Baby name consultation: Girl name needed for baby no. 6 (British-y/Irish-y/Celtic-y)

Mary Beth and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little one joins big sibs:

Reese Joseph (“Joseph is a family name that runs through both sides of our family as a middle name. He is named after St. Joseph, protector of the holy family. Reese means ardour or enthusiasm and I think that fits his personality well.”)

Finnian Michael (Finn)We picked Finnian for both the Irish saint namesake as well as the nickname derived from it. We loved the nickname Finn and worked backwards from there, finding a saint that would match that. It was either Finnian or Finbarr so for us the choice was easy. Michael is in honor of the great Archangel as well as honoring my deceased brother.”

John Thomas (sometimes called Jack)John is named specifically for St. John the Apostle (the one whom Jesus loved!) but there are really so many great saints out there with that name that we couldn’t go wrong. It is also the name of a beloved Grandpa (who was named John but often went by Jack). Thomas is for St. Thomas Aquinas – and our John is really such a little philosopher at heart.”

Lucy Rose (“We picked Lucy because it is pretty, and light, distinctly feminine, but also fits better with the shorter names of our first three than say, Philomena or Benedicta. I loved that St. Lucy was such a beautiful model of purity. Rose is a nod to our Our Lady of Guadalupe and to St. Rose of Lima. She is also named after my Grandma Rose Lucy.“)

Gabriel John (also referred to as Gabey, Gabe) (“I have always loved the name Gabriel but never used it on any of our boys previously. I hadn’t even considered it for this child until one day in adoration I asked God what the name of this child was supposed to be (we knew he was a boy) and shortly after I began praying the joyful mysteries. Once I got to the Annunciation the name clicked in and it became number one on my list. After discovering that my husband had no qualms with the name and that it’s meaning is “God is my strength”, we never looked back. Also he was born 4 days after Christmas and I think that Gabriel fits so nicely into the season. His middle name was picked for St. John Vianney and also is my husbands middle name.”)

I loooove all of these!! Of course I couldn’t help but notice that the style of names changed somewhat as their family grew, which Mary Beth addresses:

Our style has become refined over the years in regards to our children’s names. When we started with our oldest, we were young and newly married – and hadn’t thought much about the names that our children would have. Over time we’ve come to see how important the naming of a child is – a name that will stay with them for all eternity!

I love seeing how a couple’s taste in names changes as life goes on — it’s so fun to see where they started and where they are now! Some couples change a lot and some change very little; some start with more conservative taste and become bolder, and some do just the opposite. Working with the population of families that I do, I’ve also seen quite a few couples who’ve had conversion experiences or whose faith has deepened as time goes on, and their babies’ names often reflect that. One of my favorite things is helping find names that loop in the siblings with the outlying names, that provide bridges between the styles while still having great faith connections.

Mary Beth continues,

We love names that are clearly masculine for boys and feminine for girls, especially since Reese’s name has since gained in popularity for girls. We also sneak in family names as much as possible. We require that at least the first name is a saint’s name, biblical name or Marian name.

One interesting twist to our naming process with this child is that we have agreed that my husband get’s to name this child if he is a boy and I will pick the name if she is a girl (we each have veto power however if we really hate the name). Hubby prefers straightforward names, simple names, masculine names (for a boy). I prefer longer names, beautiful names, names with meaning and history.

For this baby (#6) we found out that I was pregnant on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the due date is one day after the Assumption of Mary in August (exactly one year after our family consecrated ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart!), so I feel like Our Lady’s fingerprints are all over this child. We would love to give him or her a Marian name (either first or middle) to honor that. Your book has given me some great ideas as well as solidified some names for me that I had already been considering but did not know of the Marian connection.

Names I like for girls (in a loose order of preference):

Esther: I love the sound of this name, that there’s 2 syllables (one syllable has been done a lot in our family and yet I worry that 3 syllables is a stretch). I also enjoy that this name is well-known enough but not popular today. Esther is one of my favorite bible heroines and the name of a very sweet aunt. Essie as a nickname is precious. Husband thinks it’s ok.

Felicity: I like that it means happiness; also the uncommonness and the sound of the name. While I love the name I’m not sure of a good viable nn for it, since Lucy and “Lissy” sounds too similar. Name is growing on Hubby.

Clementine : I love this name — Marian and family connection! And how cute is Clemmie? I have a bit of an attraction to certain literary names that I grew up reading, especially British ones. For instance, I would love to have a Louisa as a nod to Louisa May Alcott, but it would not jive with Lucy. Hubby gives thumbs up.

Ruth : A favorite bible heroine but also just like the name and the simplicity goes with our family’s style. The simplicity makes it an easier sell for my husband.

Margaret : My mom’s name who I would love to honor. Not sure about a nickname? I don’t care for Maggie, Gretta, Marge or Molly. I could see using Etta but I don’t know if it’s too far-fetched.

Hope : I don’t have much reason for liking hope (except for the attributable virtue) but I haven’t been able to shake the name ever since hearing of an acquaintance with the name – it’s just so pretty! I read in one of your posts that Hope could be named after Our Lady of Hope – which I love! Hubby approves.

Elisabeth : It is pretty common but so lovely and classic, biblical and British (I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). We would have to do some work to find a nickname for it because my nn is Betty and Lissy sounds too similar to Lucy. I do like Liesel for nn but awfully close again to Lucy.

Mary : Obviously a great name! – and has a triple family connection since it’s my first name, my mother’s middle name and our Blessed Mother’s name. Maybe overused since it’s my first name, although I often go by a nickname. If used it would likely be a middle name or a first name in a case where we call her by her middle name (as in Mary Clementine but called Clementine).

