(Be sure to check out the great piece Fr. Michael Rennier — husband, father of five, and an ordained Catholic priest through the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen that was created by Pope St. John Paul II — wrote on naming babies over at Aleteia! He mentions Sancta Nomina! 😍)
(Also, don’t forget about my book signing this Sunday [July 29 from 1-3]! I know there aren’t many of you in my area, but I’d love to see any of you who live close by or happen to be passing through!)
Lauren and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! 🌱 He or she joins big siblings:
Peter William (“Peter is for Peter the Apostle, William for Dad“)
Damien Andrew (“Damien for St. Damien of Molokai, and Andrew for the apostle and also for St. Andre Bessette, recently canonized when hubby and I were both students at Notre Dame (he was the first saint to be canonized from the Holy Cross order, which established Notre Dame)“)
Loooove both of these names!! You know I have a particular soft spot for Damien. 🙂
“My favorite thing about their names is that they link together: Peter and Andrew were brothers, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. I also found out after they were born that there is a St. Peter Damian who is a Doctor of the Church.
I like that both boys have great saints as their namesakes. I especially like that Peter hears about St. Peter frequently at Mass during the readings, especially during the Easter season, when he was born.
For New Baby (gender TBD, due on Christmas Day), we would love to find a name that links to at least one (preferably both) of the other kids’ names, looks up to a great saint or mystery … Because our last name is so common, we would like a first name that is somewhat more off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien).
Names we are considering for a girl:
Cora (for the Sacred Hearts: St. Damien was a priest in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Notre Dame basilica is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart [of Jesus] — is there a connection to Peter in there somehow? This is the front-runner)
Madeline (for St. Mary Magdalene, a favorite — but I don’t like the nickname “Maddy” and am afraid that people would call her that)
Bethany (maybe where Mary Magdalene lived, but at any rate it’s where Jesus’ friends lived)
Adelaide (I love this name but my husband is not sure)
Other favorite female saints include [Mother] Theodore Guerin (born Anne-Therese), Hildegard of Bingen, Veronica, and Mary of Egypt — but these names don’t seem to suit our taste.
Names we are considering for a boy:
We are having a harder time with this, and none of these feels quite right.
We like St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas More, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Augustine, John Paul II, etc.
Family names we can’t use:
Paul (love this name!)
Names that have been floated that one of us has vetoed:
Anthony (I love this name and St. Anthony of the Desert, but my husband doesn’t like it)
Many of the most obvious Christmas names: Natalie/a, Emmanuel/la, Gabriel/la, Lucas. I like the idea of a Christmas name, but I just haven’t come across one that I really like
Some names that have come up recently on the blog that we don’t care for are Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel.
We also don’t really care if the style of the names match among our three kids. We are all about the meaning, namesake, history, spiritual significance. We want them to be spiritually inspired by their names and hopefully feel connected to their siblings by means of the spiritual (not necessarily stylistic) connections among their names.”
Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge!
You should have seen me doing research for this family — I looked everywhere I could think of for connections between names, it’s such a fun thing they want to do, but hard! Wow! I think Lauren and her hubs will find it’s even more difficult the more children they have (if they’re so blessed), but it’s still a really fun thing to do. Honestly, I could probably spend months seeking out more ideas with connections to their Peter William and Damien Andrew. Hopefully the ideas I have here are helpful in some way!
I’ll start with thoughts on the list of names they’re considering:
- Cora: A gorgeous name! I love that they’d be using it for the Sacred Hearts, and so cool that they already have a connection to Damien! The only connection to St. Peter I could find — which I think is a pretty great one — is that, in St. Peter’s Basilica, there’s the Altar of the Sacred Heart, whose altarpiece was blessed at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s canonization (she was *the* promoter of the Sacred Heart).
- Madeline: I love Madeline, though I wonder if they might be interested in switching to one of its variants: Magdalen/Magdalene/Magdalyn/Magdalena? That way they bypass the Maddy issue, and they have a less common name, more in the vein of Damien (Damien is no. 266, while Madeline is no. 100 and none of the Magdalene variants I listed are in the top 1000 except Magdalena, which is no. 955) (note that the spelling Damian is no. 119, which is actually pretty similar to Madeline in terms of popularity. Funny enough, Peter’s no. 213!).
