Baby name consultation: To Canon or not to Canon for baby no. 3?

I know I said I’d be off the blog until the end of the week, but I forgot about my Monday consultation post! Enjoy! And be sure to check back in on Friday to read my Year in Review post!

Cassie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This wee babe joins big sisters:

Felicity Marie (“Her first name jumped out at my husband and me during the same Christmas Eve Mass when our priest prayed the Roman Canon. We loved that it meant happiness, and she’s lived up to that in so many ways in her four years. Marie is the middle name of my mother, my mother-in-law, and me. Felicity was also born in May, and we wanted to honor Mary since she was born in Mary’s month“)

Lucy Rose (“We decided that we loved another name from the Roman canon and Lucy was on our “short list” prior to her birth. We loved that it meant light also. We chose Rose for two reasons: she was due on August 23rd, the feast of St. Rose of Lima. I had always loved this saint since I was little and then I was lucky enough to travel to Lima for a college class and get to see where St. Rose spent her life. The second reason we picked it was because Lucy ended up being born on the feast of Our Lady of Knock. Mary is portrayed in this apparition with a single rose on her head, so we thought using Rose as her middle name also fit well for the day she was born“)

I love their girls’ names!! Gorgeous!! And I so enjoyed reading the reasons Cassie and her husband chose each of their names — it’s so cool that they were able to incorporate meaningful elements from the month and even day they were born!

Cassie writes,

As you can see, we really like using names related to the day a baby is born. For Baby #3, we are due on February 22nd. We don’t know if we’re having a boy or a girl. We can’t use the name Francis/Frances for a first name because that is a family name already used.

I would describe our style as strong, Catholic names that are pretty traditional but maybe not too out there. We do use nicknames often, but don’t choose names based on what the possible nicknames will be. We have obviously picked names from the Roman canon so far, but I’m not sure if we want to stick to that or not. Part of me thinks that if we ever want to break from that tradition, we should do it now with this next child so we don’t feel like we have to use that for all future children. We also seem to have middle names that are Marian head nods with our current children’s names; again we aren’t sure whether we will continue that or not

Here are names that are on my list:

  • James – my father’s name
  • Michael – my husband’s middle name and my father-in law’s first name; wouldn’t want to use this for a first name to avoid having the same name as my FIL
  • Augustine – my husband isn’t a huge fan
  • John or John Paul – Pope St. John Paul II is my husband’s Confirmation saint
  • Leo – my husband’s grandfather’s middle name
  • Joseph – my father-in-law’s middle name and it’s now the year of St. Joseph
  • William
  • Benedict
  • Maximilian
  • Thomas
  • Mary
  • Cecilia – she’s my Confirmation saint; but we’re not sure if this feels too much like an “old lady” name; my husband had a great-aunt named this so he’s not crazy about it
  • Agnes – also not sure if it’s too old feeling, but I have seen it coming back in Catholic circles
  • Clare

Great names on their list!

Ok, the first thing I want to address is the idea of continuing — or not — with names from the Roman Canon. I agree with Cassie’s thought that if they want to break with a naming pattern, doing it before three-in-a-row is probably the best, since I always think that three cements a pattern. However, there are so many common names that are included in the Canon that it’s very easy to come up with them without any connection to the Canon, and there are so many Saints that share names with other Saints that if they’d named their girls after St. Felicity of Rome (as opposed to the Canon’s St. Felicity of Carthage) and the Fatima visionary Servant of God Lucia dos Santos (as opposed to the Canon’s St. Lucy of Syracuse), their girls would technically have names that are mentioned in the Canon, but they wouldn’t actually be the names of Saints in the Canon. You know?

Also, I really don’t think there aren’t a whole lot of people who will hear Cassie’s children’s names and think, “Wow, they really stuck to the Canon!” I do totally understand, though, her own perspective as the namer, feeling like these connections are so obvious! It reminds me of my boys — I have seven and the first five have a biblical name as either their first or middle, which wasn’t necessarily on purpose, but then with no. 6, neither of the names we chose were biblical. We decided to go with them anyway, but I was even sort of self-conscious that we’d broken a very clear pattern after so many kids. But no one even noticed! It was absolutely not a thing for anyone else but me! And then for no. 7, we gave him a biblical first name! My one little guy (no. 6) is the only one with no biblical name! And no one but me has ever noticed! So anyway, if Cassie and her hubby chose Cecilia for this baby and then Clare for the next, I’d be amazed if anyone thought it was weird or obvious.

One more thing that can help: I would encourage Cassie and her hubs to focus on the fact that they gave their first two children “strong, Catholic names that are pretty traditional but maybe not too out there,” as Cassie described them, and leave it at that. That way they’ll be able to worry less about choosing or not choosing a name from the Canon — that can just be a coincidence that may or may not show up in their other children’s names.

(Can you tell I think a lot about this kind of stuff?? Haha!)

I would say all similar things about their usage of Marian middle names, especially because there were specific circumstances that led them to choose those two Marian names — Felicity being born during May and Lucy being born on the feast of Our Lady of Knock — so that can be their pattern: including a nod to the day/month/season of the baby’s birth as opposed to Our Lady specifically every time.

Before moving on to my new ideas, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the names that are on their current list, in case they’re helpful:

  • James: Fantastic, classic, I love that it’s Cassie’s dad’s name, and it’s in the Canon (incidentally, this is a great example of liking a name for other reasons, and having its inclusion in the Canon be a coincidence)
  • Michael: Also wonderful, and I love it as a possible middle name
  • Augustine: I’d love to find a name that Cassie and her hubby both love, so since her husband isn’t a fan, I’d suggest shelving this one for now. I’m glad Cassie included it, though, because it gave me a good sense of her style!
  • John, John Paul: Both of these names are in the Canon, both of them more than once — there’s St. Paul the Apostle, St. John the Apostle, martyred brothers John and Paul, and St. John the Baptist. But then of course, there’s the non-Canon John Paul II! Doing something like John Paul would be a fun bridge between Canon names and non-Canon names, if that tradition was still worrying Cassie, since John and Paul are Canon names but John Paul is not a Canon Saint.
  • Leo: Leo is such a great name, and can work for a Feb. 22 baby because of Feb. 22 being the feast of the Chair of Peter and Leo being a papal name! (Also John Paul!)
  • Joseph: I love the Year of St. Joseph connection, I can’t wait to see how many Joseph-named babies there are!
  • William: Like James, Michael, John, and Joseph: one of those classic names that works with all different kinds of styles.
  • Benedict: While James, Michael, John, and Joseph are saintly without necessarily revealing one’s faith, names like Augustine, John Paul, and Benedict (and Felicity and Lucy) are more likely to, which I love
  • Maximilian: Ditto what I said for Benedict — I love having a mix of more familiar and more unfamiliar/heavy-hitting names in a family! It really opens up a lot of possibilities!
  • Thomas: Very handsome
  • Mary: Adding Mary to Felicity’s and Lucy’s names would loop in the James/Michael/John/Joseph/William/Thomas names nicely
  • Cecilia: I love Cecilia for this family! It’s lovely with big sisters Felicity and Lucy, and I love that she’s Cassie’s Confirmation Saint! As for being an “old lady name,” it’s more popular now (no. 153) than it’s ever been (it was no. 199 in 1900, 192 in 1903, 190 in 1904, and 197 in 1905 before dropping into the 200s in 1906, with its lowest points being between 1963 and 1990, and entering the 100s again at no. 181 in 2015, and continuing to climb). I don’t think it’ll climb too high, which puts it in the nice sweet spot of familiar but not overly popular. (For reference, it’s way more popular than Felicity [which is currently at its most popular at no. 361] and always has been, and is less popular than Lucy [currently no. 48], though Lucy had more of that strong “popular in the early part of the century, then not at all popular, then currently very popular” arc that, before it gets popular again, denotes an “old lady” name.) A possible way to have the saint with a different, possibly fresher-feeling name, is to consider the variant Cecily. They will want to consider that Cecilia’s a Canon name (though again, I wouldn’t let that influence them either way); also, a funny thing I noticed is that Felicity, Lucy, and Cecilia/Cecily are all C-heavy — is that awesome? Or will it feel like the Canon thing, where if they choose a C-heavy name for this baby, they’ll feel like they need to for all their children, or at least all their girls?
  • Agnes: It’s funny, but I would have thought of Agnes as having a more old-lady feel than Cecilia! And indeed, Agnes dropped out of the top 1000 in 1973 and hasn’t been back yet (though Cassie’s right that I’m seeing it more and more among Catholic families. Interestingly, the first “current” baby I ever saw it on was actress Elisabeth Shue’s daughter, whom she named Agnes Charles in 2006; after that, I was surprised that it was the name given to the baby of fictional character Elizabeth on Blacklist in 2016). So anyway, yes, it’s back mostly in Catholic circles but also in society in general, as all the “old lady” and “old man” names are currently en vogue! I also love that Agnes is associated with lambs (being so similar to Agnus Dei=Lamb of God), which makes for a nice Lenten tie-in via Jesus being the Sacrificial Lamb. I even saw once that someone considered the combo Agnes Daisy because it sounds like Agnus Dei!
  • Clare: Clare is lovely and timeless