Middle names:

Immaculata
Maristella or Stellamaris
Regina
Henrietta
Marie
Verity
Frances
Therese
(any unused first name/)

Alice [is] also [a] contender … [it] is more Hubby’s preference (I have hesitations on the name since I don’t like the nickname Ali and I didn’t know there was a saint Alice but in the meantime I have found one) … I do find that each other’s preferences will sway the other to some degree so we might not want to cross [it] out.”

I’m not surprised that Mary Beth said that she has an affinity for British names, as her children’s name have a definite Irish/Celtic/British Isles feel to me. I love it! Reese and Finnian are most obvious; John Thomas is a huge name in my Irish family, and even though Jack is so popular now, it always ultimately makes me think of an Irish boy/man. I love St. Lucy, but when I hear Lucy my first thought is always Narnia! And I’ve often suggested Gabriel to families with an Irishy sensibility, citing actor Gabriel Byrne as a great example of Gabriel’s usage in Ireland. So that’s really where my mind went when coming up with ideas for this family.

It’s an interesting twist that Mary Beth’s hubs gets to choose the name for this baby if they have a boy, and MB gets to name a girl! I’ve known other couples who have done similarly, but I’m most surprised by the fact that it sounds like they didn’t do so with their previous children! (That would make an excellent basis for a Fun Friday Question …)

You have to know how excited I am to read, as Mary Beth says, “Our Lady’s fingerprints all over this child”! And I’m so glad that my book was helpful to them! A few of the ideas I had for this baby are in my book, so I’m a little worried that, since MB didn’t have them on her list, she’s already decided against them, but maybe a good argument in favor of them is all that’s needed?

First though, these are my thoughts on the names Mary Beth likes for a girl:

  • Esther: I do love it! And I love her reasons for loving it — the fact that she has a personal connection with the biblical figure and that it’s a family name. I admit it seems to me a little mismatched with her other kids, but the family connection definitely trumps that I think, and I agree that Essie is darling! (Hmm … but maybe too much like Lucy?)
  • Felicity: I love it too, and I think it goes great with the older kids. Nicknames often seem to be problematic for parents considering Felicity! Lucy and Lissy are too similar, I agree, but there are others, like Flick and Flicka, Lily, Fin, Zita, Fee, Felly, and Liddy — these were all discussed in the spotlight I did of Felicity a while ago.
  • Ruth: I love Ruth, and I think of it as similar to Esther, so normally I might think of it as a mismatch for the other kids, BUT the only Ruth I know in real life is native Irish! And of course she goes by Ruthie, which of course they’d have to call her, it’s the sweetest!
  • Margaret: Oh man, I would have a hard time not choosing Margaret if I were Mary Beth! Her mom’s name! And a fantastic match with the older kids! I think Etta is totally fine and not too farfetched at all! Other nicknames for it that she didn’t mention include Margo, Madge, Mae/May, Mamie, Meg, Peggy, and Rita, but my very favorites for this family are Maisie and Daisy! Maisie is a Celtic (Irish&Scottish) diminutive of Margaret, and Daisy is a traditional nickname for it (since the French form of Margaret is also the name of the daisy flower in French: marguerite) — I think both would be amazing with the other kids! I could also see something like Margaret Eve nicknaming to Maeve, which I think would be really cool (I have Daisy, Eve, and Maeve in my book!).
  • Hope: I agree with MB, there’s something about Hope! Yes, it can be for Our Lady of Hope!
  • Elisabeth: I love this spelling! Elizabeth/Elisabeth has SO MANY nicknames! Some of my favorites are Betsy (probably too close to Betty?), Libby, Liddy, Ellie, and Tess, but they’re all so great! Elisabeth can also shorten to Elise, which is so pretty.
  • Mary: Oh yes! I like Mary Beth’s plan to have it be a middle, or a hidden first name.
  • [Alice: I don’t think people tend to nickname Alice? I mean, Alison seems very nicknameable — I feel like most Alisons go by Ali at least sometimes during their lives, but Alice has a more distinguished feel (while also being so sweet), I don’t know, I don’t think I’d ever find myself casually nicknaming an Alice. Maybe Ali’s used more than I thought!]

I looove Mary Beth’s list of middle name ideas!! Immaculata, Maristella/Stellmaris, Regina, and Marie are especially perfect to honor Our Lady with a non-Marian first name, while Henrietta, Verity, Frances, and Therese would be great as a middle name for a Marian first name.

Alrighty, as you all know, 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 name, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As I mentioned before, I also really had my eye out for Irish-y/Celtic-y/British-y type names, not only because I get that vibe from Mary Beth’s kids as a whole, but also because as I mentioned I really try to loop in any siblings with names that are kind of outliers, and her oldest two — especially Reese — are starting to have that feel. And I looked through my book as well! With all that in mind, these are my additional ideas for this baby, if a girl:

(1) Beatrice or Beatrix
I’m not sure which I like better here, Beatrice or Beatrix! I have them in my book — they mean “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is an amazing meaning for a little girl, and a great connection to Our Lady! Bea is a great nickname, and I like Tris and Trixie too! Beatrice is a style match for both Clementine and Alice.

(2) Juliet
Julia is a match for John and Juliet for Felicity and Hope, and of them, I like Juliet quite a bit for this family, but they’re both lovely! I did a spotlight of the Julia names a while ago, complete with patron saints. The Juliette spelling is French and frilly, but the Juliet spelling is more in keeping with the older kids I think.

