Odds and ends: Marian edition

School started for my boys yesterday, and we’ve been praying the Litany of School Saints I compiled for CatholicMom last month — it’s been a source of peace for me, and I wanted to share it again in case it’s helpful to you!

Happy feast of Our Lady of Sorrows! I know several of you have a devotion to Mary under this title, and I included a few names connected to Our Lady of Sorrows in my book of Marian names. You can read more about this beautiful title and feast day here.

This past Saturday was the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, which you know is a special one for me! You may have seen over on Instagram, but I wanted to share here as well that I made a donation in honor of Our Lady’s name on behalf of the Sancta Nomina community to the Sisters of Life. Thank you all for joining me in my love for these beautiful names!

Finally, I’ve been meaning and meaning to write about kind of a big deal: Pope Francis added three titles to the Litany of Loreto! For those unfamiliar with the Litany of Loreto, here is a good explanation:

This litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary was composed during the Middle Ages. The place of honor it now holds in the life of the Church is due to its faithful use at the shrine of the Holy House at Loreto. It was definitely approved by Sixtus V in 1587, and all other Marian litanies were suppressed, at least for public use. Its titles and invocations set before us Mary’s exalted privileges, her holiness of life, her amiability and power, her motherly spirit and queenly majesty.” (source)

Additionally,

The Litany owes many of its praises to the Greek Akathist Hymn, which was first translated into Latin in Venice around the year 800. The other titles and praises addressed to Mary are found extensively in the writings of the early Church Fathers of the first six centuries.

Over time a number of titles for our Lady were removed and added to the Litany. Originally the Litany had fifteen additional titles, such as Our Lady of Humility, Mother of Mercy, Temple of the Spirit, Gate of Redemption, and Queen of Disciples. Recent history has seen the addition of five titles. The last four titles of the Litany which refer to the the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the Rosary and Mary as the Queen of Peace are of recent origin … The Litany is used especially during May services, the month traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also used at Benediction and some congregations use it in the Divine Office. The Litany is approved for public use and carries a partial indulgence.” (source)

Many of the names in my book of Marian names came from or were inspired by the Litany of Loreto, and when I heard that Pope Francis had added new titles, I was thrilled! (You can find the Litany in English and Latin here.)

The announcement was timed to coincide with the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 20), and was explained thusly:

According to directions, the invocation, ‘Mother of mercy’ is to be inserted after ‘Mother of the Church’, ‘Mother of hope’ after ‘Mother of Divine Grace’ and ‘Solace of migrants’ after ‘Refuge of sinners’

In an interview, Archbishop Roche explained that these invocations ‘respond to the realities of the time that we are living’.  Speaking to Vatican News, he said that many people across the world who are afflicted in many ways, not only by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also forced from their homes because of poverty, conflict and other reasons, are invoking Our Lady.” (source)

Archbishop Roche also made a point to say that these titles are not new — they’ve long been used by the faithful. I also discovered that St. John Paul II had added two himself! He added Mother of the Church in 1980 and Queen of families in 1995.

The new titles in Latin are:

Mater misericordiae (Mother of mercy)

Mater spei (Mother of hope)

Solacium migrantium (Solace of migrants)

Mercy, Mercedes, and Misericordia are already in my book for Our Lady of Mercy/Mercies, as is Hope and its variants for Our Lady of Hope, but I quite like the idea of adding Solace if I were to ever have the opportunity to do a second edition! Are there any other name possibilities that jump out to you?

Happy Tuesday!


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!

Disrespectful to use names for God?

Happy Labor Day everyone! I always think how the baby shower my family through for me when I was pregnant with my first baby was held right around now, and had “Happy Labor Day!” on the cake. Such a funny long-ago memory that doesn’t seem that long ago! My boys keep asking me what Labor Day is, so I finally looked up so I could be precise with my answer; this is what I found, in case it’s helpful for you:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” (source)

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!

A reader asked a fantastic question:

I really like the name Theo. I am concerned that Theo translates almost directly to the Greek word for God. Should I be concerned that it is in any way disrespectful to use as a standalone name?

I love these kinds of questions, because the intention behind them is so lovely and respectful! There is a history of not using certain names because it was thought to be disrespectful to do so. Our Lady’s name was one such; Rev. Patrick Woulfe wrote in Irish Names and Surnames in 1923:

[Mary as a given name] was very slow in creeping in to the Western Church. It is only about the middle of the 12th century that we find the first instances of its use in Europe, whither apparently it had been brought by the devotion of the crusaders. Even in Ireland, there were few Marys until comparatively recent times. I find only a few instances of the use of the name before the 17th century. At present one-fourth of the women of Ireland are named Mary. The ordinary form of the name, however, is Máire, Muire being used exclusively for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, therefore, the most honoured of all names of women.”

(I wrote more about the name of Mary in Ireland here.)

Back to Theo, I posed a question on the blog a while ago about why the name of Jesus isn’t used by English-speaking parents for their sons, and one of you responded with a link to this article, which contained this:

How come English-speakers don’t name their children Jesus? In observation of the commandment against misusing God’s name, English and American Protestants have historically taken a more conservative view on religious names and reserved the name Jesus for the son of God. In England, Mary was considered too sacred a name for common use until about 1300, and it wasn’t until the past 100 years or so that naming a baby after an angel ceased to be sacrilegious. Around World War II, many Protestants started giving their sons names like Michael and Gabriel; before then, the bearers of those names would have been identifiable as Irish Catholics or German Lutherans.

On the other hand, Jesus has been a common first and last name in Iberian countries since at least the 14th or 15th century. For many Catholics from Spanish and Portuguese cultures, naming a child is considered a way to honor God rather than a violation of a commandment. (Similarly, Catholics differ from Protestants in their interpretation of the commandment against worshipping images.)

I think that last bit — “For many Catholics from Spanish and Portuguese cultures, naming a child is considered a way to honor God rather than a violation of a commandment” — is the key here. Unless a parent’s intention were to name his or her son Theo because they believed their son to actually be God, I would imagine any connection to the meaning of Theo in the choosing of it for their son would be only one of reverence.

How would you respond to this reader? Do you agree with my opinion that using “just Theo” isn’t disrespectful? Have a great Monday!

Articles I’ve written on related topics:

Names “foreign to Christian sensibility” at CatholicMom.com

Good-Intention Baby Naming at Nameberry


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!