Cassie and her hubby have a really great list of names! I can see all of them fitting in nicely as Felicity and Lucy’s little brother or sister.

Now on to my new ideas! You all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this family, and I also looked at the list of names for the Sorrowful Mysteries and Joyful Mysteries that I posted to the blog a while ago, since their baby is due right around/at the beginning of Lent and might also be born in the month of the Annunciation. Based on that, these are my new ideas:

Girl

(1) Sidony/Sidney

When Cassie said she’d like to have a nod to when the baby’s born in his or her name, I immediately thought of Sidony because of her due date. It’s one of my favorite namey discoveries! Check this out:

“[Sidony] was formerly used by Roman Catholics for girls born about the date of the Feast of the Winding Sheet (i.e., of Christ), more formally alluded to as ‘the Sacred Sendon’. Sendon or Sindon (from Latin sindon … ‘fine cloth’, ‘linen’) was used in Middle English for a fine cloth, especially one used as a shroud. The Sacred Sendon is supposed to be preserved at [Turin] … Sidonie is not uncommon in France, and the Irish Sidney is probably really Sidony.” (pp. 268-269, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names [affiliate link] by E.G. Withycombe, 1977).

But wait, there’s more! The Feast of the Winding Sheet is celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday — Ash Wednesday is on Feb. 17 in 2021, and a Feb. 16 birthday is not at all out of bounds for a baby due on Feb. 22!

(2) Catherine/Katherine/Katharine

Catherine is a style match for a bunch of the names on their list: James, John, William, Joseph, Thomas, Mary, and Cecilia! It’s a lovely name (if I do say so myself, as a Katherine 😊), and there are a bunch of Sts. C/Katherine to choose from. In fact, St. Katharine Drexel’s feast is March 3, if Cassie goes that long!

(3) Margaret or Magdalene

Like Catherine, Margaret is a match for almost all those same names, and like Catherine, there are so many wonderful Sts. Margaret. The Mag- part — especially Maggie as a nickname — made me think of Magdalene, which I thought might be an even better fit for Felicity and Lucy’s style, and I like the connection of St. Mary Magdalene to the end of Lent (being the first to see the Risen Christ).

(4) Anne/Anna/Anastasia/Susanna/Joanna

Anne, too, has the same style matches as Catherine and Margaret, so I had to include it anyway (and I love St. Anne!), but I also liked that the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus is celebrated in February (Feb. 2), which is when Anna and Simeon were given the gift of beholding the Messiah they’d waited so long for. Anna would be lovely for that reason! And since we’re talking about Anna names, I can’t not acknowledge that Anastasia is in the Canon.

I quite liked this comment a reader left on my Sorrowful Mysteries post, which I think is appropriate here in the “Anne/Anna” suggestion:

I am adding Susanna and Joanna since tradition would hold they were included as witnesses at the cross. Though not named in passion narrative, Luke, Mark, and Matthew all indicate “other women” who had ministered to Jesus who were there watching. Earlier in Luke’s gospel Susanna and Joanna are named as women who were followers of Jesus and who ministered to their (Jesus and disciple) needs. And Joanna is listed in Luke’s gospel as one of the women who took spices to the tomb and is recognized as Joanna the Myrrh Bearer in Orthodox tradition.”

For these reasons, both Susanna and Joanna would be nice nods to the liturgical season Cassie’s baby will mostly likely be born in!

(5) Beatrice/Beatrix

Beatrice is a style match for Agnes, and Beatrix is a match for Maximilian, so I thought there might be something there. Its meaning of “she who blesses, makes happy, delights” is a fantastic one, and is the reason I included it in my book of Marian names (not an affiliate link) — I’ve seen other families use this name in honor of Our Lady as well. Since Mary is in the Canon, using a Marian name that’s not Mary itself would be a cool way to link to their Canon girls and any non-Canon names they might bestow going forward.

(6) Josephine, or a Lily name

Josephine is a match for Cecilia, and I thought since it’s the Year of St. Joseph, maybe Cassie and her husband would like to consider it for a girl? Not only that, but St. Josephine Bakhita’s feast is Feb. 8, which is at Cassie’s 38-week mark, if I’m not mistaken. Could be a perfect two-for-one!

Going along with the St. Joseph idea, one of his symbols is a lily, and not only is Lillian a match for both August (standing in for Augustine, since it doesn’t have its own entry) and Clara (I looked up both Claire and Clara, since Clare doesn’t have its own entry), but this was a great comment on my post of Joyful Mysteries names (since the Annunciation is celebrated in March, I thought it might be a good inspiration):

Lily, Lillian, Liliana, Lila as Gabriel &/or Mary at the Annunciation is typically shown holding a lily. Or one is being passed by Gabriel to Mary. So beautiful.”

And that same reader pointed out that Susanna means “lily.”

One last thought in the “lily” vein is that Lily is a traditional nickname for Elizabeth, and Elizabeth joins Catherine, Margaret, and Anne as being a big match for many of the names Cassie and her hubby like. Maybe Elizabeth nicknamed Lily could be a perfect idea?

(7) Julia, Juliet

Finally, Julia is a match for James and John, and Juliet for Felicity, and St. Julia Rodzinska’s feast is on February 20 — Julia and Juliet are both such lovely options! I did a spotlight of them here.

Boy

(1) Gabriel

I already mentioned that the Annunciation was one inspiration for me when thinking of names for this family, since it’s celebrated in March, and their baby might be born in March. I thought Gabriel might be a great idea for them! It’s also in my book of Marian names because of the Annunciation, so it can be a nice way to continue their Marian theme, if they decide they’d like to.

(2) Charles

I’ve seen a lot of families use Charles in honor of JP2, since his birth name was Karol (the Polish for Charles), and if they used Charles for John Paul, then that would open up John for them to use for another boy.

(3) Barnaby/Barnabas

I’m really interested to see what Cassie and her hubs think of Barnaby or Barnabas! Barnaby is a style match for both Felicity and Benedict, isn’t that crazy?! And cool! And he’s included in the Canon as Barnabas, so if they wanted to continue their Canon theme, he might be perfect! Another way to continue their Canon theme without locking themselves in too much would be to use a Canon name in either the first OR middle spots — Barnaby and Barnabas seem like amazing middle name options to me, so unexpected! Especially if they paired it with something really familiar, like Michael Barnabas or Joseph Barnaby.