(3) Annabel(le)
Annabelle is also match for Felicity and Hope, and I immediately thought of Annabel in my book: it arose in Scotland in the middle ages as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable)! I think it’s so lovely, and Annie as a nickname sounds perfect as Lucy’s sister!

(4) Susanna
Speaking of Annie: Anna, Hannah, and Susannah all were results of my research as well, and of them, I thought Susanna might be perfect! It’s also in my book, as it means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, which could make for a nice connection with sister Lucy Rose! Susannah has a heavier Old Testament feel (more along the lines of Esther and Ruth), while Susanna is New Testament and saintly — and in fact, St. Susanna’s feast day is August 11! The same month this baby is due!

(5) Miriam
Lovely Miriam fits right in with Esther and Ruth, and it’s Marian to boot! Mary Beth’s husband likes some Old Testament names too, so I like that Miriam might appeal to both of them. Miri and Mimi are sweet nicknames as well.

(6) Maura or Moira
Speaking of variants of Mary, since we’re (or, at least I’m) talking about Irish-y names, I wonder if Mary Beth might like to consider one of the Irish forms of Mary? It would be a neat way of connecting her first name, her mom’s middle name, and of course Our Lady in a new way in her daughter’s name. I love both Maura and Moira!

(7) Nora
Nora isn’t as obviously faithy as some of my other ideas, but it kept tugging me as a perfect fit for this family! Though it’s got good usage as a given name in its own right, it’s a short form of either Honora or Eleanor, either of which could provide a patron (Bl. Archangela Girlani’s birth name was Eleanor, and there’s a Bl. Eleanora as well; Venerable Honora Nagle would do also). A name like this might be best paired with one of the heavy hitting Marian middles, like Nora Maristella or Nora Clementine.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Reese, Finnian, John, Lucy, and Gabriel?


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!

Joyful Mystery Names

Happy feast of the Annunciation, one of my favorites!!

It seems a perfect day to share again my list of names inspired by the Joy Mysteries of the Rosary! Not only are there a bunch of names in my post, but the comments!! Definitely be sure to read them — the Santa Nomina readers are amazing!!


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!

Notes from Scottish Forenames

I started reading this name book I got a while ago that I hadn’t had a chance to sit with yet: Scottish Forenames (New Edition) by Donald Whyte. I’m only on page xii of the Intro, but underlined these bits already:

In Wales a form of the Celtic mac was adopted, which the Cambrians made mab or map, shortened to ap, thus, to give an example, Ap Richard, which became the surname Pritchard.” (vi)

The clansmen used patronymics, and their love of genealogy and description produced forms such as Dhomnuill mac Chalum ‘ic Alastair ‘ic Iain Ban (Donald, son of Malcolm, son of Alexander, Son of Fair John).” (vii)

Athough Gaelic Christian names survived in Lowland Scotland long after the Gaelic language ceased to be spoken, by the Reformation these were out of fashion, except for old royal names such as Kenneth, Malcolm and Duncan. The names of saints survived — Patrick, John, Mungo and Ninian. William fared better, and other royal names like Alexander, Robert and James appear in the parochial registers. Archibald, an Old German name, reached Scotland through Norman and Flemish influence, and other names which remained popular were Adam, Alan, Andrew, Arthur, David, Gavin, Gilbert, George, Hugh, Matthew and Walter. Curiously, George was uncommon in England before the Hanoverian succession, despite being the name of the national saint.” (viii-ix)

[After a discussion of how the first son was usually named after the paternal grandfather and the second son after the maternal grandfather, and the same for daughters, except in one example they gave:] The fact that the first two were named after the wife’s parents (the second not after the husband’s parent) is unusual, and perhaps indicates that [the mother] Margaret McCalder was a strong personality.” (xi) (That made me laugh!)

I hope you’re all safe and well!


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!

Spotlight on: Magdalene

I’m embarrassed to say that a mama asked for a spotlight on Magdalene back in August, which I promptly and excitedly added to my list of future spotlights, and then … it’s now March 20 in the Year of the Coronavirus (which of course doesn’t supplant this year’s — and every year’s — designation as the Year of Our Lord), and also the Great Lent of 2020, and I’m sorry it took seven months and a global crisis to help me find the time and presence of mind to sit down and do it.

The mama who wrote to me worried that her Protestant family members would be horrified at naming a little one “after a prostitute,” and also what reception the moms of Magdalenes have had with the name? She also had the impression that it’s a name mostly used by Catholics, and wondered if that was accurate.

So first, the prostitute thing: Though it’s traditional to think that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, there’s actually no evidence to suggest that she was. BUT even if she was — no one bats an eye at naming boys Peter, even though he denied Jesus. Or Paul, even though he had Christians put to death. Or Augustine and Francis, even though they had a dissolute lives before their conversions. Bl. Bartolo (Bartholomew) Longo was a satanic priest. The point being: All of us are sinners, including the saints, and if we only named children after sinless people, we’d be left with only Jesus and Mary. Also, Mary Magdalene has so many good things! She was the first person Jesus appeared to when He rose from the dead. St. Thomas Aquinas called her “Apostle to the Apostles.” As that article I linked to above puts it,

Mary Magdalene is the first among the women following Jesus to proclaim Him as having overcome death. She is the first to announce the joyful message of Easter. But she also proved she was among those who loved Him most when she stood at the foot of the Cross on Mount Calvary together with Mary, His Mother, and the disciple, St. John. She did not deny him or run away in fear as the other disciples did, but remained close to Him every moment, up to and including the tomb.”

