Baby name consultation: Philomena or Claire, Maximilian or Walter?

Happy Memorial Day! It’s so necessary it is that we remember and celebrate those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. This is a beautiful prayer to say today for our fallen soldiersloving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace

Today is also the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin Elizabeth! Such a beautiful feast day!

Alyssa and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) This little one joins big sister:

Felicity Rose

Such a gorgeous name — so feminine and pretty. I love it!

Alyssa writes,

[M]y husband and I just don’t feel as confident about names as we did for our daughter. We decided on Felicity for a girl before I was even pregnant!

Names we like are saint names that are a little bit different, but not weird and that are pretty easy to pronounce/spell. I definitely wouldn’t use any trendy names or very popular names. For example, I actually really like the name Sophia in itself, but it’s way too popular for our taste

Since our last name starts with M, all B names are out unfortunately. I don’t like the initials BM. And some other names we can’t use that are taken by family and friend’s kids that we would consider are Theodore, Henry, and Edward.
I also don’t particularly like very traditional/common names such as Matthew, Elizabeth, John, etc
.

I generally don’t like nicknames unless it’s very common (like Chris for Christopher, Ben for Benjamin, etc) or if it makes a kind of weird saint name into a more normal name or a very formal name into a less formal one. I can’t think of any examples of that weird saint name nicknames, but you probably know better than I do!

So now onto names my husband and I do like! I find myself liking longer names for some reason. I don’t know if I have a style necessarily, but I think I like very feminine sounding names for girls and I’m also drawn to french-ish sounding names (I think). Also, the flow of the first-middle-last name is very important to me. So I think I like a variation of syllables and sounds between the 3 names generally

We also are 2 for 2 conceiving after a novena to St Gerard so I think it would be cool to honor him somehow, but my husband isn’t totally sold on this. I think he’d come around though if he liked the name. I’m ok with Gerard as a middle name for a boy, but I dislike Geraldine for a first or middle name. I’ve heard of Majella, but if we did this I’d want to pronounce/spell it Mayella and only for a girl. I’m definitely ok with Mayella as a middle name and would consider it as a first name too. But if you have any other creative ideas, I’d love to hear them!

I have a list of names we’ve been brainstorming over the years that I’ll explain below.

  • Xavier (“Francis (for middle name potentially); my husband and I both really like Xavier, but I recently found out that people pronounce it differently. We would want to pronounce it ecks-zay-vyer, but I’m not sure if I want to deal with his name constantly getting pronounced zay-vyer or zay-vee-er or even Javier. I also would not particularly want him to have the nickname “X”. I’d be curious what your thoughts are on name pronunciations and correcting people are! My name is pronounced “uh-lih-sa” and I often have to correct people when they call me Alisa or Alicia and it gets old.”)
  • Vincent (“James for a potential middle name. James is my favorite boy middle name; My husband and I also both like Vincent. Vincent is my husband’s middle name. I don’t dislike Vince as a nickname, but I just feel like it sounds too old for a baby/young boy to be called Vince and Vincent sounds overly formal to call someone all the time. And I’m not fond of the nickname Vinny. I think I could get over Vince not sounding like a baby name, but idk it just doesn’t seem quite right.”)
  • Adeline (“Marie or Louise for potential middle names; I really like the name Adeline and my husband likes it too (but he is a little worried it sounds like Madeleine mispronounced), but I’m just not crazy about Addy. It’s fine, but it feels too plain/common and I feel like she would inevitably be called Addy and I’m not sure I want to deal with correcting people all the time and be “those people” who always corrects everyone. Again, I could get over it either by correcting people or just accepting Addy, but it just doesn’t feel perfect.”)
  • Claire (“Philomena?; my husband and I both like Claire and it is a little more on the common side, but for some reason I just feel like it sounds really good with our last name. And of course it’s after a great saint and I like the frenchness of it. I’m struggling a little bit with a middle name though. Originally I wanted Anastasia, but my husband didn’t want the initials CAM. I think I like Philomena as a middle name, but I’m not sure if I like the flow of it [with our last name].”)
  • John Paul (“I kind of like John Paul, but my husband isn’t sold. I don’t like either of these names separately, but for some reason together I do. I don’t dislike JP as a nickname, but it sounds way too informal with Felicity.”)
  • Dominic (“my husband and I both like Dominic, but he likes it more than me. The Dominicans hold a special place in our heart because we met at a Dominican run Newman center. I think like Vincent, Dominic just sounds a little formal and I’m not crazy about the nickname Dom or Nick.”)
  • Isaac (“I kind of like this name, but would probably never use it“)
  • Maximilian (“we both really like Maximilian and Max as a nickname (although I wonder if Max is too informal with Felicity), but we had some friends just name their baby Maximilian. We’re not very close with them, but my husband feels like it’s too weird to use that name right now, but maybe for a future child. I think it’s probably fine, but we both have to be on board.”)
  • Gianna (“I like Gianna, but my husband is so-so on it. And I’m not sure if it goes well with Felicity. But I really hate Gi-Gi.”)
  • Nathaniel (“I like Nathaniel but I don’t really love any nicknames for it, but I feel like just Nathaniel would be fine and wouldn’t necessarily be turned into a nickname by other people. But my husband isn’t super into it.”)
  • Walter (“I kind of like Walter and Walt, but my husband doesn’t. He says it’s an old man name.”)
  • Philomena (Fia?) (“I really like Philomena, but I feel like it’s too out there of a name to call her Philomena all the time and I don’t really like Mina as a nickname. I think I read you suggest the nickname Fia which I kind of like, but I worry it’s too out there and she’d always be correcting people because no one has heard of it.”)
  • Alice (“this name has really grown on me, but I wonder if it’s too vain since it’s so close to my name! (We also figured out after we named Felicity that my name sound is in her name! (Falyssa-tee)“)
  • Maggie (Margaret) (“Anne?; my husband really likes Margaret, but I hate it, but I think Maggie is kind of cute. So I’d potentially be open to naming a daughter Margaret and just always calling her Maggie.”)
  • Clara (“I’ve just always liked this name for some reason.”)
  • Jane (“Jane has grown on me, but my husband and I worry it’s too plain“)
  • Georgiana (“this name has really grown on me (definitely influenced by pride and prejudice!), I just think it’s so beautiful. But I don’t like Gi Gi, georgia, or Ana and I feel like this would be an inevitable nickname name. Also my husband’s late grandma was named Georgette, (but went by Bunny) and he feels a little weird that it’s so close to Georgette, but not that. However, he’s open to it.”)
  • Natalie (“both my husband and I like this name and it would be very fitting if we have a girl because I’m due in December! But idk, something about just doesn’t feel super exciting.”)
  • Finnian? (“my husband and I like this name and Finn as a nickname, but Finnian seems a little too out there/formal to always use and Finn seems too informal with Felicity.”)

Middle Names:

  • Gerard
  • Mayella
  • Francis (“St Francis de Sales is one of my favorite saints, but I don’t like it as a first name“)
  • James
  • Elizabeth
  • Anastasia
  • Anne
  • Joseph
  • Marie
  • Rose
  • Louise
  • Bonaventure?