(4) Simon

Simon has that same sort of possibly British feel as Felicity and Benedict (and Lucy fits in with that nicely too), and it’s a specific match for Cecilia and Leo. It’s got two great connections for this family, I think: Simon Peter, which fits in with Cassie’s due date, and since Peter’s in the Canon, using Simon might be a better way to nod to him but move away from Canon names; and also Simon of Cyrene, which is specifically connected to Jesus’ Carrying of the Cross — a great figure and Lenten name.

(5) Thaddeus

Thaddeus is like Benedict and Maximilian — long and saintly. He’s also in the Canon, but I think he’s listed as Jude? So Thaddeus might be like Beatrice/Beatrix and Simon — a technical Canon Saint without using the actual name listed.

(6) Sebastian

Similar to Benedict, Maximilian, and Thaddeus, Sebastian has that nice length and weighty feel. It’s also specifically a style match for Felicity!

(7) Theodore

Theodore seems like a really great compromise of sorts between their James/John/Michael names and their Augustine/Benedict/Maximilian names — it’s got the length of the latter with the familiarity of the former. And such a great meaning: “gift of God”!

Those are all the ideas I have for Cassie and her husband based on style and liturgical season/feast days that I thought they were most likely to like, but I also wanted to offer a few more of the same that I wasn’t convinced they’d like enough to warrant their own entry above, but I wanted to at least mention them, just in case. Here are some from my Sorrowful and Joyful Mysteries posts:

Dolores: Spanish for “sorrows,” traditionally used for Our Lady of Sorrows (María de los Dolores) and here could refer to both her and to the Sorrowful Mysteries, or to the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) — the name for the path in Jerusalem Jesus walked on his way to the Crucifixion.

Helen(a): She discovered the True Cross.

Veronica: she wiped Jesus’ Face during the Carrying of the Cross.

Isaiah or Zechariah: The Passion and death of Christ fulfilled the OT prophecies found in Isaiah and Zechariah.

And regarding feast days, I was excited to see that that the baby is due Feb. 22 — that feast day is one of the best: the Chair of St. Peter! Any of the papal names can be a nod to it, including but not limited to Peter, and also offbeat ideas like Clavis or Clavius or Claver (like St. Peter Claver) (from the Latin for “key,” like “keys of the kingdom”) or Roman (for Rome/Roman Catholic/the pope lives in Rome). Of course, the possibility of Cassie’s baby being born on his or her due date is small, I know, so here are a sampling of Saints with feast days between two weeks before and two weeks after her due date whose names I thought held promising inspiration (do note that because I looked through twenty-eight days’ worth of feasts, and each day has loads — major and minor — I’m only including ones here that jumped out at me. I would encourage Cassie — and any of you that this might be helpful for — to take a look through, in case I missed some that might be a better fit. I used the daily calendar on CatholicSaints.info.)

Feb 8

  • Jerome Emiliani (this makes me think of how St. JP2’s mom’s name was Emilia, and her cause for canonization is open!)
  • Josephine Bakhita
  • Our Lady of the Lily (a cool tie-in with lilies being a symbol of St. Joseph)

Feb 9

  • Our Lady of the Bells (maybe Isabel(la)? Because of Bells?)

Feb 10

  • Scholastica
  • Our Lady of the Dove (Jonah means “dove,” and Dove itself would be a sweet middle name, maybe. Also Paloma means “dove.” Also Jemima, which I LOVE, but I get that most people aren’t ready to try to bring it back)

Feb 11

  • Our Lady of Lourdes (I love both Lourdes and Bernadette as given names)

Feb 20

  • Amata of Assisi (Amata is such a pretty name — it means “beloved,” and is in my book of Marian names because of Our Lady’s title Mater Amata [beloved Mother])
  • Jacinta Marto (Lucy and Jacinta might be “too much Fatima”? But I love her, and the name)
  • Julia Rodzinska
  • Leo of Catania
  • Pietro of Treia (this is the Italian variant of Peter)

Feb 21

  • Peter Damian (I have a friend who named his son Peter Damian as a first+middle combo, I’ve always loved it)

Feb 22

  • Chair of St. Peter

Feb 25

  • Our Lady of Victory (Victoria is a possibility here)

March 2

  • Agnes of Prague

March 3

  • Katharine Drexel

March 4

  • Casimir of Poland
  • Adrian of Nicomedia

March 8

  • John of God

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Felicity and Lucy?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Agnes Therese Marie!

I’ll be off the blog from now until New Year’s, when I’ll post my annual Year In Review post — I hope you all have a very merry and blessed Christmas!!

Monica and I have had many namey conversations over the years, including a consultation I did for her fourth baby and birth announcements I posted for that baby and two more (here and here)! She just emailed me to let me know she’s welcomed another baby, with another amazing name — a little girl named … Agnes Therese Marie!

Monica writes,

I thought I’d share an update with you. We welcomed another little girl to our crew three weeks ago … Agnes Therese Marie! We didn’t know the gender prior to her arrival and while we were going back and forth on boy names we had been set on Agnes for a girl from the start of the pregnancy. I love her name and feel like it’s a great fit with her siblings

Cora was confirmed this summer and chose St Therese as her patron. We decided to ask her to be Agnes’s godmother, so it is extra special that Agnes and her share Therese as part of their namesakes.”

What a beautiful name for this baby girl!! And I love those special connections Cora will always share with her baby sister — being both her godmother and sharer in the patronage of such a powerful Saint. Such a blessing for both of them!!

Congratulations to Monica and her husband and big siblings Cora, Levi (with Jesus), Regina, Fulton, Edmund, and Hildegard, and happy birthday Baby Agnes!!

Agnes Therese Marie with her siblings and at her baptism ❤


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Philip Charles!

I did a private consultation for Courtney and her husband a few months ago, and I’m excited to share their baby news with you! They had a little boy and gave him the fantastic name … Philip Charles!

Courtney writes,

We really loved doing the name consultation with you — it was fun to have another person’s perspective on names and nicknames we had been thinking of. Thanks for all the great suggestions

We went into the hospital with Elizabeth Helena as our girl name. We had considered Helen but loved your suggestion of Helena for the extra “sparkle”  And Philip Charles as our boy name. We felt like Philip is easier to keep as the call name and it fits with the other boys names

We’re thrilled to introduce: Philip Charles. His name Saints are St. Philip Neri, Pope St. John Paul the Great, and St. Charles of Austria

All you Holy men and women, pray for us!

I absolutely love the names Philip and Charles, and all those patron saints!! Three of my favorites!! So wonderful!!

Congratulations to Courtney and her husband and big siblings George, Margaret, Walter, Oscar, and Matilda, and happy birthday Baby Philip!!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

The naming of Jesus, SN in Croatia, and Irish naming trends

Happy Wednesday! Less than ten days until Christmas, as my boys keep on (and keep on) reminding me!

When I was going through the posts and articles about Advent and Christmas names that I posted the other day, I realized that one I did about the naming of Jesus for CatholicMom a couple of years ago didn’t survive their site redesign, so I’m posting it below.

I also have the fun news that the article I wrote for CatholicMom in October — “Praying the Rosary with Children” — was reprinted (with permission) on a Croatian web site. How cool! Check it out!

Finally, Sara at the DMNES shared this article with me, it’s such a fun read!: Name that Child! at The Irish Times (Dec. 28, 1999).


