’s consultation! I know you’re all familiar with Haley Stewart from the blog Carrots for Michaelmas and podcast Fountains of Carrots — she and her hubby Daniel are expecting their fourth baby! Haley’s been struggling with hyperemesis gravidarum (please keep her in your prayers!), so I’m extra happy to provide this little fun little bright spot for her.

Their little green bean (=gender unknown) 🌱 joins big sibs:

Benjamin Daniel
Lucy Elanor
Gwen Stellamaris

Which are amazing names, all of them. I love the handsome Benjamin (who I understand is only and always Benjamin, not Ben), and Lucy and Gwen are the sweetest! And those middle names! The Tolkien Elanor and the Marian Stellamaris! 😍😍😍

Haley writes,

So we’ve been brainstorming baby names for baby #4 (I’m 14 weeks, so we’ve got another 5 weeks before we find out the gender).

We are pretty settled on a girl’s name, but not the middle name and not quite settled on a boy’s name.

We do tend toward names from the British Isles because of the Scottish last name.

For a girl we both really like Evangeline. (nickname Eva)

Other favorites have been Rosemary Catherine (after Our Lady and Catherine of Siena, shortened to Rosie Cate — which I like despite it’s sugary southern feel.)

Other favorites;
Marigold, Felicity, Genevieve, Mairwen, Dorothy, Margaret (shortened to Greta–and after my mom Margot), Magdalena (Lena), Marietta (Etta), Josephine, Imogen(e), and Beatrice (or Beatrix).

Middles we like are Catherine, Carole (after Daniel’s mom), Elizabeth, Anne, Jane, Alice, Miriam, Aurora, Ivy, Violet, Daisy, Helena/Helen, Rose, Mary

For Boys we aren’t in 100% agreement. While I’ve typically been the one that pushes for more “out there” names, this time Daniel is the one pushing for unusual names. I think I can get on board but … I’m not quite there yet.

Daniel likes: Beowulf, Cynewulf, and Merlin for first names. I could live with any of these and I do love the idea of calling a little guy “Wulfie.”

I like:

Sebastian Luke

St. John (Sinjin) — Daniel likes this one, too, but everyone thinks of St John Rivers from Jane Eyre and that’s probably not great and no one will pronounce it right. But … LOVE

Joseph Romero after St. Joseph and Bl. Oscar Romero

Arthur — This is probably my favorite. I think it sounds great with Benjamin and it’s a classic.

I also love Gilbert (Gil) but Daniel has vetoed this one — MAYBE I could sneak it in as a middle.

Middles we like: Solanus, Luke, Joseph, Anselm, Romero, Ignatius, Kolbe, Gawain, William, Seamus, Basil

Oh! And Daniel came up with a few more names he likes (that miraculously don’t have the syllable “wulf” lol):
Llywelyn, Beorn, Abel

I should preface my thoughts by saying Haley and her co-host Christy had invited me to be on their podcast two years ago, in which I offered name ideas for both of them for future babies, so I listened to it again as research for this post — I refer to it quite a bit below. (If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommended it! It was so fun to listen to again!) Also, Haley loves literature and frequently writes about Austen and Anne and so forth, so I loved including literary names as well.

So first off, I love Evangeline nicked Eva. When I was doing my standard research in the Baby Name Wizard for Haley (you all know that, for each entry, it offers boy and girl ideas that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), I looked up both Evangeline and Eva for inspiration, and loved seeing that Lucy is a style match for Eva, as is Lena (on Haley’s list as a nickname for Magdalena) and Clara (Haley mentioned in the podcast that Clara was a contender for Gwen’s middle name). And I love that Evangeline is long like Benjamin. I think Evangeline/Eva is great for this baby!