I apologize for my essay, but hopefully it’ll help you understand our taste/dilemmas and give you some good information! Thank you for your help!

(Just so you all know, no one ever has to apologize to me for sending “an essay” — I LOVE reading about name dilemmas and find each detail interesting and helpful!)

I so enjoyed reading through the names on Alyssa’s list! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on each one, in case they’re helpful:

  • Gerard: I absolutely love the idea of honoring St. Gerard in Alyssa’s baby’s name! And I love that she and her husband did novenas to him both times they conceived! I have a couple of stories on the blog of parents who similarly benefited from St. Gerard’s intercession, he’s awesome. I wanted to work St. Gerard into my last baby’s name as well, and while it’s easy enough to do so for a boy (Gerard as a middle name is perfect!), it was harder for a girl. I do love the idea of Mayella! I usually see Maiella, which is the Italian spelling and what St. Gerard’s actual spelling was (he was Italian: Gerardo Maiella); Mayella makes Alyssa’s preferred pronunciation more obvious (I think the first syllable in Maiella might be said more like “my,” so if you prefer “may” than Mayella is perfect!). The idea that I’d decided on if I had a girl (I had a boy) was Margaret, because of something one of my readers told me: she said that she knew a couple who had a devotion to St. Margaret, so they named their son Garrett (going off of the last few letters in Margaret); Garrett is actually derived from Gerard! So Margaret might be perfect for Alyssa for honoring St. Gerard in the first or middle name spot for a girl, but also maybe she’d like to consider Garrett as a first or middle name for a boy? Another idea for a boy, if she and her hubby are okay moving away from the obvious connection, is that Gerard is made of the elements ger (meaning “spear”) and hard (meaning “brave, hardy”), so I love Hardy as a possible honor name for St. Gerard. Oh, also — Alyssa said she wanted to avoid B first names, but since she has Bonaventure as a possible middle, then St. Gerard’s mom’s name might do well as a middle name for a girl: Benedetta (the Italian feminine of Benedict, equivalent to Benedicta). And in fact, my youngest son (the one who I wanted to work Gerard into) has Benedict as a middle name in part as a nod to the several Saints whose intercession I asked for (St. Anne, St. Rita, and St. Gerard), as Benedict means “blessed,” so I figured it could stand for all of them.
  • Xavier: Oh yes, the pronunciation debates over Xavier! I wrote an impassioned post about it here (with a related post here). I say it like Alyssa says it, as it was my grandfather’s middle name and that’s how he said it, which tells me that it has a very long history of being said like ecks-zay-vyer (he was born in Ireland in 1904). We live in the northeast, and most people we’ve encountered assume ecks-zay-vyer is the pronunciation, but I do think there is a regional aspect to which pronunciation people will default to. Those who are familiar with Xavier University in Cincinnati, for example, will default to zay-vyer, since that’s the way the University has chosen to pronounce it. Those who live in an area with a lot of native Spanish speakers might hear the Javier pronunciation more often. But lots of names have issues like that! If they’re firm and consistent about correcting people, it will be fine. But if that’s too annoying to think about, I get it! As for nicknames, I’ve seen Xav(e) and Xav(e)y (“Zave” and “Zavey,” rhymes with Dave/Davy), as well as Xave pronounced ecks-zave. Francis is a great middle, which really reinforces the St. Francis Xavier connection, but I also like Xavier James, since Alyssa said James is her favorite boy middle name.
  • Vincent: I love that Alyssa’s husband’s middle name is Vincent — using Dad’s middle name for a son is a great way to honor him without using Junior! Regarding Vince vs. Vinny, first I should say that they don’t have to use a nickname — they can plan to call their son by the full Vincent. That said, if they don’t choose a nickname, then it’s very possible someone else will somewhere along the way—even if Alyssa’s son grows up being called Vincent and being introduced as Vincent (which is awesome, btw), there will be someone who will want to shorten it (sports coaches, for example, and even her son’s friends), and if Alyssa and her hubs haven’t decided on a preferred short version, the coaches/teachers/friends will shorten it to what feels natural to them, whether Vince or Vinny. So if Alyssa prefers one over the other, she’ll probably want to decide right off the bat and call him that at least some of the time (not saying that will prevent a Vince from being called Vinny, for example, but I think it will help). She could also consider a different nickname — V, for example, or Vin, or Cent, or Cinco! (Because V is the Roman numeral for five!)
  • Adeline: Adeline is a gorgeous name! Alyssa’s husband’s worry that it sounds like Madeline mispronounced is hilarious — I can see that is the kind of thing that gets in a person’s head and sticks there! If they were to choose Adeline for their daughter, I think that he would quickly get over it. I wonder if switching to Adelaide might help him with that? Though doing so wouldn’t help with the nickname issue. Alyssa articulated exactly what I was trying to say above about Vincent — how it might be inevitable that people will nickname her Addy. And while I agree that “’those people’ who always correct everyone” can be annoying, the way it’s done is what makes it annoying or not. A person’s name is a person’s name! If a person can stick up for nothing else in life, at least stick up for one’s own name! For what it’s worth, I think Addy is sweet, but Alyssa and her hubby might like to consider other nicknames like Allie, Annie, or Del/Della.
  • Claire, Clara: I’m including these two together, since they’re variants of the same name. I actually love Claire Anastasia, and I actually love the initials CAM and the nickname Cam or Cammie, but I also like Alyssa’s idea of Claire Philomena, and I like Claire Philomena with their last name! Clara is also beautiful, and they probably wouldn’t want an ends-in-a middle name for Clara (Clara Anastasia and Clara Philomena might be too sing-song-y? Or maybe they like it!), but Clara Marie and Clara Louise are both really pretty. They could also do the French variant of Philomena, which might flow better: Clara Philomene. I wonder, too, given that Gianna is on Alyssa’s list, if she might like to consider the Italian variant of Clare: Chiara?
  • John Paul: I always love any nod to JP2! So Alyssa brings up a point here that she referenced other places, which I wanted to address — the idea of some nicknames sounding too informal with Felicity. I do know what Alyssa means — if Felicity is always Felicity, I can see how she might think that a sibling with a nickname might sound weirdly informal, but I promise that no one else will think so! (Though, again, I totally get it when something’s in your head and it’s hard to get out.) (Also, I tried really hard to find names for my list of “official” suggestions below that are not too likely to be nicknamed.)
  • Dominic: I love Dominic too, and I love that Alyssa and her husband share that Dominican connection! Dom/Dommy and Nick are definitely possible nicknames, but also Nico — I wonder if Alyssa would like that better?
  • Isaac: While I, too, love Isaac, and I think it could be great in Alyssa’s family, I’d probably want to shelve it for now to see how her children’s names shake out … it might feel right after a couple more kids! I love St. Isaac Jogues, and I love the nickname Zacky.
  • Maximilian: Oh man! I hate having to grapple with issues like that! Shelving it for possible use for a later child is a great idea — a good compromise I think. I love that Alyssa said “we both have to be on board” — the ideal totally is to find a name they both like for this baby.
  • Gianna: Again, if Alyssa’s husband is so-so, I’d suggest shelving it for now, though I want to assure her it goes great with Felicity! Felicity and Gianna are names I see used a LOT among Catholic families right now, so while Gianna might seem jarring to those unfamiliar with currently popular Catholic Saints, anyone who’s tuned into Church-y things will think Gianna’s a great choice for Felicity’s sister (same with Chiara, which I mentioned above). I don’t know how inevitable Gigi is — it feels very natural, but I don’t actually know many little Giannas, and the one I do know goes mostly by Gianna (but I think I’ve seen Gigi from time to time).
  •  Nathaniel: Unfortunately, the longer the name, the more likely people are to nickname it, so unless they’re firm and consistent with Nathaniel being called Nathaniel all the time (which I would 100% support, I love the name Nathaniel), I think Nate is sort of inevitable. I’ve seen Nash used as a nickname for Nathaniel, which is kind of cool; also Niel. But again, if Alyssa’s hubby doesn’t like it, let’s move on!
  • Walter: This one made me laugh! Walter is another name I see with some frequency among my readers, usually used for Servant of God Walter Ciszek (awesome story), which also reflects the fact that “old man/old lady” names are definitely back! My own husband wanted to consider Stan for our last son. Stan! (I totally think Bl. Stanley Rother is also awesome.) I actually suggested Walsingham with the nickname Walt to him, after Our Lady of Walsingham, and I thought Walt would be the kind of nickname he’d be right on board with because of Stan, but no.
  • Philomena: I love that Alyssa’s considering Philomena as a first name! I love it. Like with Nathaniel, I do think it’s likely to get shortened because it’s such a long name. Fia is awesome; I also like Pia and Pippa (not the same sounds, but I think they’re doable), and Finna, which is like Finnian that Alyssa likes.
  • Alice: First of all mama, it is NOT VAIN to name a child after yourself! Men have done it for centuries with their sons, and I LOVE seeing a woman honored in a little one’s name, whether it’s the mama or a grandmother or whoever. Boy or girl! Indeed, Alyssa is a variant of Alice originally (which is a variant of Adelaide! I mentioned Adelaide above as a possible replacement for Adeline — it could be a great way to nod to Alyssa!), so Alice could be awesome for her little girl, a nice connection between Alyssa and her daughter. And I NEVER would have figured out the fact that “Alyssa” is contained within Felicity — but that makes me love it more! How cool! I’m a little uppity about the whole “naming after a woman is bad” thing — first of all, it’s awesome, and also totally appropriate, and also it’s not at all a bad thing that men name their sons after themselves — I wrote more about all of it here. All of that said, I wonder what Alyssa would think of the similar but different name Elise? It’s a French diminutive of Elizabeth, so not related to Alyssa in any way (though, like Alice, has similar sounds).
  • Margaret: So I talked about Margaret above as being a possible way of honoring St. Gerard, so maybe that idea will help sell Alyssa on it? Especially since her husband really loves it? Maggie is a sweet nickname. Speaking of Maggie, I wonder what Alyssa and her husband would think of Magdalene? It could still take Maggie as a nickname if they wanted, and it’s a little rare/more offbeat than Margaret, which I think Alyssa would prefer? Or maybe the French version of Margaret: Marguerite?
  • Jane: Jane is certainly a simple name, but I’d also call it “trim” and “chic” and “sophisticated,” and I actually think it’s great with Felicity because they can both sort of have a gentle British feel, which I love. A short name like Jane also opens up lots of long-and-luscious middle name possibilities, similar to Claire: Jane Anastasia, Jane Philomena, Jane Magdalene/a, Jane Immaculata, etc.
  • Georgiana: I was so surprised to see this on Alyssa’s list — I LOVE being surprised by names! So fun! I love P&P too, and Georgiana is definitely my favorite of the George names for girls. It’s also funny that Alyssa’s hubby’s grandma was Georgette! I could see how that feels a little weird to use a name that’s so similar to Grandma’s name, but to not use her actual name. They could spin it as: they combined Grandma’s name with St. Anne or something. They could also do Georgiana nn Bunny! As with the long names on their list, I think a nickname here is inevitable — if they don’t like Gigi, Georgia, or Ana, maybe Jorie? Giana? Jana? Nina? (It’s totally okay to switch letters for nicknames, like Kate for Catherine — Jorie and Jana are fine for Georgiana.)
  • Natalie: I wonder if simply switching to Natalia would give this name more sparkle for Alyssa? It retains the Christmas meaning, and I love it with Felicity. Or they could switch the spelling to the super French Nathalie. Or, if they want a Christmas name, what would they think of Noelle? Also, Magali is a French (Occitan) variant of Magdalene and it rhymes with Natalie — maybe they’d prefer Magali to Margaret?
  • Finnian: I don’t think Finnian sounds too out there or too formal! It’s not any more formal than Felicity, and while Finnian itself isn’t in the top 1000 currently, the Finn names in general (Finley, Finnegan, Finn as a given name, etc.) have been rising in popularity, so I don’t think anyone else will think it’s “out there” either. And I go back to the fact that I don’t think a nicknamed sibling is overly informal with big sister Felicity. One idea I’ve suggested on the blog is Finn as a nickname for Francis — Alyssa said she doesn’t like Francis as a first name, but maybe she wouldn’t mind it if the nickname Finn was always used? One thing to consider is whether they want to follow Felicity with another F name (or Ph-, as in Philomena), or possibly save it for a future baby. There’s no right answer, whatever they’re comfortable with is fine!
  • Middle names: I don’t have any comment on the middle name ideas other than to say they’re all great, and I see Alyssa has Felicity’s middle name, Rose, on there — if they decided on Rose for all their girls’ middle names, that would be sweet!