She’s a pretty amazing model for a little girl — and everyone — to follow! In fact, Pope Francis elevated her memorial to a feast day in 2016, which, “he said, was done in order to emphasize the importance of this woman, ‘who so loved Christ and was so greatly loved by Christ.'” I wrote about it at the time in this piece for CatholicMom.com; her feast day is July 22.

As for how moms of Magdalenes have found others’ reactions to the name to have been, I too am curious! I see it quite a bit in the families I work with, both already given to older daughters and on lists of names parents are considering for babies-on-the-way, and the mama who wrote to me asking for the spotlight is the first of all those I’ve encountered who have mentioned Mary Magdalene’s spurious reputation. I think I would have heard from others if the reception is negative? Please, moms of Magdalenes, share your experience!

As for whether it’s primarily used by Catholic families — I don’t know actual stats, but I did include it in my article of unmistakably Catholic names, as I’ve had a similar impression. Do you agree?

Okay, now to the name: Magdalene is SO beautiful! I love all its variants as well, both spelling (Magdalen, Magdalyn) and language (Madeleine, Madeline, Magdalena, Maddalena, Magali, and more), as well as its short forms and nicknames (some of these are traditional, some are possibilities): Maggie, Magda, Malena, Lena, Maddy, Molly, Dolly. What a gorgeous, versatile name! Did you know Marlene Dietrich’s given name was Marie Magdalene? Marlene was a mashup! We know Magdalene means, “of Magdala” (a town on the Sea of Galilee), and Magdala is said to mean “tower” in Hebrew, sooo … since Tower of Ivory  (in Latin: Turris Eburnea) is one of the titles of Our Lady, maybe something like Magdalene Ivory or Madeleine Eburnea could do double duty and nod to both of these wonderful Marys!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Magdalene, especially any real-world experience you have with it! Happy Friday everyone!!


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!

Charlotte, Corona

Good morning everyone! Our reader Charlotte, for whom I’ve asked for help in the past, is in need again — not only does she continue to deal with her own health issues, but she lives with and cares for her elderly grandparents, and needs some financial help to get over the next few days, especially in regards to paying for food and medicine. Any little bit helps! And prayers, always! Her Go Fund Me is here, and her Etsy shop is here.

One of you wonderful readers told me about St. Corona, who is an actual patron against epidemics! And her relics are buried in Anzù, Northern Italy — right in the middle of “the hotbed of the coronavirus in Europe”! Read more about her here and here.

I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well!


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!

Baby name consultation: Short name with no nicknames needed for a little sister

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (Blessings to you all on St. Patrick’s Day!)

I’m so sorry I didn’t post this consultation yesterday — I came down with a wee (only a wee, thank goodness) stomach bug and felt gross for most of the day, but I’m much better today! I’ve got my Guinness stew cooking (yes, while everyone else was making sure they had enough toilet paper and canned goods, I was making sure I had enough Guinness and stew beef 😂☘️) and a plan for the boys’ school for today (huge shout out to our teachers who have nearly seamlessly transitioned to distance teaching) and a nice cup of coffee so here we go!

I had the honor of doing two previous consultations for Caitlin and her husband, for babies no. 3 and 4, and I’m so happy for them that they’re expecting their fifth — a little green bean! This sweet baby joins big sibs:

Claire Camille
Margaret Joyce (Maggie)
Beatrice Jacqueline (Betsy)
George Warren

I just love their style, and I love Betsy as a nickname for Beatrice! So perfect!

Caitlin writes,

We’ve followed the pattern of patron saints as first names and our grandparents’ names as middle names. We’re pretty set on a boy’s name: Patrick William. But we’re struggling with a girl’s name that meets our criteria and that we agree on!

Our second and third daughters’ names are in a very similar style. They are both on the longer side, but we call them by nicknames that have the same ending. We want to avoid that name ending this time, and we want to have a shorter name (like our oldest, Claire) that doesn’t have any nicknames.

We also only have one grandmother’s name left to use. Her name was Shirley Anne and we’d be happy with either Shirley or Anne as a middle name.

I really like the name Alice and my husband really likes the name Helen. We’re trying to think of more names to add to our list. Lydia? Adele? We like Joan and Jane but feel like they’re a little *too* short.”

I couldn’t wait to see what names they considering, especially for a girl (I do love Patrick William, so handsome!), and I wasn’t disappointed! Alice and Helen as frontrunners, and Lydia, Adele, Joan, and Jane as possibilities are all fantastic!

First though, I wonder if Caitlin and her hubby have considered Anne Shirley as a first+middle combo?? I mean, what an opportunity!! I think Anne fits their criteria of a great patron saint for a first name, it goes great with Shirley as a middle (not just because it’s the name of one of the best literary characters ever), and it’s short, like Claire. The only thing working against it is that Annie is such a common nickname for it — but it doesn’t have to be! They can definitely be firm and consistent and insist on “just Anne” always, just like the amazing Anne-with-an-E herself. I could also see Nan arise as a non-ee-ending nickname — it was originally a diminutive of Anne (even though it’s not any shorter) and it feels sweet and affectionate to me. I looked back at my previous emails with Caitlin and saw that I suggested Anna for them before, but I’m loving Anne even more for them this time.

Okay, now that I’ve tried to convince them of Anne as a first name (!) here are my thoughts on the other names they’re considering:

  • Alice: I love it with the older kids, great name
  • Helen: I’m surprised that Caitlin’s husband is the one who likes Helen — I feel like moms are the ones who usually like the older names! It’s a great name too
  • Lydia: I love Lydia! The older girls definitely have an Austen-type feel, so I think Lydia fits in nicely
  • Adele: Also great! They’ve done really well coming up with names that don’t necessarily automatically nickname to anything (though I love Nell for Helen)
  • Joan and Jane: I love both of these, and since they’re both one syllable, they’re not any shorter than Claire!