I also love Rosemary Catherine nicked Rosie Cate — Haley mentioned it in the podcast as well, and I loved it then and still do! It’s funny because I think Haley must be more sensitive to the southern influence, being that she lives close to it — for me, being from the northeast and living here my whole life, my first thought when hearing double names isn’t southern (though I know it’s certainly a thing down there) … maybe more like Irish? Like Mary Clare, Mary Kate … actually I guess the Mary doubles are what I’m mostly thinking of, which always make me think of Ireland. But for me other double names have that similar feel too, especially if they’re sweet names like Rosie and Cate. They also have a sophisticated feel to me — like country-club-pearls-and-cardigan. Which, comes to think of it, is kind of my idea of “southern” too! Anyway, all that to say, I love Rosemary Catherine/Rosie Cate and I wouldn’t not use it because it feels too southern (but Haley — and many of you — would know better whether that would be an issue or not).

I love Haley and her hubby’s other favorite girl names too, there are so many great ones on their list! As for middles, I tried playing around with Evangeline with some of the middles on their list, just to see which ones I like the best (not that it matters what I like!). My favorite combos, based mostly on how they sound together, were:

Evangeline Elizabeth (long, but they sound so pretty together I think)
Evangeline Alice
Evangeline Aurora (wow)
Evangeline Rose

I also like the idea of double names with Evangeline … like Evangeline Rose –> Eva Rose; Evangeline Catherine –> Eva Cate; Evangeline Elizabeth –> Eva Tess (I think I saw Tess in a list of Elizabeth nicknames only once, but if Betty and Tetty are both traditional nns for Elizabeth [they are], and so is Bess, then it makes sense that Tess would be. Elizabeth/Tess is at the top of my own list).

For their boy ideas, I’m totally blown away by Daniel’s list! Beowulf, Cynewulf, Merlin, Llewelyn, Beorn, and Abel! Truly, it’s almost always the moms who have the more adventurous taste, I’m super impressed with Daniel’s outside-the-box thinking!

In fact, it was so outside the box that I wasn’t quite sure where to start with research for them. None of Daniel’s names are included in any of my name-matchmaking resources (I used Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com in addition to the BNW book) except Merlin, Llewellyn (that spelling) and Abel (which I love as Benjamin’s brother). I did sub in Bjorn for Beorn, just to have some additional ideas, but of course most of them were Scandinavian, which didn’t turn out to be terrible — there were a couple that I thought really felt like their style, like Freya for a girl and Torin for a boy, but mostly I tried to stick to names that were at least Celtic/British, if not specifically Scottish, in my official suggestions below.

One of the things I was also surprised by with Daniel’s list is how not-Catholic the names are (besides the biblical Abel). Which is totally fine! But I did try to think of names with maybe a similar feel that had a faithy connection, and the only one I really came up with as sort of similar (in spelling anyway) to Beowulf is Boethius, aka St. Severinus Boethius — he was a philosopher some of my readers have mentioned from time to time, which prompted me to do this post. One of those readers had actually decided on Robert Boethius for her son, but she ended up having a girl (whose got an equally amazing name).

As for the names on Haley’s list, Sebastian Luke has been a longtime fave — she mentioned it in the podcast. Great combo. Haley’s right that St. John will never be said correctly, but I have to say that my primary association isn’t Jane Eyre but Four Weddings and a Funeral! I asked my husband too — he’s the one who introduced me to Brideshead Revisited and loves all those BBC productions like Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, etc., so he’d definitely have a sense of whether a name is too tied to a Bronte character, and he also didn’t remember St. John from Jane Eyre! So I’m thinking maybe the Jane Eyre association isn’t as bad as they think. But definitely yes to lots of pronunciation issues. If they can’t get past that, it would make a smashing middle name! Pronunciations don’t matter so much in the middle.

Joseph Romero’s awesome, and Benjamin and Joseph are great brother names, being that they were brothers in the bible!

Arthur’s great. Benjamin and Arthur together are great.

Haley raved about Gilbert/Gil in the podcast too, but she said her hubby disliked Gilbert and hated Gil even more! Gah! We also talked on the podcast about Gabriel, which Haley said she liked, but she didn’t care for Gabe — I’ve often liked the idea of Gil as a nickname for Gabriel, which I would totally push for Haley except that Daniel doesn’t like Gil!

