Birth announcement: Paxton and Porter!

I did a private consultation for Lauren and her husband back in the fall — they were expecting twin boys, and Lauren has let me know that they’ve arrived! They’ve been given the awesome and significant names … Paxton and Porter!

Lauren writes,

Our babies were born on Friday, January 26, via planned cesarean. In the days leading up to delivery we became more anxious about not having settled on names, but eventually decided to wait until they were born and see what felt right. Upon arrival at the hospital, everyone asked what we’d chosen for names and we told them we were still undecided. In desperation, we told the nurses to take a poll amongst themselves and let us know what they liked best.

For so long, we’d shared name possibilities with just a few people, so speaking the names out loud didn’t happen very frequently. Once we started speaking the names aloud to the hospital staff, it became apparent how much of a tongue-tie it would be to go with Paxton and Payton. The names just sounded so similar and I kept getting confused every time I talked about the choices out loud. For me, it was starting to become obvious that Payton just wasn’t going to work.

After the babies were delivered, saying the names out loud continued to be confusing. Baby A turned out to be nearly a pound smaller than Baby B, which pushed me more toward the Paxton/Porter choice. Baby A was always the one that seemed less active in the womb and seemed generally more content even after delivery (that still holds true today). It became apparent that Baby A was to be named Paxton, leaning heavily on my desire to have a “peaceful” child. Since Baby B was so much larger, and also apparently more vocal (plus disliking the complexity of a Paxton/Payton combination), he became Porter. So while my husband was concerned about the “porterhouse” label, it actually held true at the time of delivery and even became a running joke between us.

These days, Paxton is still SUPER chill — he only cries when hungry and sleeps allll the time (the cyst in his brain may be to blame, but we’ll go with it). The gap in size is closing, but Porter still remains obviously larger than his “older” brother, and is certainly more demanding (though he happens to be breastfed while his brother is not … the two issues are related, perhaps?). As a family, we have found the transition from one to three much easier than zero to one, likely because our first was super high-needs and this time we are not combating that with the lack of experience as parents in general.”

I’m sure Lauren won’t mind me sharing that I’d suggested Porter with Bl. Solanus in mind, since he was the porter (doorkeeper) at his monastery, so I’m extra delighted that they named Twin B Porter! And Paxton, with its pax=peace connection, is so meaningful.

Please also pray for both of the boys — they both have medical concerns that are being addressed by doctors, and I know Lauren and her hubs would love be assured of your prayers.

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Paxton and Porter!!

Paxton and Porter with their family ❤


Baby name consultation: Irish/Celtic name for baby no. 2!

(Thank you all so much for your excitement and prayers following my pregnancy announcement on Saturday!! You all are the best!! ❤ ❤ <3)

Megan and her husband are expecting their second little one, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This wee babe joins big brother:

Finnian Daniel

You know how much I love Irish names! Finnian Daniel’s so handsome! (And so sorry to all of my Italian readers for continuing the Irish theme on St. Joseph’s Day!)

Megan writes,

Our son’s name is Finnian Daniel. We wanted to honor our Irish heritage with a first name that is clearly Irish — we’d love to continue using Irish names for our children if we can, and I’m also open to Gaelic/Celtic/Scottish names as well. My husband’s family is German and Welsh, so I guess those names aren’t out of the question, either. Since we both have very common first names, and are one of “many” with the same name, we tend to like uncommon names more. We love longer names that can be shortened to nicknames. Finnian is really the perfect name to us: it’s not in the top 1,000, but easy to say and spell, and of course shortens to the adorable and more commonly known Finn — it’s clearly Irish; there are several amazing Catholic saints who bear the the name; and, in general — we like the sound of it — it is happy and carefree (just like his personality!). We like the idea of continuing to use Catholic saint names for our children, but it is not a requirement (we’ve had trouble finding female saints in particular…).

Finn’s middle name is after his grandfather/father. To us, middle names are an easy way to honor family. If we have another boy, we’ll most likely go with Thomas (my dad’s name) for the middle, or maybe Francis (grandfather) or Brendan (brother) or even Leo (another family name). For a girl, my mother and I share the middle name “Eileen,” so that may be a nice tradition to pass on, but also have Clara (grandmother who I was very close to), or May/Mae (both of grandmother’s middle names). If it’s a girl, I’m more open to a different middle name option than I would be for a boy.

We have many male names that we like, but are just not as in love with them as we were with Finnian! They are Declan, Cullen, Cormac (but really I just like nn Mac), Lachlan, Callum. I also like Henry which is clearly not Irish and way too popular but just to give you an idea on style … we love that Finn sounds like a little old man’s name.

The girl names we are a little all over the place on. One name that we both do really like is an Irish place name, Adair (or Adare) (which I read about first on your blog!) with the nn Ada? Other girl names we tossed around are Ailish, Saiorse (husband loves this one but way too hard to spell IMO), Arlen (I like unisex names for girls a lot), Arwen (think we nixed this one due to sounding too LOTR), and Nuala.

Really no names are off limits! Oh except for flower names.”

I’m sure you’re not surprised that I had loads of fun with this! Megan and her hubs have a really fun style!

It’s interesting to me that Leo is a family name for Megan — I’ve always thought of it as an “Irish” name because there are loads of them in the Irish side of my family, and I wondered if that was just my experience or if it does have exceptionally good usage among families of Irish descent. So I love seeing that it’s in her family tree too!

