Birth announcement: William Daniel!

I posted a consultation for Kelly and her husband over the summer for their fourth baby boy, and I’m so happy to let you all know that their little guy has arrived and been given the “classic, strong, traditional” name … William Daniel!

Kelly writes,

Sweet baby William Daniel was born this past Tuesday, October 13, the feast of St. Edward the Confessor and the miracle of the sun at Fatima!

I love how exactly his name fits the “classic, strong, traditional” vibe Kelly and her hubby favor, and while I don’t know if the baby’s going by his middle name (Kelly had asked about the idea of the middle name as the call name), given that they wanted a cute nickname for their youngest boy and they also have an Irish sensibility, Danny Boy is a perfect fit for that, too. I also love Will/Billy/Liam and the full William — this baby has some great options! And what a great feast day to be born on!

Congratulations to Kelly and her hubby and big brothers Patrick, James, and Peter, and happy birthday Baby William!!

William Daniel

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!


Birth announcement: Oskar Karl Wolfgang!

I had the privilege of doing a consultation for the second baby of longtime reader Alyssa and her husband several years ago, and posting a subsequent birth announcement for that baby, and I’m so excited to share that they’ve welcomed their third baby — a little boy given the fantastic name … Oskar Karl Wolfgang!

Alyssa writes,

I’m happy to introduce Oskar Karl Wolfgang! As you know, with a husband named Klaus, we always go for German names and Oskar joins siblings Konrad Wolfgang, Louisa Marie and Hugo Wolfgang (in heaven). Oskar is a German name that we both liked, and Karl is after my husband’s brother. We were just going to stick with one middle name but our 6 year old, Konrad, was so adamant that the baby also share the middle name Wolfgang (he LOVES his middle name!), so we added it in. We’ve been calling him Oskar or Ozzie, or sometimes Ox because he was our biggest baby so far! His patrons are St. Oscar Romero, Bl. Carlo Acutis (I was in labor the day he was beatified and I prayed to him a lot throughout the process), and St. Wolfgang. You can never have too many patron saints, right?!

Absolutely 100% right!! I love this name story, and I LOVE their style! In the previous consultation I’d done for them, I’d written that their first son Konrad’s name (Konrad Wolfgang) is “such an amazingly fabulous name! It’s bold, traditional, saintly, and I love how unapologetically German it is, and how they just own it!” — I feel the same way about Oskar Karl Wolfgang! They’ve done a fantastic job! I also love that Alyssa was in labor on the day that Bl. Carlo was beatified — an awesome new Blessed who just happens to have the same name (Italian variant) that Alyssa and her hubby had chosen as Oskar’s middle. Amazing! And how Konrad loves his middle name and wanted Oskar to share it, just like their little one in heaven does! And Ozzie and Ox! So wonderful, all of it!

Congratulations to Alyssa and Klaus and big sibs Konrad and Louisa (and Hugo in heaven), and happy birthday Baby Oskar!!

Oskar Karl Wolfgang

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Tristan Raphael!

I posted a consultation for Nicole and her husband Brenden back in August for their tie-breaking fifth baby — a boy! — and Nicole has let me know her little guy has arrived! They gave him the tremendous name … Tristan Raphael!

Nicole writes,

He’s here, he’s here!

We kept his name Tristan but went with Raphael as his middle because our family has experienced amazing healing by taking the leap of faith we took by relocating last fall.

Tristan Raphael Flynn arrived on 10/12/20 @ 1:22 pm weighing 7 lb 1.6 oz.”

Nicole had commented on the consultation post, sharing that Tristan was a name she loved, and she’d separately told me of some combos she was thinking of with Tristan, so I’m so thrilled that she and her hubby went with it! And I love Raphael as the middle name: Tristan Raphael is such a handsome combination!

Congratulations to Nicole and Brenden and big sibs Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran, and happy birthday Baby Tristan!!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Easy to pronounce but uncommon name with maybe a gentle Brit feel for baby no. 6

Tahnee and her husband are expecting their sixth baby! This little green bean (=gender unknown) joins big siblings:

Simon Valentine (“we liked the name Simon because it’s easy to spell and people know how to pronounce it, but it’s not common, and I liked naming a first born son Simon, like Simon Peter. Valentine is my deceased father’s middle name“)

Margaret Dora (Maggie) (“we actually like the name Maggie and picked a full name that would work with it! She is named after St. Margaret Mary, but Margaret also happens to be my great-grandmother’s name. Dora is my husband’s grandmother“)

Louis Kolbe (twin of Benedict) (“Louis is my husband’s grandfather’s name, and St. Maximilian Kolbe is his patron saint, although he actually ended up being born on the feast day as well, but we had the name picked out long before he was born on that date. We found out relatively late in the pregnancy that I was pregnant with twins, so my original due date was nowhere near that feast day, but they ended up being born early on that day on their own which was a cool coincidence“)

