Patron Saint of nicknames? (!)

A reader sent me the following amazing email:

I just finished reading a biography on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and it turns out she comes from a family of nicknamers: ‘Catherine was a peaceful baby and like all the Seton children instantly received several nicknames.’

It wasn’t so much Elizabeth’s family that gave nicknames, but her husband’s, so she became a huge nicknamer after she married him. She continued to nickname everyone she kept correspondence with and some of the Sisters of her order after his death, but these are her family nicknames that I thought were so fun.

Elizabeth Seton herself was called Betsy throughout her childhood and when she met her future husband he began calling her Eliza.

Their 5 children all had nicknames:

Anna Maria: Annina

William: Will, Willy, Bill

Richard: Dick, Ricksy

Catherine: Kit/Kitt/Kitty, Kate, Jo (short for Josephine, one of Catherine’s middle names, possibly Confirmation name)

Rebecca: Bec

Her husband’s sisters all went by nicknames:

Henrietta: Harriet, Hatch (She was never Henrietta, though, just Harriet, so Hatch was the nickname for Harriet)

Eliza: Zide

Cecilia: Cecil

One girl who was a student of SEAS was not given a nickname, however. Her name was always the full Mary Diana. For some reason that name has such a fun ring it’s been on repeat in my head for the last few days. I had never heard of Hatch or Zide, and love how spunky they are. I know how much you like nicknames, so I thought you’d enjoy this info! I think St. Elizabeth would make an amazing unofficial patron saint of nicknames 🙂 “

I did indeed enjoy this info! And I love the idea of St. Elizabeth being the “unofficial patron saint of nicknames”! Apparently coming up with nicknames is a holy endeavor. 😉 I can see what this reader means about Mary Diana too, that is a lovely combo.

Have a great Wednesday!


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

Baby name consultation: Formal names for the nickname Sonny

A reader wrote to me asking:

I really love the name Sonny. But! I’ve yet to find a formal name I like that could be the official name… and now I’m wondering if I even need that? Especially if I can find a good spiritual connection to the name… apart from the obvious “son.” lol is this making sense? Do you have any thoughts?

Do I have any thoughts? Always!  😂😂😂

I LOVE the nickname Sonny!! The first name that comes to mind is Santino — Sonny on The Godfather was Santino nn Sonny, and Santino means “little saint,” which is fantastic! HOWEVER, I know some might be like, “Ew! The Godfather!” I get it! (Another funny reference: Mario Lopez and his wife named their youngest son Santino and call him Sonny!) For what it’s worth, there was a little guy in one of my boys’ preschool class named Santino nn Sonny, which I’d never seen in real life before then, and I just died of happiness, SO cute. (He was not obviously Italian.)

I’ve also thought that Sonny could be a great nickname for Solanus! I wrote about it here; I think it’s a fantastic option. Bl. Solanus Casey is amazing! There are some people who are hesitant about using Solanus as a given name because of the last four letters, so if you like this idea but not that detail, you could consider Solano instead — Bl. Solanus’ religious name was actually Francis Solanus, and it was bestowed in honor of St. Francis Solano, a 16th/17th century Franciscan.

I’m also thinking, since Jesus is THE Son, maybe Sonny would be a nice nickname for a Jesus name? Like Joshua, Christo, Emmanuel … I’ve always loved Christo/Cristo but thought it might be hard to work with and/or seen as disrespectful in English-speaking locales (though it’s used in other languages) — having a nickname like Sonny could make something like Christo/Cristo do-able as a legal name without the hassle maybe?

I really think Sonny could also work for any S name, especially if it has an N in it (Stephen, Solomon, Sebastian, Simon, Simeon), or any name containing or ending in -son (Samson or any number of surnames — maybe one in your family tree?), or really any name at all! Sonny is one of those Junior/Red/Chip-type nicknames that can be completely unrelated to the boy’s given name — it might be perfect if there’s some family member you’d love to honor but who has an unfortunate name, or a nickname for a Junior. Using Sonny as the exclusive call name means the given name can be anything at all. You know? 

Do you agree? What other names do you think would be good formal names for Sonny? Do you know anyone named Sonny, and if so — I’d love to know about his given name and how he got his nickname and whether he likes it!


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!