Some thoughts about the names on their list of considerations:

  • Declan: Great name, very Irish. In the movie Leap Year, which is mostly set in Ireland, the main guy is Declan and they call him Decko (Deco?) at one point, which is really cute. Dex could also be a cute nickname
  • Cullen: Love it
  • Cormac: Ditto, and the nickname Mac is great
  • Lachlan: Great name
  • Callum: I probably prefer this to Cullen, only because I don’t know how prominent the Twilight association would be with Cullen anymore, but they wouldn’t have to worry about that at all with Callum
  • Henry: I’m glad Megan included this on the list — I think it helped me understand their old-man taste! If they did decide to go with Henry, its traditional nickname Hank is definitely an old-man name and sooo cute
  • Adair/Adare is an awesome name, and I’m so pleased Megan found it on the blog! Ada as a nickname is cool too. Maybe also Dara?
  • Ailish I love, and the similar Eilis. Gorgeous! They also made me think of Aislin(g) (said ASH-lin or ASH-ling) and Ainsley. Also, Ailish and Eilis are saintly — I understand that Ailish is generally considered the Irish form of Alice, and Eilis is Elizabeth
  • I love the idea of Saoirse, and a friend of mine had her daughter on July 4 and seriously considered it because of its meaning “freedom,” but it’s SO hard to spell and no one will figure out the pronunciation! Because Megan and her hubs have such Irishy Irish ideas on their list, I thought I’d throw out some of my favorites: Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Aine, and Grainne. But all of them (except maybe Niamh? Maybe it’s got a little familiarity? I did a spotlight of it here) have the same problem as Saoirse
  • Arlen’s cool
  • Arwen is 100% LOTR to me, which I don’t think is terrible, but I can see they’d want to move away from that
  • I like Nuala! Another variant of Nuala is Nola, which is like Nora but with a twist, and is easy to spell and say

So when I was coming up with new ideas for Megan and her hubs, I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (as you all know, I rely heavily on it in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), but I also went off-road as it were by just coming up with ideas that I thought might fit their style, especially based on nicknames and Irishness. Based on all that, these are my ideas for this baby:


(1) Gwenfair or Mairwen
These names were inspired by their love of Celtic names, the fact that Megan’s husband is Welsh, and the fact that they have a LOTR name on their list (Tolkien’s names have some good connection with Welsh in particular, I believe). These gorgeous names are actually the same name, with the elements reversed: “gwen” (which is of course the “Gwen” in Gwenfair as well as the “wen” in Mairwen) means “fair, white, blessed,” and Mair (which is the “fair” part of Gwenfair, as well as of course the “Mair” in Mairwen) is the Welsh form of Mary. So these are gorgeous, unusual Marian names! I believe the “fair”/“Mair” parts are both said to rhyme with “tire” in Welsh, and the F is like a V, so gwen-vire and mire-wen, but I think they could legitimately say “fair”/“Mair” to rhyme with “care,” which makes it easier to live with in the U.S. I did hesitate that maybe Gwen and Finn are too similar sounding as nicknames? But I think they could be fine too.

(2) Brigid/Bridget nicked Bridie; Briege
When Megan said they like longer names that can be shortened to nicknames, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Irish girl nicknames: Bridie. So cute! I like both Brigid and Bridget for this family as longer forms. These names also made me think of Briege, which is a form of Bridget … it’s not a long name that can be shortened to a nickname, but it’s a pretty cool+unusual Irish name. You all might be familiar with Sr. Briege McKenna.

(3) Greer
One of the names I’d scribbled down for this family before I even cracked open the BNW is Greer, one of my favorites. It’s a Scottish feminine form of Gregory, and while I think it definitely has a unisex feel, it also has a Hollywood starlet feel to me, a la 40’s actress Greer Garson. Funny enough, her given name was Eileen, so Greer Eileen really goes together imo!

(4) Tierney
Another I’d written down for them before starting my research was Tierney, so I was delighted to see both Tierney and Greer as style matches for Adair according to the BNW! I was actually inspired to suggest both of them to Megan by sisters I knew growing up named Gr33r and T!erney (alt characters used for privacy). Like Greer, Tierney has a unisex feel, and I love its rhythm. I know neither Greer nor Tierney lend themselves to natural nicknames, but they seemed too good a match for this family to not suggest them!

(5) Rhiannon, Rowan
There were a few inspirations behind these names: Rhian was listed as a style match for Cormac, but I though Rhiannon was a better idea, since then they’d have a longer name that they could shorten to the unisex-feeling Rhian, or also Rhia. Rowan is a match for Cullen and Adair as a girl’s name, and Finn as a boy’s name, so it seemed a great idea for Megan and her hubs!


(1) Malachy
The Irish author Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) had a brother named Malachy, so I’ve always thought of it as an Irish old-man name. It’s the name of an Irish saint, and Mac is an easy nickname for it, which is what made me think of it for this family, since Megan said what she likes about Cormac is actually the nickname Mac. And Malachy’s definitely uncommon!

(2) Jameson
I thought Jameson felt similar to Finnian — definitely Irish, not unfamiliar, and a longer name that can be shortened. I can definitely hear “Jamie” being said in an Irish brogue, and Finn and Jamie sound like amazing Irish brothers.

(3) Cameron
Cameron might be too popular for them (no. 57 in 2016 compared to Finnian not even being in the top 1000 [though Finn was no. 175]), but it’s Scottish and Cam is one of my favorite nicknames.

(4) Ronan, Rohan
While Rowan started as a boy name and has become more unisex, Ronan — which is a match for Finnian, Declan, and Cormac — is firmly masculine, as far as I know. And Ronan (and Arwen) made me think of Rohan, like the Riders of Rohan from Lord of the Rings — I think it’s maybe not as well known as a LOTR name as Arwen is? And Rohan is actually an Irish surname.

