Michelle and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean (gender unknown)! 🌱 This little bub joins big sister:
Victoria Gianna (“We chose her middle after the obvious, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, but also after pope Saint John Paul (Italian: Giovanni Paolo) and St. John the Apostle. Her first name is dedicated to the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Victories (celebrated today as Our Lady of the Rosary) and to our Lord’s victory on the Cross over sin and death … We teach her that her first name honors both, Jesus and Mary and her middle name honors the Sts. Gianna Molla, John Paul II, John the Apostle and also St. Anna, the mother of our Blessed Mother. Her birth day coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and choosing a Marian name (Our Lady of Victory) was important to us.”)
Isn’t Victoria Gianna such a pretty combo? I’m amazed and thrilled by how many patrons Michelle and her husband were able to pack into their daughter’s name!
First names they’re considering for a girl include:
- Emilia, Emmelia ( nickname Em, Emmie, Millie, Mila, Lia) with possible middle names Zelie (ZAY-lee pronunciation) or Magdalene Rose
- Aurelia Rose Celeste (“meaning golden rose of heaven … St. Aurelia Petronilla was cured by St. Peter himself! … [But] my baby’s first cousin is named Olivia Rose and I concern myself that it will be sound vastly similar and overlapping“)
- Beatrice, Beatrix (nn Bea, Beasy, Bees, Trixie), maybe Beatrix Evangeline
- Chiara Marie
- Esther (“lovely sound but we may be a bit slow here in attaching to it“)
- Eva (“lovely, short sound but is it too short for us?“)
- Frances (“love the Catholic history and the sound but we may feel reserved“)
- Evangeline Marie
- Katherine, Kateri, Catherine, Caterina
- Karolina (“the spelling reflects the Polish given name of JP II, Karol. Are we ready for that slightly unconventional K spelling?“)
- Lucia/Lucy (“I love the sound of name, though I think I see its popularity rising within the community(s) that we visit around here. Lucy is my mom’s middle name“)
- Madeleine (“not sure what pronunciation they will end up attaching to this one“), Madalena, Magdalene
- Maristela (“these names beginning with M are so beautifully Marian and saintly but then we worry that it will sound more of an alliteration when paired with our last name“)
- Perpetua (“like the early Christian martyrdom ties but don’t know if we will be entirely comfortable using it as first name. Also, one of our daughter, Victoria’s, many many nick names is Perpeta/Popeta!“)
Boy names include:
- Rafael, Raphael (Rafe, Raph, Ralphie), maybe with double middle name Charles Joseph (“I am drawn to this name because of the many saints that I have asked intercessions of during my long healing journey ranging from my post partum days to achieving this pregnancy, St. Raphael was one of them“)
- Benedict, Bennett, maybe Benedict Aquinas Joseph (“St Benedict and Pope Benedict, but I may not feel drawn towards it entirely as a first name“)
- Charles Maximilian Joseph
- Karol Joseph (“Karol was St John Paul II and his own father’s given name. Lolek was JP II’s nick name growing up“)
- Maximilian (“We love the strong historical, Latin/Roman Catholic origins but then again, the alliteration forming bit with our last name concerns us“)
- Joseph (“We honor St. Joseph here as well as St. JP II and Pope Emeritus Benedict, who has long been a great teacher/champion of the Faith for [my husband], as well as me“)
- Fulton (“Hubby reiterated that he loves this name. Venerable Fulton Sheen has been one of his greatest hero and responsible for bring him closer to his Catholic home. I love Fulton Sheen much, but am I ready for this as a first name?“)
- Athanasius (“I think we both find this name delightfully saintly but Hubby says, and I agree, it’s also quite a mouthful“)
- Augustine (“A great hero of a saint for Hubby’s conversion, but are we ready for the name?“)
- Gabriel (“I do find it hard to associate with the nn Gabe for a boy, maybe because of my strong memories of Gabe from the Office?“)
- George (“St. George, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati“)
- George Maximilian Joseph
- Gregory (“Pope Gregory the Great … I find it hard to associate with the nn Rory for a boy“)
And Saints they would be happy to honor:
“Mary and St. Anne — I asked for their intercession all along the weeks, months and years leading to my pregnancy.
So Anna-Maria has great significance for me as I pondered and recalled on this name this past Advent. I find the hyphenated version serves as a reminder to what unites Anne and Mary, an intimate union of the Old and New Testaments. “Through them are brought about the prophecies of Israel and the proclamations of the Church. Through these two Jewish women in the line of David — one whose Hebrew name means “grace,” and one who is “full of grace” — comes grace upon grace.”