- Bethany: Another nice connection here is that Bethany is where Jesus ascended from, and his apostles (including Peter and Andrew) were there: “Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50–51)
- Grace: A beautiful name! It can be Marian, for Our Lady of Grace, and also in the Hail Mary, “full of Grace.” I didn’t find any connections between Grace and Peter/William/Damien/Andrew, except if they wanted to think of them as living grace-filled lives, or being open to the grace of God, etc.
- Monica: I love St. Monica, I love that they have her name on their list!
- Cecilia: Ditto, beautiful name and saint.
- Adelaide: I love it too! I looked at the various blesseds/saints named Adelaide and found that St. Adela of Messines (also known as Adelaide) was the mother-in-law of William the Conqueror, but I’m thinking that’s probably not the kind of connection to their Peter William that Lauren and her hubs were hoping for …
- Adam: I don’t see many parents considering Adam these days! Nice job to Lauren and her hubs picking something that feels fresh! Although … looking at the data, Adam’s actually no. 77, so it’s not as uncommon as I thought. I looked through the holy Adams I could find, and the only one I could find a connection to their older boys of any kind is with Adam the Patriarch in the sense that he was a biblical character like St. Peter and St. Andrew. Not the greatest connection, but a cool thing is that his memorial is celebrated on Dec. 24, which is nice for a Christmas baby.
- Thomas: Thomas fits all of their criteria except being less common … he was an apostle like Peter and Andrew, and one of the connections I thought might be useful (especially moving forward with possible future children) is that there are holy Peters, Andrews, and Thomases in the listings of Martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland (there are a lot of martyrs in those countries, so I thought it might provide good fodder for the future as well).
- Michael: There are loads of holy Michaels, too many for me to go through them all! Here’s the list in case it’s helpful. It’s a great name, but I suspect it’s more popular than Lauren and her hubs would like? It’s been a top 10 name since 1943, spending more than 40 years in the no. 1 spot, and only dropped out of the top ten in 2017 (it’s currently no. 12). One way to jazz it up, if they’d like to, is to consider an alternate nickname for everyday use … one of my favorite unexpected nickname ideas for Michael is Miles, and one of the English martyrs is Bl. Miles Gerard.
- Patrick: I like it! And Ven. Patrick Peyton is a great patron that ties in with Andrew, since he was a member of the Holy Cross order like St. Andre Bessette.
I’m glad Lauren included the list of family names they can’t use (such a bummer about Paul!) and those that one of them has vetoed, this is such helpful info! I’m also glad to know they don’t care for Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel, as I almost certainly would have suggested Leo and Annabel to them otherwise! As for Christmas names, I’m glad they listed the ones they’ve considered and decided they don’t like, that’s very helpful. Here’s my latest Christmas-and-Advent-names post, which they might like to go through (lots of names!). I looked through it myself to find ideas for this family, some of which I incorporated in my official suggestions below.
Okay! On to those suggestions! I used a few different strategies to find ideas for Lauren and her hubs. My first one was to look up all the names they’ve used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, which you all know I start all my consultations with, as it provides for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I know Lauren said they don’t care so much about their kiddos’ names matching each other in terms of style, but this kind of research gives me an idea of the kinds of names she and her hubby are likely to prefer. I then looked through the list of potential matches for the for any connections with their older boys’ names. I also looked up St. Peter, St. Damien, St. Andrew, and St. Peter Damian to find any possible connections between them that might be helpful. That’s where I came up with the idea of looking through the list of British Isles martyrs (here and here), which has several Peters, Andrews, and Thomases, as well as the holy people of the Holy Cross Order and the Dominican Order (as a Third Order Dominican, I kept being struck by how many names I remembered from the litany of Dominican Saints and Blesseds that I thought might provide good connections for Lauren and her hubs).
All that said, these are my thoughts/ideas/suggestions:
I rarely suggest Susanna, which is funny since it’s the girl name we’ve held on to through all six of our boys! But I really like it for this family, for a few different reasons: it’s biblical, like Peter and Andrew; it’s saintly (there are several); it’s more unusual, like Damien (in fact, it’s not even in the top 1000!); and I consider it a Christmas name as well, via the movie It’s a Wonderful Life — Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names, so George Bailey’s little Zuzu was likely Susan, as Susan was popular at the time. Susan’s also one of the Narnia children, but while siblings Peter and Susan might possibly feel like too much, I don’t think Peter and Susanna would raise an eyebrow.