Benedict Andrew (Ben, Benny) (twin of Louis) (“we were married at St. Benedict’s church and still attend there, so he is named for that. His patron is St. Andrew and his middle name is that because we actually had used the St. Andrew novena to pray for a baby, found out a few days after that I was pregnant, so when we found out we were having TWINS we knew it was the working of St. Andrew and had to name him after him“)

Theodore Joseph (Theo) (“I found out I was pregnant with Theo when the twins were only about 9 months old, which was a huge shock, and we definitely felt like this was God’s plan the whole way. So when I found out Theodore means “God’s Gift” we knew it was perfect. Joseph is my husband’s middle name, and we had planned to use that somewhere in the name whether the baby was a boy or a girl (either Joseph or Josephine)“)

Fantastic names!!

Tahnee writes,

We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side. Theo is more common than I would like but the meaning overtakes that for me in that particular case. [We have a common last name], so we don’t want them to have a similarly common first name. We like a good nickname, but we don’t have them for all our kids, so we can go either way. I’m kind of leaning toward no nickname for this baby just because the last two go by nicknames almost exclusively, but it depends on what we click with. We’d also like a different first initial than the other kids, though I would be ok with like an M name if it’s a girl, because then it would be just the two girls who match.

Names we’ve thrown around as contenders:

Perpetua (nn Poppy)



Fulton (but I don’t know if this is a Midwest dialect thing or what, but I am worried about people saying “Fult’n” without actually saying the O sound)

Names we wouldn’t use because they belong to family/friends:















Double first names (like John Paul)

I really love the names Tahnee and her husband chose for their older children. They’re certainly saintly, and they fit well with how Tahnee defined their style: “We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side.” I also felt that they can have a definite British feel — Simon almost always has that feel for me, and with brothers Benedict (like Cumberbatch) and Louis (like the little prince), I can see Margaret/Maggie and Theodore/Theo having a Brit feel as well. The fact that they’re considering Perpetua/Poppy and Gemma adds to that as well! It’s a subtle enough vibe that it doesn’t hit you in the face, but it did help me when I was trying to come up with name ideas that I thought they would like.

One thing that jumped out at me is that each of the names they picked for their kiddos, both first names and middle names, were chosen because of a personal connection — many are family names (Valentine, Margaret, Dora, Louis, Joseph), some they just liked (Simon, Maggie), others (Kolbe, Benedict, Andrew, Theodore) were chosen for Tahnee’s hubby’s patron saint/their church/the novena Tahnee said/the perfect meaning. These are all fantastic reasons to choose names, but I worry that my usual method of coming up with new ideas for parents — finding names that are style matches for the names they’ve already used and like per the (affiliate link) Baby Name Wizard’s suggestions of boy and girl names that are similar to each entry in terms of style/feel/popularity — won’t quite cut it. Hopefully I’m wrong! (Also, I’m astonished that their twins were born on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, when they’d already planned to use Kolbe as a middle name and their due date was nowhere near his feast day. That’s amazing! As is the fact that it was later in pregnancy that Tahnee discovered she was expecting twins! Wow!)

Before getting into my new ideas, here are my thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Perpetua nn Poppy: This is a fantastic idea! It absolutely goes along with the gentle Brit feel of the rest of the kiddos’ names, and is a lovely Marian name. I’ve also seen Pippa as a nickname for Perpetua, and my friend who has a little Perpetua calls her Tua.
  • Eve: Lovely and trim, I love it! I really love short first names with longer middle names or vice versa (like Margaret Dora). Something like Eve Perpetua maybe?
  • Gemma: One of my favorites. It, too, has decent usage in England.
  • Fulton: What Tahnee described — Fult’n — is a problem for many people! It’s either called an elision or perhaps a glottal stop (or a combination — it was hard to figure out the difference for this example — if you know, please tell me!) and is very common — I’m not sure if it’s more common in some regions than others, but I do think it’s one of those things that they’ll encounter frequently, so if Tahnee really hates it, maybe Fulton isn’t the best first name for them — maybe better as a middle?

From the names they can’t use, I thought Felicity and Oliver were two names I almost certainly would have suggested otherwise, too bad!