Whew! Alyssa apologized for her essay, but you can see I don’t mind being long-winded, haha! Now on to new ideas!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they love 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. I did so here, and I also used the Name Matchmaker took on babynamewizard.com for Georgiana, since it doesn’t have its own entry. Based on all that, and some ideas of my own, this is what I came up with:

Girl

(1) Gemma

This was the very first idea I had for Alyssa when I read her email, before doing any research at all! Gemma is like Gianna, but I think loses the Gigi possibility, since it doesn’t have that “ee” sound at the beginning. And while it’s an Italian name, like Gianna, it actually has decent usage in the U.K., which plays off of Felicity’s bit of Pilgrim feel. Felicity and Gemma are tremendous sister names!

(2) Juliet(te)

This was my immediate second idea for them, and I was so pleased to see it show up in my research as a style match for them as well (Juliet is a match for Felicity and Vincent!). I thought Alyssa might like the French spelling, Juliette. Either way, this is one of my favorite names, and I did a spotlight post of it here.

(3) Caroline, Karoline

I’d already had these names in mind for Alyssa when I saw John Paul on her list, and I loved seeing that Caroline is a match for Claire and one of its nickname possibilities, Callie, is a match for Maggie. It’s a feminine variant of Charles, which is how it connects to John Paul, since his birth name, Karol, is the Polish for Charles. If they switch the spelling to Karoline, it both becomes more uncommon and connects even closer to JP.

