Spotlight on: Wenceslaus

My saintly friend for 2021 according to Jen Fulwiler’s The Saint’s Name Generator is … St. Wenceslaus.

Do you choose a yearly Saint? I admit, most of the initial thrill for me has always been the possibility of discovering a new, cool name to add to my list of Catholicky Catholic names! Haha!

St. Wenceslaus’ name is not one I usually see on little ones and doesn’t have the elements that tend to be attractive to today’s American parents. But his feast day is my wedding anniversary, and I really have come to love most names once I learn more about them, so here we go: let’s start by finding out more about the name Wenceslaus!

Behind the Name’s entry piqued my interest right away:

Medieval Latinized form of Veceslav (see VÁCLAV). The spelling may have been influenced by the Czech word věnec meaning ‘wreath, crown’.”

I love finding things out like “the spelling may have been influenced by the Czech word meaning ‘wreath, crown'” — to make a brief connection to Theresa’s guest post yesterday on “sorrowful” names, this reminds me of the name Tristan and how it’s the “Old French form of the Pictish name Drustan, a diminutive of DRUST. The spelling was altered by association with Latin tristis ‘sad'” (which is why it’s in my book of Marian names as a nod to Our Lady of Sorrows). In the case of Wenceslaus, I like that “wreath, crown” has a connection to Václav’s (Veceslav’s) meaning:

Contracted form of the older name Veceslav, from the Slavic elements veche ‘more’ and slava ‘glory’.”

So Wenceslaus could be thought of as meaning “crown of glory,” which is lovely, and fits in well with who St. Wenceslaus was: royal (“Good King Wenceslaus”) and martyr (“killed for political reasons [by his brother no less], but normally listed as a martyr since the politics arose from his faith”).

A very cool bit is that his grandfather is said to have been converted by Sts. Cyril and Methodius! St. Wenceslaus is the patron saint of the Czech Republic and his feast day is a national holiday, so his name would be a really great nod to one’s Czech heritage. He also had a wonderful grandmother, St. Ludmila, whose name I spotlighted nearly five years ago — using her name (or a variant) could also be a nice way to nod to St. Wenceslaus for a girl, as he is said to have been very influenced by his grandmother and her faith. He is also the subject of the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas,” making his name a Christmas name as well.

Some of its variants are intriguing, like the Czech Václav and its diminutive Vašek, the German Wenzel, the Hungarian Vencel, and the Russian Slava (if you want to consider these, be sure to look up their pronunciations!). If you went with the full Wenceslaus, it might be easiest in the middle spot (how handsome is a combo like John Wenceslaus?!); as a first name, nicknames might include Wence (reminds me of Wes — actually, Wes itself would work! That’s a really easy and familiar option!) and Wencel (reminds me of Wendell).

What do you think of Wenceslaus? Have you ever considered it (or a variant), or would you? Do you know anyone with the name Wenceslaus (or a variant)? Does he like his name? Does he go by a nickname?

Have a great Friday, and a great weekend!


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

Will Giving My Child a “Sorrowful” Name Mean She’ll Grow Up in Sorrow?

I’m excited to share Sancta Nomina’s first ever Guest Post! Please welcome Theresa Zoe Williams, a longtime member of the Sancta Nomina community and mother to three amazingly named children (read about her older two here, and the birth announcement for her youngest here). Theresa is a freelance writer whose work can be found online at EpicPew, CatholicSingles, and Where Peter Is, as well as at her Patheos blog Contemplatio Culture and her personal blog Principessa Meets World. Theresa has also contributed to the books The Catholic Hipster Handbook: The Next Level and Epic Saints: Wild, Wonderful, and Weird Stories of God’s Heroes. Follow her on Twitter @TheresaZoe 

My oldest child’s name is Ruby Mae Anastasia. Even though there is a saint Anastasia, since Ruby’s name doesn’t easily evoke a particular saint or patronage, my husband and I decided to choose someone for her, independent of her name. When I said I wanted Our Lady of Sorrows to be her patroness, my husband’s response was, “But I don’t want our daughter to grow up sad and emo.” I insisted that Our Lady of Sorrows really had nothing to do with being sad or depressed, and, also, there were so many signs and connections to this title of Mary for us including my own devotion to her, Ruby’s initial due date being her feast day, and my beloved Gram’s death date on her feast day (there is more and it’s detailed in the name story Kate posted of my kids’ names). Through these things and a lot of prayer, I convinced my husband Our Lady of Sorrows was to be Ruby’s patroness and then consecrated my unborn daughter to her.