More info on Václav (Wenceslaus)

Continued prayers today, on the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, for an end to abortion, and for all of its victims. ❤ ❤ ❤

I was so surprised by the number of comments I got on my spotlight on Wenceslaus! So pleasantly surprised! Two in particular had more info on the Czech version, Václav, and I wanted to be sure you all saw them:

Václav is still reasonably popular here in the Czech Republic. Pronounced vahts-lahv (the c in Czech always makes the ts sound, unless it is č, which is ch; c never makes the k sound – only k makes the ck/k sound).

I’ve met quite a few, from tiny to old. My husband’s grandfather was Václav, and I think that if we had another son, Václav would be a real contender. (It might take some adjusting for my Midwestern US family, but probably easier than the likes of Vladimir!), Of course, Václav Havel gives the name awesome modern hero weight as well.

I really like the nicknames Vašík (vah-sheek) and Vašek (vah-shek). According to my husband (I bombarded him with Czech name questions this morning…):

Vašík is for little boys, probably until age 8 or 9.
Vašek is for young men, probably from 8 or 9 until about 30 or so.
Then he would likely become Venca (vents-uh) and stay that way.

That’s not a hard/fast rule, but it is generally how the name Václav would evolve. Plus, you’d be Václav on official documents/announcements, but as my husband says, no one would ever actually call you Václav!
Czech names and nicknames are truly fascinating!

Wenceslas Square is a main square here in Prague, called Václavské náměstí in Czech (but English speakers often still just call it Wenceslas Square – it is widely called both names here). It is much more modern than many areas you’ll find in Prague (like the Old Town Square). It’s packed full of history, of course, including Soviet tanks rolling down the street in the ’68 Prague Spring. These days its lined with modern, global stores, so is popular for shopping (and apparently it has quite a shady nightlife, particularly on one end…). Yet, the huge statue of St. Wenceslas (svatý Václav) on horseback still looms over it all – famously sculpted by Josef Václav Myslbek. There are 4 other Czech patron saints surrounding him: St. Ludmila, St. Agnes of Bohemia (I’ve mentioned her here before – fascinating story!), St. Prokop, and St. Adalbert. The inscription reads: St Wenceslas, Leader of the Czech Lands, our Prince, do not let us die nor those yet to come.

Of course, September 28th is a very important Czech holiday, so yay for school/office closings on that day (otherwise, there are no celebrations, of note surrounding it). Interesting, the Czech culture is said to be one of the most atheist cultures in the world, yet they hold very tight to saints’ name days and many otherwise religious traditions/holidays.

And then a follow-up:

And to add – my husband loved the tidbit about Václav probably being derived from věnec! He didn’t know that, but said that makes sense. He says that in everyday Czech, it is really used to refer to a wreath, rather than a crown.”

I LOVE learning more about names of other countries/cultures/languages! Have a great Friday and a great weekend, 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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

New CatholicMom article, and info on Chinese and Japanese names

Happy Thursday everyone! A few things of interest today:

My January CatholicMom article is up! “Naming Your Baby After St. Joseph” was informed by a couple of blog posts I did recently to help expectant parents (and Confirmation candidates?) work St. Joseph into their babies’ names (or their own) during this year devoted to him.

Please share with anyone who think might be interested!

And I read two interesting articles recently:

Why 1.2 billion people share the same 100 surnames in China” on CNN.com. I was surprised to find that, though language and limited racial diversity play a role, technology is actually a huge reason why there are, currently, as few surnames in China as there are:

“… people with rare characters in their names, which aren’t compatible with existing computer systems, can get left behind — pushing many to change their names for the sake of convenience, even if it means abandoning centuries of heritage and language.”

“Abandoning centuries of heritage and language” is such a painful thing to read!

And there was this, which I found shocking:

Japan asked the international media to change how we write their names. No one listened” (also on CNN). I’m amazed that in this day and age, when there is more sensitivity than ever to one’s personal preferences about his or her name (whether it’s one’s given name, or a new name chosen later on), and that aside from names, cultural insensitivity is completely unacceptable, English-language media sources are refusing to switch to writing Japanese names with the surname first, as is their local custom and request.

For now, most media outlets are unwilling to make a change if no one else is, creating an inertia loop whereby inaction begets inaction. CNN Business could not find any major publication which refers to the Japanese prime minister as “Abe Shinzo,” and no outlet which responded to a request for comment suggested such a switch was imminent.”