(5) Timothy or Thaddeus nicked Tadhg
I don’t think Megan and her hubs will love the familiar feel of Timothy (though it’s dropped in popularity, being no. 153 in 2016), though it does have an Irish feel — it’s one of those names that seems to be favored by Irish/Irish-American families of the past, and so it has a green sheen even though it’s biblical. Conversely, Thaddeus has the uncommonness I think they prefer (it was no. 641 in 2016), and though it does have traditional usage in Ireland, it doesn’t have an Irish feel like Timothy. But the reason I’m including them on my list of suggestions is because both have been used as the Anglo version of the super Irish name Tadhg. In fact, I have a devotion to one of the Irish martyrs, a Dominican priest named Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, and he’s sometimes listed as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty. I think Tadhg is one of the coolest Irish boy names —
it’s said like the first syllable of “tiger” — but like with Saoirse, its spelling is a challenge and no one will know how to say it. That’s why I suggested Timothy or Thaddeus as the given name, and Tadhg as the nickname — of the two, I think Timothy is a better match as a brother for Finnian.

And those are all my ideas for Megan and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Finnian Daniel?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And some fun news to share! 💚☘️

Haaaaappy St. Paddy’s Day!! One of my favorite days of the year!! If you’re looking for Irish naming inspiration, I’ve got a bunch of posts from years past that might have just what you’re looking for. ☘️☘️☘️

I have an extra special reason for being excited for today this year, as I’d earmarked today as “share the news day” — I’m thrilled to share with you all that my family will be welcoming a new little wee Miss or Mister in the fall! 💚💚💚

I haven’t been posting much original content lately as a result, which you’ve probably all noticed — I’ve been feeling terrible and counting the days until I reach the point where I’ve felt better in past pregnancies, which I estimated to be another 3 to 5 weeks — but once I’m back to cracking, I’ve got a list of topics I’d love to write about, so stay tuned! (I know how blessed I am that my “morning” sickness isn’t HG and doesn’t last past 18 weeks — you ladies that suffer with bad sickness in pregnancy are warriors!)

Cheers to you all today! St. Patrick, pray for us! And any prayers you’d like to send in the direction of me and my little babe would be greatly appreciated. 💚☘️💚☘️💚☘️


Birth announcement: Francis Leo!

I posted a consultation for Erin and her husband back in January, and Erin has let me know that her little green bean has arrived — a baby boy given the handsome name … Francis Leo!

Erin writes,

I wanted to just let you know baby is here!
We have another BOY!

Francis ‘Finn’ Leo was born February 22, 2018 weighing 8lbs 10oz and 22inches long!

After you sent the consult I went [and] looked more around your blog and came across a post about Francis and using the nickname Finn instead of the common Frank. It immediately spoke to me and I told my husband and he loved it! Since we loved Francis and really wanted that as a middle name because Frank just wasn’t our style Finn being a nickname option pushed us to make that his first name. (Francis is my paternal grandfathers middle name.) Then we thought about middle name. We wanted something to refer to my husband because our other boys all have a strong tie to my husband. My husband decided Leo would be perfect. Leo is his maternal grandfathers middle name. His grandfather passed away when his mom was young so my husband never met him.

Both Francis and Leo are such strong catholic names too. So many Saints to look up to!

He has such a special name. Thank you for helping us find the perfect name for our little man!

I’m SO EXCITED that Erin and her hubs are using Finn as a nickname for Francis! I love it so much! And Francis Leo is just such an amazing, saintly combo!

Congratulations to Erin and her husband and big sibs Caleb, David, Isaac, and Lucilia, and happy birthday Baby Francis “Finn”!!

Francis Leo with his family ❤

Birth announcement: Leo Ignatius!

I posted a consultation for Arenda and her husband back in January, and Arenda has let me know that her little green bean has arrived — a little boy given the aMAZing name … Leo Ignatius!

Arenda writes,

I just wanted to let you know that we had a little baby BOY! He was born at home (which was planned) on Sunday morning, but sped into the world so quickly he was delivered by myself and Jeremy, whom I woke up 8 minutes before the baby was born (not planned!). But the Lord took care of us and all is well. We’ve named our little lad Leo Ignatius.

During my pregnancy, I’d been so sure that this little one was a girl, so I focused most of my baby name thoughts on girl names. When he was born and we found out he was actually a boy, I was totally shocked — and not sure about the boy name we’d chosen. I mentioned this to Jeremy (“To be honest, I’ve barely thought about baby boy names! I think I need some time before we decide!”), and so we talked about various names. Then we read through your baby name consultation again and, though I’ve suggested Leo several times before and Jeremy’s always said no, this time he loved it. We read a bit about Pope St. Leo the Great online (defender against heresy) and both agreed he would be a wonderful patron saint for our little lad. His middle name is for St. Ignatius. Like your husband, Jeremy read the letters of St. Ignatius early on in his journey to the Catholic Church, and found them very convicting.

Thanks again for your wonderful consultation, and for suggesting Leo — we love it! 🙂

PS — I attached a couple photos, one of our little sweetie, and one of what life with four little ones looks like most of the time! Haha! 🙂 “

Isn’t that a wonderful story?? I was so excited to read it! Leo Ignatius is such an amazing combo!

Congratulations to Arenda and Jeremy and big sibs James, June, and Alice, and happy birthday Baby Leo!!

