I had the great privilege of posting a consultation for Jaclyn and her husband two years ago, which inspired my Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names and Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names articles, and then posting a birth announcement for her sweet baby girl. I’m delighted that she’s back again for another consultation, this time for a baby boy!
This little guy joins big siblings:
Lillian Charlotte (“sometimes goes by Lily“)
I love all of those names, and though as you’ll read Jaclyn and her hubs have moved more toward distinctively Catholic names, I think the whole group works together so nicely.
“Our first two are named after family members and also just names we loved! But as time has passed, it has become increasingly important to us to choose strong Saint names, and names with an authentically “Catholic feel”. But we still want them to flow with the others. That’s why we came to you for help with Gemma and now this little one (our second boy!) 💙
Names we are considering so far:
The front runners:
-Benedict: we love the Pope Emeritus, and also feel a connection to St. Benedict of Nursia. However, we wonder if it fits in with our other kids well. Maybe it’s a little “strong”/“weighty”sounding? I don’t know what word I’m looking for, lol. Also, it’s a long name but we don’t love Ben or Benny.
-Maximilian: how can you not love St. Maximilian Kolbe? An inspiration! Max is a cute nickname and I think it sounds good with our other kiddos. But Max is also becoming fairly popular (as is Maximus, Maxwell etc) so it doesn’t feel as decidedly Catholic in the current culture.
-Augustin: another wonderful saintly inspiration. His conversion story speaks to me, and I think it’s definitely a “Catholic” name. We love Gus as a nickname and feel that it fits in with the family. Side note, we want it pronounced a-GUS-tin if we use it. I’m thinking this spelling would be better than Augustine then? Thoughts??
-John Paul: another wonderful Pope. Also my father and grandfather are Paul, so that’s a neat association. We aren’t sure about the double name though, or flow with our other kids. We don’t want to shorten it to John (mmmaaayyybe JP?).
Others we have considered: Fulton (I love it but it’s the name of a neighboring town so my husband hates that aspect), Kolbe, Ambrose (cool name, no viable nickname that we’ve come up with, and the full name doesn’t feel right with the family).”
I so enjoyed reading Jaclyn’s email — so many of my own favorites are on her list! I have some thoughts on them, which might be helpful:
- Benedict definitely fits their desire for an authentically Catholic name! I do know what Jaclyn means about weightiness I think, but at the same time Benedict also has a Brit feel thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, and I think her crew could totally pass as a group of English children! It’s a vibe I love! I was going to say that Ben(ny) makes Benedict more relatable, but since they don’t care for it then that doesn’t work … I’ve also seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, which they might like?
- I love St. Maximilian too! But I also know what Jaclyn means about the nickname Max and the Max- names in general.
- We considered Augustin — that spelling — for our last three boys, and had decided on it for our youngest son until we changed our minds just a week before he was born! Gus as a nickname was one of its biggest selling points to us, too. I admit that we ended up deciding not to use it because we didn’t feel like we could guarantee the pronunciation we wanted, which is the same Jaclyn and her hubs want. I don’t know about where they live, but a lot of older people near me spend winters in Florida, and the city of St. Augustine there is pronounced au-gus-TEEN, so I hear that pronunciation a lot. Plus, there’s a Protestant school near me called St. Augustine’s that uses the TEEN pronunciation. But whenever I hear the name at church, they use the GUS pronunciation, and there’s also a Catholic school named St. Augustine’s near me that says it the GUS way … BUT no one can ever remember! I’ve heard people say go back and forth between GUS and TEEN in the same conversation! So we decided it was too much of a hassle, especially since TEEN is also the feminine pronunciation and we’re sensitive to any of our boys being mistaken for girls because of their names. So that’s a lot of personal baggage I just dropped on Jaclyn and her hubs! Haha! So to be more objective, if they were to call their Augustin “Gus” all the time, there probably wouldn’t be any problem at all. It’s a great name and a great saint, and I think it definitely fits their criteria, though I do think it’s similarly weighty/strong as Benedict.