Speaking of Narnia, Lucy might be too much Narnia with brother Peter, or maybe they’ll love the connection! Lucy means “light,” which, in order to connect it to one of their older boys, they could think of as relating to the light of the Advent candles, and the first Sunday of Advent is set by St. Andrew’s feast day!
I know Joseph is on their vetoed list, but what about Josephine for a girl? I love that St. Damien’s birth name was Joseph, so Josephine would connect to him, as well as to their devotion to St. Joseph the Worker. It’s also, of course, a feminine variant of a biblical name, which loops in Peter as well.
(4) Christina, Christine, Christiane, Christiana
Lauren didn’t mention any of the Christ- names as possibilities for their Christmas baby, but Christina was a style match for them based on my research in the BNW, which made me think of all the gorgeous Christ- names for girls. I love Christine, Christiane, and Christiana as well as Christina.
There’s more than one Margaret in the list of martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland, which connects it to Peter and Andrew in that way. Since they have Madeline on their list, which made me think of the Magdalene names, I wondered if Margaret — which of course can also take Maggie as a nickname, like Magdalene can — would be appealing to them. There’s also the Sacred Heart connection with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and there are several Dominican saints/blesseds named Margaret (along with St. Peter of Verona and several Bls. Peter, Bl. Damien of Finale, and a few Bls. Andrew).
A very cool connection I found is that St. Peter Damian lived for a time in Ravenna, Italy (in fact, he took the name Damian after a priest he was sent to live with in Ravenna AND St. Andrew the Apostle is one of the patrons of Ravenna!). On top of that, St. Maura of Ravenna was martyred in Ravenna, and as I’m a sucker for any Marian name, I thought Maura would be an amazing idea. As a variant of Mary, it even works as a Christmas-y name!
Just in case they want to have at least one far-out suggestion, what about Ravenna as a first name? I actually know of a devout family who named one of their daughters Ravenna (there are other saints associated with Ravenna, I’m not sure which one they chose the name for). Its rhythm reminds of Susanna, it’s a really cool idea for a certain kind of family.
Let’s kick off the boy names by going right to the source of the Dominican Order! Not only does Dominic have the Dominican connection like the Peters, Andrews, and Bl. Damien listed above, but I also included it in a list of Advent names having to do with the O Antiphons.
Henry’s a big name in the lists of British Isles martyrs, including Sts. Henry Morse and Henry Walpole, and Bl. Henry Suso is a Dominican blessed. I liked that it seemed like yet a third, distinct style from Peter and Damien.
St. Nicholas Owen is one of the English martyrs and one of my favorite saints. I might have suggested Nicholas to Lauren and her hubs, in order to loop in the Christmas theme, but since Lauren said Nicholas has been vetoed, then Owen it is! (Owen’s actually a style match for Madeline and Grace, which made me think they might like it).
(4) Edmund (or Campion?)
Sts. Edmund Campion and Edmund Arrowsmith are two of the English martyrs — Edmund’s a great name! If not Edmund, while Arrowsmith seems a bit much for a first name, I’ve seen Campion used from time to time, and I like it a lot. Campion might seem like an extra good option if Lauren and her hubs thought brothers Peter and Edmund were just too much Narnia (like with Lucy).
I was enjoying coming up with names that I thought were a different style from either Peter or Damien, and I thought Lewis was another one. St. David Lewis is one of the English Martyrs, and while I thought Damien and David were too similar in sound, I thought Lewis might be perfect. This family named their youngest Lewis in his honor.
Lauren said they love St. Augustine, and there’s also a St. Augustine Webster who was one of the English Martyrs, but I thought maybe August might be more their speed (and could still nod to either/both of those men).
This is my farthest-out idea for a boy, and I love it for this family. Not only is Bartholomew an apostle, like Peter and Andrew, but it’s also the name of two Dominican blesseds: the male Bl. Bartholomew of Cerverio and the female Bl. Mary Bartholomew Bagnesi. I would also consider Bartholomew “off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien),” as Lauren put it.
And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Peter and Damien?
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