Leo Ignatius with his big brother and sisters 😀 ❤

Baby name consultation: Not-popular boy name or Italian girl name for baby no. 3

Allegra and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little bean joins big sibs:

Anthony David (“Anthony is for my late father, who passed away when I was about 3 years old, who in turn was named for St. Anthony of Padua. We are all Italian if that wasn’t clear 😉 My father went by Tony, which I like, but I just don’t see it in my son so he goes by Anthony. He’s also not even 3 yet, so we’ll see. David is my husband’s middle name“)

Giuliana Catherine (“Giuliana was my girl name choice for Anthony. I’ve liked the Italian spellings of the variants of Giulia/na for a while, so no other reasoning than I just like the name. I also (theoretically) like the nicknames for it, except G, but again we just still call her by her full name so far (she’s about 1.5). Catherine is a family name (my maternal grandmother) and one we both liked. For Giuliana’s patron we chose St. Catherine Laboure“)

Such great names! Yes, they’re not unusual, but they’re classic and saintly and so handsome/beautiful. And such great family connections for both of them!

Allegra writes,

For Anthony I never even considered popularity because I wanted to name him after my father, and then around when we had Giuliana I realized just how many Julianna’s there are, and how I accidentally gave both my kids popular names, even though I claim to like unusual ones.

This is the first time we’ve decided not to find out the sex until birth. My husband isn’t as passionate about baby name discussion as I am (huge shock, I’m sure!) so we’ve only had pretty casual conversations so far, but here are some names we have discussed.

For boys:
Luke (my second choice with Anthony, but I dislike how popular it is)
James (not Jim or Jimmy)
Max (for St. Maximilian Kolbe, but we don’t care for Maximus or Maximilian … any other formal name suggestions? I don’t like nicknames as legal names)

We are growing in our love for St. John Paul II as a family, but we aren’t crazy about the actual name, so any way to tie him in would be great. Overall I worry that our boy name ideas are too boring/popular/plain. I like how unusual my name is but I find it harder to come up with stuff for boys that I like without it being so popular.

For girls:
-Margaret (going by Maggie) — This was actually one of my top choices before I even had a due date, maybe before this pregnancy, and then I found out my due date is the feast of St. Margaret of Antioch! We also have a dear family friend Sister Mary Ann (“Aunt Sis”) whose birthday is 7-22 and initials are MAG and who has the nickname Mags or Maggie, so it’s kind of a subtle way to honor her.
-Maria (or other Blessed Mother names). My husband’s grandmother is also named Mary.
-Grace (again popularity concern)
-Thalia (I actually wouldn’t use this, because it feels too Greek and we are so Italian, but I really like it)
-Sabrina was on my list for Giuliana, but I’m not as crazy about it anymore.

Names we can’t use (niece/nephews) are Joseph, Peter, Filomena, and Angelo. Other saints we like (aside from JPII and Kolbe) are St. Thomas Aquinas (not crazy for Thomas), Sts. Therese/Zelie/Louis (but our dog is Zelda, hah), and St. Padre Pio.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Allegra said she would like to have a less popular name, but the names she likes (especially for boys) are more popular than she’d prefer. I thought this post might be helpful, which discusses how the popular names of today aren’t even close to being as popular as the popular names of the past were; this is also great.

I was really interested to see that in 2016, Anthony was no. 30 and Luke was no. 29. Very well matched!

James is also a great name, but I don’t think Allegra will love that it was no. 5 in 2016. It’s funny to me that she said she doesn’t care for Jim or Jimmy, but prefers James, because most of the little boys with James-type names that I know of go by the full James. That said, I do have a friend who named her son James and calls him Jimmy, and there’s a Jim on my 7yo’s basketball team and a Jim in my 3yo’s nursery school class! Jim! I chuckle every time I hear it, because it sounds like such a man’s name to me. Anyway, all that to say, I totally understand that Allegra prefers James to Jim or Jimmy, but Jim/Jimmy are actually a much more unusual choice (but maybe also starting to rise in popularity?).

An idea for James, if Allegra and her hubs liked the idea of a nickname other than Jim/Jimmy, is Jake. Jacob is the Hebrew form of James, so Jake for James has an actual linguistic connection. But then I was thinking how they like St. Maximilian Kolbe, and I thought something like James Kolbe would be very handsome, and would make even more sense of the nickname Jake. (This is assuming that they even like the nickname Jake, which maybe they don’t! And maybe they prefer a Max first name to Kolbe as a middle! So I hope they just ignore these suggestions if that’s the case. 😊 )

As for Max, the formal Max names I know of besides Maximus and Maximilian are Maxim and Maxwell. I have some other ideas for formal names for Max below in my official suggestions as well.

There are several ways to honor St. John Paul that don’t involve using John Paul. His birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles, so any of the names of that family can work: Charles, Carl, Carlo, Karl, Karol for boys and Caroline, Karoline, Karolina for girls. If they use the K spelling, those who are familiar with JP2 would like get it right away, which is fun. I actually really like the idea of Karolina for this family — it’s long and feminine like Giuliana. But I think Carolina is the Italian variant, so maybe they’d prefer that.

His childhood nickname was Lolek, which I believe is a Polish diminutive of Karol, and I’ve seen Lolek used by some families! We even had a discussion of the possibility of Lolek as a nickname of sorts for Luke in this comment; since Allegra has Luke on her list and doesn’t love its popularity, maybe using Lolek as a nickname for Luke will give it that unusualness she hopes for? That same comment suggests Emilia as a nod to JP2, as it was his mom’s name. That could be lovely for this family too! Emilia also has Italian usage! I actually know a super Italian family who named their daughter Emilia because it’s so Italian.

I love the girl names on Allegra’s list, and I’m amazed by all the Margaret/Maggie connections!! It seems like such a great fit for them!! My only thought was, would they like to consider the Italian variant Margarita? Either way, Margaret/Maggie sounds like *the* name for Allegra and her hubs!