Glory to the Newborn King

by Kate Towne for CatholicMom.com (December, 2017)

Our newly beatified Bl. Solanus Casey was known to have a great love for The Mystical City of God (affiliate link), a history of the life of Our Lady said to have been revealed by her to Ven. Mary of Agreda in the seventeenth century. Because of my mom’s great love for Bl. Solanus, she decided to read the book that was so dear to him, and she fell in love with it as well, and has talked about it ever since — well over thirty years. In fact, her tattered copy of it is a fixture in my memories of my childhood home.

(It’s important to note that the contents of The Mystical City of God consist of private revelation, and are therefore not required to be believed by the faithful. (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 67) . )

I was looking through the book recently for the first time, and discovered a section regarding the naming of Jesus. Thanks to the St. Andrew Novena, I’d already been meditating frequently this Advent on “the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold,” and because my own experiences with giving birth have included the naming of the baby as soon as he’s born, I’d forgotten (or perhaps hadn’t fully realized) that Jesus wouldn’t have been named until His circumcision eight days later. But also, I’d never thought about His actual naming, beyond simply the acknowledgment that He would be known as Jesus per God’s instruction, and I loved reading this bit:

Then most holy Mary and Joseph took counsel concerning the name to be given to the divine Infant in the Circumcision [in which they both shared that the name Jesus had been revealed to them both, separately] … While the great Mistress of Heaven and St. Joseph thus conversed with each other, innumerable angels descended in human forms from on high, clothed in shining white garments, on which were woven red embroideries of wonderful beauty … The holy angels divided into two choirs in the cave, keeping their gaze fixed upon the King and Lord in the arms of His virginal Mother. The chiefs of these heavenly cohorts were the two princes, St. Michael and St. Gabriel, shining in greater splendor than the rest and bearing in their hands, as a special distinction, the most holy name JESUS, written in larger letters on something like cards of incomparable beauty and splendor.

The two princes presented themselves apart from the rest before their Queen and said: “Lady, this is the name of thy Son (Matt. 1:21), which was written in the mind of God from all eternity and which the Blessed Trinity has given to thy Only-begotten Son and Our Lord as the signal of salvation for the whole human race …” (pp. 243–244)

I’ve written before about the power of names, and specifically the power of the Name of Jesus, at which mention every “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10), and in which “whatever you do, in word or in deed” should be done, “giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17), so I don’t have a hard time at all believing that the revelation of His Name would be accompanied by such heavenly fanfare and celebration!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 12 (boy) needs a name that works in English and Spanish

Rebecca and her husband are expecting their twelfth baby (eleventh on earth) — their seventh son! This little guy joins big sibs:

Adam Joseph (“We chose Adam because it was very important to my husband that we choose names that can be said or translated to Spanish easily. His parents speak only Spanish. I liked that Adam wasn’t/isn’t a very popular name but wasn’t unheard of either. In Spanish it is Adan (emphasis on 2nd A) and it was appealing to me as well. I really wanted Joseph as a middle name for all my boys — because St. Joseph! Plus I think Joseph is the best boy name ever! We call him by his full name.”)

Nicholas Joseph (“We agreed on his name pretty quickly, keeping Joseph as a middle patron saint name. Nicolas in Spanish sounds awesome too. We call him Nick.”)

Madeline Marie Lucia (“Ever since I was in high school I wanted a daughter named Madeline. I totally dismissed my husband’s need for a name that can be said in Spanish! I really wanted Madeline! I figured her grandparents would find a name for her and that would be a special thing between them. They call her Madalena. Which I love too! Her middle names are for Our Lady and for Lucia, one of the children of Fatima [OLFatima is one of my favorites!]. We call her Maddy.”)

+ “baby in heaven (gender unknown). We named this baby Cesar.”

Isabella Marie Lucia (“I was hesitant to name her Isabella even though this was one of my favorite names since forever because she was born in the middle of all the Twilight hype and the name became crazy popular. But ultimately I didn’t care because I wanted this name before all that hype anyways! I figured since we named the boys with the same middle name, we should name the girls with the same middle name too Emoji. I really wanted her nn to be Izzy, but as much as I pushed for it, people call her Bella/Bells and now so do I. My adult niece calls her Bella-rina [which I adore!].”)

Marco Emilio Rafael (“Marco was one name my husband came up with … I liked that it was different, but not totally unheard of … His middle names are for his 2 grandmothers. We didn’t know the gender before he was born and had planned to name this baby after them either way. My MIL is Emilia and my mom is Rafaela … We figured Emilia and Rafaela could be easily switched to masculine names, so we went with it! … We call him Marco usually, I call him Mark sometimes.”)

Elias Joseph (“On the morning before he was born, we still didn’t have a name that we agreed on … during breakfast, I opened up the SSA list of names, scrolled past 500, and started reading names to my husband. As soon as I said Elias, I fell in love! And I love it in Spanish too [Eh-lee-as] Emoji. Luckily my husband agreed and our baby had a name! We decided to go with our classic Joseph for a middle name, it sounded so nice together! We call him Eli or Li-Li [Lie-Lie].”)

Josiah Thomas James (“This poor little guy went for 2 weeks without a name because we couldn’t agree on a name [and we knew we were having a boy too!]. He was our first home-birth so we had the “luxury” of not having to pick a name before we leave the hospitalEmoji. I was insisting on a name that is not popular and my husband and I couldn’t agree on any name. I don’t remember where we came up with Josiah but I loved it immediately. Again, luckily my husband did too and this guy had a name! His middle names are Thomas for his godfather and James after my godfather who passed away shortly after Josiah was born — both very strong, faithful Catholic men who will be amazing examples for our son! We call him Joe or Joe-Joe.”)

Theresa Maria Faustina (“At the beginning of this pregnancy, we were blessed to have spent our 10th anniversary in Poland & Rome with our very holy and close priest-friend and his family! His mom’s name is Teresa and we named her after this amazing woman! Maria is, of course, after Our Lady and Faustina is a nod to our time in Poland, plus how amazing to have a patron saint connected with Divine Mercy!! [We got to renew our wedding vows on the altar in the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow!!! EmojiEmojiEmoji]. We call her Reese or Reesa.”)

Monica Lily Marie (“I have always loved Monica and love that it’s not super popular and am so in love with how it sounds in Spanish. My husband and kids agreed … so we went with Monica. Her middle names are Lily as a nod to St. Joseph. My dad passed away when I was 7 months pregnant on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, so I wanted something to honor his memory. Marie is, of course, after our Lady. We call her Moni [Moh-nee].”)

Andrew Edward (“We started looking for a name that began with an “X” because he is our 10th baby, we thought that would be cool! All we found was Xavier and Xander. But as much as I like Xavier (Ex-Zavier), I couldn’t commit to this name for this little guy! After about 5 days of searching, I kept coming back to Andrew but felt like we couldn’t use it [because it’s my nephew’s name]. I thought it was perfect since he was born during Advent and I had been searching for an Advent name. I had a conversation with my adult niece and we decided that … it was completely fine to use it … Edward is after St. Edward the Confessor. Cool side story about his name: The headmaster at my kids’ school knew we were looking for a name beginning with ‘X’ for this 10th baby and when he heard we named him Andrew, he reminded us about the way St. Andrew was martyred — on the X shaped cross! I was in tears when I heard this and it confirmed for me that this guy was meant to be Andrew! We call him Andrew or Drew-Drew.”)

What a fantastic bunch of names, and all with great stories! For her newest little guy, Rebecca writes,

St. Thomas More was really calling to me during the first half of this pregnancy and I was convinced this should be his name, despite Thomas being Josiah’s middle name. Then suddenly I felt a huge draw towards St. Paul and his conversion story. I love how he had a huge change of heart and was able to totally transform from who he used to be, to the person God intended for him to be. Then Benjamin caught my attention and I love how this is Jacob’s 12th son since this is technically our 12th baby. I am hesitant for Benjamin because I feel as an adult what would he go by? Ben sounds a little bit juvenile (or maybe it just sounds like a sweet, gentle guy??) and Benjamin is such a mouthful to go by your full name all the time. My husband is not totally feeling Pablo as the Spanish name for Paul, even though I loooove Pablo!

