Thank you to all who took advantage of my Black Friday Specials! I have one more special, which is for today only: I’m offering ten Christmas Gift Certificates for Ordinary Consultations for $25 each! (Regular price: $50.) The first ten people who email me today for a gift certificate will receive an invoice from me via email for $25 by midnight tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 2. These gift certificates can be redeemed starting December 26th. I will work on them in the same way I do all consultation requests — first come, first served, and completed within three weeks of receiving the request (barring unforeseen circumstances). I will email you a gift certificate that you can print out and present to the person receiving it as a gift (I can send it to by Dec. 5 in case you want to give it as a St. Nicholas gift!). There’s no expiration date on the gift certificates.
Today’s mama and her hubby are expecting their third baby in April, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! He or she joins big siblings:
Magdalyn Rae (“Saint Magdalene’s feast day is on the day our daughter was released from the NICU. Rae is my middle name. We call her Maggie and I love how Rae paired nicely with both Magdalyn and Maggie. My husband … one day came home and said he liked this name. I liked Saint Magdalene’s story and “Maggie” was one of my top five names“)
Joseph James (“[Joseph is husband’s middle name] and Saint Joseph (is there a better saint to name your son after?!). James is my husband’s uncle. My husband lived with him painting houses for a summer and that’s how he bought my engagement ring. I also liked the alliteration of Joseph James“)
(I love that engagement ring story!)
“For baby number three my husband hasn’t give me a lot. He likes the name Margaret for a girl and Jim for a boy. I can’t tell if he’s joking 😉 I said Jim is a nickname for James (our son’s middle name) and he said “does that matter?” I said “fine, let’s just name the baby Jim Ray if it’s a boy so he has both our first and second born children’s names!” The ONLY preference I know is that my husband does not like names that sound too trendy. He’s all about classic.
For a girl we like the following names:
1. Stella Maris: I saw this on your site and love that it is a Marian name.
2. Margaret (Saint Margaret): Picked by husband. I love the nickname Etta but I’m not sure that my husband would go for a non-traditional nickname.
3. Juliet (husband’s pick): I would only go for this if NN could be Etta. I don’t like Jules or Julie and I’m afraid most people would go there.
4. Ava (Saint Ava): Too common? I feel like it could go great with Maggie and Joseph.
5. We have a favorite book where a little girl named Maple has a Maple tree and then one day a Willow tree is growing (you can guess her mom is pregnant and later has a baby Willow). I cried the first time I read that book when I was pregnant with baby #2 and wished I had named my first Maple and that I would have a second named Willow. Not sure my husband would go with either and they don’t really mesh with the first two!
For a boy:
1. Husband likes “Jim” (still don’t know if this is sarcasm)
2. I like Jack but can’t find a tie to a saint or biblical character
4. Truman (I like the alliteration of Truman Taylor) and the nickname “Tru” but my husband is iffy about how “trendy” it sounds. and I’m trying to find a “Catholic” tie.
Some things I would like to consider with baby naming:
1. A name that represents someone Jesus would have interacted with like Joseph and Magdalene. That’s why I’d love to find a Marian name for a boy or girl. Saints are good too but a reference to someone in the Bible would be great. It can be an alteration of a name since a lot of the “classic” names we’ve ruled out (see below)
2. We have a LOT of relatives. Like a lot. And although we are okay with shared names to some extent we have a long list of “no’s” including:
Josh, Luke, Lucas, Jacob, Jake, John, Andrew, Caleb, Matthias, Benjamin, Raymond, William, Nicholas, Donald, Mathew, Patrick, Sebastian, Theodore, Cyprian, Jasper, Jackson, Anderson, Nathaniel, August
Anna, Cecilia, Katherine, Hannah, Madeline, Brook, Brooklyn, Rebecca, Gianna
3. I don’t have a strong preference for middle names … I just want it to have SOME sort of meaning and sound great
4. Meaningful things to us: We LOVE Colorado. We actually decided on baby 3 on the way to Colorado. I tried to summon some names from that (Esten for Estes Park, Max for Maxwell Inn we stayed out) but nothing really stuck. My husband is an optometrist (patron saint Clare?) and I am a speech language pathologist. We are getting ready to move and in the middle of a lot of transitions so maybe a patron saint to represent that and bring us peace during this chaos? We were married on August 7th, my husband’s birth is 9-17, my daughter’s is 7-17, and my son’s is 10-17 so seven is a heavy number in our family if that gives you any fun ideas?“
I love trying to incorporate things into babies’ names that are important to the parents in faith-filled ways, like patron saints for parents’ professions or connections to places they love. So fun!