(4) Josephine, Josefina, Josefa

I wanted to suggest a Joseph name to this family anyway, since their baby might be born in the Year of St. Joseph (it ends Dec. 8 and Alyssa is due near Christmas), and even if he or she isn’t, the Joseph names are always wonderful! Josefa is actually a match for Georgiana; Josefina is a bit longer and so pretty; and then of course Josephine, which is actually French, which I know Alyssa likes! Another thing that’s fun is that I’ve often suggested Sophie as an unexpected nickname for Josephine, and since Alyssa likes Sophia but feel it’s too popular for her, maybe something like Josephine/Josefina/Josefa nicknamed Sophie would be perfect? (If she likes the idea of a Joseph name, but not the ones listed here, the Lily names can be for St. Joseph, since the lily is one of his symbols: Lily, Lillian, Lilia.)

(5) Lucy, Lucia

Lucy is such a great fit with Felicity, and is a style match for Alice and Max as well. Lucia, which can be nicknamed Lucy of course, is a match for Gianna and Clara. One of these names would be great! So beautiful!

Boy

(1) Simon

Simon is a match for Felicity, Claire, Alice, and Isaac! I love it! And Simon is another name that’s unlikely to be nicknamed, which I think Alyssa prefers.

(2) Colin

Colin is a match for Felicity, Claire, and Natalie — another fantastic boy name that’s unlikely to be shortened! It’s a short form of Nicholas, which is the Saint connection, so handsome.

(3) Roman

Continuing my unlikely-to-be-nicknamed list, I was delighted to see Roman as a match for Sophia, Dominic, and Maximilian, and the similar-sounding Ronan as a match for Finnian! I love Roman, it reminds me of all things Catholic — Rome, the Vatican, Roman Catholic.

(4) Leo

Leo is such a little name but it packs a big punch I think — not only is it a papal name, but a Pope St. the Great name (Pope St. Leo the Great), and a different Pope Leo is the one who composed the powerful St. Michael Prayer. It’s a great Catholic name, and it, too, is unlikely to be nicknamed — a formal name that doesn’t feel overly formal, a great match for Felicity.

(5) Gabriel

Gabriel is a match for Sophia, Xavier, and Dominic — it’s a heavy hitting saintly, angelic, and Marian name (I included it as an entry in my book of Marian names because of the Annunciation), and while I think it would be harder to prevent Gabriel from being nicknamed, I love the nickname Gabe — I think it’s so friendly and masculine, great for a boy and for a man — and I’ve also seen Gib, Gil, and Eli given as nickname possibilities.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Felicity?


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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Fun Friday Question: Would you choose the same Confirmation name?

Happy Friday everyone! I posted a consultation last night that I don’t want you to miss — it’s for a family who would like a German or German-friendly name for their baby boy.

My kids are off from school today so I’m not running around crazy this morning like usual, and my oldest’s Confirmation is tonight, and I was thinking about this question, so I thought I’d post it: If you were getting confirmed now, would you choose the same name that you chose back when you got confirmed? (Assuming that you were confirmed as a teen and that you chose a new name — but I welcome comments from those who weren’t and didn’t!)

I chose Jacinta, which was exactly perfect for me when I was 16. I’d gone on a pilgrimage to Fatima two years before, which I consider the turning point in my faith life — when the faith of my parents became my own — so it made sense to choose a name associated with Fatima. Jacinta was my favorite, so it wasn’t a difficult choice.

If I were to be confirmed today, I do still love Jacinta, but I could see myself considering several other names (and probably even having a difficult time choosing!):

  • A form of Mary (Mary itself, or maybe Mariae, which has long been a favorite, I just love its meaning: “of/belonging to Mary,” or maybe an Irish form)
  • Anne, for our good St. Anne and my grandmother Anne
  • Rita or Margaret, for St. Rita
  • Rose, for Our Lady and St. Rose of Lima (I was born on her feast day!)
  • Susanna, which is the name we would have given a girl in honor of my mom and her mom, and remains my favorite name for a daughter of mine
  • Karoline, for St. John Paul II

So many beautiful, holy options! Tell me about you!

(If it’s helpful for you or your kids or anyone else you know, I’ve written before about how to choose a Confirmation name, how to find your patron Saint, and how to find your baby’s patron Saint.)

My son is taking Pio as his Confirmation name, which is perfect, as he was born on the feast of St. Pio, and I’ve asked St. Pio for his intercession for my kids’ well being and myself as a mother ever since. Please pray for my boy, and all who are being confirmed this spring!

Have 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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: German or German-friendly name for boy no. 3

Another consultation for this week! So many babies on the way! 😍😍😍

Leah and her husband are expecting their sixth baby and third boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

Maximilian Joseph (“For our first, Maximilian was really the only name we both said we liked from my list. We were of course thinking of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I have visited Auschwitz. I do like the idea of our children having a Saint to look up to and ask for help. We both liked the nickname as well, which we most often use. The name meaning “greatest” was a bonus. 🙂

My husband liked Joseph, which was his dad’s middle name. I also liked it because our son was born in March, right around the Feast of St. Joseph

I am also a German teacher and speak the language with my children. So I wanted a name that is spelled (almost) identical and is similar sounding in both English and German.”)

Clara Marie (“For our first daughter, Clara was again the only name that we (at first) both could agree on. I have visited Assisi, and like the meaning of clear, bright. I am partial to girls’ names ending in “a”

My middle name is Marie, after my grandmother, Mary, so I found that appropriate and honoring Saint Mary, of course.”)

Gianna Elizabeth (“Then came our twin girls, and I recall it wasn’t sooo hard to come up with two girls names … Gianna is the older twin, and my husband wanted them in alphabetical order. I was reading about St. Gianna Beretta Molla during the twins pregnancy, like her story, and like how the name (in English) sounds. My Mother’s middle name is Elizabeth.”)

Katerina Helena (“My husband actually wanted to name Clara, Katerina, about two weeks before her due date, but, by then, I was already much too decided on Clara. I think of St. Catherina of Siena as her namesake

My Mother-in-law is named Helen, hence Helena.”)

Johannes William (“Sticking with German sounding names, we both liked Johannes fairly early on and stuck with it throughout my pregnancy. I was thinking of St. John the Baptist and our son was due, but not born, on his feast day. I also like the nicknames Jo, Hans and Hansi, all of which he gets called, except by my husband, who calls everyone by their whole name, except for Max.

I don’t love that some “strangers” pronounce the J in English, instead of German, but we expected that, and it’s not a big deal. I enjoy the German J (yo) sound. I also like the meaning “gift from God”

William is my husband’s middle name, after his Uncle.”)

I love each of these names!!

Names Leah and her husband are considering for their new baby include:

  • Sebastian (“My husband suggested this name first of all, and I liked it. But, to pronounce it in German, it could get a little tiresome to me. Also, I tend to use nicknames, so I would probably call him “Basti”. I like the story of the soldier and martyr St. Sebastian as a patron. It’s sort of on the backburner now.”)
  • Wilhelm (“My husband suggested this too and currently likes it the best. I don’t, because our youngest sons’ middle name is William, the English form of Wilhelm. It just seems like the same name. I would always pronounce Wilhelm with the hard “v” sound and nickname him “Willi”.”)
  • Wolfgang (“I’m not sure which one of us came up with this. The story of St. Wolfgang is not very inspiring to me, but perhaps I haven’t read enough about him. I find it interesting that his chapel was a highly popular pilgrimage site. I would again pronounce this with the hard “v” sound and nickname him “Wolfi”, which I find super sweet for a little boy. When he’s older I feel like “Wolf” is a nice and manly boy nickname that friends might give. The meaning can be taken as “one who goes with the wolves”, or who is like a wolf, which is a good thing, since the wolf was a “hero” and winner of battles or fights.”)