St Joseph — Hubby and I consecrated ourselves to him on May 1, 2020
Servants of God Emilia and Karol Wojtyla, parents of JP II — I have asked for their intercession since their sainthood process began in March 2020
St. Josemaria Escriva — It was during the late afternoon of his feast day, Friday, June 26 2020 that I got the earliest cautious but positive confirmation of my pregnancy from a HCG/progesterone blood test that done the day before. This was the first time I got such sweet news in the many many months preceding this event.
St Gerard Majella and St Gianna Molla (kept their third class relics close to me during the months preceding and during pregnancy)
St Louis and Zelie Martin, St Teresa of Avila, St Therese of Lisieux – I sought their intercession during the above months
Jesus and Mary — Feast of the Sacred Heart — we consecrated our daughter, Victoria, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19 2020 and the next day was the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary“
I just love how thorough and thoughtful Michelle and her husband are in regards to babynaming!
Before sharing my new ideas for this family, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:
- Emilia/Emmelia: I love both of these! Emilia in honor of St. John Paul II’s mother is wonderful, and I love it with both Zelie as a middle name and Magdalene Rose. The spelling Emmelia is lovely too, and St. Emmelia is a great patron — mother to so many Saints!
- Aurelia: Aurelia Rose Celeste has such a beautiful meaning — I wonder if they might like to consider a combo that can have a similar meaning, but move the name away from Olivia Rose sound-wise? Maybe something like Chrysantha Caeli or Chrysantha Celeste? Chrysantha is a shortened form of the flower name chrysanthemum, and it means “golden flower”; Caeli is Latin for “of heaven” (like in Our Lady’s title Regina Caeli, “Queen of Heaven”), or Celeste can fill that role. I love how Chrysantha looks and sounds, and possible nicknames Chrysa or Chryssy (even spelled Chrissy) make it very user friendly and can even give it a slight nod to Jesus. I might be allowing myself to get too excited about this idea, I just love it! It does lose the St. Aurelia Petronilla connection, though, unfortunately. And Aurelia really is lovely.
- Beatrice/Beatrix (Bea, Beasy, Bees, Trixie): I love Beatrice and Beatrix, and they have such darling nicknames! The meaning is just wonderful as well. Michelle said that she wasn’t sure about this name at first, but I loved discovering that it’s a big style match for their name taste, based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard! (affiliate link) (You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up in the BNW the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.) Beatrice and Beatrix are matches for Aurelia, Evangeline, Josephine, and Maximilian! Beatrix Evangeline is a really great combination with lots of meaning.
- Chiara: Chiara is absolutely beautiful, and normally I’d be enthusiastically in favor of it (I love Bl. Chiara Luce Badano), but with their older daughter being Victoria Gianna, I wonder if they want to follow right away with another uber-Italian name? Not that Victoria on its own comes across as very Italian — in fact, it’s not the Italian variant of the name — but its -a ending followed immediately by sister Chiara would indeed make it seem very Italian. If they don’t mind or if they like the Italian vibe, wonderful! I have no quibble! But I thought if they used Chiara now, which is so VERY Italian, and would seem to convey that they intend their children (or at least their daughters) to have very Italian names, it might seem a bit jarring to use Esther, Frances, or Madeleine later, for example. (If they want to lean into the Italian vibe, this is easily remedied by switching those names to their Italian variants: Ester, Francesca, and Maddalena. Then they all work together!) One way that they could still use this name in another form is Clara — it goes as well with Victoria as it does with Madeleine, in my opinion. I also had the thought that if they decided to use Chiara as the first name after all, maybe they’d like to consider Lucy as the middle name, which could be a nod to Michelle’s mom and also very similar to Bl. Chiara Luce Badano’s name! Or maybe Clara Lucy?
I want to interrupt my bullet points here just to talk about the Italian names thing for another minute, to make sure I’m articulating myself well. So as I said, Victoria isn’t Italian — it’s actually sometimes considered a fourth addition to the three “classic English girl names” (Catherine, Elizabeth, and Margaret), which would allow it to fit in nicely with the less ethnic-feeling names on Michelle’s list, which are most of them (or they could be — e.g., Madeleine is the French version and would be quite at home with Marie-Helene and Jean-Pierre, but it’s had so much usage among English speakers that its Frenchness has been much muted, and so it can fit in well with non-French names as well). And in fact, Victoria’s actual Italian variant is Vittoria. So a girl named Victoria can have sisters with all kinds of names, and all of the names on their list would be lovely with it. But pairing it with Gianna, and then following it with Chiara, definitely emits a very Italian feel. I hate to discourage them from using a name they love! I quite like the idea of using Chiara as a middle name with a less Italian first name, which would mirror Victoria Gianna in a very pleasing way I think. Madeleine Chiara, for example. Okay, back to my bulleted list!