There are some other factors at play — like the fact that Japan itself switched to the Western style of “family name (surname) last” in the late 19th century when communicating in English — but even still, wow.


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

Baby name consultation: Help name Twin no. 2!

One of our longtime readers and her family have been devastated by the recent theft of the means of her husband’s livelihood — many high-end instruments and specialized equipment that he takes with him from his job as a music teacher at a Catholic school to other venues in which he helps provide for his family through his musical training and talent. This was a loss of almost $11,000 worth of instruments and equipment, which the insurance company has only agreed to pay a third of, never mind the impact it has on his ability to teach. A friend has set up a Go Fund Me (which includes a video of Tom playing), and if any of you feel moved and are able to donate, I know the family would be so grateful. And please keep them in your prayers!

Mary and her husband are expecting twin boys! These little guys join big sister:

Juliette Marie (“Juliette is after a grandmother figure I had and Marie is of course after the Blessed Mother and is also the middle name of the first girl in every generation in my family so her name has a lot of meaning to us“)

I looove the name Juliette! Juliette Marie is so lovely!

Mary writes,

[M]y husband and I tried to conceive for several years, and eventually were blessed to be able to adopt our daughter who’s 2 now. We had quite the surprise this year after working with a great NaPro doctor and are so excited to welcome the twins in June (but probably May).”

Amazing!!

Baby Boy 1 will be Joseph McDaniel. We’ll call him ‘Mac’ as a nickname from his middle name. Joseph is after 2 St. Josephs I love, St. Joseph, husband of Mary, and the lesser known St Joseph of Cupertino, patron Saint of test takers and exams, who helped get me through some very difficult times while I was in law school. Joseph is also my husband’s middle name so another very meaningful name. McDaniel is my maiden name and my paternal grandfather was often called “Mac” so Mac is in his memory.

We’ve been tossing around Jude for Baby Boy 2 after St. Jude because so much of our story has just seemed impossible, but here we are. It just hasn’t stuck quite yet. Out of complete coincidence, Juliette and Mac will have the same initials so part of me wants to pick another JM name, but that’s not a “must.” I also like the idea of Baby Boy 2 going by a nickname like his brother, but again, not a “must”

Other Saint names we’ve considered and Saints we love are Michael (mostly as a middle name because my husband loves St. Michael and he was a major part in my husband converting to Catholicism), Sebastian (my husband’s confirmation Saint), St. Augustine (who we have a strong devotion to after visiting the Marian shrine in St. Augustine and then adopting our daughter shortly after) and St. John Paul II.  If we used Sebastian or Augustine, we’d want him to go by a nickname. We’re definitely pro-nicknames

Juliette and Mac are both named after a Saint who’s important to us and a family member, which I like. Other family names we’ve considered are Theodore, Warren, and Giles.

We like names that are classic but unique enough that you don’t hear them every day (so names like Peter, Matthew, and John are mostly out unless we could use a more unique nickname). The fact that Michael is very common makes me hesitant to use it as a middle name, but we do love St. Michael so much.”

Working on twin consultations is such fun! I love the names Mary and her husband have already chosen, and I love that they’re “definitely pro-nicknames” — you know how I feel about nicknames!

One of the things that really struck me about Joseph McDaniel’s (amazing, fantastic) name is how full of meaning it is, with Joseph having strong family and personal faith connections and McDaniel being both Mary’s maiden name and the source of her grandfather’s nickname. Also, both Mary and her husband are represented, with Joseph being Hubby’s middle name and McDaniel being from Mary’s side. No matter what names they choose for Twin 2, I would encourage them to try to make sure his name has just as much meaning — it doesn’t have to have the same kind of meaning, necessarily (i.e., it doesn’t have to be two family names), but there should be a feeling of balance and equal specialness between both names.