Names they’ve discussed but decided to cross off their list include:

  • Zachariah (“husband doesn’t like how it sounds“)
  • Job (“husband doesn’t like it“)
  • Pio (“husband doesn’t like how it sounds“)
  • Sixtus (“seems like a joke to me“)

It’s so fun to work on consultations where the parents favor names from a certain language or background — I love scrolling through lists of names that might be new to me! Maximilian, Clara, Gianna, Katerina, and Johannes are fantastic names for Leah’s older children, and I was excited to look for German or German-friendly names for their new baby boy.

I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Sebastian: I love Sebastian, and the nickname Basti is cool! I find that boys tend to love St. Sebastian’s story (those arrows! So gory! So fantastic! Haha!)!
  • Wilhelm: I feel the same as Leah in the sense that they already really used Wilhelm. Otherwise a great name!
  • Wolfgang: I love this too! Wolfi and Wolf are both great nicknames as Leah mentioned — Wolfi for a little guy is adorable, and Wolf for a man is amazing. I looked up St. Wolfgang and thought that the fact that he’s known as the Great Almoner because of his charity is pretty great. This is also one of those names that, if you like German names, Wolfgang definitely needs to be on your list!
  • Zachariah, Job, Pio, Sixtus: I’m glad Leah included the names they’ve considered and decided against, as they provide good information for me in terms of the style of names she and/or her husband likes.

Okay, on to new ideas! You all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering 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. I did so here, and I also looked through the list of German and Dutch Names in the back of the book, and then I had a couple of other ideas for this family as well. In fact, I had so many ideas that I was excited about that I had a hard time narrowing down to just three! So I’ll list my three “official” suggestions here, and follow with a few more quick ideas just in case.

(1) Dominik

Dominic was the biggest style match for this family, being listed as similar to Maximilian, Gianna, and Sebastian. Spelling it with a K is a neat way to signal their affinity for the German language while not changing the pronunciation at all. Niko is the nickname that I feel like they would like best, but Dom/Dommy is cute too.

(2) Leo

Leo is one of those great names that travels well and fits with lots of different languages and backgrounds. I think the German pronunciation is just a bit different from the English? But I like it because it’s equally at home as the brother of Johannes as it is Gianna, and it’s an actual style match for Clara.

(3) Henrik

I love Henrik! Henry is so hot right now, and Henrik gives it a nice unexpected twist while still being easy to say with an obvious pronunciation. I loved reading about St. Henry II, also known as Good King Henry, king of Germany — a great patron for a boy! Henry is a match for Clara and William (which I hope means Henrik would be a match for Wilhelm).

Okay, so those are my “official” suggestions, but there are so many other great names that I wanted to suggest! Like:

  • Benedikt: If you love German names and you’re asking a Catholic baby name consultant for ideas, you know our German Pope Benedict’s name has to be on here! Again with the K — I like that it signals Germanness without changing pronunciation.
  • Gerhard nicknamed Hardy: I love St. Gerard anyway, and since Leah’s into nicknames, I love Hardy as a nickname.
  • Hugo: The Italian variant Ugo is actually a style match for both Job and Pio. I think Hugo is adorable!
  • Karl: This very nearly made my official list because Charles is a match for Clara and Carlo for Gianna. It always makes me think of St. John Paul II!
  • Konrad: Actually, both Conrad and Konrad would work — I have Konrad here because I know a family who has embraced the dad’s German heritage and named one of their sons Konrad, but Conrad is legit too, and my husband and I also considered Conrad with the nickname Cord, which is listed on Behind the Name as a German diminutive. Another idea is Kurt, which is a contracted form of Conrad!
  • Oskar: I mostly wanted to include Oskar here because it was in the list of German names and I love it, and that K spelling is great.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Maximilian, Clara, Gianna, Katerina, and Johannes?


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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Renaming an older adopted child?

I received an email from a mama about renaming a two-and-a-half-year-old that she and her husband are adopting, and she specifically asked for feedback from all of you. She writes,

We are a family built by adoption and we have named all of our children with different levels of biological family involvement … [Friends of friends have custody of their two-and-a-half-year-old grandson and] have asked us to adopt him … we initially intended to keep his name and perhaps consider a different middle name, but his grandparents had intended to change his name if they were to adopt him and have encouraged us to change his name … I am not sure how I feel about a 2 year old getting a name change, or how to transition to a new name … I would love it if you would crowd source opinions about changing names at this age.”

She also said that if they decide to change his name, it would only be because the grandparents asked them to, and they would ask the grandparents to help them choose the new name.

Please weigh in with your thoughts and experiences! I’ve posted about adoption and names several times, and I thought this post in particular might be helpful (great comments on it!), but any advice or thoughts you have for this specific family would be great. Thank you!!


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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Perpetua, Gianna, Clare for baby girl, or …?

I’ve got a second consultation for you all this week! 💃💃💃 Victoria and her husband are due soon with their fourth baby — their third daughter! This little lady joins big siblings:

Miriam Grace (“double tribute to our Blessed Mother“)

Moses Anthony (“made sense he’s Miriam’s younger brother and she saves him.  “Anthony” for my brother in law and St. Anthony“)

Felicity Rose (“named after St. Felicity and Mystical Rose [also a nod to my mother who is named Rosa]“)

I love these names! Each one is so attractive — lovely names for the girls, a handsome name for their son, nice rhythm to the first+middle combos — Victoria and her husband have done a great job! 

Victoria writes,

My husband really likes Perpetua … and it’s slowly growing on me but I’m not yet ‘sold’. He’s not sure if he REALLY likes it or if he only ‘likes’ it because Miriam and Moses are an old testament duo and Felicity and Perpetua are a Saint/Roman Canon duo. And for the record, he wants Perpetua as a FIRST name but will consider it as a middle name.  My only ‘hang up’ with Perpetua is how it would be received outside our Catholic School/Church community?

Names Hubby Likes:

  • Perpetua 
  • Anastasia
  • Cecilia
  • Lucia
  • Gianna (we were married on her feast day and has been on both our lists for all kids … just never chosen)
  • Sophia (this was top contender on hubby’s list for quite a while … but started losing it’s steam after he came up with others)  
  • Avila (My mother’s maiden last name. Also, recent genealogy discovered by hubby’s brother shows they are distant relatives to St. Teresa of Avila)
  • Clare (my youngest woke up a few weeks ago and said Jesus spoke to her and told her to name her baby sister Clare)
  • Faustina
  • Anne (middle name only … tribute to his mother and our Blessed Mother’s mother)
  • Faith (middle name only)
  • Hope (middle name only)

Names I Like:

  • Perpetua (it’s growing on me … just a bit nervous about it)
  • Gianna (still one of my favs … but not sure if it’ll make the cut)
  • Delia (tribute to my great grandmother who I loved dearly … hubby is not a fan of the name)
  • Josephine (both his and my paternal grandmother’s name … although he wasn’t close with his and mine passed when I was super young. Also the Year of St. Joseph and the kids attend St. Joseph School. Not my fav … but it still makes the cut)
  • Caeli (husband doesn’t like it … but I sure do!)    
  • Joy (middle name only but hubby isn’t a fan)

Ideally, I’d like a Saint name (or a Saint Reference) and/ or a nod to our Blessed Mother (reason I haven’t chosen Delia previously). Since my other children’s names are mentioned during mass, the idea of having a name from the bible or the Roman Cannon is just that much better (but not a make or break for us). My other kids LOVE their names … and enjoy sharing the meaning behind them with others … Catholic evangelization at work 😉

Names Already Taken By Close Family Members (big Catholic family here!) 