While there are many words that describe my now eight year old Ruby (feisty, determined, and compassionate come to mind), sad, depressed, and emo are not among them. Was my husband’s fear unfounded, though? Probably. While there are plenty of people without this patronage that live lives of great sorrow, there are certainly also people under this patronage who have lived sad lives. My great-grandmother, Mary Dolores (whose name means “bitterness and sorrow” and is a common way to honor Mary under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows), certainly had a life punctuated by great sorrow.

Mary’s life took a sad turn almost from the get-go. Her mother, Annunziata, died when Mary was about ten years old. Mary and her two surviving younger siblings, Minnie and William, were then sent to an orphanage to be taken care of while their father, Pasquale, an immigrant, worked. Sadly, William and Minnie died in the orphanage. Mary was sent back to her father and they were then inseparable until his death. But that time in the orphanage and of losing most of her family affected her for the rest of her life. Family –– and the sacrifices you make for them –– were always her first priority.

Once married, Mary and her husband Lewis (Luigi) had six living children but they also lost two daughters, Eleanor and Beatrice, before their first birthdays (and possibly a third child was stillborn). Later in life, when Lewis was out of work, Mary took a job unloading railroad freight trains. It was hard physical labor and it kept Mary from Lewis several days each week, but she never complained. She always thanked God for being good to her and leading her to a job that could support her family.

Interestingly, as an adult, Mary’s parish happened to be Seven Dolors and she, Lewis, most of their children, and many of their grandchildren are all buried there (my mom, though part of this family by marriage, is also buried there and my dad will someday be buried there, too).

This, I think, perfectly illustrates who Our Lady of Sorrows is and a Catholic view of sorrow. It is hope, instead of despair, in the face of tragedy. It is fortitude in the face of upset and chaos. It is trust in the midst of darkness. And it is gratitude in the midst of hardship. When you look at it this way, naming a child for this title of Mary or in connection to the Paschal Mystery (like my great-great-grandfather Pasquale) is a fantastic way to set your child up for a solid, and even joyful, Catholic life. There is something strengthening in having such a connection to the deepest mysteries and wonders of our Catholic faith, the darkest parts and the most life-giving parts, that undergirds a person’s life in a powerful and invigorating way.

So, will naming your child something connected to sorrow doom her or him to a life of sorrow? Not at all! Just as the name Mary may mean “bitterness” yet we have no problem naming our daughters Mary and do not fear that they will be bitter, so we shouldn’t fear names connected to sorrow. While the meaning of a name can give depth to a person’s life, it is not the only source of identity for the person. Why you choose a name is even more important than the meaning of the name! There are even more reasons why we choose names and these are what give our children breadth and depth of connection and meaning, not only the literal meaning of his or her name.

Here are a few of my favorite names with meanings connected to sorrow: Tristan, Brennan, Lola, and Deirdre.

What do you think? Would you give your child a name connected to sorrow? Why or why not?

Copyright 2021 Theresa Zoe Williams

Happy feast of the Epiphany!

My fifth baby was born on this date, and today he turns 9 — I’ve always loved that he was born on the feast of the Epiphany!

Our pastor read this at Mass on Sunday, which I’d never heard before:

Later legends have been busy with the wise men. In the early days eastern tradition said that there were twelve of them. But now the tradition that there were three is almost universal. The New Testament does not say that there were three, but the idea that there were three no doubt arose from the threefold gift which they brought.

Later legend made them kings. And still later legend gave them names, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Still later legend assigned to each a personal description, and distinguished the gift which each of them gave to Jesus. Melchior was an old man, grey haired, and with a long beard, and it was he who brought the gift of gold. Caspar was young and beardless, and ruddy in countenance, and it was he who brought the gift of frankincense. Balthasar was swarthy, with the beard newly grown upon him, and it was he who brought the gift of myrrh.” (source)

The passage goes on to say that gold was a gift for a king; frankincense was a gift for a priest, and myrrh was a gift for one who would die. So much significance!

I would love to see the traditional names of the Wise Men used more. I discovered sort of recently that St. John Bosco’s full name was Giovanni Melchiorre (John Melchior), and there’s actor Balthazar Getty, and Caspar the Friendly Ghost, but otherwise I don’t know anyone with these names. Do any of you know anyone in real life with any of their names? I’d love to hear all the details! Have a very Happy Little Christmas!