I love all their ideas for boy middle names too!

I know Haley said they’re set on Evangeline/Eva, or possibly Rosemary Catherine, and if they decide not to do either of those they have an amazing list of other girl names they like, but there were some names that popped up in my research that, like Freya mentioned above, just felt like their style. I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on girl ideas, but I did just want to mention these few here before listing my boy ideas:

(1) Zelda
Zelda’s a style match for Merlin per the BNW, and it screams “literary” to me, never mind that it’s got the cool Z initial.

(2) Naomi
Biblical like Benjamin, it’s also a style match for Daniel’s Abel. Naomi’s gorgeous! And I love her story in the bible.

(3) Edith
St. Edith Stein is one of the best, and her name’s a match for Arthur. How sweet is the nickname Edie??

(4) Annabel
Given that Haley specifically mentioned their Scottish last name, and Annabelle’s a style match for Evangeline, I thought it was worth pointing out that Annabel is actually a Scottish name! A variant of Amabel, which points to Our Lady!

(5) Iona, Isla
Iona’s a match for Llewellyn, and like Annabelle I thought it was worth a mention because of its specifically Celtic feel (St. Columba founded a monastery on the Isle of Iona). Ditto for Isla.

As for boy’s names, I basically just tried to find names that I thought would bridge the names on Haley’s list with those on Daniel’s, hopefully coming up with ideas that they both might like. This is what I came up with:

(1) Wilfrid
It was Haley’s love of the idea of calling a little guy “Wulfie” that make me think of Wilfrid. There’s a mom on a name discussion board I follow who has a little Wilfrid, and Wolf is his occasional nickname, so I thought Wilfrid could combine the “wulf” aspects of the names Daniel loves with the St. John/Arthur/Gilbert names on Haley’s list — I think Wilfrid could fit in well with them, and in fact the similar sounding Willis was also listed as a style match for Gilbert. AND there are a few Sts. Wilfrid!

(2) Malcolm
I had planned to listen to the podcast again anyway, to see if there were any ideas in it I’d missed, but I was particularly compelled to do so when I was doing my research (I did all of it except the podcast first) and saw Malcolm in a list of Celtic names I was looking through. It felt so familiar, like I’d already suggested it to Haley, but it wasn’t in the podcast so I wonder where I got that feeling? Anyway, as soon as I saw it I thought it felt like a really good suggestion. Not only is it a good Celtic name — Scottish, in fact — but it’s got a great meaning: “disciple of St. Columba.” (Compare this to a name I reference on the blog quite a bit: Miles, an anglicization of the old Irish name Maelmhuire, meaning “disciple/servant of the Virgin Mary.” Malcolm is from the Scottish Mael Colium.) Mac would make a great nickname for a Malcolm!

(3) Roald
Roald is a style match for Bjorn, but despite being a Norwegian name of course we know it as the British author Roald Dahl. I don’t know if Haley and her hubs like Dahl as an author or not, but with Cynewulf in play I didn’t think anything was out of bounds to suggest! And Roald is a bit more Arthur than Cynewulf.

(4) Tavish
This was in the same list of Celtic names as Malcolm, and I totally had Scottish names on the brain, so I thought it was a fun suggestion. It’s the Scottish form of Thomas!

(5) Giles
What’s more British than Giles? Though it sounds different than Gil, Gil was my inspiration for it. On the podcast Haley had said, in response to my suggestion of Henry, that she and Daniel had been talking about George, and that Henry and George have such a Brit feel, especially with the last name Stewart. Giles fits that to a T! There are a few Sts. Giles.