Alrighty, so I loved that Maggie was one of Mama’s top five names and then Papa decided on his own that he liked Magdalyn — how perfect and amazing is that??! Magdalyn Rae is gorgeous. And of course I agree I agree that St. Joseph is such a perfect namesake for a little guy. Joseph James is so handsome!
As for Margaret for a girl and Jim for a boy for this baby: hubby’s a funny guy! Sisters Magdalyn and Margaret would strike me as really unexpected, as I generally think of Magdalyn and Margaret as two sides of the same coin — those who like the nickname Maggie and have traditional taste go for Margaret, while those who like the nickname Maggie and like more unusual names go for Magdalyn. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since he wants to repeat their son’s middle name as their next son’s first! Hilarious!
I really like Mama’s solution of the nickname Etta — that makes it very doable, in my opinion. I don’t mind the idea of sisters with the more unusual Magdalyn with the familiar nickname Maggie, and the familiar Margaret with the more unusual nickname Etta. It’s true that Etta isn’t a traditional nickname for Margaret, so if that’s a real problem, Margaret does have loads of traditional nicknames and variants that could work, if that’s what would sell Papa:
- Greta: This one rhymes with Etta, so it feels like the closest to Mama’s idea while still being a traditional short form of Margaret.
- Maisie: Maisie is a diminutive of Margaret via Ireland and Scotland, so sweet!
- Rita: This is technically a nickname for the Italian variant of Margaret, though of course it’s taken on a life of its own.
- Peg, Peggy: Amazingly, Peggy is a medieval nickname for Margaret!
- Molly: Molly is the only one on this list that isn’t technically a nickname for Margaret, in the sense that it’s actually a variant of Mary. But, it does have occasional usage as a nickname for Margaret, for example “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” who wasn’t actually known as Molly in life, only after she died was she called Molly. I’ve known families who have named daughters Margaret and call them Molly, and I’ve encountered many people who assume Molly is a nickname for Margaret, in the sense of it being etymologically related. Sisters Maggie and Molly sound like a natural pair.
As for the names on the list of those they’re considering:
- Stella Maris: Isn’t it a gorgeous name? A variant of it is Maristella, which they might also like.
- Margaret: See above.
- Juliet: This is one of my very favorite names! Etta is a perfect nickname for it; the spelling Juliette could make it feel more natural (or even Julietta). I spotlighted the name here, and the comments are pretty great!
- Ava: There’s a reason this name is so popular! It’s a gorgeous name! I particularly like that St. Ava was blind as a child and later miraculously healed — that could make a great connection to Papa’s occupation! Also, Ava is a variant of Eva/Eve, so it can be considered biblical. A different connection is that one of Our Lady’s titles is The New Eve, so it can be considered Marian in that sense; a different Marian connection comes from how “Ava Maria” sounds like “Ave Maria” (which means “Hail Mary” in Latin) — Ava Maria as a first/middle combo would really drive home that meaning.
- Willow: Aw, this is a sweet story! I love it! Though it’s too late to have a Maple, they do have a daughter whose name starts with M, so maybe they’d want to consider a W name for a second girl? Then they could use Maple and Willow even as little code names or nicknames that just Mama uses for her girls? The first name that comes to mind in this vein is Willa — it’s so like Willow in appearance and sound, but more … serious maybe? Dignified? A better fit with sister Magdalyn? Wilhelmina’s another option — it’s kind of heavy, but it’s saintly (via William), and Willa and Willow can both be nicknames for it, as can Mina, which is sweet. And they’d be in good company with amazing namer Natalie Hanson, who has a daughter Wilhelmina who goes by Willa. Another option would be to put Mary in front of it — putting Mary in front of any name, from traditional names to mom’s maiden name or similar, automatically makes the combo seem classy and Catholic. Mary Willow and Mary Willa are both great options, and in fact, Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie’s given name is actually Mary Willa! One final thing is that I recently discovered the very cool fact that Willow Sunday is another name for Palm Sunday, especially in the East, and since their baby is due in April, and Palm Sunday in 2020 is also in April (April 5), Willow (or Willa) could be perfect for a baby girl for that reason too!