I’m thinking:
Paul Thomas
Benjamin Paul

I also love Matthias but I’m not totally convinced. I like that he could go by Matt but then surprise people with his full name not being Matthew. I think in Spanish it would be Mat-ee-as and I like it too.

I am interested in names that sound like the cute little baby of the family but that can also be grown-up and mature sounding. Maybe that’s Benny with full name Benjamin?

My husband likes Samuel — it would have to grow on me, I’m not totally digging this name. I do like how it sounds in Spanish though! Diego has been on our list a few times, both my husband and I like it. Hubs likes Mario but that’s so similar to Marco. I STILL love Benicio! haha!

Names we can’t use (there are more than 50 grandkids on my side of the family!)

  • Joshua*
  • Michael*
  • Vincent*
  • Daniel*
  • David*
  • Nathan*
  • Steven
  • John (my dad’s and FIL’s name, but there are 3 grandkids with John as their 1st name)
  • Anthony
  • Jesse*
  • Cameron
  • Hector*
  • Robert
  • Fernando*
  • Martin*
  • Ricardo
  • Gustavo*
  • Matthew
  • Alan
  • Richard
  • Christopher
  • Jacob
  • Luke
  • Noah

(I starred the ones who are completely out. The others are similar to Andrew’s name, if it’s meant to be, it doesn’t matter to double up, ha!)

I loved reading Rebecca’s thought process regarding names for this baby — first Thomas, then Paul/Pablo, then Benjamin, all so great! Here are my thoughts on those, and the others she mentioned, in case my thoughts are helpful to her and any of you who might also be considering these names:

  • Thomas: Thomas is fantastic name and St. Thomas More is a fantastic saint, so if they chose Thomas as a first name, Rebecca and her hubby can be sure their little guy would have a good, solid name that would always serve him well. However, the fact that it’s already Josiah’s middle name makes me really want to find a name that they haven’t already used (despite the fact that I know they’re not opposed to doing so and have done so before). I do like it as a middle name, and it would be a neat connection between Josiah and this baby, which could be great!
  • Paul: I agree, St. Paul’s story is amazing! Paul does feel a little different in style to me than the other kids’ names — I mean, it does fit, since it’s biblical and classic, but it’s different at the same time. I love it as a middle name for as listed by Rebecca — Benjamin Paul is my favorite! (Benjamin Pablo would be amazing too! I wonder if her hubby would be okay with Pablo if it was in the middle?)
  • Benjamin: Okay, let’s talk about Benjamin. This is what I’ve been waiting to do since I first read Rebecca’s email, haha! I have a lot to say, so I’m going to jump out of bullet points for a second.

First of all, let me put Rebecca’s mind at ease about all her concerns about Benjamin and Ben! I have an adult Benjamin in my life and I have nothing but good things to say about his name! While it is a long name, his dad loves it so much that he almost always calls him by the full Benjamin, but everyone else in life calls him Ben, and I think Ben is just the best nickname — so friendly but solid at the same time. This same Benjamin named his son Benjamin Jr., and he goes by Ben(ny), so that should tell you that at least one Benjamin thinks it’s a great enough name to pass on!

Not only is there my own personal story about the amazingness of the name Benjamin, it’s also amazing that Benjamin is a style match for Rebecca and her husband! You all know that I always start a baby name consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so here, and discovered that Benjamin is a style match for Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, and Andrew! And Samuel too! Wow!

There are also several holy Benjamins, including St. Benjamín Julián, Bl. Benjamín Fernández de Legaria Goñi, and Bl. Benjamín Ortega Aranguren — there are others, but I loved seeing the Spanish variants for Rebecca and her hubs!

So I wholeheartedly agree that Benjamin is the *best* name for their son!! I love that this baby is their twelfth baby, and that Benjamin was the twelfth son of Jacob. What a great connection! I really have no job here, since they already have the perfect name!

(If they’re still not convinced about Benjamin, I’ve also seen Ben as a nickname for Bernard, and its variant Bernardino reminded me of how Rebecca likes Benicio.)

  • Matthias: Despite the fact that I’m convinced Benjamin is the best name for this family, I also love Matthias for exactly the reasons Rebecca mentioned.
  • Samuel: Samuel is a great name! Sam and Sammy are great.
  • Diego: Love it.
  • Mario: I agree that it’s similar to Marco — I didn’t think so at first, just looking at them printed, but then I said them out loud — oh boy! Very similar indeed!

I also took note of other names Rebecca said she liked/considered in the past, and I noticed Xavier — while that X initial would be great for a tenth baby, the initials XI would be perfect for an eleventh! I wonder what she would think of Xavier Isaac or Xavier Ignatius/Ignacio or Xavier Isidore?

As for the list of names that they can’t use, I was bummed out by Daniel (“Danny Boy” seemed such a sweet name for the baby of the family), David (similar to Benjamin, I was thinking how King David was the youngest of his brothers), and Luke (it’s a style match for their taste), but never fear, I was able to come up with a bunch of other ideas!

(1) Gabriel

I wasn’t surprised to see Gabriel show up as a style match for a bunch of their names, since I often see Gabriel on parents’ lists that also include Benjamin and Samuel. And it works in Spanish too, right? Rebecca’s husband represents St. Michael in his name, and Marco has St. Raphael — it would be great to round out the angelic trio with a Gabriel!

(2) Jonathan

Jonathan is a big style match for this family as well! There are a few nickname options — Jon and Jack, and if they did something like Jonathan Paul or Jonathan Pablo, then they could do JP initials (like St. John Paul!). I know this might seem like splitting hairs, but John and Jonathan are not the same name, so the fact that John is on their “no” list shouldn’t technically prevent them from considering Jonathan! (Unless their family thinks it’s too close to John, which I would understand.)

(3) C(h)ristian

Christian is one of my favorite names, and I enjoyed seeing that it’s a style match for this family. Cristian is the Spanish spelling, so handsome! I’m hoping that since Matthias isn’t too close to Matthew on their “no” list, C(h)ristian isn’t too close to Christopher on their “no” list.

(4) Tadeo or Tobias

Tobias is actually the name that’s the style match for them — it’s a match for Elias and Josiah, and I do love it … but maybe too close to both Elias and Josiah? I wanted to include it anyway, just in case. Thaddeus is a style match for Benedict, and I love the Spanish version Tadeo, what a cool name!

(5) Sebastian

Sebastian is long like Nicholas, Isabella, Benedict, and Benjamin, and St. Sebastian tends to be a favorite with boys — what boy doesn’t love a gruesome story about being shot to death with arrows?? Haha! Seb, Bash, Baz, Bastian, and even Ian are all nicknames I’ve seen.

(6) Damien or Damian

Damien’s a match for Cesar — I included their little one in heaven’s name in my research because it was yet another data point for showing their style, and I kind of love including a name on this list that is specifically tied to that baby — what a sweet connection! I mentioned above that I really liked the idea of Danny Boy for their “cute little baby of the family,” and when I saw Damien, I thought it might be perfect because I had it on my own list and had Denny as a nickname for it … change the spelling to Damian and Danny could easily work! In fact, Damián is the Spanish variant!

(7) Caleb

Speaking of “cute little baby of the family” names, Caleb has always struck me as having a snuggly feel. It’s certainly manly and strong, like the biblical character, but I think I get that cozy, cute feel from the fact that I saw Cub/Cubby as a nickname for it once and thought that would be so sweet for a little boy! Cal is also a possibility, which is so wholesome and boyish. Caleb goes right along with Rebecca’s Old Testament boys Adam, Elias, and Josiah, but I admit I don’t know how it does in Spanish.