So basically I’m like, I have nothing to offer! They have such great ideas! I can see each one of them working really well with both of the middle name options, and they each sound great as sisters to the older kids. I’m pretty excited to see what name they end up giving this baby!

Of course, even though they have a fantastic list, I can always come up with more! I did my usual research, looking up the names they’ve already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard and compiling a list of names from there, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also had some of my own ideas of names that I thought they might like, and once I had a good list I went back through our old emails to be sure I wasn’t repeating any. Sure enough, I was — I’d suggested Eleanor with the nicknames Nell or Nora, and this time I was going to suggest just Nora as the first name due to its short length and lack of nicknames (and also it fits with their Irish/Scottish/British heritage that Caitlin had told me they wanted to stick with). Otherwise, all my ideas are new! This is what I came up with:

(1) Elise or Eliza
Elise is a style match for Claire, and I loved it as soon as I saw it! Because it’s already a diminutive of Elisabeth, I think it’s less likely to be nicknamed? I also love that it’s French, like Claire. Eliza is a match for Lydia, and I could see it also working quite nicely for this family! Any of the Sts. Elizabeth would be wonderful as patron.

(2) Edith
Edith wasn’t a style match for any of their other names per the BNW, but Helen made me think of it right away. Even though a lot of people love Edith for its sweet nickname Edie, Edith on its own with no nickname is totally doable. St. Edith Stein is a fantastic patron for a young girl.

(3) Rose or Rosa
Is Rose too similar in length to Joan and Jane — too short? It’s so lovely and feminine though, I love it! And it’s a style match for Alice and Jane. Rosie is certainly common, but again: firm and consistent can make sure she’s always just Rose. I think Rosa is less likely to be nicknamed, maybe? And it’s just that wee bit longer, and it’s a match for George!

(4) Ruth
As with Edith, people who I see drawn to Ruth are usually totally taken with the sweet Ruthie, but just Ruth is great too! Its meaning of “friend” is wonderful, and because Catilin and her hubs love their heritage, I know they’ll be interested to know that the only person I know my age with the name Ruth is native Irish.

(5) Stella
Despite Edie, Rosie, and Ruthie, one of my main motivators was trying to find names that didn’t have an obvious or natural nickname, so when I saw Stella listed as a style match, I thought it might be just right. Also, of course, I love the Marian connection with her title Stella Maris (Star of the Sea).

(6) Flora
Same as with Stella because of no obvious nickname, when I saw Flora as a match for Adele, I thought it could be perfect! It’s one of those names that I never think of, but when I do encounter it I’m always pleased.

(7) Faith, Eve
Finally, I did a search in the Name Finder on babynamewizard.com for one-syllable girl names that don’t begin with C, M, B, G, or P, and of the results, I thought both Faith and Eve would be lovely with the older kids. They both have great Marian connections, and I like them both with the middle name options. (Hope and Grace also fit, and in fact, Grace was a huge hit for this family in my research, but I thought Gracie would be even harder to avoid than Edie and Rosie. I didn’t think Hope was exactly right.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Claire, Margaret/Maggie, Beatrice/Betsy, and George?


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!

Fun Friday Question: What is your Name Fuss threshhold?

Happy Friday everyone! By special request of one of our readers who is homebound because of the coronavirus, here’s a Fun Friday Question for you: What is your Name Fuss threshhold?

This is inspired by this post over at Swistle — it’s an older post that I came upon this morning, discussing the name Imogen (which I was surprised to see that some say it differently than me — I say IM-o-jen, how about you?), and Swistle said,

I do think you and she would spend some time spelling it and pronouncing it, and there will be a few people who haven’t heard of the name before. It kind of depends on how much you think that would bother you: everyone has a different level of tolerance for Name Fuss.”

I love that: “tolerance for Name Fuss.” I think my threshhold as a parent is fairly high — I don’t mind having to explain how or why we chose a name, I don’t mind correcting pronunciations, and I love nicknames that may or may not be related to the given name. But hubby and I have also chosen names that aren’t really that “out there” — maybe I just haven’t been in a high Name Fuss situation before? I also think one’s tolerance might change as one ages, to become either more or less tolerant. Do you agree?

And of course, on the flip side, in my encounters with other people, you know I LOVE an unexpected name or nickname or whatever, and I always want to hear every detail — give me all the Name Fuss!

Where is your threshhold? Have you crossed names you like off your list because their level of Name Fuss Potential is too high? Or what about the opposite — is there a name that might normally fail your Name Fuss Tolerance Test, but you just love it so much that you just went for it? How about in your encounters with others — do you tend to be irritated by high-maintenance names, or do you delight in them?


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!

Re: Coronavirus

A few things I’ve seen regarding the coronavirus that I thought would be helpful to you all, in case you haven’t seen them already:

— Self-described “Catholic speaker, blogger, and hobo for Christ,” Meg Hunter-Kilmer (sister of Rosie!), posted on Instagram the great idea to say the Memorare while washing your hands — it takes about twenty seconds to say, which is the recommended amount of time to wash your hands for, and you can offer it for those affected by the coronavirus while doing it. Here’s the Memorare:

Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

— In the same vein, the Diocese of Dallas put together printable pdfs for saying the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be in both English and Spanish while washing your hands, as well as one for saying the Apostle’s Creed (English only), and a Vietnamese version as well (though I don’t know which prayers are used).