- Esther: Esther is a beautiful name, and Queen Esther in the bible is a wonderful character, but Esther does feel a bit different than most of the names Michelle and her hubs like, which could be why they’re having a harder time coming around to it.
- Eva: Eva, too, is beautiful, but it has a difference as well — the more I think about it, the more I think that the names they like best for a girl are long names, and I think they’d be happiest sticking with those. That doesn’t have to mean short names are out, though! Hyphenating or connecting two names can give nice length to an otherwise short name. Eva-Maria for example, or Evamarie. Or they might like to consider a longer name that’s a variant of Eva or related to it, like Evelina, and use Eva as a nickname. Or — Evangeline, which is already on their list!
- Frances: I agree with Michelle, Frances has great history and Catholic meaning! But I think it feels a bit plain for the kinds of names I think they like best. I could see them liking its Italian variant Francesca or German variant Franziska or Portuguese variant Francisca more. I also think a Frances might feel like her name is a little underwhelming next to big sister’s long and lovely Victoria.
- Evangeline: Evangeline is a wonderful addition to their list — great meaning, beautiful name. The fact that they can use Eva as a nickname, which is also on their list, makes it feel like a great two-for-one option!
- Josephine (nn Zuzu, Zozi, Zozia): I love that they’re considering Josephine — using a Josephite name would be so great in this Year of St. Joseph, and in light of how Michelle and her husband consecrated themselves to him last May 1. How wonderful! I love the nicknames Michelle said she likes, too — they’re so fun and unexpected! Josephine can also work to honor St. Josemaria, since his name is literally Joseph+Mary. A first name + middle name combo of Josephine Maria would hammer this home even more, while keeping St. Joseph and Our Lady front and center.
- Katherine/Kateri/Catherine/Caterina: These are all beautiful, and Katherine/Catherine would be great as a sister to Victoria in that classic-English-names way. I also love Victoria and Caterina together, if they decided to lean into the Italian-feeling names. And I do love St. Kateri and her beautiful name, but like with Esther and Frances, it just feels … not quite their style. But I love it as a middle name idea!
- Karolina: I think Karolina might be one of my favorite ideas here for this family. I love the K- spelling — I know a few families who have named daughters Karoline or Karolina with that spelling, which immediately signals a devotion to St. John Paul II, which I think is so great. It easily fits in with feminine and elegant sister Victoria, but doesn’t pigeonhole their style into any one particular heritage, since Karolina (like Victoria) is used across lots of different languages/cultures.
- Lucia/Lucy: Lucia and Lucy are both just lovely! I think Lucia can have the same issue as Chiara that I mentioned earlier — that possibly overly Italian feel, especially if they use the Italian pronunciation loo-CHEE-ah. As with Chiara and Kateri, I would love it in the middle name spot. Lucy is great to me because it’s Michelle’s mom’s middle name, though I admit I don’t think it’s quite right as a first name for them, just based on the feel of most of the names they like.
- Madeleine/Madalena/Magdalene: All of these variants of Magdalene are marvelous! Though I do think Michelle’s wise to be wary of the pronunciation issues of Madeleine. There are some who do say mad-e-LINE — the spelling Madelyn should fix this problem, but I think the Italian Maddalena (if they decide to go the Italian route), or Magdalene itself, or perhaps even better as a combo of the two with Magdalena, will make them happier in the long run.
- Maristela: Oh yes, I totally understand the appeal of the gorgeous Maristela, and also that Michelle isn’t a fan of alliteration with their last name! For what it’s worth, I quite like alliteration, and find Maristela M___ to be lovely. However, I know that’s a controversial opinion, and if one doesn’t like alliteration, then one doesn’t like alliteration! One way to use this beautiful name with its patronage of Our Lady, Star of the Sea is to switch the elements around and use Stellamaris. I’d like to mention a long, beautiful, Marian name that doesn’t start with M, that they might like to consider: Immaculata! I love the name Immaculata, I think it’s so lovely and so specifically Marian!