(8) Stephen

My last idea for is Stephen — a style match for Mark (standing in for Marco for this example), Theresa, and Paul. I know a Stephen Paul and a Paul Stephen! While St. Stephen the Martyr is the first one I think of, and top of mind at this time anyway because of his feast day being the day after Christmas, I looked through the feast days starting with Rebecca’s due date and working backward, looking for anything that jumped out at me, and I saw that St. Stephen of Murat is on Feb. 8. Could be cool if her baby was born that day! (And only right now, as I’m putting this post together, do I realize that Steven is on the “no” list. Gah! I’m leaving this here in case it’s helpful to any of you.)

(For reference, other feast days that I noted were St. Matthias of Jerusalem on Jan. 30, St. Thomas Aquinas on Jan. 28, Conversion of Paul the Apostle on January 25 [!!], and St. Sebastian on Jan. 20.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, Isabella, Marco, Elias, Josiah, Theresa, Monica, and Andrew?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Advent/Christmas names, St. Joseph, St. Andrew, et al.

Happy Friday everyone!

I had a few things I wanted to share with you:

Did you all see the wonderful news that Pope Francis named this coming year (Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021) the Year of St. Joseph?! Be sure to read about the special indulgences (included in that link), and you might also like my recent post on names to honor St. Joseph. I saw a lot of babies with thematic names during the Jubilee Year of Mercy [Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016] — I wonder if we’ll see a lot of babies named for our good St. Joseph this year? I would love that!

I wanted to be sure to post all the resources I have for Advent and Christmas baby names:

I was also reading up on St. Andrew the other day and read this fun bit:

St Andrew is a patron of lace-makers. On his feast, sometimes known as ‘Tander’, areas such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire celebrate by feasting, drinking elderberry wine, sports and serving a special cake called the Tandra Cake, particularly in Bedfordshire. It has a bread dough base to which lard, sugar, currants, lemon peel and eggs are added.”

I thought Tander and Tandra were intriguing possibilities for naming a baby after St. Andrew (or any other Andrew)! While I’ve never seen either one as a given name, I used to know a girl named Tandy, and one of the Behind the Name entries for it claims it’s a Scottish diminutive of Andrew — an Andy variant — that’s used for both boys and girls.

The Tander/Tandra/Tandy connection to St. Andrew reminds of the connection of the word “tawdry” to St. Audrey:

It was in the 16th C that the word tawdry arose, at first to describe the necklaces sold at St. Etheldreda’s or St. Audrey’s (cf. the formation of Tooley St. from St. Olave) fair, and later for any cheap garish goods” (from The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names [affiliate link] by E.G. Withycombe)

(Note that Audrey started as a pet name for Etheldreda.)

I believe St. Olave refers to St. Olaus of Sweden, who’s also known as Olaf and Olave. Of course I had to look up Tooley after reading the reference to it above, and while there are other possible origins of Tooley, this site argues:

This surname is derived from the name of an ancestor. ‘the son of Toly,’ probably a nick, of the immense favourite Bartholomew. Lower writes, ‘Tooley, a crasis of St. Olave. Tooley Street in Southwark is so called from its proximity to the church of St Olave.”

And because going down namey rabbit holes is one of the things I do best, I just have to say that when they refer to the name Bartholomew as “the immense favourite,” they’re not kidding. I spent an entire winter a couple of years ago poring through A Dictionary of English Surnames (affiliate link) by Reaney and Wilson and was blown away by how many English surnames originated as forms (pet names, diminutives) of Bartholomew. I mentioned two of them (Bates and Batten) in this piece I wrote for Nameberry, and Withycombe gives this nice summary:

[Bartholomew] is not found in use in England before the Conquest, but it was very common from the 12th C onwards. The cult of St. Bartholomew was popular (there are 165 church dedications to him in England) and his relics were widely diffused. Bartholomew, with its diminutives Bartle(t) and Bat, gave rise to a number of surnames such as Bartholomew, Bartle, Bartlet(t), Bate(s), Bateson, Bateman, Batcock, Batkin, Batt(s), Batson, Batty.”

You all are the only people I could share all this with and not think you were falling asleep with boredom! Haha! Thanks for being as interested in names as I am! Have a great weekend!! ❤


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Ann Margaret!

I did a private consultation for Kate and her husband in the fall, and I was so excited to hear that she’s given birth to her fifth baby — her fourth daughter! They gave her the simply wonderful name … Ann Margaret!

Kate writes,

I am happy to report that baby girl FINALLY arrived last weekend! (All of our babies have gone until 42 weeks, and it’s always a struggle at the end. My husband suggests the name Perpetua at the end each time 🤣)

Up until she was born we had the name Elise Hildegard picked out, but as soon as she was born she just was not an Elise! Funny how that works since I’ve never felt that way before! 

We settled on the name Ann Margaret, after her great grandma, and it just fits her bright eyed little face so well! And I love how it fits with her siblings: Jacob, Grace, Claire, Lucy and Ann! Bonus is that their names are all short enough that they all still fit on our Christmas card 🤣

We’ve been calling her Annie-Peg and it cracks me up but is also an adorable nickname!

Isn’t Ann Margaret just so sweet and sophisticated at once? Stunning! And I’m totally dying over Annie-Peg!! And, as I told Kate, I just love the name story — to be almost Elise Hildegard (also stunning!) but end up Ann Margaret, based on, as Kate said, her “bright eyed little face” — I love that so much! And I agree, her name goes so well with her siblings’ names!

Congratulations to Kate and her hubby and big brother and sisters Jacob, Grace, Claire, and Lucy, and happy birthday Baby Ann (Annie-Peg)!!

Ann Margaret

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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Long and feminine plus nickname for baby girl due before Christmas

Genie is a longtime Sancta Nomina reader, and I’ve had the privilege of doing two previous consultations for her (here, here) and posting two birth announcements (here, here)! I’m excited to post a new consultation for her for her baby girl due in less than three weeks!

This baby girl joins big siblings:

Malachi Benedict Aquinas

Noah Oliver Francis

Liam Michael Damien

+ Aelred Dominic John (with Jesus)

Henry Andrew James

Moira Elizabeth Charlotte

George Maximilian Joseph

Genevieve Immaculee Grace

Such amazing combinations! You’ll see that Genie has a particular knack for putting names together in the most beautiful ways!

She writes,

We need a some fresh girl name inspiration to add to the list we’ve built since our courtship. None of them are really sparking us right now

Our trend so far for girls seems to be first names on the longer, classic side that have a saint and or Marian connection & nickname potential. We like the Marian names to be fairly obvious. And like her sisters, this baby will have two middle names from saints and Our Lady since my kids need all the heavenly help they can get! There have also been literary connections in the past but I don’t see that as a hard requirement. I’m still trying to come up with a nod to Our Lady of La Salette

We’ve been praying for this baby’s guardian angel to help us know her name and are hoping her birth day will also aid in that discernment. For example Lucy for 12/13 or Sophie as a nickname from the O Wisdom Antiphon on 12/17. There doesn’t necessarily need to be a link to Advent or Christmas.

Name combos that have been on the list are:

Josephine Felicity Mariae nn Joy/Sophie/Zosia: This was our other front runner with Beatrix for Evie’s name last time. And as the next brother up, George, usually goes by Joe Joe we felt the nickname Josie was too close.

Beatrix Evangeline Anne/Clare/Jane nn Beasy:  Beatrix has my favorite meaning of “She who blesses” and reference to Mary. Jane was DH’s Grandmother’s name, but is it too much with the G in Evangeline? 