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

Year in review: 2020 (better than expected)

Happy feast (a day late) of Mary, the Mother of God!! And Happy New Year!! Have we ever been so happy to see a new year?!!

Last year was certainly the year of Bad Things. So much suffering, and none of us untouched, though many of us were scourged more than others.

As I started to go back through my posts from 2020, I wondered if this was going to be a bummer of a post — was there anything good that came out of this past year? I was quickly reminded that, yes!, there was so much good that came out of this past year: all your beautiful babies! Sancta Nomina exists for babies and their families — it was such a joy to be surrounded by the hope and love of each of you as I reread your stories. What a beautiful way to begin this new year! I know you’ll love to do so as well:

  • I did 66 baby name consultations in 2020, 25 of which I was given permission to post! You can find them (and all previous consultation posts) here.
  • I posted birth announcements for 40 babies! (All birth announcements can be found here.) Welcome again to Perrin Fae, Bosco Anthony, Michael Gabriel, Barbara Josephine, Lillian Joy, Liliane Cruz, Anna, Claude Indiana Emmanuel, Chiara Maris, Valor Joseph, Magnus Craig, Marigold Azélie, Lolek Augustine, Felicity Colette, Levi Nathaniel, Jeffery Sherwood, Charlotte Avery Katherine, Thérèse Lourdes, Noah Anthony, Benedict Campion Marie, Evangeline Truth, Elanor Josephine, Felix Owen, Sojourn Hyssop Arise, Magdalene Anne, Arthur Paul, Michael Augustine, Iris Miriam, Bernadette Frances, Henry Kapaun, Aurelia-Rose Celeste, Titus Joseph, Magdalen Gianna, Tristan Raphael, Oskar Karl Wolfgang, William Daniel, Judah Abraham, Ann Margaret, Philip Charles, and Agnes Therese Marie! Some of our favorite public Catholic personalities and businesses are represented in this list of new babies, including Studio Senn, Catholic All Year, Just Love Prints, Rose Harrington Art, Philip Rivers, In Honor of Design, Leah Darrow, Camp Patton, and Trials of Faith (I love supporting all of you who are doing your part to be light in the world!). Some of these babies join older siblings who had previously been celebrated on the blog — it’s such fun to see families grow! I love welcoming new families as well — thank you for sharing your baby joy!

The hardships of the past year weren’t absent from the blog, however. I wrote specifically about the wretched virus a couple of times:

I shared resources for continuing the fight to overcome racial injustice:

And I wrote about the sad life of Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and the sad deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and their co-passengers.

In the business-as-usual category, I shared some thoughts on the 2019 name data that was finally released by the Social Security Administration after a several-months-long delay. I was so grateful to be able to take my annual St. Anne pilgrimage to thank her for her care for us all. I posted some Fun Friday questions:

I did some name spotlights:

I shared these name stories:

I welcomed one “celebrity guest”:

And I pulled together these meaty posts:

I continued writing for CatholicMom.com:

And Nameberry:

I again offered my now-annual and super-popular (thank you!!) Black Friday/Cyber Monday baby name consultation deals, and instituted the Consultation-for-Book deal, which will continue indefinitely!

One weird thing that happened is that WordPress did some sort of site redesign that has affected my ability to see comments on posts as they come in — by the time I realized this a few months ago, I’d already received a whole bunch of comments, and as anyone who has ever emailed me has likely encountered, when I have a backlog of something (emails, comments) it takes me a looong time to get caught up. I’m still not caught up on post comments — I’m at least a couple months behind. I’m so sorry! I’ve always loved the conversation on here in the comments, and I’m always writing, “Catch up on blog comments” on my daily to-do list. I’ll keep plugging away!

For 2021: It’s the Year of St. Joseph! I can’t wait to see all the babies named for our good St. Joseph! And I have some new ideas for Sancta Nomina that I think you’ll love! Keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of months, and in the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy the content that we all love: consultations and birth announcements and I’m always happy to receive name stories about the beautiful ways you’ve reflected our faith in your children’s names, whether you’ve had a consultation or not!

As always, my every-year word for Sancta Nomina is gratitude: for all of you, for this beautiful ministry I’ve been allowed to have, for the joy and hope your babies and the names for our faith provide, and for the love God has for each one of us. ❤ ❤ ❤


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