I did do my usual research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, and felt somewhat disappointed by what I found. Not that they aren’t beautiful names! But I didn’t think any of the results really fit the “easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side” criteria Tahnee said she likes, nor did they have the sparkle of Perpetua nicknamed Poppy, for example (a truly unexpected name with an unexpected nickname, so fun!). So after compiling a list of names that the BNW says are style matches for this family, I also took some time to look through the birth announcements at British Baby Names, and got a couple of ideas from there, too. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Tahnee’s baby:


(1) Moira (or Maura)

My husband and I were actually brainstorming names that had a British feel to us (I also posed the question on the blog), and Moira was one that I thought had promise for this family. Though it’s technically an Irish name (a form of Mary), there are some English actresses with the name, and Wendy from Peter Pan’s full name was Wendy Moira Angela Darling. I’ve mostly heard it said MOY-ra, but sometimes MOR-ah, which is also how the similar Maura is said (also an Irish form of Mary) — maybe they’d like to consider Maura instead? (This is the only name I’m suggesting that repeats an initial, and only because Tahnee said an M might be okay for a girl!) Here is a birth announcement I did for a little Moira, in case it’s helpful to see one in real life and what her siblings are named (not mentioned in that post is that she went on to have a sister named Genevieve Immaculee Grace). (Neither Moira nor Maura are in the top 1000.)

(2) Rosa/Rose/Rosamond

Rosa is a style match for Dora, Rose for Louis, and Rosamond for Benedict, and I thought all three had good potential for this family. I think they’re all easy to pronounce and on the uncommon side — Rose is the most popular, at no. 115, while Rosa is no. 650 and Rosamond isn’t in the top 1000. One of the families I’ve worked with who actually lives in England has a Rosamond, so that seemed to make it a good suggestion as well.

(3) Claire/Clare/Clara

Claire and Clara were both results of my research, and I liked that they’re short enough that they won’t get nicknamed, since Tahnee said she might prefer for this baby to not have a nickname. I know she said no double names, but I’ll admit I’ve been loving the idea of sisters Margaret and Mary Clare! (Claire is no. 55, Clare is 800, and Clara is 95.)

(4) Caroline

Margaret, C/Katherine, and Elizabeth are the classic English trio, so I was tempted to suggest both Catherine/Katherine and Elizabeth here. But Katherine’s on their no list, and while I love Elizabeth, if Tahnee doesn’t want a nickname, Elizabeth definitely isn’t for her. However, Caroline is often liked by people who like Catherine, and it’s an actual style match for Margaret. I love the full Caroline, but if Tahnee did decide she wanted a nickname, Callie is a style match for Maggie and is so pretty as a nickname for Caroline. (Caroline is no. 61.)

(5) Cecily

Cecily is the English form of Cecilia and was the usual form used during the Middle Ages. Such a cool background! It’s one of those names that comes across as particularly British to me, and I think it’s easy to pronounce but uncommon (it’s not in the top 1000!).

(6) Annabel

When I was looking through the birth announcements on British Baby Names, one of the first that caught my eye was for a little Annabel (Annabel Octavia Barbara!), and I thought that would be a great suggestion here. I certainly think it’s easy to pronounce and uncommon (Annabel was not in the top 1000 in 2019, but Annabelle was no. 170), but one of my favorite things about it is that it’s apparently a Scottish variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Lovable)! (For that reason, Annabel’s an entry in my book of Marian names.)

(7) Alice

Finally, Alice also caught my eye on the British Baby Names site, and I thought that with the other kids it has that same gentle British vibe. Also, it’s short enough that it doesn’t need a nickname! (No. 73.)


(1) August

August is a match for Theodore, and while I think the longer Augustine would fit in really well with the other boys, I thought August might be better for avoiding a nickname. (August is no. 167.)

(2) Jude

Jude is a match for Simon and Gemma — what a wonderfully British trio of names! Jude is Catholicky Catholic as well, which is just perfect, and nickname-proof. (It’s no. 153.)

(3) Oscar

I really love Oliver for this family, but since they can’t use Oliver, I thought maybe one of the other O names, and one that is more uncommon. I’m seeing Oscar more and more among the families I work with (here’s one, and here’s another); it’s also a style match for Theo, is pretty nickname-proof, and is the no. 10 name in England and Wales (but no. 205 here).

(4) Henry

I’m guessing Henry might be too common for Tahnee, but it’s a darling name, is a style match for Margaret, Louis, and Theo, and doesn’t have any nicknames but Hank, which I feel like is one of those nicknames you have to make happen. Henry’s the most popular of my suggestions, at no. 12.

(5) Charles

Similar to Henry, Charles might be too common, but again — it’s a great match with the other kids. Charlie’s inevitable, but how cute is Charlie?? I love it! (Charles is no. 51.)

(6) Frederick

As with Annabel, Frederick and Freddie caught my eye in the British Baby Names birth announcements. I love how sophisticated Frederick is, and how sweet and friendly Freddie is. (Frederick is no. 475.)

(7) Hugo (or Hugh)

Finally, Hugo. My husband and I considered it for our last two sons and loved that it’s weighty but sweet at the same time, is familiar but uncommon (no. 460), and doesn’t have a nickname. Hugh is a variant that’s also quite nice! (It’s no. 795.)