(6) Magnus
Also on the podcast, Haley said that at that time John Paul Ignatius was Daniel’s favorite name, which added to my surprise at his current list. But Magnus — a style match for Bjorn and a name on the Celtic list as well — might be a way to nod to St. John Paul the Great (and other Greats: St. Gregory and St. Leo, as well as even St. Maximilian Kolbe if they want, since Maximilian and Magnus share meanings) in a new way, and in a style closer to the names they both have on their lists. Since they have Carole on their girl middle name list for Daniel’s mom, they could consider using a male variant like Karol/Karl/Carl as a middle name for Magnus and have it refer even closer to St. John Paul the Great (since his birth name was Karol — the Polish form of Charles). (Magnus Karol/Karl/Carl is also Charlemagne’s name reversed, which may or may not appeal to them.)

(7) Sinclair
Of course you have to know this was almost 100% inspired by St. John. It’s got a similar sound and also refers to a saint (St. Clare), but in a much easier way spelling- and pronunciation-wise. It’s also a style match for Llewellyn, and Haley said in the podcast that she loves the name Clara. So maybe?

(8) Felix
I was pretty aware of the fact that several names I thought they might like are also the names of children of fairly well known mamas in the Catholic world (e.g., Naomi — Ana Hahn; Edith — Rosie Hill), and Felix is one such (Jenna Wilber and Arwen Mosher, to name two), so I know that might reduce its appeal, but there weren’t too many names that were style matches for more than one name on Haley’s and Daniel’s lists (except for the Leo/Henry/Oliver names, which is where their girl style tends to lean), but Felix was a match for both Eva and Merlin. So I thought I had to mention it!

(9) Tristan
Tristan is a style match for Sebastian and Gavin (in place of Gawain), it’s literary, and it can be bestowed it in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. I love it!

(10) Oisin/Ossian
Interestingly, Ossian was listed as match for Bjorn, which is a variant of Oisín — which was included in the list of Celtic names. It’s definitely out there and has some pronunciation issues (o-SHEEN is, I believe, the correct way to say Oisín, and O-see-en for Ossian, and Forvo concurs [here and here], as does babynamesofireland.com, but I’m sure some people would come up with “Ocean”). I see the evolution of the O names happening thusly: Oliver was a big hit for a while, then became overly popular for some people’s tastes; then Owen; I’m currently seeing Otis and Oscar more and more; so using Oisin/Ossian might be getting in on the ground floor of The Next Big Name.

(11) Gareth/Garrett
This is my last idea, and it’s inspired both by Haley’s mom and grandmother’s names (Margot and Margaret), as well as the fact that Gareth and Garrett have a Celtic feel. One of you shared about a family with a devotion to St. Margaret of Antioch, so they named a son Garrett in her honor (so similar to Greta on Haley’s list). I love that! And Gareth was on the Celtic list, and Margarethe is a German and Danish form of Margaret, so Gareth definitely still works for Margaret and Margot.

I think I’ll stop at eleven ideas! But I thought these posts might have some additional ideas that are similar to those Haley and Daniel might like:

https://sanctanomina.net/2016/11/14/baby-name-consultant-geek-catholics-need-help-naming-no-3/

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/03/09/birth-announcement-winifred-esme/

https://sanctanomina.net/2017/10/30/celebrity-guest-meghan-literarycatholic-namer/

And I’m assuming it wasn’t their favorite, but my idea of Jonathan with the traditional Brit nickname Jonty from the podcast is still one of the ones I love for them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What do you think about Haley and Daniel’s ideas for girl names? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Benjamin, Lucy, and Gwen?

Birth announcement: Wendy Emilia! (And a St. Gerard story!)

Do you all remember last year when I posted about the priest who’d done a mission at our parish and told us about his great regard for St. Gerard’s intercession in helping couples conceive? And how he would encourage couples to pray to St. Gerard and then let him know when they were expecting a baby, because he was so confident that St. Gerard would come through? I just got the most amazing email the other day!