Maria, Grace, Teresa are all beautiful, and Thalia and Sabrina surprised me! I like being surprised! I have an idea regarding Thalia in my ideas below.

As for saints Allegra and her hubs like, I have seen boys named Aquinas, and I know one of them goes by Quin. I know they have Teresa on their list, which certainly counts as an honor for St. Therese; I’ve also seen Rose names given in her honor. I could see some Rose names being nice for this family! Rosa and Rosalia are two Italian versions that they might like. Louis for a boy is not popular (no. 289), so they might like to consider it for a first or middle name, or maybe Louisa for a girl? Zelie and Zelda do seem too similar! St. Zelie’s given name was Marie-Azelie, so maybe some version of that instead? Many people say that Azelie is the French for the azalea flower; if they like the azalea idea, maybe they could do an Italian version? The dictionary says the Italian for azalea is azalea, so maybe Maria-Azalea? I love coming up with nicknames formed from the first and middles — Maria-Azalea could be Maizie or Mariza or Malea or Mia …

The blogger Ana Hahn has a Joseph Pio, and I thought putting Pio in the middle was so interesting! It could help “liven up” a first name that Allegra thinks is otherwise too popular/common? Luke Pio? James Pio? Ooh, if they’re into initials, James Pio could be JP, which could also be a nod to JP2!

Alrighty, on to my suggestions. You all know that I start my consultations by looking up the names the parents have used 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. I did so for Allegra, looking up Anthony, Juliana (standing in for Giuliana), Luke, James, Max, Margaret, Maggie, Maria, Grace, Teresa, Talia (standing in for Thalia, which wasn’t as close a match as I’d hoped), and Sabrina. Based on that research, and my own ideas, these are my suggestions for Allegra and her hubs:


(1) Gabriella
So my original first idea here was Caterina, which I was super psyched about and thought it was perfect for this family,* and then I re-read Allegra’s email and saw that Giuliana’s middle name is Catherine! Gah! I’d totally forgotten! So I changed my first suggestion to Gabriella. Though I was very influenced by Giuliana’s name when coming up with girl ideas — the Italian-ness of it makes it hard for me to think of non-Italian names! — and Gabriella certainly fits in with that, I also like that Gabriella isn’t *uber* Italian, I know a bunch of Gabriellas that aren’t Italian. So it might be a really nice way to start moving their girl style away from “super Italian” without it feeling out of place.

*I thought I’d include what I’d written about Caterina, just in case they’re okay using it for a first name even though they already used Catherine as a middle: “When I saw Catherine/Katherine/Kathryn as style matches for Anthony, Margaret, and Teresa, and Kate as a match for Maggie, I thought Caterina (possibly with the nickname Cate) was perfect! St. Catherine of Siena’s name was actually Caterina, as she was Italian, which makes for a really nice saintly connection.”

(2) Natalia
I was so excited when I started looking up the names included in Allegra’s email and discovered that Natalie is a match for Anthony and Natalia for Juliana! I thought Natalia was such a great suggestion for this family, not only because it’s a style match for their older two children, but also because it nicknames neatly and easily to Talia! Like Thalia on Allegra’s list! Perfect!

(3) Chiara
Claire is a match for Luke and Grace, but of course I felt like I had to Italian it up! Chiara is the Italian form, and like with St. Catherine being originally Caterina, St. Clare of Assisi was actually Chiara, so she can be patron. But more recently, there’s Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, who I often see parents naming daughters for — she’s a great, modern patron for a little girl. I did a spotlight on the name here.

(4) Veronica
Veronica’s a match for Anthony, and its long femininity makes it a great sister for Giuliana I think! Such a gorgeous name, and one that I consider exclusively Catholic (though I know it has non-Catholic usage), since she’s never named in the bible but rather her name has come down through tradition. I did a spotlight on it here.

(5) Maristella
This is inspired by the “Maria (or other Blessed Mother names)” on their list, as well as, of course, Giuliana’s Italian-ness. Maristella is from Our Lady’s title “Star of the Sea,” which is rendered as Stella Maris and Maris Stella, which can be used as-is for a girl’s name, but I usually see Maristel(l)a and Stellamaris. Maristella is so lovely!


(1) Michael
I know Allegra said she doesn’t love that the names she likes tend to be fairly popular, and Michael’s one of those names that sounds uber popular because it was the no. 1 boy name for so long. It’s still a top ten name (no. 8 in 2016, less popular than James), but as that article I linked to above shows, it’s not nearly as huge as it was. It’s a style match for Anthony and Maria, but beyond that, I thought it could get them to Max as a nickname. Michael Xavier or Michael Alexander, for example, make the nickname Max really obvious. (Any M name paired with Xavier or Alexander could get them to Max, of course — Matthew comes to mind as another great example.)

(2) Nicholas
Like Natalia, Nicholas is a match for both Anthony and Giuliana! I love that! And its diminutive Cole is a match for Luke. I think Nicholas has that same Italian feel that Anthony has (by which I mean, Anthony and Nicholas can be used by any heritage, but there’s something about them that feels really right on a boy of Italian heritage). As mentioned, Cole could be a nickname, or Nico (which was actually a match for Talia), or of course Nick/Nicky.

(3) Dominic
Dominic also has that Italian feel of Anthony and Nicholas, and like Nicholas can take Nic(o) as a nickname. Or, Dom(my) can work — my dad had a friend Dominick nicknamed Dommy growing up, and I always thought that was really cute.