And those are my ideas, a mix of research and gut feeling! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister or brother of Simon, Margaret/Maggie, Louis, Benedict/Ben, and Theodore/Theo?

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Name story: Porter Joseph

Please note that this may be overly difficult for some to read, e.g., those who are pregnant, as it’s about stillbirth, and includes photos at the end.

This latest installment in our Name Story series is from a mama with a story that I’m sure will simultaneously break your heart and cause you to marvel at the mystery of God’s unceasing and unfailing love and goodness, and the fact that we can always trust Him, even when we don’t understand His plan. At least, that’s what it did for me! I’m confident that you will be touched by the story of Baby Porter — a tiny baby with a big impact.

His mama writes, in an email with the subject line “A naming story about Solanus Casey,”

Through you, I first heard of Blessed Solanus Casey. As I read about him, I became so intrigued. Both of my parents were born and raised in Detroit, and I was born and raised in a suburb of Detroit, so he felt so ‘real’ to me! I slowly developed a devotion to him. I remember reading once about your suggestion to name a child Porter as a way to honor Fr. Solanus and thought it was a neat idea.

My husband and I were married in June of 2017, and after nearly two years of trying, praying, seeing doctors, etc., we were shocked and thrilled to discover I was pregnant on Mother’s Day 2019.  As the weeks went by, we talked about many girl names we loved but couldn’t find any boy names. I was so sure I wanted a girl! Then one day, I heard the name ‘Porter’ come to me and knew it was God giving me this baby’s name. God used it to change my heart, and for the first time, I was happy thinking about having a boy. I suggested Porter to my husband, and he immediately loved it. Sure enough, in August, we found out we were having a boy!

Everything with my pregnancy was textbook and complication free. Then, on January 17, the day before my due date, I went to the hospital to get checked out because I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off.  An ultrasound revealed there was no heartbeat. The next evening, at 6:30 PM, I gave birth to the most beautiful little boy, already at home in Heaven

We hadn’t decided on a middle name, but had a short list of names we were considering and had planned to decide once he was born. After I delivered him, the nurses asked his middle name, and I looked to my husband, who said ‘Joseph’. Joseph had been on our list because we have a particular devotion to him, as I’ve worked for the past ten years at a Catholic school named for St. Joseph, but I never really thought we’d use it. The next day, my husband told me he chose that name because Joseph is the ‘silent saint’, and though we don’t have a single recorded word from him in the Bible, his intercession and impact is so powerful. In the same way, he said, Porter never spoke a word, yet we believe his life can be a powerful witness.

I knew God was giving me Porter’s name all those months ago to honor Fr. Solanus Casey. But now I see how fitting his name truly is. Fr. Solanus’ life was simple and humble, and from the outside looking in, seems like a ‘small’ life. But it was anything but. Porter is the same — his life was ‘small’, yet the impact we have seen already is truly overwhelming. His funeral was standing room only, with more than 500 people in attendance, many of whom have never set foot in a Catholic church, or hadn’t in years. In the months since, we have heard so many stories of how his little life has touched others. A scholarship fund to support our poorest students has been set up at my school in Porter’s memory. So many people have thanked us for introducing them to Solanus Casey. Not to mention how his life has changed my husband and me, healing wounds in our family, softening our hearts, and making me braver, more vulnerable, and more compassionate.

It’s also not lost on me that a porter opens doors. It is our hope and prayer that Porter’s life will open doors for people to allow Christ in. We believe that is his purpose, and though my husband and I are unbelievably sad at the life we will never share with him, we wholeheartedly believe that God does not allow any evil from which He cannot bring a greater good. In my times of deepest pain, I am comforted by the thought of just how GOOD that good must be to be greater than the pain!

I was just so blown away by the tremendous faith and trust this mama and papa have, to remember, in the face of the death of a child — the worst sadness that a parent can experience — that “God does not allow any evil from which He cannot bring a great good” and “just how GOOD that good must be to be greater than the pain.” This beautiful story was such a reminder to me to trust always, and that God’s ways are not our ways.

I also loved the Fr. Solanus connection! I’m so pleased that God allowed my little blog to introduce Porter’s parents to him, and the mama shared even more great information:

One last note: As I had learned about Solanus Casey over the years, I discovered I had family connections to him. My great-aunt (my grandmother’s sister) had been a friend and frequent visitor of his in Detroit. As a little girl, my dad’s older sister once visited him in Huntington, IN on a trip with my great-aunt. Apparently he made her a peanut butter sandwich on a hot dog bun! Then, a few weeks after Porter was born, my parents were looking through a box of papers to find some information to renew their passports, and they found a membership card for the Solanus Casey Guild belonging to my grandmother (my dad’s mom), who was a lifelong Catholic and died when I was a teenager. My dad had never seen it and never knew she belonged. I love to think how Fr. Solanus was weaving his way into the fabric of our story long before I was even born.