  • Rebecca 
  • Deborah 
  • Suzanne 
  • Andrea 
  • Francesca 
  • Adriana 
  • Ciara 
  • Alexandria 
  • Theodora 
  • Paulina 
  • Bernadette 
  • Georgiana 
  • Isabella 
  • Gabriella 
  • Audrina 
  • Samara 
  • Thérèse 
  • Immaculatta
  • Maria
  • Reina

Alrighty, let’s start with Perpetua. I love Perpetua! It’s a heavy duty Catholicky Catholic name that has fantastic meaning as both one half of the St. Felicity/St. Perpetua duo, and also as a nod to Our Lady via her title Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It’s interesting that its Catholicness is a hang-up for Victoria — her worry about how it would be received outside their Catholic school/church community is a very valid one! I personally love how such names can be methods of evangelization — the pediatrician/cashier at the grocery store/college admissions officer when her daughter is older might say, “Oh Perpetua, what an unusual name!” and Victoria or her daughter can reply with, “Yes! Perpetua and Felicity are Saints who were martyred together for their faith in the third century,” and the pediatrician/cashier at the grocery store/college admissions officer will come away with knowledge that Victoria and her hubby named their daughters after strong, faith-filled, brave women, which I think is fantastic, and something Victoria’s already on board with as she noted that her kids “enjoy sharing the meaning behind [their names] with others … Catholic evangelization at work” — yes!!

I’ve tended to think of Perpetua as have decent usage in the U.K. — like with Bridget’s coworker Perpetua in Bridget Jones’ Diary — but apparently it’s not really used that much there (though see the author’s comment that “Before writing this, I honestly thought Perpetua was, and had been, a lot more popular than in actuality,” so it does have that feel over there, even in the numbers don’t bear it out).

As for everyday usage, Perpetua’s got some great nickname options that can make it seem a bit more user-friendly outside of a Catholic community, like Pippa and Petra and Etta. A friend of mine named her daughter Perpetua and they sometimes call her Tua.

And really, there are so many unusual and unfamiliar names used by parents these days for their kids that I can’t imagine Perpetua would really stand out as all that unusual, you know?

As for the other names Victoria and her hubby have on their lists, I thought I’d offer my thoughts in case they’re helpful:

  • Anastasia: Lovely and feminine
  • Cecilia: Ditto
  • Lucia: Ditto
  • Gianna: I love the meaning behind Gianna for Victoria and her husband!
  • Sophia: Another lovely name, though quite popular
  • Avila: I’m in love with this name for this family!! How cool that it’s Victoria’s mom’s maiden name!! And that her husband is related to St. Teresa of Avila!!
  • Clare: Oh my. Felicity’s dream that Jesus told her the baby’s name should be Clare does make things tricky! Maybe as a middle name? Avila Clare?
  • Faustina: Since Miriam and Moses are a pair, I do kind of like the idea of Felicity having a “paired” sibling (though of course not a requirement at all!) — Perpetua is one way to do it, but using an F name could be another. Faustina’s a great one!
  • Delia: I love honoring beloved family members in one’s baby’s name — I’m sorry Victoria’s husband’s not on board!
  • Josephine: I agree with Victoria, she has so many great reasons to use this name! I wonder if Josepha/Josefa would be more appealing? Another idea she and her hubby might like is that I’ve often suggested Sophie as an unexpected nickname for Josephine — maybe that would be a way to add some sparkle to Josephine for Victoria, and get her husband’s Sophia in there too
  • Caeli: Oh yeah, I love this one too!
  • Anne, Faith, Hope, Joy: Lovely middles! I would particularly love to see them consider Faith as a first name — not only do I love Felicity and Faith as two F names to make a nice pair, but I know a pair of sisters named Faith and Felicity!

So I think Victoria and her husband have some great names on their list! Gianna, Avila, and Clare really stand out to me as having both significance and Catholic-ness. I love Delia too, though. It’s so hard to choose when you have a list full of gorgeous names!

I’m glad, too, that Victoria included the list of names they can’t use — I originally had Chiara and Reina in my list of ideas for them, until I remembered that Ciara and Reina are family names!

You all know that I start each 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. I did so here, keeping an eye out for particularly faith-y names, especially Marian names, and of course any names that were big style matches for this family. I also looked through my book of Marian names. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Victoria’s new baby:

(1) Flora

It’s so thrilling to me when I find a name that’s a style match for more than one of the names on a couple’s list, especially when it’s a name that I don’t see too often — so I was so excited to see that Flora is a style match for both Moses and Delia! Wow! I also love that it’s an F name, as I think following Felicity with an F name would be a cool pair. Felicity and Flora are great together! And I think Flora can be a nod to Our Lady since it means “flower” and Vincenzina Krymow says in her book Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations (affiliate link) that, “It is thought that at one time, all flowers and plants honored Mary, the ‘Flower of Flowers,’ in legend or in name.” Flora Clare, maybe?

(2) Philomena

Philomena is very much in line with the feel of Perpetua and Anastasia in terms of weight and substance, and also Caeli I think, in the sense that it’s a very Catholic name. I love that while its meaning isn’t totally known, one theory holds that it’s from the Greek philomene — “loved.” I like that it starts with the F sound, and I love its nickname potential: Fia, Fila, Fina, Finn, Finna, Lola, MenaMinnie, Pia, Pim, Pina, Pippa are all nicknames I think could be used for Philomena.

(3) Naomi

I’m sure you’re not surprised that Naomi is a style match for both Miriam and Moses, but I was thrilled to see that it’s also a style match for Cecilia! I love the story of Ruth and Naomi in the bible, and I love the name Naomi on its own merits — such a pretty name!

(4) Natalia

Natalia is a match for Anastasia, and I liked it right away for this family because I think it has a Felicity feel — St. Natalia of Nicomedia was born only about a hundred years after St. Felicity, and like Felicity has a “pair” in her story — in her case, her husband St. Adrian, whose martyrdom she witnessed. It’s also in my book of Marian names since it means “nativity,” which can refer both to Our Lady of the Nativity (as Jesus’ mother of course), and to her own birth, celebrated as the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady.

(5) Susanna(h)

The biblical Susannah is a match for Miriam and Moses, and I do love that spelling, but the Susanna spelling is the one used by the Saint — like St. Natalia, St. Susanna lived around the same time as St. Felicity, so Susanna also seems well suited as Felicity’s sister. I like how Susanna seems a perfect bridge name between Miriam and Moses on one side and Felicity on the other. I know Suzanne is on their “no” list, but maybe Susanna is different enough? Anna, Sukie, and Zuzu are all traditional nicknames for Susanna that can make it even more different from Suzanne.