— Meg included in her post the note that “St. Rosalia was an amazing Sicilian Saint in the Middle Ages whose intercession has been known to stop plagues in their tracks.” St. Rosalia, pray for us!

— I saw somewhere else (I don’t remember where!) that St. Rocco (also known as St. Roch) is also a patron against epidemics. St. Rocco, pray for us!

— The quarantines and recommendations are affecting quite a lot of St. Patrick’s Day festivities around the world — St. Patrick, pray for us!

— Finally, Corona is actually an entry in my book of Marian names, for this reason:

Corona means ‘crown’ in Latin, and refers to the Crowning of Our Lady, also known as the Coronation (Fifth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary).”

(I also included a warning that “As lovely and meaningful as this name is, it’s good to be aware of the fact that there’s a brand of Mexican beer called Corona, which is well known in the U.S.”; I will definitely have to include a mention of the coronavirus in any future editions!)

In fact, the family of coronaviruses was so named because of “the crown-like spikes on their surface.” In light of this, I thought it would be a good idea to pray for intercession especially from Our Lady, Crowned (she has many titles referring to this, including Queen of Peace, Queen of the Angels, Queen of the World, and Queen of Heaven) for all those affected by the coronavirus, and for the repose of the souls of those who have died from it.

I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well! God is always with us! ❤ ❤ ❤

The power of names in literature and the bible

Hubs and I are reading Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea — we’ve only gotten through the first couple of chapters, but already there have been some interesting mentions and discussions of names. My husband specifically commented on these:

The doorkeeper answered, ‘Say your name.’  … Then again Ged stood still a while; for a man never speaks his own name aloud, until more than his life’s safety is at stake.” (37)

For magic consists in this, the true naming of a thing.” (50)

Thus, that which gives us the power to work magic sets the limits of that power. A mage can control only what is near him, what he can name exactly and wholly” (55)

Hubs commented on how interesting it was, this idea that knowing someone’s or something’s name gives you power over that person or thing — it was something he’d seen in other books (fiction) he’d read. I immediately remembered this from Island of the Blue Dolphins:

I am the Chief of Ghalas-at,’ he said. ‘My name is Chief Chowig.’ … I was surprised that he gave his real name to a stranger. Everyone in our tribe had two names, the real one which was secret and was seldom used, and one which was common, for if people use your secret name it becomes worn out and loses its magic. Thus I was known as Won-a-pa-lei, which means The Girl with the Long Black Hair, though my secret name is Karana. My father’s secret name was Chowig. Why he gave it to a stranger I do not know.” (5)

My father lay on the beach and the waves were already washing over him. Looking at his body I knew he should not have told Captain Orlov his secret name, and back in our village all the weeping women and the sad men agree that this had so weakened him that he had not lived through the fight with the Aleuts and the dishonest Russian.” (23)

It’s also a very biblical idea! I’m reading Bishop Barron’s Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith to my three older boys this Lent; we’re in chapter three, and just read this bit, about Moses and the burning bush:

When Moses asked for the name of this mysterious speaker, he received the following answer: ‘I am who am’ (Ex 3:14). Moses was asking a reasonable enough question. He was wondering which of the many gods — deities of the river, the mountain, the various nations — this was. He was seeking to define and specify the nature of this particular heavenly power. But the answer he received frustrated him, for the divine speaker was implying that he was not one god among many, not this deity rather than that, not a reality that could, even in principle, be captured or delimited by a name. In a certain sense, God’s response amounted to the undermining of the very type of question Moses posed. His name was simply ‘to be,’ and therefore he could never be mastered. The ancient Israelites honored this essential mysteriousness of God by designating him with the unpronounceable name of YHWH.” (61-62)

And a while ago, I read this reflection on the story of Jacob wrestling with God by Pope Benedict XVI, which included a note about the biblical view of names:

His rival, who seems to be held back and therefore defeated by Jacob, rather than giving in to the Patriarch’s request, asks him his name: “What is your name?”. And the Patriarch replies: “Jacob” (v. 28). Here the struggle takes an important turn. In fact, knowing someone’s name implies a kind of power over that person because in the biblical mentality the name contains the most profound reality of the individual, it reveals the person’s secret and destiny. Knowing one’s name therefore means knowing the truth about the other person and this allows one to dominate him. When, therefore, in answer to the unknown person’s request Jacob discloses his own name, he is placing himself in the hands of his opponent; it is a form of surrender, a total handing over of self to the other.

(That article has really interesting insight about Jacob’s surrender actually being a victory, and his new name being both a positive counterpart to the negative meaning of Jacob’s previous name and a nod to the fact that God was, in fact, the victor.)

I’ve read that this idea of knowing a person’s name equals having mastery over them may even be why the Church discourages us from naming our guardian angels, and was part of this discussion regarding naming aborted babies. Heavy stuff!

What other literary works have similar perspectives or storylines about names? Do you know of other Catholic writings that discuss this idea?

(The book links are Amazon affiliate links.)


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!

Baby name consultation: Advent name for a surprise baby?

I’ve had the great privilege to do two previous consultations for today’s family — one which was supposed to post here but I got to post a birth announcement instead because the baby came sooner than expected!, and this one and subsequent birth announcement, and I’m honored to post this consultation for them today! They’re expecting their fifth baby on earth, a little green bean who joins big sibs:

Lea writes,

We are 15 weeks along with a (surprise) baby #5! We are due August 14, 2020. We have 4 other children on Earth and 4 in heaven. Here are our other children’s names. You helped us name 2 of them!