Evva (who I follow on Twitter) writes,

Hi!
I found your blog about a year ago and started following you on twitter. At that time my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for a little while and reading about and talking baby names was so fun and loved all the name information you had! After some more time passed I was started to get discouraged we still weren’t getting pregnant and around that time you posted something about St Gerard and his intercession for anyone who wanted a baby. After that I decided my husband and I would pray a saint Gerard novena. My husband is not catholic so it was his first time praying one. Anyway that very next month I found out we were pregnant!! I couldn’t believe it. I just wanted to reach out to you and say thank you and share our story, My baby girl was born on the feast of the immaculate conception!

OHMYGOODNESS!! What an awesome story!!

So of course I had to ask all about this baby girl! Evva explained,

Like I said before my husband isn’t catholic so the real catholicky names he wasn’t going for haha. We had a real tough time picking a girl name for some reason we just couldn’t agree on anything so settling on one was a lot of back forth but we finally decided on the first name Wendy for no reason aside that it was one we could both agree on. And for her middle name we went with Emilia. I read on your blog that it was Saint Pope John Paul II’s mom name and I loved it plus I thought it flowed nicely with the first name. 

Here’s a few pictures of her with a St Gerard medal I bought soon after we completed our Novena.”

Wendy Emilia

Isn’t this all so wonderful?! Congratulations to Evva and her husband, and happy birthday Baby Wendy!! (And if any of you have St. Gerard stories, I’d love to hear them!)

Baby name consultation: Whether and how to use an honor name for baby boy

Theresa and her husband are expecting their fifth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Mary Kathryn (“named after both grandmothers“)
John David (“named after St. John the Baptist and his Godfather is David, my husband’s brother“)
Lucy Marie (“named after St. Lucy“)
Joseph Stephen (“we liked Joseph and it was a J name to follow John, his middle name is after my brother Stephen and also his godfather“)

Beautiful names! Classic, solid, saintly.

Theresa writes,

I have had 3 miscarriages, 2 of them before our 4th child and then one just last year … NOW again we got a happy surprise and I conceived in Aug! I say surprise but I know its God’s plan and will, we are due May 4, it’s a boy! I never found out the gender before but with this one I just felt like I wanted to know to plan on names and at least get some clothes up from the basement sitting in boxes!

*** here is one more weird twist on this: My oldest brother died this past July at age 46. I conceived about one month after his death, and my due date is one week after his birthday! God took my brother away but also gave us new life! I am brought to tears just saying that.

So now we are stuck! Do I name this boy after my brother who died, Jeffrey Paul (my dad’s name is Paul) or would that be too weird for my parents and siblings to see a little Jeff run around, or use Jeff as his middle name? Or do we stick to another boy’s J name, like Jacob, Jason, Joshua, or do we choose a Saint name around when he is born May 4? My father-in-law’s name is Ronald Michael, and my grandfathers names were Anton or Andrew.

Anything you can do to help us or shed some light, advice at all would be so helpful!

I was so inspired by Theresa’s story! I love how the timing of this baby coincided so amazingly with the passing of her brother — what a light this little one is in such a dark time for her family!

I can see why naming this baby after Theresa’s brother is an appealing idea. I don’t know if it would be too weird or too difficult for her parents and siblings to have a new little Jeff in the family — every family’s different, and probably the only way to know whether it would be too painful or not is to ask them. But I cautioned Theresa to only ask the question if she’s ready to adjust her actions based on their answer, you know? If she asks the question and they respond enthusiastically and happily that they would love that, then she’ll probably feel required to do so, even if she wasn’t totally sure she wanted to use Jeffrey as the first name. If she really loves Jeffrey and it’s meaningful to her to use it but her family responds negatively, it might be hard for her to switch to something else, where if she didn’t ask them and just did it, they would probably eventually come around (I mean, they’d have to — they couldn’t just not call him by his name forever!). But I could see how Theresa might not want to put them in that position.

If Theresa and her hubs decided to use Jeffrey as a first name but were still worried about how it would be received, they could consider using a different nickname than Jeff. Jay is the first one that comes to mind as a fairly natural one as it’s Jeffrey’s initial spelled out. Or J.P., if they did Jeffrey Paul. Or even if they didn’t want to call him that all the time, it might be nice to give family members the option.