(6) Charis

I tried to think of names that are similar to Caeli on Victoria’s list, and Charis came to mind right away. It’s Greek for “grace, kindness” and is contained within the word eucharist, which I think is so awesome. It’s said just like the Welsh name Carys, which is also lovely and means “love.”

(7) Colette

I was inspired to include Colette for a few reasons. Initially, it was because of Victoria husband’s middle name, Nicholas — Colette is a short form of Nicolette, and I do love working parents’ names into their babies’ names. I would love to include Victoria, too! I like that St. Colette of Corbie was born to an older mother, which is the case with Victoria and her baby, and St. Colette is also a patron of expectant mothers. Then I remembered that she was a Poor Clare — which ties in really well with Felicity’s story about the baby’s name needing to be Clare!

(8) Seraphina/Serafina

Finally, Serafina is a match for Perpetua, and it strikes me as sort of a mash-up of Sophia and Josephine. Like Josephine, I think it can take the nickname Sophie/Sofie if they want, or Sera, or Sadie, which is a traditional nickname for Sarah and is a style match for Delia. Seraphina/Serafina refers to the angels known as the seraphim, which is why it’s in my book of Marian names — because of Our Lady’s title Queen of the Angels.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Miriam, Moses, and Felicity?


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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Superheroes, hockey, the faith, and a possible “third style” for baby no. 3

Liz and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown)! This little one joins big brothers:

X@vi3r Ern3st J@m3s

Eug3n3 Andr3w J0hn

(Alt characters used for privacy)

Absolutely fantastic names, and unexpected for brothers!

Liz writes,

We are expecting our third in early August. Gender unknown. I have been thinking for some time that I must get in touch, but the main reason that I haven’t yet is that we really have no short list!!!

We’d like something familiar but not super popular that doesn’t seem out of place with the boys’ names. Most Traditional names seem a bit boring. I’d like a Catholic connection.

I’m Catholic, Hubby is not. We have different interest levels and expectations of names, which is where the difficulty lies. He is happy to choose a name, because he likes it, and that’s it. He’s not interested in popularity, honour names, meanings, middle names, initials [though names with some link to a superhero character or a significant player for the Pittsburgh Penguins might appeal to him.]. He tends to like simple, recognisable names; Oliver, Jack, Lilly. In contrast, I am a complete name nerd, and I like lots of significance behind a name. Nothing made up, but not too popular either. We are in the UK. Latest data was that X@vi3r was 200ish and Eug3n3 wasn’t in the top 1000.

X@vi3r (Zay-vee-er) = born on the feast of St Frances Xavier, I like the Frances/Francis link to Pope Francis although I understand he is named after St Francis of Assisi. Husband likes it because Prof. Charles Xavier is leader of the X-men.

Ern3st = honour name, but not of a person! Before we were married we joked about having a child named Ernie. Because Ernie [rhymes with our last name and] would be a silly name. So X@vi3r’s arrival was the fruition of our hopes and dreams.

J@m3s = family name on both sides.

The middle EJ initials are a nod to my initials before I was married, and are my sister in law’s initials too.

If he wasn’t X@vi3r, he would have been James. There were no other boys’ names in contention!

We struggled with Eug3n3’s name. Again, we only had two boys’ names when we went to the hospital. He was called August (although I much prefer Augustine) for the first few minutes, but it didn’t feel right. August/Augustine/Augustus isn’t in contention for this baby. It feels as if it has been “used”

Eug3n3 (You-Jean) = obviously a couple of Popes, saints (one feast day near the due date) and apparently a variant of my mum’s maiden name. Eugene is the English translation of Evgeni, who is a hockey player who Hubby admires.

Andr3w = After my husband. 

J0hn = family name on both sides. 

The initials EAJ are both mine (pre marriage) and my mum’s.

So for this baby we’re pretty stuck. The uncommon but familiar is tricky enough, without adding in some of the other stuff I’d ideally like!

Boys:

Middle names will definitely be Simon and Philip, in either order. Neither of these names is a contender for a first name.

Names we can’t/won’t use:

  • Peter 
  • Matthew
  • Joseph
  • Gabriel
  • Ben-
  • Blaise*
  • Sebastian*
  • Francis*
  • Vincent*

*names I particularly like but used by other family members [or otherwise can’t use]. We also wouldn’t repeat any of our sons’ middle names.

Names I have thought about:

Raphael (This is the clear front runner for me. With the spelling variants it’s a little more popular than I’d like but not super trendy. The original feast day of 24th Oct would have been my grandfather’s birthday). Hubby doesn’t really like it. But it is the name of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle so ticks that box!

Other names I have written down but aren’t really contenders:

  • Ambrose
  • Caspar
  • Jago
  • Ignatius (this would make my mum really happy but I think it’s a very Catholic name and not one that many people (including Hubby) are familiar with. He doesn’t like Nate as a nickname either.)

When we were expecting Eug3n3 I managed to convince myself that Arlo was a good choice (significance via JP2, through Karol and variants of Charles), but I went off it when I realised how popular it is. If we were going to go for popular it’s much more likely to be a name that’s consistently up there (like Daniel) than something that seems trendy. I’ve also offered John-Paul as a name but Hubby isn’t keen.

My husband doesn’t like a double-barrelled name. And he doesn’t want to choose a name with the intention of using something else e.g. Margaret called Peggy.

If he had to choose a boys name right now, it would be Sidney. I’m struggling to like it, never mind love it.

Girls’ names:

Hubby’s top choice has always been Thea. Not Theadora, or Dorothea, or Thea-Grace or anything, just Thea. I don’t love it (there’s the God thing, right?), it’s very popular (no. 46 I think in the UK), and if there is another one in the class, or she doesn’t like it, or something, these isn’t an obvious nickname.

Having said all that, I am open to the possibility. But I would like to arrive at the hospital with some other option just in case it doesn’t suit (or if Harry and Meghan name their baby Thea!).

Previous contenders:

  • Felicity
  • Evangeline (after the Johns in our lives? Nicknames like Evie are really popular in their own right here in the UK).
  • My absolute favourite is Agnes, but Hubby hates it.
  • I used to like Veronica, but it’s now the name of a girlfriend in the family.
  • I’ve also got Magdalene on my list but Hubby doesn’t like it.
  • We both like Wanda (but it’s a bit too unusual, and I can’t find a convincing Catholic connection, and apparently it should be pronounced Vanda, and we prefer Wanda as in the fish).
  • My slight curveball, and is outside my usual style on so many levels, is Joy. I think it might be nice, after this dreadful year, to have something happy. It also opens up some options for me for significant initials!

Names we can’t use: Martha, Catherine, Alexandra

I’m not worried about middle names; one from a selection including Elizabeth, Philippa, Agnes, Bernadette.

Second middle would be Simon/Simone/Simona [after a dear friend named Simon] (do you have any thoughts? I strongly favour Simon even though it’s a boys name! But I don’t really like Simona/Simone, I think it dilutes the honour slightly, and as Simon could be a surname I don’t think it sounds odd as a second middle on a girl.)