Thank you for introducing me to this humble man, who forever changed the course of my family’s life. I believe our family’s journey with Fr. Solanus is just beginning.” 

Isn’t that just perfect?! “I love to think how Fr. Solanus was weaving his way into the fabric of our story long before I was even born” — that gives me “holy bumps” (as my mom calls them)! Heaven is so close to us — truly, “it’s a thin veil that separates.”

I asked the mama for information on how to contribute to the scholarship fund that has been set up in Porter’s name — such a wonderful cause! If you’d like to donate as well, checks can be made out to St. Joseph’s Catholic School, with “Porter Miros Fund” on the memo line, and mailed to:

St. Joseph’s Catholic School

Attn: Advancement Office

100 St. Joseph’s Drive

Greenville, SC 29607

Please also keep this family in your prayers!

Scroll down to see photos of Porter with his parents, his great-grandmother’s membership card in the Fr. Solanus Guild, and Fr. Solanus himself. ❤️❤️❤️

Porter Joseph and his parents

Bl. Solanus Casey, and Baby Porter’s great-grandmother’s membership card in the Fr. Solanus Guild

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Birth announcement: Magdalen Gianna!

I posted a consultation for Laura and her husband last January, before they were even expecting their hoped-for ninth baby. They found out shortly after that a new little one was on the way, and I’m thrilled to share that the baby has arrived! They welcomed their third daughter and gave her the amazing name … Magdalen Gianna!

Laura writes,

Baby made her safe arrival this afternoon!

So when no name was clicking I went back to calling her baby girl and decided to see what name felt right calling her. 

One name that I felt really good calling her was Maggie. [Hubby] and I were married at St. Mary Magdalen and that’s also where I came into the church and I have so many wonderful memories of attending the early daily Mass there with my husband when we were engaged 20 years ago. The name Magdalen was a bit out of [his] comfort zone but I so wanted something special, meaningful and a heavy hitting Catholic name for this baby girl. [He] was smitten with Maggie, Mags, and even Magda. 

St. Gianna … was an unbelievable intercessor for me this past year.”

Not only is Magdalen Gianna an amazing name, but it departs from a lot of the preferences Laura has had when naming her babies: she preferred that everyone have their own initial (now Magdalen joins big brother Mark with her M initial); she wasn’t as much a fan of nicknames as her husband (but she’s loving Maggie for Magdalen); she loved one-syllable names (Magdalen is the opposite!). As I told her, it’s so fun for me when parents completely change course and/or go back to the drawing board — I never would have foreseen her using Magdalen, but I think it’s so perfect! And paired with Gianna! And Maggie/Mags/Magda! I’m so delighted by this beautiful, unexpected name that’s definitely “special, meaningful and a heavy hitting Catholic name”!

Congratulations to Laura and her husband and big siblings Paul, Clare, Mark, Katharine, James, Andrew, Gabriel, and Thomas, and happy birthday Baby Magdalen!!

Magdalen Gianna

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Traditional, vintage, old-timey name for first baby

This consultation is for a first baby! The mama writes,

My husband and I are looking for a name for our first baby. We haven’t found out the baby’s sex. If it’s a boy, his name will be John, which is a family name … For girl names we are stuck and haven’t found one that we are both in love with.

We both definitely lean towards traditional, vintage, old-timey names. I think I’m slightly more adventurous than my husband.

A saint’s name is important to us in either a first or middle name. I’d love to do Mary as a first name, but I do think it’s awfully close to my own name. I would definitely use Mary as a middle name. St. Gerard Majella has been a huge intercessor for us, although I am not sure how to best honor him (Geraldine? Which I am not crazy about.) 

Names that we have discussed:

1. Nora is a top contender for me. I love the Irish-ness of it. My husband likes it, but prefers Eleanor.

2. Cecilia is my husband’s favorite. It feels very sugary-sweet to me. I also know a lot of little Cecilias! 

3. Frances is also a favorite of my husband. I like it, and love Frannie or Frankie as nicknames. I wonder if it’s too old-fashioned?

4. I adore Beatrice as well as the nickname Bea. This is a little “out there” for my husband. 

5. Josephine is a contender. We like Joey and Josie as nicknames. 

6. I think Rose is simple and beautiful. It makes my husband think of Titanic. 

7. Esther is a name I’ve always loved, but is way too old-fashioned for my husband.

Other names that we have talked about and like: Caroline, Lucy, Isla, Leah, Alice, and Laura.”

First off, I love that they’ve chosen John if their baby is a boy. Such a strong, handsome name! You can’t go wrong with John!

Second, I love that the mama said she and her hubby “both definitely lean toward traditional, vintage, old-timey names” — what a blessing that they’re both basically on the same page!