(4) Nathaniel
Moving away from the Italianate names, Nathaniel is a style match for Giuliana and Nathan for Luke! I like them both, though I like Nathaniel for this family better because its length is nice with Anthony and Giuliana (though of course Luke and James are short and I think they’d go fine too).

(5) Victor
My last idea for Allegra and her hubs is Victor. It’s a match for Anthony and Maria, and is a name I’ve had on my own list for a long time. I wrote about it being a great Jesus name here, and the post I did on nicknames for Victor has always been — and continues to be — my second most-viewed post ever! Every single day I have visitors that reach my blog because of some variation of the search term “nicknames for victor.” Isn’t that crazy?

And those are all my ideas for Allegra and her hubs! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Anthony and Giuliana?

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs a “beautifully feminine” or “sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” name

Katie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This wee one joins big siblings:

Julianna (Julie) Marie (“named after my confirmation saint, Juliana Falconieri, who I may or may not have chosen partly because I LOVED her name. I have felt her intercession throughout my adult life. Her nickname, Julie, also honors a dear family friend, and the spelling of two n’s honors my sister, and paternal grandmother (both named Anne), and Marie honors both the BVM and myself“)

Matthew Aurelius (“named after his dad (Matthew Andrew), and shares the same initials, MAB, as his dad and paternal grandfather (Mark Anthony). Aurelius honors both St. Aurelius and St. Ambrose (whose full name was Aurelius Ambrosius). We also thought about naming him Matthew Ambrose“)

I love these names! Julianna is lovely, and Julie is unexpected these days, but familiar, which is a great combo. Aurelius as Matthew’s middle name is amazing! I’m a huge fan of a more traditional name paired with a more adventurous or unconventional name, such a fun strategy. It’s also very cool that Katie’s son shares initials with his dad and grandfather, while having his own (amazing) name. Nice job!

Katie writes,

While we have one girl name we are leaning towards, we are completely stumped for boy names. I would love suggestions for both though! Without further ado, I’ve shared as much as I can below to help you help us out!

My husband and I are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names, almost to the point of comical I suppose, ha! In the words of my husband, we want “a badass Catholic warrior name!” If it sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight, we would probably love it 🙂 .

  • Some other points to consider: The girl name we are heavily leaning towards is Rosalie Ruth, and would call her Rose/ Rosie (I’ve always wanted a Rose/Rosie, but wanted that to be her nickname), with the first name honoring the BVM, and the second honoring both my mother, Nancy Ruth, and Ruth of the OT. We also love the name Vivian, but maybe it’s a little close to Julianna? I also seem to like most feminine names that are flowers…

  • I would like to honor Mary’s name in every girl name (with an added bonus if our boy names honor her), even if not immediately obvious — I feel particularly drawn to her apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes (my bday is feast day of Lourdes)

  • I love nicknames, and also like pairing first and middle names so that one is more traditional, the other more adventurous/ unconventional.

  • We would like something that is not too terribly common, even if that means the legal name is more common, but the nickname is unconventional

  • While we like strong masculine names for boys and beautifully feminine names for girls, I love the idea of mixing genders for possibly the middle name (ex: if we had a girl on the feast day of St. Joseph, I would totally consider naming her Rosalie Joseph and call her Rosie Jo. So cute, plus we like a little spunk in the nicknames!).

  • It’s a long story, but we believe St. Raphael brought my husband and I together, and I would love a way to honor him somehow. While I LOVE the name Raphael (I like it pronounced RAY-fee-el) it’s a bit of a mouthful and I’m not fond of Ralph or Raffy for nicknames. I like Rafe, but my husband needs convincing and it’s awfully close to rape… We might have to settle on Raphael for a middle name…

  • My husband and I got married on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so if there is any interesting tie in with that/ Carmelites that would be cool

  • Other names we like for boys (either for first or middle): Xavier, Campion (what are some nicknames for this one, because we really like it), Ambrose, Joachim (curious about variations of this name). While I like Maximilian we had a dog named Maxx when were first married, so that could only be a middle name.

  • We like the following names, but cannot use them as they are already used (or claimed) by close cousins: Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, Jackson

  • Saints that we love: St. Therese of Liseux, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila (but we don’t like the name Therese/ Teresa as first name), St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Edmund Campion, St. Augustine, St. Felicity and Perpetua

I love love how Katie said that she and her hubby “are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names” and that they want “a badass Catholic warrior name” that “sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” — amazing descriptions! It immediately made me think of this post I did a while ago on warrior saints, which has a bunch of cool ideas, some of which I included in my official suggestions below. It doesn’t have a whole lot of unusual or unexpected names though, so I tried to channel that angle in my suggestions moreso.

Some other thoughts on Katie’s bullet points:

  • Rosalie Ruth is such a beautiful combo! I also love the idea of Rosalie Joseph nicked Rosie Jo, that is so very much the kind of thing I love to see!
  • I keep trying to figure out if I agree that Vivian is too similar to Julianna, and I’m leaning toward no, I don’t agree. I think it’s a great option! But I totally get that sometimes a thought gets in your head and it’s hard to get rid of it.
  • Most feminine names that are flowers have a Marian connection, so that could be a great way to work Our Lady in. There are the more familiar ones like Rose (on their list already), Lily, and Violet, and the more offbeat or unexpected ones like Daisy (which is also a traditional nickname for Margaret), Marigold, and Edelweiss. Lots of fun options! This book is a great resource.
  • I, too, have always intended to honor Our Lady in my daughters’ names (but no daughters yet!). I love the idea of it, and there are so many cool ways to do so. For Fatima, besides Fatima itself, or Maria Fatima (not uncommon among Spanish-speaking families), Katie and her hubs could also consider Lucy or Lucia and Jacinta for girls (bonus: Jacinta is a variant of Hyacinth, which is a flower!), and Francisco/Francis for a boy. Or Francesca for a girl and Lucian for a boy. Even the name John Paul connects very closely to Our Lady of Fatima in my opinion, since he credited her with saving his life when he was shot. For Lourdes, I love Lourdes itself! The posts on Lindsay Boever’s children’s names could be helpful here — she has a Lourdes (and same other amazingly named kiddos as well), I love seeing it. A woman in my parish is Mary Lourdes and goes by Mary Lou. Bernadette is certainly an option, which I believe was her nickname — I’ve read that her given name was Marie-Bernarde, so that — or any Marie- combo — could nod to OL of Lourdes if they wanted it to. Their Rose names (Rosalie, Rosie) can also, as Our Lady appeared with golden roses on her feet.
  • I love the name Raphael, and I prefer the pronunciation they like as well! It would be awesome as a middle name, but also, I wonder if they’ve considered the feminine variant Raphaela/Rafaela? They could do Ella as a nickname and avoid the possible “rape” connection. (Though, here’s a good example of a Raphael/Rafe who seems to be doing okay.)
  • I have a suggestion for a Carmelite name for a boy below; for girls, Carmel, Carmen, Carmella are all variants of the same name, and Katie said they love St. Teresa of Avila, who was a Carmelite as well. Since they don’t love the Therese/Teresa names, what about Avila as a first or middle? They’d get one of their favorite saints in there AND OL of Mount Carmel! St. Therese was also a Carmelite, and the Rose names can easily honor her as well as Our Lady under any of her titles.
  • I’m glad Katie included Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, and Jackson as names they like but can’t use — they helped in my research.
  • As for their favorite saints, Tess and Tessa could work to honor the Sts. Therese/Teresas … I’ve often loved the idea of Maria Kolbe for a girl, in honor of St. Maximilian (and his middle name was Maria, which is extra cool) … Campion is my favorite way to honor the awesome St. Edmund … Gus is one of my favorite nicknames ever, and Augustin(e) was a strong contender for our last three boys — August or Augustus could work too. I too love Sts. Felicity and Perpetua … I love Felicity as a first name, and it’s actually a style match for Juliana per the Baby Name Wizard (I explain more about my research in the BNW below; I used Juliana in place of Julianna, as Julianna didn’t have its own entry) … Perpetua’s a fun and unexpected name — would make a cool middle if they weren’t comfortable with it as a first! And it can also honor Our Lady, via her title Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua (full name Perpetua Mercy, how cool!). I’ve been asked about nicknames for both Felicity and Perpetua, and I did a spotlight on Felicity, which includes nickname ideas; and I included nickname ideas for Perpetua here.

Some thoughts on the boy names they like:

  • Xavier: love, one of my favorites
  • Campion: An awesome saintly surname. I love Cam as a nickname for it — Cam is one of my favorite short boy nicknames anyway, so I think Campion nn Cam is perfect! I could see Camp and Cap working as well, or something like Cal if they used a middle name with a prominent L.
  • Ambrose: We’ve had Ambrose on our list for several of our boys, so I’ve thought a lot about this one! Especially nicknames: my favorite ideas are Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially if paired with a middle with a prominent D sound). (The Raphael in the link I provided above also has a brother Ambrose!)
  • Joachim: So basically their list of boy names is exactly mine! I’ve tried to convince my hubs of Joachim for YEARS! He’s just really reluctant to give such an unusual name with pronunciation issues to one of his boys, but in my mind that’s all easily remedied by a great nickname! My favorite is Jake, but Joe/Joey is more obvious — both Jake and Joe(y) are so easy for everyday use! Variants of Joachim are the Spanish Joaquín, which is probably the most familiar of this name family due to actor Joaquín Phoenix; Kelly Ripa also has a son named Joaquín. A Scandinavian version is Joakim, like NBA player Joakim Noah, which unfortunately seems to be a fairly negative and overriding association to most guys I mention the name to. I spotlighted the name a while ago, which provides more info on pronunciations and variants. I also wrote about it in my contribution to The Catholic Hipster Handbook!
  • Maximilian: Maximilian seems right up their “sanctified gladiator” alley, AND I consider it a Marian name, since St. Maximilian was so devoted to Our Lady, so I wonder if a different nickname than Max would make it work as a first name? You all probably know I’ve suggested Miles and Milo several times as nicknames for Maximilian, which would also up the Marian angle, since Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish male name Maolmhuire, which translates as “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

Okay! Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the names already on their list, on to my list of suggestions. As you all know, these are the result of my research, which includes looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in style/feel/popularity. I generally look for overlap, or other inspiration based on their style matches, especially faith connections. I also search through my own mental files for ideas that I think will fit their taste. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Katie and her husband:


(1) Clairvaux
I scribbled this idea down for them before I even cracked open the BNW! It’s a cross-gender namesake (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it’s a feminine-feeling yet unconventional given name with a familiar and feminine nickname (Claire). I mentioned Lindsay Boever above, mom of Lourdes — she also has a Clairvaux! I also posted a consultation recently for another mom who also has a Clairvaux. Such a pretty, unexpected pick! Also, Claire is a style match for both Pierce and Jackson from their list of names they like but can’t use.