One thing that I immediately thought of was that Mary’s boys will be born in the Year of St. Joseph and also likely in the same month as the feast of St. Joseph the Worker (May 1), and with one twin having St. Joseph’s actual name, I thought it would be nice for the other twin to also have a nod to St. Joseph in either his first or middle name. I did a post recently on names for St. Joseph, and of them, I thought these had possibility for this family:

  • Carpenter, as he was a carpenter and is represented by a carpenter’s square specifically and carpenter’s tools in general. I’ve never heard of Carpenter as a first name, but it’s not really different from other occupation names like Mason, Taylor, and Carter, right? Maybe with Cap as a nickname?
  • Cruz or Croix or other “cross” names, as the cross is one of his symbols
  • Foster, since we refer to him as Jesus’ foster father
  • Valiant, as he’s valiant (as noted in the Litany to St. Joseph) (what a cool, masculine virtue name!)
  • Surnames derived from Joseph, like Jessop/Jessup (if either of these names were in Mary’s or her husband’s family trees, I’d die of happiness!) (Jesse could be used as a nickname for Jessop/Jessup, which has additional connections to St. Joseph since St. Joseph is a descendant of King David, who was son of Jesse)

Another way to look at this is that Mary described Joseph as representing two special Josephs — what about breaking that honor up and naming one son after St. Joseph the foster father of Jesus, and the other after St. Joseph of Cupertino? I’ve seen the latter honored in ways that I think might appeal to this family: Cupertino as a given name with Coop and Cooper as nicknames, and Cooper as the given name in honor of Cupertino. Something like Michael Cupertino nicknamed Coop or Cooper could be really nice — two names with very meaningful faith connections for Mary and her hubby and a middle name that’s similar to McDaniel in the sense that I always think of saintly place names as in the same category as surnames. Joseph McDaniel and Michael Cupertino have a nice symmetry, and Mac and Coop have a nice sound together! It would be even better if a family connection could be figured out for Twin 2 as well, but that might be asking too much. Maybe some of my other ideas can get all the elements in there …

I do love their idea of Jude, since he’s the patron of impossible causes, and Jude Michael would be a nice JM combo — Juliette Marie, Joseph McDaniel, and Jude Michael. Two worries I have are that they’ll feel locked into a JM combo in case they have more children (which doesn’t have to be a bad thing, there are lots of great J and M names!), and also that Jude and Juliette are so similar in sound. That can easily be remedied by having Jude Michael go by a nickname of his middle name, like Mac will, and since I think Mary prefers more offbeat suggestions, they might like one of my favorite ideas for an unexpected Michael nickname: Miles/Milo. I’ve often thought Miles or Milo can work for Michael, since their first three letters encompass Michael’s first two letters and its last letter — they’re almost like a contraction of Michael, plus “es” or “o” added on the end. Miles/Milo has an added neat connection to Michael in the sense that St. Michael the Archangel is a warrior, and, as the entry for Miles on Behind the Name says, “From an early date it was associated with Latin miles ‘soldier.’”

Further, I included Miles/Milo in my book of Marian names because they have a history of usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary,” which, for this family, can represent a connection to the Marian shrine in St. Augustine. So many connections! Mac and Miles/Mac and Milo sound great together!

Once again, though, Jude Michael doesn’t include a family connection, and I’d really love for both boys’ names to represent both a Saint who’s important to them and a family member, just like Juliette’s and Mac’s names do. Of the ones Mary mentioned — Theodore, Warren, and Giles — Theodore immediately jumped out as a nice idea because of its meaning: “gift of God.” It’s the kind of significance that can amp up the specialness of the name and bring Joseph McDaniel and his brother’s name into balance. I really like the idea of Twin 2 going by a nickname of his middle name, like Mac, so maybe Theodore Michael nicknamed Miles or Milo would be perfect? Joseph McDaniel and Theodore Michael? Or Theodore Cupertino? I also like the nicknames Theo and Ted(dy) — Mac and Theo, Mac and Ted, Mac and Teddy all sound really great. I also like Theodore Jude.

I’m also loving the idea of Michael Augustine nicknamed Gus — Mac and Gus have that same good-guy feel to me, and Michael Augustine is certainly full of personal faith meaning!

I also love Sebastian — Seb, Sebbie, Bash (like Grace Patton’s son) and Baz are great options for nicknames.