- Perpetua: Perpetua’s a funny name in that it’s an old Roman name, but has such good usage in England that the only Perpetuas I’ve ever heard of (other than my friend’s little girl) are English! One was a character in Bridget Jones, for example. But for Catholic purposes, St. Perpetua is one of my favorites, and I love that it can also connect to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which is a particular devotion of the Redemptorist Order, and St. Gerard Majella was a Redemptorist priest, so they could maybe think of it as including him as a patron as well! All that said, the fact that Victoria has Perpeta and Popeta as nicknames (so cute!) says to me that Perpetua’s probably best in the middle name spot.
- Raphael/Rafael (Rafe, Raph, Ralphie): I really love that Michelle asked for intercession from St. Raphael, and I love the nickname ideas — Ralphie keeps making me chuckle, I love it!
- Charles/Karol: I love that we can honor St. John Paul II with the Charles names, it’s nice a nice option! Michelle mentioned Lolek — I wonder if she would consider using that as a nickname if they named their son Charles or Karol?
- Benedict/Bennett: I too love the meaning of these names and our wonderful Pope Benedict. It would make a great middle name if they couldn’t come around to it as a first name!
- Maximilian: As with Maristela, I really don’t mind Maximilian M___ — especially for boys, alliterative names sound superhero-ish to me, which can be fun! — though I could see that Max M___ wouldn’t be ideal. I’m glad Michelle included this as a name they like, as it was helpful in my research.
- Joseph: Joseph seems like a no-brainer for this family, from Michelle and her husband’s devotion and consecration to St. Joseph, to the baby being born in the Year of St. Joseph, to Joseph being a family name on Michelle’s side. It would be wonderful in the first name spot or the middle spot, wherever they feel most comfortable with it.
- Fulton: I admit, Fulton jumped to the top of my list of favorites for this family when I read that Michelle’s husband loves this name. I think it’s striking that this is the only name she said this about! However, since Michelle’s not sure about it, maybe she’d prefer to consider it in the middle name spot? Or, maybe she and her hubby would be open to considering Ven. Fulton Sheen’s given/baptismal name, which was Peter? (Fulton was his mother’s maiden name and what he went by always, as far as I can tell.)
- Athanasius: I love how Michelle and her hubs characterize this name: “delightfully saintly” but, indeed, “quite a mouthful”! I agree! It would be awesome in the middle name spot!
- Augustine: I definitely think Augustine is easier to handle than Athanasius, however I will say that we very nearly named one of our boys Augustine (for the same reason — he was a great influence on my own husband’s conversion) and decided against it at the last minute because of pronunciation issues. au-GUS-tin and au-gus-TEEN are both well used, and not only do people tend to strongly prefer one or the other, but they also tend to strongly believe that their favored pronunciation is the correct one and the other is incorrect. We felt it was too much of a possibility that we’d be constantly annoyed by others “mispronouncing” our son’s name — since Madeleine holds a similar difficulty for Michelle, I would think they’d want to consider this aspect of Augustine before deciding to use it.
- Becket(t): I’m a bit surprised by Becket/Beckett on their list! It’s definitely saintly, and it shares Bennet’s and Fulton’s surname style, but while Fulton especially has a real reason for being on their list, Becket(t) seems outside the style of name they really seem to prefer.
- Dominic: Dominic is wonderful for this family, it seems just right to me. I also love that Our Lady of Victory was the original title for Our Lady of the Rosary and same feast day, so Victoria and Dominic have a connection.
- Gabriel: Michelle’s comment about Gabe from The Office made me laugh out loud! I hope they don’t let that reference interfere with what is otherwise such a great name. I’ve seen Gib, Gil, and Eli used as nickname for Gabriel, if that’s helpful.
- George: George has a similar feel to me as Catherine, Frances, and Charles, and I think it goes quite well with Victoria as well.
- Gregory (not Rory): I love the name Gregory as well, and have suggested Rory as a nickname in the past because, while a lot of people seem to like Gregory — a handsome, sophisticated, saintly name — the nickname Greg strikes many as outdated in a negative way. If they don’t like Rory, however, I’ve often thought that Gus could work, if Gregory was paired with a middle name that had a prominent S. Maybe Gregory Charles? Gregory Athanasius?
- Ignatius: I’ve seen Iggy, Nate, and Nash used as a nickname for Ignatius, all of which I think are great!
- Jonah, Judah: I’m including these two together, because they seem similar to me — both Old Testament J names ending in -ah. Jonah is the more familiar of the two, while the Jud- name that I usually see used is Jude, so Judah feels a bit fresher!
- Kolbe: Hmm … earlier I’d said that Becket(t) didn’t seem quite this family’s style, Bennett and Fulton on their list notwithstanding. But with Kolbe on here too … maybe they’re more into surname-type names than I’d thought?