Okay, her first question was about how best to honor St. Gerard Majella (one of my very favorites too! I even started compiling stories on the blog of babies who were the answer to prayers for St. Gerard’s intercession!). I have a few ideas!

  • Majella: She mentioned loving the Irish-ness of Nora. I discovered a while ago that Majella has a reputation for being an Irish name (according to its Behind the Name entry), and it was a top 100 name in Ireland from 1964 to 1970, remaining on the Irish name chart (though somewhat spottily later on) until 2009 (source). Given the other names on their list, I’m not sure these parents would love Majella as a first name (though its built-in nicknames Ella and Ellie can make it feel more doable), but maybe as a middle?
  • Maiella: St. Gerard’s name in his native Italian was Gerardo Maiella — I believe Maiella is said MY-ella, with MAY-ella perhaps being acceptable if they prefer. It’s so pretty! It’s very Italian, while this couple has a more English/Irish sensibility, but again, this could be a perfect middle name.
  • May, Mae: I wonder if May or Mae might feel close enough to Maiella to feel like they could honor St. Gerard? They’d pull double duty as honoring Mary as well, as May/Mae are Mary variants.
  • Margaret: I once heard of a family with a devotion to St. Margaret naming their son Garrett after her — taking the “-garet” ending of Margaret as their inspiration for Garrett, which I loved! Even more fun is that Garrett is derived from Gerard, so if they went in reverse, perhaps Margaret could honor St. Gerard! (In fact, if my last baby had been a girl, I wanted Margaret to be part of her name in honor of St. Gerard.)
  • Lucy or Josephine: According to St. Gerard’s Wikipedia page, the St. Gerard’s Chapel in St. Lucy’s Church in Newark, NJ was dedicated as a national shrine in 1977 and every year near his feast day, there is a big celebration there including a street procession. And St. Joseph’s Church in Dundalk, Ireland does the St. Gerard Majella Annual Novena every year, which is described as the “biggest festival of faith in Ireland.” So perhaps Lucy or Josephine would suit? Especially since they’ve considered them both already!

Those are my ideas for honoring St. Gerard, and I also wanted to address this mama’s hope to use Mary as a first name: I wonder if she has considered a Mary variant as a first name instead, so it didn’t feel so similar to her own name? I mentioned May or Mae above; I also particularly love Maura (or the longer Maureen) and Moira (can be said like Maura, or MOY-ra) for this family — Irish versions that are lovely! (Though they’d knock Nora out of the running for the future.) Molly is an Irish version too, which is wonderful on its own, or it can be used as a nickname for Mary (since it started as a nickname/diminutive of Mary). I have a friend whose given name is Mary, and she goes by Molly, and I know a girl named Maura who uses Molly as her everyday call name. Then there are the non-Mary Marian names — for example, Beatrice, Rose, Lucy, and Isla are all in my book of Marian names! I’ll explain why more specifically below.

So here are my thoughts on the names these parents have discussed, in case they’re helpful:

  • Nora: I love Nora too! Eleanor with Nora as a nickname isn’t a terrible compromise, if Mama can get on board with it. Another is Honora, which is described as an Irish name on Behind the Name (and related names Annora and Onóra, which seem a little too offbeat for this couple). Also, I think it’s always helpful to share a name’s popularity, especially for first-time parents, just so they can place the names they like in 2020 context: Nora was no. 29 in 2019 according to the SSA data, Eleanor was no. 27, and neither Honora, Annora, nor Onóra were in the top 1000.
  • Cecilia: Cecilia is also lovely! I wonder if the medieval English variant Cecily might be a better option here — it seems a little less frilly than Cecilia, so maybe a little less overly sweet? I like that they could consider using Lia as a nickname for Cecilia — since they’ve considered Leah, Cecilia nicknamed Lia could be a nice two-for-one option. Cecilia is no. 153, Cecily is not in the top 1000. It’s funny that this mama said she knows a lot of little Cecilias, when, at no. 153, it’s less popular than several other names on their list. It’s definitely important for parents to be aware of any “name pockets” they might be in, whether geographically or faith-wise, because that will definitely color how they see a name, no matter what the stats say.
  • Frances: Frances sounds like a homerun for this family, since both Mom and Dad like it and Mom loves the nicknames Frannie and Frankie! So many “old” names are roaring back into fashion right now, so I wouldn’t let any worries about a name being too “old-fashioned” bother them! Frances was no. 438 in 2019, up from no. 828 in 2007 (its most recent low ranking) — in fact, it’s always been a top 1000 name and was a top 100 name until 1956. When I think “old fashioned,” I don’t think 1956! It’s true that it was at its most popular from 1911 to 1926, when it was a top 10 name, but a name that’s always been in the top 1000 (and most of that time in the top 500) isn’t a name that is irretrievably tied to one time period. And even the most difficult of given names can be salvaged with a great nickname, and they have two that the mama loves — Frannie and Frankie are spunky and sweet and perfect!
  • Beatrice: I mentioned earlier that Beatrice is an entry in my book of Marian names, and it’s for this reason: “As the word beatrix in Latin means ‘she who blesses, makes happy, delights,’ the name Beatrix [of which Beatrice is a variant] can easily refer to Our Lady, who blesses us all and is the Cause of Our Joy (Causa Nostrae Laetitiae).” I love it as a Marian name! And Bea is a darling nickname. Beatrice actually has a similar popularity arc as Frances: it was more popular earlier in the 20th century, then fell in popularity — dropping out of the top 1000 altogether in 1997, 1999, and 2002-2005 — and is on its way back up (no. 562 in 2019).
  • Josephine: Wonderful name, and I too love Joey and Josie. Josephine is no. 89.
  • Rose: Rose is simple and beautiful! And Marian! (Our Lady’s titles Mystical Rose, Golden Rose of Ireland; the roses at Guadalupe and on her feet at Lourdes; the rosary — just to name a few connections.) If Mama loves Rose but Papa’s stuck on Titanic, maybe a longer Rose name? Like Rosemary, Rosemarie (I had a friend a long time ago from Ireland named Rosemarie), Rosalie, or I’ve even seen Rosary as a given name? Rose is no. 115, Rosemary is 409, Rosemarie is not in the top 1000, Rosalie is no. 208, and Rosary is not in the top 1000. Since they like spunky and sometimes tomboyish nicknames, I’ve seen both Rory and Romy as nicknames for Rosemary! Something else to consider is that Josephine nicknamed Josie, and Rose or a Rose name as a given name (with or without Rosie as a nickname) might be too rhymey for sisters going forward.
  • Esther: It’s so funny to see that Mama worries that Frances is too old-fashioned, and Papa worries that Esther is too old-fashioned! All of the names on their list fit neatly into the “traditional, vintage, old-timey names” that the mama said they both like, so I would encourage them both not to worry too much about any name being too old-fashioned! Esther is another one that I see coming back, and nicknames like Essie and Etty are so appealing. Esther is actually more popular (and has almost always been more popular, and more steadily so) than Frances and Beatrice — it was no. 167 in 2019.
  • Caroline: Caroline is a huge hit among the families I do consultations for, usually in honor of St. John Paul II, whose birth name was Karol. I love it! It’s no. 61.
  • Lucy: Lucy’s another name in my book of Marian names, for Our Lady of Light and also Lux Veritas (“Light of Truth”), the name of the 1931 papal encyclical that celebrated the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, during which Mary’s title as Mother of God was declared (Lucy comes from the Latin lux, meaning “light”). Such a sweet name. Lucy is no. 48.
  • Isla: Isla, too, is in my book of Marian names, for Mary’s title Our Lady of the Isles, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland as well as many churches and institutions in the U.S. and Canada devoted to Our Lady of the Island or Our Lady of the Isle. (While I do see Isla as a little bit of an outlier for this family style-wise, I also find myself swoony over sisters Nora, Lucy, and Isla — I love that they’re all four letters and can have an Irishy/British Isles feel.) Isla is no. 57, after having been out of the top 1000 for over 100 years! It entered the top 1000 again (since 1908) in 2008 at no. 623 and rose quickly, so it does have a trendy feel right now, even though it has a long history of usage.
  • Leah: Leah’s one of my favorite of the Old Testament girl names — I love how short and sweet it is. I mentioned earlier that I thought it (along with Isla) is maybe out of sync with the style of the other names this couple is considering — it’s funny that other biblical names like Esther and the more familiar ones like Elizabeth, Sarah, and Anna feel more similar to this couple’s other names but have a different feel than Leah. I wonder why? Anyway, I do like Leah! It’s no. 44.
  • Alice: I actually had Alice as one of my top suggestions for this family until I re-read the mama’s email and realized they’d already considered it! It feels great as a sister to almost all of the other names on their list, and is actually a great example of the “old” and “old-fashioned” names that are coming back: it wasn’t that long ago that Alice was totally a grandmother name to me, but it was no. 73 in 2019, up from no. 328 in 2008 — it’s jumped quite a bit in the last ten years!
  • Laura: Funny enough, while most of the names on this couple’s list are on the rise after having fallen a bit out of fashion, Laura’s actually on the way down. It’s been a strong (top 100) name for all of the twentieth century until it started declining for good in 2002 when it dropped from 86 to 105, and in 2019 it was no. 337. Isla, Leah, and Laura all sound similar enough to me that I think it’s the kind of thing where if they use one of them, the others are probably off the table moving forward. I wonder if any of those three rise to the top as their favorite of them?