(2) Candace
This is a rare name for me to suggest! I’ve only done so once before! When I saw it listed as a style match for Julianne (I looked up both Juliana and Julianne, as Julianna doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), I thought it was worth a mention because it has Marian ties! It’s a biblical name, mentioned in Acts 8:27; it was the title of the queens of Ethiopia and is said to mean “queen mother” in Cushitic. Queen Mother is the perfect description for Our Lady! Candace has some really fun nickname options too, beyond the obvious Candy/Candi (which may or may not be their taste), like Caddy, Cadie, Cana, Casey, Dacey, and Daisy (the latter two stemming from its fairly traditional pronunciation variant kan-DAY-see) (and how cool that Katie like flower names, and Daisy can be a Candace nickname!). So interesting, right?

(3) Adrienne
Adriana is a style match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna), as is Adrian for a boy (which is also one of the male warrior names included in the post I linked to above), and Adrienne is a match for Julianne. I thought Adriana was too close to Julianna, and I didn’t really think Adrian for a boy is their style (maybe I’m wrong?), but Adrienne seemed like a great idea for them! Such a pretty name with loads of saintly connections!

(4) Beatrice/Beatrix
Raphael was an outlier of sorts on their list style-wise (not a bad thing!), so I was interested to see what names were style matches for both boys and girls. Beatrice was included, and when I saw Beatrix also listed as a match for Maximilian, I really wanted to include both! Bea is the cutest nickname, as is Trixie. And they’re Marian! Beatrix is the root name, and it’s Latin for “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is a pretty obvious nod to Our Lady anyway, but her title Cause of Our Joy also ties in pretty well.

(5) Genevieve, Evangeline, Evelyn, Veronica
These were mostly inspired by their love of — and hesitation about — Vivian. I often seen Genevieve and Evangeline included in lists of names that also have Vivian/Vivienne — I think of them as three facets of the same idea (strong V sound; long and elegant). Additionally, Genevieve was listed as a style match for both Raphael and Vivian, and Evangeline is a match for Maximilian. I was also interested to see Evelyn and Veronica listed as matches for Vivian, which also felt similar to this “strong V, very feminine” feel. I thought it was not unlikely that one of these might hit all the same notes for Katie and her hubs that Vivian does, without the possible over-similarity to Julianna. They can all take the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, and all but Veronica can also have Evie as a nickname. (And maybe even Veronica too, if they wanted!)


(1) George
I have more ideas for boys than for girls for Katie and her hubs, which seemed appropriate since Katie said they’re having a harder time with boy names. George wasn’t a match for them in any of my research, but when I saw it in that post I linked to above of warrior saints, I thought it might be a great option. Anyone who knows about St. George would immediately get a “badass Catholic warrior” and “medieval knight” vibe I think.

(2) Gideon
I mentioned above that I was really interested in the style matches for Raphael, and when I saw Gideon listed as one, I was excited to include it here! Gideon was pretty badass in the bible — here is a lengthy discussion of him in a Catholic resource, but I love the more succinct entry from (a non-religious source): “Gideon is a hero and judge of the Old Testament. He led the vastly outnumbered Israelites against the Midianites, defeated them, and killed their two kings.” Definitely a warrior! I know Gideon might come across as a Protestant name due to the Gideon Bibles, which is why I included the Catholic link; I also know a Catholic boy named Gideon. But what’s a good nickname for Gideon? My favorite idea is Gil, which I think is just perfect! It would need a middle name with a strong L to make it work I think — something like Gideon Louis would be a great combo I think. I wrote more about Gil as a nickname here.

(3) Roman
Roman was another style match for Raphael, and also Maximilian, and I love it for what I think of as explicitly Catholic connections (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Pope, etc. as well as the very Latin Aurelius), but it can also have a very soldier-y feel. This family has a Roman, as does Cate Blanchett.

(4) Tobias
Yet another Raphael match that I love for this family, and a very cool way to nod to St. Raphael without using his actual name! Raphael plays a key role in the book of Tobit, and Tobias (or Tobiah — Tobias is the Greek variant of Tobiah) is Tobit’s son; Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah’s marriage not end in death, among other amazing things, which you all probably already knew. And Toby is an adorable nickname!

(5) Elias, Elijah, Elliott
Speaking of Greek variants of biblical names, Elias — which is the Greek form of Elijah — is a match for Xavier, and it jumped out at me right away because Elijah is considered by the Carmelites to be their founder, so I consider Elijah and Elias to be legit nods to Our Lady of Mount Carmel! I like both variants, as well as Elliott, which is a medieval diminutive of Elias. Eli is a great nickname for all of those.

(6) Sebastian
Not only is Sebastian a style match for Maximilian and Xavier, but since St. Sebastian is always depicted with arrows sticking out of him, he totally has a warrior feel to me. (I actually only just learned that the arrows didn’t kill him! He recovered, only to be killed for good a different way.) It’s got some great nicknames too — Bash is my recent favorite, but I’ve long loved Seb and Sebby; I’ve also seen Baz and even Ian! Also Bastian, which is very Neverending Story.

(7) Nathaniel, Bartholomew
My last idea for Katie and her hubs is Nathaniel or Bartholomew. Nathaniel is a match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna) and Olivia, which I thought was pretty cool. I love its length and biblical-ness, and Nat and Nate are great nicknames. But Bartholomew — another name for Nathaniel in the bible — has, I think, more of the “medieval knight” feel than Nathaniel, so I thought I should include it too. I read A Dictionary of English Surnames last winter, and was so struck by how many English surnames were derived from Bartholomew! Some of the surnames would make and/or are already used as pretty cool first names or, in this case, nicknames for Bartholomew, like Bates, Batten, and Bartlett. Or maybe they’d like the more common Bart? St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel was a martyr, which doesn’t get much more badass.

And those are all my ideas for Katie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julianna Marie and Matthew Aurelius?