I do like the idea of using Jeffrey as a middle name — it’s the natural spot for honor names that maybe aren’t quite right for first-name use, and it would allow her to use her brother’s name without the issue of whether or not it would be too painful for her family to use/hear on a daily basis. I like the idea of Paul Jeffrey a lot, especially if Paul was her brother’s middle name.

In fact, if Paul was Theresa’s brother’s middle name, my very favorite idea for her is either Michael Paul or Paul Ronald/Michael, after the two grandfathers, like Mary Kathryn is for both grandmothers (I thought Michael was more Theresa and her hubs’ style than Ronald, hence my thought of Michael Paul if they were going to do the first name for her father-in-law. If they put a name for Theresa’s father-in-law in the middle, I think both Paul Ronald and Paul Michael are fine). How cool to be able to work in both grandfathers and Theresa’s brother in one name!

If Paul wasn’t Theresa’s brother’s middle name, I still love the idea of naming after both grandfathers with her little guy’s name, since both grandmothers were honored with her oldest. If Theresa still wanted to work in her brother, she could consider two middles: Michael Paul Jeffrey, or Paul Michael Jeffrey, or Paul Ronald Jeffrey, etc. I wrote about double middle names here: https://sanctanomina.net/2017/10/04/double-middle-names/.

Another way to honor Theresa’s brother without using his exact name is to give her son the same initials. If Jeffrey Paul is her brother’s full name, then maybe something like Jacob Peter, Jason Pierce, or Joshua Patrick would do the trick — any time she’d tell her son’s name story, Theresa could say that they started with J.P. initials for her brother (or whatever his initials were) and went from there, so her brother would be an integral part of her son’s name story. Some people love this approach, and others think it’s too much of a stretch; if it helps, I always think intention is the most important part of baby naming (I wrote about that here: https://nameberry.com/blog/good-intention-baby-naming).

Theresa mentioned her grandfathers’ names Anton and Andrew — of those two, I feel like Andrew fits the style of her other kiddos’ names pretty well.

If Theresa and her hubs decide not to give their son Theresa’s brother’s first name, nor one of the grandfathers’ or great-grandfathers’ names, the other ideas Theresa mentioned were using another J name or using the name of a saint born around her baby’s due date. Regarding using another J name, I would only do so if they had a J name they really love. We already discussed Jeffrey, which of course would qualify, but unless they love Jacob, Jason, or Joshua (or James, which seems a better match for their family to me than Jacob, Jason, or Joshua), I don’t think there’s any need to consider a J name just because their other boys have J names. In fact, if they only had two children — John and Joseph — I might recommend against another J name, because it would really seem to lock them into a theme. Since Theresa and her hubs have four children, two of whom don’t have J names, and the two J’s aren’t even next to each other in the lineup, it’s far less of an issue — I think they could choose to use a J name or to use a different initial with no problem whatsoever either way. All this just to say again, I wouldn’t choose a J name just because their other boys have J names. But if they want to, they should go right ahead.

I looked up the saints/blesseds with feast days around May 4 (which, incidentally, is Star Wars day! Haha! “May the 4th be with you” and all that! If he was actually born on the 4th, I would be really tempted to suggest they use Luke! What a fun nod to Star Wars day AND an amazing Saint’s name! And I consider Luke to be a Marian name too, since his gospel is the most Marian, as it contains the Annunciation and Magnificat! But then, Luke is probably too similar to Lucy anyway, oh well). Anyway, back to the Church calendar, I actually thought it was a better idea to find names that really fit their taste/style, and then see if there are any saints with feast days around their due date with those names — they likely won’t have to choose between using a family name/name they like and choosing a saint’s name whose feast is near the baby’s birthday — there are so many saints and blesseds that I’m sure they can find a match!