Alrighty, so those are my thoughts on the names these parents are considering — now on to my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents like and are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so for this couple, and was intrigued by my findings — some of the names were ones I expected, and others were a surprise! I also used different combinations of the names they like (Nora, Cecilia, Beatrice; Josephine, Rose, Esther; Frances, Isla, Lucy) in’s Name Matchmaker tool, and was delighted to see confirmation of the names I’d already started scribbling down for them. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Claire/Clare or Clara

The Claire names fit in so nicely with their “traditional, vintage, old-timey names” — they’re sweet and saintly, and the spelling Clare can loop in an Irish feel too. Claire is no. 55, Clare is no. 800 (amazing what difference spelling can make!), and Clara is no. 95.

(2) Julia

I like how Julia has the same -lia ending as Cecilia, but I don’t think anyone would think of Julia as “sugary-sweet” (lovely and feminine, yes, but also maybe a bit more serious?). Like with Cecilia, they could consider Lia as a nickname, or Julie, Jules, and Jude, and even Juliet, as Juliet started as a diminutive of Julia. Julia is no. 99.

(3) Violet

I expected Violet to be a style match for Rose (being that they’re both flower names), but it was also fun to see that it’s a match for Beatrice, Josephine, and Cecily (which I looked up in addition to Cecilia, just to see how they differ stylistically). V or Vee can be a fun, spunky nickname, or Vi (rhymes with “eye”) or even Lettie. Violet is no. 36.

(4) Gemma or Genevieve

I’m including Gemma and Genevieve together because of their nearly identical first-two-syllable sounds. I do love Genevieve, and I think it fits their “old/traditional/vintage” vibe, but something kept me from enthusiastically recommending it — maybe because it’s so French? Gemma has more of that British Isles feel, and is more consistent with the length of name they seem to prefer (ten of their thirteen names are one or two syllables only. Though I’m not disregarding Cecilia, Josephine, and Caroline!). They’re both saintly and lovely! Gemma is no. 198 (after not having ever been in the top 1000 until 2008, so rising fairly quickly) and Genevieve is no. 168 (while almost always being a top 500 name). Genevieve can also take a lot of nicknames, like Genna, Vieve, Vivi, Vee, and Evie.

(5) Ruby or Ruth

I was actually amazed at how well Ruby did here! Between my research in both the BNW book and the web site, it showed up as a style match for basically all of the names on their list! It’s a sweet, vintage-y name that’s actually always been in the top 400 and is currently no. 66. If they don’t like it as a given name, maybe they’d like to consider it as a nickname? I saw it as a nickname for a little girl named Rebecca years ago, and thought that was amazing! I did a spotlight post on Ruby a while ago, and offered some other ideas of given names to get to Ruby as a nickname, like Rosa Beatrice (such a great match for their list!), Ruth Abigail, Roma Benedicta, and Regina Kolbe — combos that have an R first name and a strong B sound in the middle. But let’s go back to Ruth for a minute — it’s a match for Leah and Esther, being an Old Testament name like them, and such a great character in the bible, as well as having the amazing meaning of “friend.” I adore the nickname Ruthie. Ruth is no. 231.

(6) Sadie (or Sarah with the nickname Sadie)

Sadie is a traditional nickname for Sarah, and it feels similar to Ruby to me. And it was a big match for this couple’s style! It definitely has that sweet old-fashioned feel, while also having current appeal: it’s no. 87. They can certainly use Sadie on its own, but I also quite like the idea of using Sarah as the given name and Sadie as a nickname. Sarah is like Esther and Leah (and Ruth above) with being an Old Testament name, but I think it fits more with their other names than Leah does, for example. It reminds me quite a bit of Laura (for which Sarah is also a style match). Sarah was a top ten name from the late 70s until 2002, but like Laura is on its way down (it’s no. 81). However, a friend of mine named her baby girl Sarah two years ago, and I was so pleasantly surprised!

(7) Emilia

Emily popped up a couple times here and there in my research for this family, but it just didn’t feel quite right, I’m not sure why. But I wondered what they’d think of Emilia? It’s St. John Paul’s mother’s name — her cause for canonization is open! Emilia’s on the rise — it’s currently no. 42 after having hung out between 500 and 1000 previous to 2004, and it’s almost identical in sound to Amelia, which is no. 7, but I love that connection to St. JP!

(8) Adelaide

Finally, like Ruby, Adelaide showed up for almost all their names once I finished my research in both the book and the web site! In the book it’s in the category “Elegant Antiques,” which I think it such a great way to describe this couple’s style. Adelaide is actually related to Alice — they’re derived from the same name! And it’s got fun nicknames, like Addie, Ada, and Laidy/Lady. Adelaide’s no. 305.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for this first baby, if a girl?

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!