- I actually think John Paul might fit the best with their other kids! I think the fact that it’s two short, traditional, not uncommon names makes it very accessible and easy to work with, while putting them together as a given name adds the super Catholic feel and makes the two names more unusual. I like that they have a family connection too! They’d have to decide if they could live with “John Paul” all the time, or if they wanted to do JP, but I do think that so many people are used to saying John Paul in regards to the Pope/Saint that no one would ever try to shorten it to John.
- It’s funny and unfortunate that Fulton is a neighboring town for them! I can definitely see that that would be problematic.
- I like Kolbe for them — it gets around the Max issue while still honoring the amazing saint.
- We have also had Ambrose on our list through several of our boys! Nicknames were an issue for us too, so I came up with a few that I thought were interesting: I definitely think Sam can work, since there’s the “Am” at the beginning and the “S” within it. I also like the idea of Bram, which is a traditional nickname for Abraham but like with Sam, Ambrose contains all the sounds of Bram. Another is Brody, especially if Ambrose was paired with a “D” middle name. And I’ve seen real-life Ambroses nicknamed Amby and Brose. Of all those, I like Ambrose nicknamed Sam the best for this family.
So they have a great list! I think they’ve really nailed the names that come across as Catholicky Catholic! For additional ideas, I turned to my trusty Baby Name Wizard to see if any of the style matches for their other kiddos’ names might also fit in that category, and I re-read the article I’d written on unmistakably Catholic boys’ names for inspiration as well. Based on that, I think they might like:
Though Dominic can definitely hang with the heavies like Benedict and Augustin(e), I think it can also go really well with Jaclyn’s older kids because of that Brit thing again. The actor Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings) is a great example, for one. It shortens easily to Dom(my), or they could use Nic(k) instead.
I don’t know if they’re okay repeating initials, but I thought that since Gemma and Gabriel have different initial sounds, this might be okay. When I think of Gabriel, I think of Mary via the Annunciation, which is so Catholic of course! Gabe is its traditional nickname, but I also love the idea of Gil. The actor Gabriel Byrne is another British Isles-area example for them (he’s Irish, which I totally know is not British — you all know what I mean by “British Isles-area” right? No offense intended!).
Joseph is spot-on as a match for their other kids, and St. Joseph is just amazing. I know it’s not as exclusively Catholic as some names, but at the same time, it is, you know?
I know some people tend to think of the Beatles or Jude Law in regards to the name Jude, but St. Jude is so popular that anyone familiar with Catholicism will think of him right away when they hear his name! I know a lot of Catholic families who have chosen Jude for their sons specifically because of its obviously Catholic connection.
Leo is such a sweet name that’s also sophisticated at the same time, and the fact that there’s Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church makes it perfect for a family that wants a truly Catholic name!
Like with Gabriel, when I hear the name Luke, I think of Mother Mary, since his gospel is the most Marian — it contains her Magnificat, for one thing. It’s similar to Joseph in terms of having other associations that dilute the Catholic significance, but at the same time, it’s such a Catholic name.
I know that Joseph, Luke, and Thomas might be surprising on this list, since they’re so … “normal.” But even looking at them listed together like that screams “Catholic!” to me! There are so many great Sts. Thomas! I was thinking that one way they could increase the Catholic feel is to give a middle name that really cements it — like Thomas Aquinas or Thomas More. Wow!
(8) Simon, Simeon
My last idea for this family is Simon or Simeon (they’re variants of the same name). I think Simon on its own is a great Catholic name (not only Simon Peter, but St. Simon Stock as well), and I’m including Simeon mostly because I want to see it used more! Simeon is such a great character, and has that Marian connection as well!
Two others that I considered suggesting, but decided not to for whatever reason, are Blaise and Vincent. They’re such great names though that I thought they deserved at least this small mention, just in case.
And those are my ideas for Jaclyn and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lillian, Olivia, Henry, and Gemma?