Lucy Elinor Anne/Agnes/Jane/Violet nn L.E./Ellie/Lulu: DH likes Elinor as a first name but we haven’t found a combo of middle names we like with it. His big draw to it as a first name is that his birthday is the feast of St. Helena and the nickname “Ellie”. To me the Lucy in front flows well but the Marian connection doesn’t feel as strong with this combo. I’m also concerned that Ellie is too close to [Genevieve’s nickname] Evie or that our oldest daughter would feel left out with her M name. I really love Violet as a name to but nothing complete has come to us for it.

Emmelia Magdalene Rose nn Emmie/Millie/Mila: We’ve just always loved this combo in honor of St. Basil’s mom, the “Mother of Saints.” 

Margaret Gemma Therese nn Meg/Megsy after Little Women: St. Margaret Clitherow is my confirmation saint

We also like Cecilia as a first name. And I really like Catherine as a first name for Sts. Catherine of Siena & Alexandria … We would use Kitty as a nickname

Cecilia Catherine Thérèse has been thrown around. We wouldn’t use Cece as a nickname but thought Kitty might still work with that combo? I could also see Cecie like Cecily as one. But again the clear Marian connection is lacking to me.

Marigold (one of my favorites!), Penelope, Kateri, Naomi, Adelaide, Anastasia, Bernadette, Faustina, Perpetua, Faith, & Regina are other middle name options we’ve noted.”

Of course you have to know that I basically swooned through Genie’s entire email! Such gorgeous names!! I bolded the combinations because I didn’t want you to miss any of them, and I kept that up in my ideas below as well.

Josephine Felicity Mariae is my particular favorite — I love the way it looks and sounds! And the nickname ideas of Joy, Sophie, and Zosia are fantastic! But I really also love Beatrix Evangeline Clare (Clare’s my favorite of the second middle name options, just based on sound) nn Beasy (so cute!), Lucy Elinor Jane (Jane’s my favorite of the second middle name options, due to the family connection) nn L.E./Ellie/Lulu (Lulu’s darling), Emmelia Magdalene Rose nn Emmie/Millie/Mila (I love Mila), Margaret Gemma Thérèse nn Meg/Megsy, and Cecilia Catherine Thérèse nn Kitty or Cecie. Absolutely beautiful, each one.

I’m so reluctant to add anything to these beautiful names! I can’t imagine being able to come up with anything more perfect! But I do understand the feeling of “none of them are really sparking us right now,” so maybe something in my ideas will help freshen up the list.

I also wondered if any of the names on Genie’s middle name list would be considerations as first names? I particularly like Marigold, since she said it’s one of her favorites. I love that Mari, Maggie, and Goldie can all be nicknames for it … and maybe even Maisie, I think that could work, which could also be a nod to Genie’s Confirmation name, since Maisie’s a traditional nickname for Margaret. I love Marigold’s connection to Our Lady, Crowned (feast day August 22: The Queenship of Mary). Maybe something like Marigold Virginia Reine, to really drive home the regal connection? (And three Marian names!) I also love Adelaide, Anastasia, Bernadette, Perpetua, and Faith as first names for this family.

Genie mentioned a couple things that she’d like to find appropriate combos for, so I spent some time trying to come up with ideas for them:

  • Genie said she’d like to nod to Our Lady of Salette. I had a reader who considered Salette as a first name for a baby girl in honor of that title, and considered Sally as a nickname for it. I also thought Etta could work. Maybe Salette Evangeline Rose? Or what about “La Salette” or “de La Salette” as a middle name? Our Lady had pearls on her robe in that apparition, and Margaret means “pearl,” so maybe Beatrix Margaret de La Salette? Or Beatrix Marguerite de La Salette? Or using the Irish, maybe Beatrix Mairead de La Salette? There were also a number of roses present on her form, so maybe Rosa Mairwen de La Salette? (Mairwen is a Welsh name combining “Mary” and “white/fair/blessed”; I thought it went well with their Celtic sensibility as noted in Liam and Moira’s names.)
  • Genie said Hubby likes Elinor as a first name — I do think Ellie’s a sweet nickname, and while it is similar to Evie, Genevieve and Elinor aren’t similar at all. Also, since the three sisters would be Moira, Genevieve, and Elinor, all with different official first initials, I’d focus on that with Moira so she wouldn’t feel badly about Evie and Ellie. I wonder if they would consider Helena itself? Ellie can be a nickname for Helena, as can Nell and Lena. I particularly like Nell for them (and actually Nell can work for Elinor too!). Maybe Elinor Madonna Rose? (I love using Madonna as a middle name as it’s explicitly Marian and points specifically to her motherhood, which I love.)
  • Genie said she loves Violet but hasn’t been able to come up with a great combo — maybe Violet Josephine Thérèse? Violet Elinor Anne? Violet Gemma Thérèse? (I like Violet and Gemma together — she could consider any purplish gem to her own!) Does Violet represent Our Lady well enough in those combos though? Or Violet Rosemary Jane? (Too many flowers?) Violet Madonna Helene? (Kind of cool that Madonna, with its “holy mother” connection, clearly refers to Our Lady here, but can also nod to St. Helena.) Violets also used to be called Our Lady’s Modesty, and an interesting name that they might like to work into a name is Haidee: it’s a name that was created by Lord Byron for a character in Don Juan, and he based it on the Greek for “modest, reverent.” Knowing that Genie likes literary connections as well, and with such a lovely meaning, maybe she’d like to consider the doubly “modest” name of something like Violet Haidee Madonna?
  • In thinking of a combo with Cecilia as a first name with a clear Marian connection, maybe they could consider the spelling Caecilia? It’s the original Latin form of Cecilia (this family used it for their daughter; they also have an Anastasia Lucia, which I like for Genie’s daughter! Anastasia Lucia Rose maybe?), but I like Caecilia for Genie because they could possibly use Caeli as a nickname, which isn’t connected to Caecilia etymologically but is so visually, and Caeli could provide the Marian connection as in her title Regina Caeli. Maybe Caecilia Regina Rose, to really double (triple!) down on it? (Or even just Cecilia Regina Rose, if they don’t like the Caecilia idea but like the Regina Rose middles?) I would say Caeli like CHAY-lee, but it can be said KAY-lee or, if they use it as a nickname for Caecilia, they could just say SAY-lee. Other nicknames for Cecilia can include Celia, Celly, and Lia.
  • Regina Rose made me think that Perpetua Rose would also be a lovely double-middle combo — very Marian with the added meaning of “everlasting rose.”