- Jim: I’m not sure what to say about Jim! I hope it was sarcasm on Papa’s part!
- Jack: I like Jack for this family! Jack is a diminutive of John, which is perfect for Mama’s hope to tie to a biblical character that Jesus would have interacted with! Many people name their sons John to get to the nickname Jack, but many also just name their son Jack. In fact, Jack as a given name has always been in the top 200, with its peaks of popularity being 1929 and 1930, when it was no. 14, and then in 1996 it entered the top 100 again and is currently at no. 28. So I’d say Jack is a great option! When I was researching saints/blesseds with speech problems (as a nod to Mama’s occupation), I found Giovanni Dominici, known in English as Bl. John Dominic — he had a speech impediment that was miraculously healed. That made me think that he would be a great patron for their little boy, and I love the combo Jack Dominic! (They have John on the list of family names they can’t use, but Jack Dominic means John Dominic anyway, so I think Jack Dominic is perfect! Also, Dominic has seven letters, and was traditionally given to boys born on Sunday [Dominic means “of the Lord,” and Sunday is the day of the Lord], which is the seventh day of the week! I love that connection to “seven” here!)
- Henry: A great name, I love it. I spotlighted it here.
- Truman: What a cool name! And I love the nickname Tru! As far as a faith connection, there isn’t a saint with that name or surname as far as I can tell, but its meaning is “true, trusty, or faithful man,” which seems like it could connect to Jesus Himself. And with the nickname Tru, truth is certainly a great faith connection (it reminds me of names like Verity, which means “truth,” and Veronica, which means “true image”). I think it works! They can also beef up the faithiness/saintliness with the middle name — something like Truman Emmanuel would really bring Jesus to mind, for example. As for it being trendy, it was actually much more popular from 1900-1954 than it is now!
Okay! Those are my thoughts on the names that these parents are considering. As for new ideas, you all know that I always start a consultation 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 also researched patrons of Colorado, patrons of those with eye problems and speech problems, and patrons of peace, as well as Estes Park (to find the origin of its name), and I spent a while thinking of ways to work in the number seven. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for this baby:
This was inspired by a few different things: first, Sadie is a style match for Stella according to the BNW, which is a traditional nickname for Sarah. I didn’t think Sarah was quite their style, but I thought of Seraphina, since Sera is commonly used as a nickname for it. Secondly, Seraphina can be considered a Marian name, since it refers to the seraphim (the order of angels who “stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court”) and one of Our Lady’s titles is Queen of the Angels; this fulfills Mama’s desire for a Marian name. Thirdly, Jesus surely interacts with the seraphim. 😊 It checks off a lot of their boxes! Seraphina is such a lovely name, and I love it as a sister to Magdalyn and Joseph.
I was inspired to add Veronica to the list when I was researching faith connections for Truman. It means “true icon,” and though St. Veronica isn’t specifically named in the bible, it’s the name that has traditionally been used to identify the woman who wiped Jesus’ face on his way to the cross, which fulfills Mama’s hope for a name of someone Jesus interacted with. I spotlighted it here, including nickname ideas.
I discovered Colette when I was looking up patrons of those with eye problems, and immediately loved it for this family for a few reasons: first, it can take Etta as a nickname like Margaret and Juliet. Secondly, it’s a short form of Nicolette (which St. Colette is also known as), which is a feminine form of Nicholas, which is a biblical name (he’s mentioned in Acts 6:5 as one of the first seven deacons — seven!). Thirdly, St. Colette not only suffered from eye problems, but speech problems as well: “She had visions in which Saint Francis of Assisi ordered her to restore the Rule of Saint Clare to its original severity. When she hesitated, she was struck blind for three days and mute for three more; she saw this as a sign to take action.” (source) I love that she nods to both Mama’s and Papa’s professions!