So they have a lot of good ideas and names to work with and play around with! If they went with some combination of names they’re already considering, I’d be thrilled! But of course, I can always come up with more ideas, haha!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Though this strategy doesn’t always work well for parents in Mary’s situation, where the chosen names are as much about personal meaning and connection as they are about style, I was pleased to have a few ideas jump out at me that I thought had merit. I also had a few ideas of my own that I thought would fit in with the personal meaning part and also an attempt to balance both boys’ names meaning-wise. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Mary’s second twin:

(1) Benjamin or Benedict nicknamed Ben, Banks, Boon

I really liked seeing that Benjamin is a style match for Joseph per the BNW — not only are they stylistically similar, but I also love that Joseph and Benjamin are the two youngest sons of Jacob in the Old Testament. Bennett is a match for Juliette and Benedict for John Paul, so a Ben- name seemed a good bet here. While Ben is certainly the traditional nickname — and I love Mac and Ben together — I also know of a little Benjamin that goes by Banks as a nickname, which is fun. I’d also considered the nickname Boon for Benedict for one of my own boys, both because it has a B and N, like Benedict, but also because a boon is a blessing or a favor, which is such a great meaning and mirrors the meaning of Benedict (“blessed”). I like that meaning for this family! They could also certainly do Benjamin with the nickname Boon.

(2) Charles nicknamed Cal or ?

I was interested to see what nicknames would be listed as similar to Mac, and one of them was Cal, which is a nickname I’ve loved forever. So great for both a boy and a man! There are a couple ways to get to Cal, but Charles is one of my favorites, and it can honor St. John Paul II, since his birth name was Karol, which is the Polish for Charles! If they like the idea of Charles but Cal isn’t feeling quite right, one of my favorite posts from Abby at Appellation Mountain is her post on nicknames for Charles — there are so many! I would also add Hutch to her list. I also love the combo Charles Augustine nicknamed Gus!

(3) Henry nicknamed Hank

As with Cal, Hank is what inspired this idea. Hank is a traditional nickname for Henry and was listed as a style match for Mac! I’m really loving how Henry Sebastian sounds — Joseph McDaniel and Henry Sebastian (Mac and Hank) are a very handsome pair! There are lots of great Sts. Henry too, and St. Henry Morse has a particularly nice depiction of himself with Our Lady and the Child Jesus.

(4) Maximilian nicknamed Miles or Milo, or Kolbe?

Maximilian is a style match for Sebastian, Augustine, and John Paul, and I actually really love that McDaniel nicknames to Mac and Maximilian’s usual nickname is Max! But don’t worry — I’m not at all suggesting that they call their boys Mac and Max, only that McDaniel and Maximilian can sort of be like mirror images in their boys’ names. In fact, I really like Miles or Milo as nicknames for Maximilian — something like Joseph McDaniel and Jude Maximilian (Mac and Miles/Milo) could be really pleasing. But then, I also noticed that Cole is a style match for Jude, which made me think of Kolbe, and while I wasn’t thinking of pairing Maximilian and Kolbe together (though I’m not opposed to it if they want to!), would it be crazy to suggest that Kolbe could be a nickname for Maximilian?? Probably, right! Totally crazy! But intriguing!

(5) Fitz something

I was thinking about how Mac means “son of,” and how Fitz also does, and thought maybe Mac and Fitz would be great brother names? I don’t actually know what Mary’s husband’s name is, but if it’s William, Gerald, or Patrick, any of those with Fitz in front would be kind of amazing! Fitzwilliam is actually Darcy’s first name in Pride and Prejudice, and Fitzgerald and Fitzpatrick can both certainly serve as first or middle names.

(6) Isaac

My last two ideas are inspired by their meanings. Isaac means “he will laugh, he will rejoice,” and he was so named because Abraham laughed when God told him that Sarah would become pregnant. Mary’s story reminds me of Abraham’s, because of how they tried for several years to conceive, and then when they do, they’re given twin boys! What a surprise! And what joy! Isaac seems a perfect name for one of their boys! Zac is a nickname often used for Isaac, which wouldn’t work with Mac, but its other nickname Ike might. Or maybe they’d rather keep Isaac as the name that isn’t nicknamed? Isaac Theodore nicked Theo?

(7) Samuel

Like Isaac, Samuel is inspired by his story in the bible — he was the result of Hannah’s many years-long and tearful prayers, and was so named “Because I asked the Lord for him” (Samuel 1:20, which fits one of the two meanings of Samuel given on Behind the Name: “God has heard”). Also a fantastic meaning for this family! And Sam is so great with Mac. Samuel Warren? Samuel Augustine?

And those are my ideas for Mary’s second twin boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Juliette and the twin of Joseph McDaniel nn Mac?


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!

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!