To find names that I thought Theresa and her hubs might like, I started by looking up the names they’ve used for their older children and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research, these are names that were pretty big style matches for this family:

(1) Thomas
Theresa’s kiddos’ names are as classic and saintly as they come, and Thomas fits right in with that! He’s a natural brother to Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph — as soon as I saw what a big match Thomas is for their style, I knew it would make my final list of suggestions!

(2) Charles
I was interested to see that the Charles family of names showed up as style matches for almost all the names they’ve chosen so far and those they like as well! Of those (Charles and Carl), I thought Charles fits their style best, and its nickname Charlie was actually a match for Lucy!

(3) Edward, Robert, William
I’m including these three together because Thomas and Charles were really the big winners in terms of style matches for Theresa and her hubs, but Edward, Robert, and William also did fairly well for them, and they all have feast days within a week (before or after) of Theresa’s due date.

So I looked up all the feast days from April 27 to May 11 — one week before Theresa’s due date to one week after — on CatholicSaints.info, which doesn’t have all the saints in its database but seems to be pretty darn close! It lists for each day the feasts of that day, both those that appear on the calendar and those that are minor feasts that don’t appear on the calendar. I thought these might of interest to Theresa:

April 27
Bl. Jacov Varingez (Jacov is a variant of Jacob, and James and Jacob are the same name [James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew], so this Blessed could be a patron for a Jacob or a James)

April 30
Bl. William Southerne

May 3
St. James the Lesser (this is the feast on the calendar for this day!)
Bl. Edoardo Giuseppe Rosaz (Edoardo is a variant of Edward)
Bl. Tommaso Acerbis (Tommaso is a variant of Thomas)

May 4
Bl. Luca da Toro (I just listed this here for fun — an actual holy Luke with a feast on Star Wars day!)
Bl. Michal Giedroyc (Michal is a variant of Michael)
Bl. Paolini Bigazzini (Paolini is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Cologne (not too much known about him. Paulinus is a variant of Paul)
St. Paulinus of Senigallia (not much known about him either)
St. Robert Lawrence

May 5
Conversion of St. Augustine (I’m including this because it’s an amazing feast day! It seems like the kind of thing Theresa would like to know about. Augustine would make a great first or middle name)

May 6
Bl. Anthony Middleton (Theresa’s grandfather’s name, Anton, is a variant of Anthony)
Bl. Edward Jones
St. James of Numidia (for a James or a Jacob)
Bl. William Tandi

May 8
Apparition of Michael the Archangel (what an amazing feast day! It would be so neat to name a little boy born on this day Michael!)

May 9
Bl. Thomas Pickering

May 10
Feast of the Ascension (what an amazing feast day to be born on! It’s celebrated forty days after Easter, which, in 2018, falls on May 10. The apostles [minus Judas] witnessed the Ascension (Acts 1:6-9), so Thomas and James would be good names for a baby boy born on this day)
Bl. Antonio of Norcia (not much is known about him. Antonio is an Anthony variant, like Theresa’s Grandpa Anton)
Bl. William of Pontoise (; not much is known about him)

May 11
Bl. Diego of Saldaña (Diego is a Spanish form of James/Jacob)
Bl. James Walworth

Of course, even if Theresa and her hubs choose a name that corresponds to one of these feast days, they don’t have to feel bound to that Saint or Blessed if they don’t want to! There are so many great saints with these names! But if they like the idea of choosing a patron based on a birthday, there are some great ideas here I think. (Also, I didn’t include all the feasts on all the days — just the ones with names I thought they’d like — to check them all out, here’s the link for May 4, and then just go forward and back from there.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest and/or advice would you give Theresa and her husband in naming the little brother of Mary, John, Lucy, and Joseph?

Birth announcement: Benjamin Locke!

I posted a consultation for Ashley and her husband last month, and Ashley let me know her little guy has arrived! The so-handsomely named … Benjamin Locke!