I looked up patron saints of peace, because of how Mama said, “We are getting ready to move and in the middle of a lot of transitions so maybe a patron saint to represent that and bring us peace during this chaos,” and was immediately drawn to St. Elizabeth of Portugal. She’s known as “The Peacemaker” and is a patron saint of peace; I also love that her name is the name of Our Lady’s cousin. The Visitation is one of my favorite Mysteries of the Rosary, when Mary visits Elizabeth and John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at being in the presence of Jesus in His mother’s womb. If Elizabeth isn’t quite their style, maybe they’d like its variants Isabel, Isabelle, or Isabella (St. Elizabeth of Portugal is also known as Isabel and Isabella)? There’s also Elisabet (which St. Elizabeth of Portugal is also known as), Eliza, Elise, Elisa, Lisbeth, Lisette, and so many others, and a whole bunch of nicknames as well.
Annabelle is a style match for Juliet, and I love that it has the “Anna” in there, which connects it to St. Anne — the grandmother of Jesus — without using Anna by itself, which is on the list of family names they don’t want to use. It also has a separate, Marian meaning as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, and one of Our Lady’s titles is Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable”=“lovable”). How cool is that? I have the Annabel spelling listed here because it has seven letters, which I thought was pretty neat.
*(6) Bonus: Eleanora, Eleanor, Elinor
I couldn’t not include these names, as Eleanora is a style match for Magdalyn, Eleanor is a match for Henry, and Elinor is a match for Truman! They didn’t really seem this family’s style to me, but the BNW is rarely wrong, so I definitely had to list these here! The Eleanor names aren’t biblical, though it does have saintly connections (the comments are great too). I love its nicknames Ellie and Nell (which can both be for Elizabeth too, if they wanted) and Nora, so sweet!
Elliott is such a great name for this family, in my opinion, for a few different reasons: first, it’s a style match for both Stella and Juliet. Secondly, it’s a variant of Elias, which is biblical! Thirdly, though there are several ways to spell this name (two L’s or one, two T’s or one), Elliott has seven letters!
I was excited to see that Raphael is a style match for Juliet, because it’s biblical, it has seven letters (I was overly excited to find names with seven letters! Haha!), and St. Raphael the Archangel is patron of blind people and against eye disease and problems, a perfect nod to Papa’s profession!
Samuel is a match for Joseph and Henry, Sam is a match for Jack and Maggie, and Samuel is biblical! So many great reasons to love this name!
Charles showed up so many times in my research for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret and Henry, and Charlie is a match for Maggie, Stella, and Jack. It’s such a great name! And it has seven letters! I know it’s not biblical, but it is saintly, and (this might be weird) my husband and I strongly considered the combo Charles Augustine for one of our boys, which I still love, and St. Augustine is a patron against sore eyes, so if they like that combo, it could be a great one for them!
I know Benjamin is on their no list, but Bennett is a different animal. It’s a match for Juliet, and Ben’s a match for Maggie, so I thought Bennett — which is a variant of Benedict — would be a great suggestion for them. (And it has seven letters! Woo! 😊 )
Finally, I wanted to share some info I found in my research that might be helpful to them:
- I discovered that Estes Park in Colorado is named after Joel Estes, so I looked up his surname and it literally means “of the East” — so I wondered if they might like to consider Easton as a nod to Estes Park?
- There’s also a Mary’s Lake in Estes Park, which I thought was a really nice connection to using Mary (like the Mary Willa idea above) in addition to Mary being for Our Lady.
- The Immaculate Mary is actually the patron of Colorado, adding extra meaning to a Marian name for this baby. If they like the idea of Immaculata for a first name or a middle, it could also tie to Our Lady’s patronage of Colorado.
- Francis of Assisi is another patron of Colorado — if they don’t care for Francis as a first name, maybe they’d like it as a middle? Or one of the feminine variants (Frances, Franca, Francesca) for a girl?
- I loved that Mama mentioned Clare, because of Papa’s work, and think it would make a great first or middle name. Another patron of eye issues is St. Lucy, who had her eyes plucked out (in fact, she’s usually depicted holding a tray with her eyeballs on it!) and it’s said that her eyesight was restored before her death. Lucy/Lucia/Lucille might be names they’d like to consider for that reason.
And those are all my ideas! What do you think? What names would you suggest for the little sister or brother of Magdalyn/Maggie and Joseph?
My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!