I also took a look at the upcoming feast days on CatholicSaints.info and the other O Antiphons (I wrote a piece with ideas based on them here) and thought these names might be helpful to add to Genie’s ideas (in addition to Lucy and the Sophia names):

  • Dominique: Dominic means “belonging to the Lord” and can be used for O Adonai (O Lord), Dec. 18
  • Kyrie: refers to “the Lord,” and can be used for the same
  • Aurora: Latin for “dawn,” the time of the rising sun, which can be used for O Radiant Dawn, Dec 21; this is also a Marian name — St. Bonaventure used Aurora in reference to Mary thirty five times in his Mirror of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary includes a reference to Our Lady as aurora in the closing prayer for Vespers
  • Emmanuelle, Emmanuella: for O Emmanuel on Dec. 23
  • A Spanish version of a name for Our Lady of Guadalupe, like Maria or Rosa
  • I know they’ve already used Immaculee, so if the baby is born on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), maybe Catherine or one of its variants would be perfect, since it’s said to mean “pure”; Catherine could also be appropriate for Dec 28 — Holy Innocents
  • Bl. Clara Isabella Fornari (aka Anna and Chiara) on Dec. 9
  • Loretta for the feast of Our Lady of Loreto on Dec. 10
  • Bl. Elizabeth Rose on Dec 13
  • St. John of the Cross on Dec 14 for Jane as a first name (or middle); St. John the Apostle on Dec 27
  • St. Adelaide of Burgundy on Dec 16
  • Pope St. Anastasius I on Dec 19 for Anastasia
  • Bl. Cecilia of Ferrara on Dec 19
  • St. Anastasius II of Antioch on Dec 21
  • Mary, Mother of God on Jan 1 — Madonna would be perfect!
  • St. Basil the Great on Jan 2 for Emmelia
  • Holy Name of Jesus on Jan 3 for Emmanuelle/a

Then I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard, looking up names that are similar to the names Genie and her husband have already used and those they like, as it lists, for each entry, names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. And I looked through my book of Marian baby names as well. Based on all that, these are some new ideas:

(1) Natalie or Natalia

I know Genie said there didn’t have to be a Christmas or Advent connection, but I enjoyed finding names that I thought she might like that also had that connection! Natalie and Natalia literally refer to Christmas, as they come from the Latin natale domini: “birth of the Lord.” They can also be Marian names via her title Our Lady of the Nativity, or they could choose Our Lady’s own nativity (Sept. 8) as her name day. Nathalie’s also a pretty and unexpected spelling (French).

(2) Susanna

I always think of Susanna as a Christmas name, since Zuzu in It’s a Wonderful Life (Zuzu’s petals!) mostly likely had a Susan name (Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan names). Susanna is my favorite of the Susan names, and I included it in my book of Marian baby names because it means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew; because of its “rose” meaning, it could make a nice name for a baby born on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 9). Susie, Sukie, Anna, and Annie are all possible nicknames in addition to Zuzu. St. Susanna’s feast is August 11. (In case it’s helpful, Susanna Mariae was our choice for a baby girl through most of our boys, but for our last I’d actually switched it to Susanna Margaret Mary. St. Susanna and St. Clare share a feast day [Aug.11], so maybe Susanna Mariae Clare would be perfect?)

(3) Clara

Genie has Clare listed as a possible middle name, but what about Clara as a first name? I like it better than Clare as a first name for them and it has both a Christmas and literary connection via The Nutcracker. There’s a Bl. Clara Isabella Fornari whose feast day is Dec. 9 (she’s also known as Anna [her birth name] and Chiara [the Italian version]). I like the combo Clara Dominique Mariae.

(4) Catriona (or Riona/Rionach?)

Genie said she loves Catherine for Sts. Catherine of Siena and Alexandria, which made me think to suggest Caterina (St. Catherine of Siena’s actual name; Catherine is an English and French version). But then I thought the Irish version, Catriona, might be even more suited to her taste! It’s said like Katrina, or you can add in a half syllable: ka-TREE-ə-na, and they could use Kitty, or Cat, or Riona/Triona as nicknames. A really fun connection is that Riona on its own is actually from the Irish rionach, which means “queenly” — a nice Marian name! Rionach is a name in its own right as well! Maybe as a middle name? This mama named her daughter Elizabeth Ríonach (nn Liesel), which I think is so pretty! Catriona Perpetua Rose would also be lovely.

(5) Christiana

A Jesus name would be great for a Christmas baby, and Christiana is my favorite of them — so pretty! AND there’s a St. Christiana the Slave whose feast is on Dec 15! Something like Christiana Mariae Josephine would include the whole Holy Family in one name!

(6) Seraphina

When Genie said she likes longer names with a saint or Marian connection and nickname potential, I thought of Seraphina/Serafina right away. Of course it refers to the seraphim, but I think it can also be used as a name to refer to the angels in general, which is why I included it in my book of Marian names: for her titles Our Lady of the Angels and Queen of the Angels. Sera, Fia, and Fina are all pretty cool nicknames, and I think Sophie/Sofie could work, too, like she was thinking for Josephine.

(7) Verity (or Charity?)

Verity means “truth,” which is amazing anyway, but the name Verity also has a British-y feel to me (admittedly because of the lovely character of Verity in Poldark, which gives it a literary sheen as well), which I think fits in pretty well with Genie’s other children’s names. Maybe Verity Adelaide Madonna? Verity Rose Bernadette? Verity Sophia Faith? (That’s a powerful virtue combo! For that matter, what about Charity Sophia Faith? For “faith, hope, and love”?)

(8) Stella (or Stellamaris? Or Maristella?)

Stella is one of my favorite ideas for this family. I love that it can refer to the Christmas star, and I love that it’s Marian via her title Stella Maris. The full Stellamaris could also be used as a first name, with Stella as the nickname, or Stella as a first name and Maris as one of the middles, or Maristella, which is a lovely reordering of it (see birth announcements for Maristella Rose and Maristella Katherine, both of which made me think of Genie! Maristella Catherine Rose?) A very Christmasy combo would be Stella Aurora Emmanuelle, wow!

And those are all my ideas for Genie’s baby girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Malachi, Noah, Liam, Henry, Moira, George, and Genevieve?


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Cyber Monday deals!

Happy Monday everyone! Today’s the feast of St. Andrew — his powerful novena starts today, I highly recommend it! It places your intentions at the feet of the Baby Jesus in the hour He was born, amazing. ❤

I got a lot of interest in my Black Friday special — I’m excited to work with you all! I’m all booked up for December, but if you’re due in 2021 and would like a consultation, or if you’d like to purchase a gift certificate to give as a St. Nicholas Day or Christmas gift (as long as it won’t be redeemed until January or later), I’m again offering my $10 deal for Cyber Monday! (Usual cost: Ordinary Consultations are $50, Mini Consultations are $25; read their descriptions here.)

To redeem: Email me today (sanctanomina at gmail dot com) between now and midnight tonight eastern time noting that you’d like the Cyber Monday special, and I’ll send you an invoice for $10. Once I receive your payment, I’ll put you in the queue! First come, first served (except that, as mentioned, I can’t work on them until after New Year’s).

The Marian Fathers — publishers of my book of Marian names — are having a great sale today as well! Head over to their web site and watch the scrolling banner on the front page — it details all the great deals!

Have a wonderful day!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Black Friday! Come get your consultations!

Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Black Friday Consultation Deal — today only!

For Black Friday this year, I’m offering baby name consultations for $10 a piece! (Usual cost: Ordinary Consultations are $50, Mini Consultations are $25; read their descriptions here.)

You can buy one for yourself for now or bank it for future use, or you can buy it for someone else and I can email you a gift certificate to present to that person. Because this has been a popular item in the past when I’ve done this for Black Friday, I can’t guarantee my usual three-week-or-less turnaround, but I will work as fast as I can and give priority to due dates. I can’t wait to hear from you!

To redeem: Email me today (sanctanomina at gmail dot com) between now and midnight tonight eastern time noting that you’d like the Black Friday special, and I’ll send you an invoice for $10. Once I receive your payment, I’ll put you in the queue! First come, first served (except that, as mentioned, if you have a due date coming soon, I’ll bump you up).

Consultation-for-Book Deal — continuing indefinitely!

A second thing I’m offering, starting today but continuing indefinitely, is that with every purchase of my book of Marian baby names, you’ll receive a discount on a consultation: $25 for an Ordinary Consultation (value: $50), and no cost for a Mini Consultation (value: $25).

To redeem: Simply email me a copy of your receipt (screen shot for online orders; regular photo for in-store purchases), dated today or later (one consultation per book). You can order it from ShopMercy.org (the Marian Fathers) or Amazon (which is offering a discounted price today for the book), and may find it in your local Catholic book store.

Have a great Friday!!


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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!