James Pershing
Paul Raymond
Luke Gordon
Felicity Victoria Kathleen

And in heaven: Agnes, Eli, Isaac, and Nicholas

I just love these names! The boys’ names are so handsome and straightforward (and Luke was specifically with Our Lady in mind!), and Felicity is such a beautiful name for the little sister of all those brothers!

We are stumped on boy names in particular but I’d like to hear your suggestions for girls too. I have a strong intuition that it is a boy, though! 

Names we have considered for a girl are mostly Advent themed as we discovered baby was coming during the first week of Advent.

Marian Elizabeth
Marian Violet
Marian Rose
Lucy Rose Marie

And boys we have considered are:
Maximilian Victor (since we’re due on St Maximilian Kolbe’s feast day)
Samuel Victor (like the name and the way it fits with other boys)

We don’t really like Kolbe (husband doesn’t anyway) and Victor would probably be the middle name because it’s the last grandfather to be used by us. Each of our other boys has a grandfather in their middle name.

We love Rose and Marie for girls but not really for first names because they feel a little too common.  

So, suggestions for names that are either Advent/saint themed would be appreciated! As I mentioned this baby was a total surprise to us, we’ve not faced this circumstance before so maybe a name reflecting that would be neat if that exists??

I totally get that they’re stumped on boy names, since I had a harder time coming up with new ideas for boys than for girls! I did my usual research first in the Baby Name Wizard, looking for style matches for the names they’ve already used and those they like/are considering, then found all my old posts on Advent and Christmas names (they’re all listed here), and between the two of them, I made my list of ideas for this baby. That’s when I went back and reread my previous conversations with Lea, and had to cross a few of my ideas off my list, as I’d previously suggested them! I’ll list them here again, though, just in case:

Girl
(1) Annabel
I suggested this for them when they were expecting Felicity, saying: “The Anna family of names were big for you in my research — Anna is a style match for James and Jude, Anita for Paul, and Hannah for Isaac. While I love Anna names (and St. Anne!), I didn’t think the ones I mentioned would fit your “unique” designation, but I thought Annabel/Annabelle might. It’s not technically an Anna name, arising in the Middle Ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is contained in the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable), but of course the fact that Anna is contained in it can definitely be a nod to St. Anne. In fact, you could think of it as Anna + belle, where belle means “beautiful” in French. How lovely! I love that it’s also a Marian name. I don’t feel like I have a good sense of your taste in girl names, so I don’t know if you’ll love it, but I really like it for you.” Now that they have Felicity, I actually think Annabel(le) goes really well as her sister! I also included Annabel in an article about Christmas names that I did for CatholicMom, saying that it “is fitting for the holy day on which we celebrate Mother Mary giving birth to her Baby.” (I know Lea asked about Advent names, but I looked through my Christmas names posts because the names can often be Advent-y as well.)

(2) Anna, Hannah
I mentioned these in the Annabel bit above, but an added reason that I love Hannah or Anna for Lea and her hubs this time, especially, is because of their baby being a surprise. Hannah prayed for Samuel for so long, and St. Anne and St. Joachim prayed for Mary for so long, that I think their stories are great for anyone who’s surprised by a baby-on-the-way! Anne is lovely, but I think Anna is a better fit for them.

(3) Faith, Hope, Nadine
When Lea was expecting Felicity, she said she’d love a name with a good meaning, and I had Faith, Hope, and Nadine (which means “hope”) listed as suggestions for her back then. This time, I had them on my list because of their Advent meaning!

Boy
(1) Joseph
I was digging Joseph for this baby, because of the Advent/Christmas connection, but then I discovered that I suggested it for them when they were expecting Luke and interested in Marian names. Maybe they’d like to consider it again?

(2) Gabriel
Similar to Joseph, I’d suggested Gabriel when they were expecting Luke because of its Marian meaning; I love it now for them because of its connection to Advent and Christmas.

(3) Martin
Martin was one I considered suggesting to them for Felicity, but then decided not to –which I noted in Felicity’s consultation, so I really already threw it out there! I had it on my list again for them now because it’s a style match for Paul, and I was really trying to find new boy names to suggest to them. It’s a great saintly name, but unfortunately I don’t think it has any Advent or Christmas connection.

(4) Henry
I suggested Henry for Luke almost solely because I have a friend who has a James and a Paul, as well as a Henry! Haha! This time, I had it on my list because it’s a match for Lucy and Samuel, though, like Martin, it doesn’t have any Advent/Christmas connection, as far as I know.

Alright, so those are the names I’d previously suggested that would have been on my list today otherwise. But don’t worry! I can always come up with more ideas! 😜 First though, I just want to offer some thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Marian Elizabeth/Violet/Rose: I think Marian as a first name is unexpected and lovely, and certainly *ahem* Marian! 😂 I love each of the middle names Lea and her hubs are considering with it: with Elizabeth, it’s so “The Visitation,” which is awesome; Violet and Rose can both nod to the Advent candles, which is great for what they’re looking for.
  • Lucy Rose Marie: Gorgeous! I like that St. Lucy’s feast day is Dec. 13, which is both during Advent and close to when they found out this baby was on his/her way! Rose and Marie as middle names are just beautiful. If it’s helpful, I have a friend named Rosemarie. (Actually … I wonder if Rosemary or Rosemarie might interest them in the first name spot? I like them both for this family and as Felicity’s sister!)
  • Maximilian Victor: Awesome, I love St. Max and I love that Lea’s due on his feast day! Maximilian has more of a “Felicity” feel to me than their older boys, and helped me when trying to come up with boy ideas for them.
  • Samuel Victor: I agree, I like how it sounds with the older boys. I also love the story of Hannah and Samuel, and as I mentioned above with Hannah, I think Samuel could be a nice nod to the surprise! of this baby.