Ashley writes,

We had our little guy last Thursday.  His labor and delivery was by far the most difficult of all 5 of them. He started being difficult a few weeks before delivery by being breech and then it just continued. I was calling him my little troublemaker for the last month.

We went back and forth a lot over naming him and didn’t decide until Day 3 after he was born. We ended up really considering Locke, Ben, Leo, and Jack. We ended up settling on Benjamin Locke Wagner. And we will call him Ben. I had been so anti Benjamin but after he was born, I saw more of the softness in Benjamin and our little guy was just so perfectly sweet and still a week later never cries, that the sweetness of Benjamin kind of won me over.”

What a great name story!! I love this: “the sweetness of Benjamin kind of won me over.” ❤ ❤ ❤ I also love that his big brother has a family surname for a first name and a tradition given name for a middle, while Ben has a traditional given name for a first and a family surname-type name for a middle. Well done!

Congratulations to Ashley and her hubs and big sibs Nash, Clare, Holly, and Anna, and happy birthday Baby Benjamin!!

IMG_5964

Benjamin Locke

Name story: Caspian and Eliot

Today’s Name Story is about Shaina’s little guys! She writes,

Our first son we named Caspian Isaiah. I told my husband while we were dating that I loved the name Caspian and wanted to use it for a son someday! We are both big Lewis fans, and he played an important role in my grandfather’s faith walk when he went through a period of agnosticism. Well.. about nine months after our wedding, Caspian made his debut! We picked Isaiah because we wanted a Bible name and we loved the way it sounded with the first and last name. Our girl name (we haven’t found out gender before birth so far) was Melanie Rowena. I felt a little silly naming our baby Caspian…because really, who does that? But the slight weirdness wore off quickly and it fits him perfectly.

During my second pregnancy, my husband and I went back and forth on a boy name. I love the name Eliot and he didn’t. But I kept coming back to it and eventually he said we could use it as long as we spelled it his way. Agreed! We chose the middle name James. Our girl name for him was Aida Christine. We both love the sound of Aida and were having a really hard time finding a saint name we liked to go with it, but apparently there are several St Christinas and Christine is a family name on my husband’s side. When our son was born, he reminded us both so much of my side of the family and my father specifically that we gave him my dad’s name too, so he ended up Lane Eliot James. We mainly call him Eliot still. And Ee-ot! haha.”

Caspian and Eliot!! Looooovvvveeeeeee!! ❤ ❤ ❤ Shaina said that “finding a name that does go with Caspian without being total geeks is a difficult balance,” but I think they did an amazing job with Eliot!

Shaina wrote, “We became Catholic shortly after Eliot was born, so I’ve been enjoying diving into your blog and discovering a different motivation behind naming,” which makes me so so happy that I can help in this small way! And also — she shared her list of names for future babies! (She was very clear though that these aren’t necessarily husband-approved! 😀 ) Check these out:

John Michael Loren. (call name Loren. I love the name John but we have four of them in the family already. And love that Loren is less common.) John for our both our mentor and my husband’s confirmation names. And so many St Johns. Michael after my husband, and St Michael. And Loren after my husband’s grandfather.

Vivienne Cypress. just love it. the end. (well, and there’s a hymn written by a friend dear to our hearts from the scripture “how like a cypress evergreen”

William Wise

Lewis Martin. Lewis and Martin are both family names. And L M is my MIL’s initials.

Illa Anne-Marie. Illa is my husband’s grandmother’s name. And I dunno, I just like the way Anne-Marie goes with it.

Sebastian Philip. After Bach! And St Sebastian. And Philip after my husband’s friend.”

So many unexpected names! I LOVE unexpected names! I love that they’d call John Michael Loren by his second middle, WOW! Vivienne Cypress! Cypress! What a cool middle name! Same with Wise! I love William Wise! And Illa! Can you tell I’m all heart eyes over these interesting picks?! I love Lewis Martin and Sebastian Philip as well. Such a cool list!

Thank you to Shaina for sharing all of this with us! Here are her handsome little guys:

Caspian and Eliot