- Marius: I like the idea of Marius a lot — a very masculine Marian name!
- Magnus: Since Magnus means “great,” I’ve often thought it would be a fun middle name for a Pope St. the Great first name, like Gregory Magnus for Pope St. Gregory the Great! Or Charles Magnus for St. John Paul the Great! (But then, Charles Magnus is basically the same name as Charlemagne, isn’t that weird?!) Or to be even more explicit, John Paul Magnus!
I wasn’t actually sure if I’d be able to come up with any names that were new options for this family! They have so many gorgeous names on their list, and I wondered if my only contributions would be offering my thoughts on the names on the list. But fortunately, I do have some new ideas! My research in the Baby Name Wizard book was the foundation; I also use the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com, as some of their names aren’t included in the book (Perpetua, Magdalene). And I took into account the Saints Michelle said they love. Based on all that, these are some more names they might like to consider:
(1) A Lily name (Lilia, Lillian, Liliana)
Since Michelle said they’d love to honor St. Joseph, but aren’t totally sure that Josephine is their style, I wonder if they might like to consider one of the Lily names, since lilies are one of St. Joseph’s symbol? Lily doesn’t have the best flow with their last name, but Lilia is a really pretty variant. Lillian is a less flowery option, and Liliana is longer, like the names they tend to like, and they could consider the -ana ending to nod to St. Anne if they’d like.
Speaking of Lily names, and also names that nod to St. Anne, and also the fact that Michelle listed Zuzu as a possible nickname for Josephine, Susanna came immediately to mind. It means both “rose” and “lily” in Hebrew, which can work for St. Joseph via the “lily” meaning, and also Our Lady, as lilies and roses are both symbols for her. The -anna ending can be for St. Anne, and Zuzu is a traditional nickname for Susanna!
(3) Cecilia, Caecilia
Cecilia is a match for Josephine and Catherine, and it’s lovely and long and feminine like Victoria. Such a beautiful, saintly name! I also remembered this family, who used the original Latin form of Cecilia for their daughter: Caecilia. Behind the Name says its pronunciation is kie-KEE-lee-a, but I think Cecilia’s pronunciation could be used with that spelling if they wanted.
(4) Julia, Juliana, Juliette
Julia did quite well for this family in my research! It has the same sophisticated feel as Victoria, and lots of Saints to choose from for patron. If they wanted to lengthen it, Juliana can add the St. Anne connection, and Juliette has a pretty French flair (I actually spotlighted Juliet(te) here).
My last girl idea is more along the lines of Aurelia, Magdalene, and Perpetua — a lesser-used but almost exclusively Catholic name. Philomena has some great nickname options as well, like Fia, Fila, Fina, Lola, Mena, and Minnie.
I was really interested to see what boy names would rise to the top in my research as good suggestions for a son for Michelle, and was excited to see Tobias as one of them! It’s an Old Testament name like Raphael, Jonah, and Judah, and in fact Tobias is part of St. Raphael’s story in the book of Tobit; it’s also a style match for Evangeline. Such a handsome name!
Thaddeus is a style match for Raphael, Benedict, and Edmund! I love that it’s a New Testament name with the weighty feel of some of the Old Testament names, and is a lesser-used way to name a baby after St. Jude. Thad, Tad/Taddy, and Ted/Teddy are all great nickname for Thaddeus!
Michelle has Becket(t) on her list of possible first names and Aquinas on the list of middle names they like, but I wonder what they’d think about Thomas? It can hang with Charles/George/Gregory as well as Benedict/Dominic/Gabriel (and Victoria of course!).
(4) Leo, Leander
Gregory and Magnus made me think of Leo, as Pope St. Leo the Great is another with “Great” in his name. Leo Magnus would make this connection explicit, as would the combination, Leo Maximilian — since they have Maximilian on their list, maybe this would be a great way to use it? Leo could also serve as a nickname for Leander, which is in the Raphael/Benedict/Maximilian/Dominic family of names, and St. Leander of Seville was actually friends with Pope St. Gregory the Great!
(5) Frederick, Everett
I wouldn’t have come up with either Frederick or Everett on my own for this family, but they both did so well in my research that I couldn’t not include them here! Frederick is a match for Victoria (!), Beatrice, Frances, Josephine, and Magdalene, and Everett is a match for Aurelia, Beatrice, Magdalene, and Bennett. Isn’t that so surprising? There are actually several holy Fredericks that one could look to for a patron, and Everett is derived from Everard, of which there are several holy men so named as well.
And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Victoria Gianna’s little sister or brother?
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!