Speaking of the surprise factor, when I read that Lea might like a name that nods to that, my first thought was Isaac! I excitedly scribbled it down for them … and then remembered they already have an Isaac! But I quite like the Hannah/St. Anne/Anna idea for them in that vein. Another surprise baby was John the Baptist, though Lea had previously said John has been used a lot in their family.

Okay! On to my suggestions for this baby:

Girl
(1) Lydia
As soon as I saw Lydia in the post on Advent names I did for CatholicMom, I thought yes!! The biblical Lydia was a seller of purple cloth, which could be a nice nod to the purple candles of the Advent wreath. Additionally, it’s a style match for Samuel! I love it as a sister to Felicity.

(2) Stella
Stella might be too Christmassy and not Adventy enough? But I love it for this family! It means “star,” and so can refer to the Christmas star, but it can also refer to Our Lady, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris), and it’s a style match for Lucy.

(3) Holly, Ivy
Of course both Holly and Ivy have an unmistakable Christmas feel (and I know I’m referring Christmas a lot, instead of Advent, but it’s hard to separate out the two! And most people have holly and ivy up during Advent, so I think they work!), but they’re also both entries in my book of Marian names! I wrote: “Christmas holly (Ilex opaca et al.) has been known as St. Mary’s Holly and represents the perpetual virginity of Our Lady” and “Kenilworth ivy (Cymbalaria muralis) has also been known as Tears of Mary.” Ivy is also a style match for Eli.

(4) Natalie/a
Speaking of Christmas names that also work for Advent, Natalie is a style match for Nicholas and I thought they might really like it! Its variant Natalia is gorgeous too. St. Natalia’s feast is July 27, so if the baby comes that early, Natalia or Natalie might be perfect!

(5) Susanna (Zuzu)
Susanna might be my favorite idea for this baby — it means both “rose” and “lily” in Hebrew, which gives Lea and her hubs Rose without the “common” feeling (and is also why it’s in my Marian names book); it can be Advent-y through its nickname Zuzu (Zuzu’s petals in It’s a Wonderful Life!); AND St. Susanna’s feast day is August 11! Felicity and Susanna sound like amazing sisters!

(6) Immaculata
Finally, I have Immaculata here more as a middle name idea, inspired by St. Maximilian Kolbe, since he founded the Militia of the Immaculata and often referred to Our Lady as “the Immaculata.” I know a little Faith Immaculata and I’ve always thought her name was just stunning; for this family, I’m loving the idea of Rose Immaculata — Marian and Kolbe-ian in one name! I know Lea said Rose feels too common, but as a first name it isn’t really. It was no. 123 in 2018; it was a top 100 name — often in the top 20 — from 1900 to 1960 before dropping down as far as 392 in 1997. It is on the upswing — it broke into the top 300 in 2011 and since then has increased each year — but Lucy is no. 51, for reference. Of course, if they just can’t shake that “too common” feel, then that matters! But giving the name an unexpected middle can give the whole combo a real sparkle.

Boy
(1) Andrew
I loooove Andrew for this baby, it’s hands down my favorite idea!! I think it’s amazing as a brother to James, Paul, and Luke (and Felicity of course), but even better, did you know that Advent is set in reference to the feast of St. Andrew? His feast is Nov. 30, and the First Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday nearest his feast. How cool! Andrew Victor is very handsome.

(2) David
I also quite like David for them — as with Andrew, I love it with brothers James, Paul, and Luke, and its Advent connection is fantastic, being that we wait for the birth of King David’s descendant. David Victor sounds fine together.

(3) Nathan(iel)
Another name from Jesus’ genealogy is Nathan, and since Nathan is a style match for both Luke and Samuel, I thought it would be a good suggestion for this baby! Nathan’s place in the genealogy is pretty cool, as I wrote about in this post. The longer Nathaniel is a match for Nicholas, and Nate and even Nathan can certainly be nicknames for it. Nathan Victor and Nathaniel Victor both work nicely.

(4) Dominic
Dominic is a match for Maximilian, and I love that it means “of the Lord,” so they can definitely assign it an Advent meaning if they want to! St. Dominic’s feast day is August 8, which could be great for a boy born a few days early! Dominic Victor has a pretty heavy-duty meaning: “victory of the Lord”!

(5) Charles
Charles is based solely on style — it’s a match for James; Charlie is a match for Lucy; and its variant Carl is a match for Paul. Since they’re having a hard time with boy names, I felt like I couldn’t not include a name that seems to match their taste! Charles and Charlie are great names and have such great patrons: Sts. Charles Borromeo and Charles Garnier; St. John Paul II (birth name: Karol); and Bl. Karl of Austria (for whom JP2 was named!), among others. (If you read the article at that link, you’ll be left thinking there’s no better name for a Catholic boy than Charles!) I like Charles Victor.

(6) Sebastian
Originally, I had Oliver here, also for style reasons: it’s a match for both Felicity and Lucy, and a sweet brother for James, Paul, and Luke. But then I said Oliver Victor out loud and thought that didn’t work too well! So I’m changing my last idea to Sebastian, which is also a match for Felicity, as well as Maximilian. I actually love Sebastian Victor together, since St. Sebastian is the patron of athletes!

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 James, Paul, Luke, and Felicity?


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!