Thank you and good luck!

Every time I read Liz’s email I chuckled as I read her last line: “Thank you and good luck!” Haha!

In regards to superhero and/or Pittsburgh Penguins names, I like Liz’s attempt to find names that her husband can connect to, I’ve done similar things as well! I’m sure you all remember that I love the name Joachim (as I’ve mentioned a thousand times on the blog) and in trying to convince my husband I started searching for athletes with the name because I knew that would be meaningful to him! It didn’t work but he appreciated the effort! “Superhero” and “Pittsburgh Penguins” are as good a place as any to look! And even Catholic husbands don’t always care about having a Saint name or other Catholic connection — in fact, how Liz described her husband as being “happy to choose a name, because he likes it, and that’s it. He’s not interested in popularity, honour names, meanings, middle names, initials. He tends to like simple, recognizable names” sounds so familiar, many of the men I know approach naming in a similar way!

I absolutely love Liz’s sons’ names — first and middles — and all the meaning behind each name, they’ve done a great job finding names that are awesome that Liz’s husband will agree to! (The Ern3st story is so lovely, “X@vi3r’s arrival was the fruition of our hopes and dreams” is just fantastic, I love that Ern3st is very “them” as a couple.) But trying to figure out the thread that connects X@vi3r and Eug3n3 occupied my entire thought process for days — they’re just such different styles that what I came to is trying to find a name (for a boy) in a third style (because I’m nothing if not a sucker for balance and symmetry in naming, which is so completely unimportant but just the way my weird mind works!). But finding a name that truly feels “third style” without leaning too far toward X@vi3r or too far toward Eug3n3 is hard!

I do love Raphael, it’s totally my style and a name I wish would get more usage, and if Liz’s hubby could get on board I’d be thrilled along with her! But it definitely feels more X@vi3r-ish to me. I could see Raphael nn Ralph being a tremendous “bringing together” of both styles, but Liz’s husband doesn’t like bestowing a formal name and using a nickname. Sidney feels more Eugene-ish, but less so — it’s closer to a “third style” I think? Maybe? But if Liz doesn’t like, then I definitely think they should keep looking!

Thea and Agnes don’t feel that far apart to me, so I’m not surprised that Liz feels like she’s “ok with” Thea, even thought it isn’t her favorite. It’s funny Liz mentioned the “God thing” with Thea — a reader emailed me recently asking about that very thing! I’d never thought about it until her question, and my research yielded some cool results. I also recently posted a birth announcement for a little Thea, whose mama loved the name Therese but was afraid of it being mispronounced, and when she heard somewhere that Thea is sometimes used as a nickname of Therese, she was sold on it as a given name in its own right, which I thought was awesome. (I’d never heard of Thea being used as a nickname for Therese, but I can totally see it, especially with the Theresa spelling.) Maybe thinking of it in honor of a St. T(h)eresa/Therese would help Liz? There’s also Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman. As for Liz’s thought that there isn’t an obvious nickname for a Thea to fall back on, maybe she could think of it as a case of “reverse nicknaming,” where if Liz’s daughter hated Thea she could go by Theodora or Dorothea or another nickname coming from those names, like Dora or Dot or Teddy. If they wanted to think of Thea as being for a St. T(h)eresa/Therese, maybe Liz could help her daughter consider Tess, Tessa, and Teri?

As for Harry and Meghan, I wouldn’t have thought of that, but Liz is so right! It’s definitely a good idea for expectant British parents to have a second choice for a girl, just in case! In fact, this might be a good exercise for Liz’s husband: If Harry and Meghan name their daughter Thea and therefore it’s off the table, what other names(s) would he consider?

I thought I’d go through the other names Liz mentioned, in case my thoughts on them are helpful:

  • Simon, Philip: Fantastic middles! I was going to suggest Simon as a first name — that seems very “third style” to me — but if it’s out of the question, I’ll keep moving on!
  • Ambrose: Ambrose actually helped inspire one of my ideas below in my “official” suggestions!
  • Caspar: I thought Liz’s hubby might go for this one, because of Pittsburgh Penguin Kasperi Kapanen.
  • Jago: Wow, awesome.
  • Ignatius: I love it too! If Liz could get her husband on board with a different nickname than Nate, there’s Iggy and Nash as well.
  • Arlo: I really love how Liz explained this: “If we were going to go for popular it’s much more likely to be a name that’s consistently up there (like Daniel) than something that seems trendy,” I totally get that and think it’s smart.
  • Felicity, Evangeline, Magdalene: Just lovely names, feminine and faithy.
  • Veronica: It’s so frustrating when a name is off the table because of a family member or friend or “other”!
  • Wanda: I’ve never seen anyone consider Wanda! The fact that both Liz and her hubby like it is amazing! I couldn’t find any really strong Catholic connection either, but the fact that the father of the legendary Princess Wanda was King Krak, after whom Krakow is said to be named, could be a nod to any of the Polish Saints maybe? I especially think of John Paul II when I think of Krakow. But they can also let the middle names do the heavy lifting — any of the names Liz mentioned (Elizabeth, Philippa, Agnes, Bernadette) would do fine, and Simon or a variant provides another wonderful faith connection. Also, from what I can tell their preferred pronunciation of Wanda is the English pronunciation and similar to the French pronunciation, with the Vanda pronunciations being Polish and German, and I’m sure that most anyone encountering Wanda in the English-speaking world will say it with the W. The new Disney+ show WandaVision will help with that, too. So I think they’re good!
  • Joy: Joy! Joy is the name on Liz’s list that really sang! I can “hear” it in her voice when she writes! I think Joy is a fantastic idea! It can be Marian (Our Lady of Joy/Notre Dame de Liesse; also Cause of Our Joy/Causa Nostrae Laetitia), and St. Catherine of Siena was called Euphrosyne when she was a child (Greek for “joy”), and St. Philip Neri is known as the Patron Saint of Joy, so there are a lot of great faith connections! I agree that it would be such a nice name for a babe born during this terrible year.
  • Second middle: I strongly favor Simon as well! Though I would totally understand if they wanted to use a feminine variant, since Liz doesn’t want to, and since it’s meant to be an honor and she feels the honor would be diluted if they used a variant, I say use the full original Simon!

Whew! I really wanted to be sure to address every angle and offer every thought that came to me when reading the names Liz and her hubby are considering, I hope I didn’t miss anything! Now, on to new ideas!

I did my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) for this family, but it always feels so inadequate when I’m working with non-American families, since the data used in the BNW is American data. So I didn’t find the results of my research to be terribly helpful, not least because most of my ideas are too popular for Liz’s liking in England (I only looked up the name stats in England, not in the rest of the U.K.), but also because I’m not sure that the style matches in the BNW are style matches in the U.K. So I used a few ideas from my research (which also included looking up some names in the NameMatchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com), but also a surprising number (to me) of names that I stumbled upon here or there somehow that just really seemed like good suggestions. We shall see if I’m right or if I’m totally off base!

Girl

(1) Sibyl

St. Hildegard of Bingen was known as the Sibyl of the Rhine — that would be a cool name to give a baby girl in her (sneaky) honor! Sibyl has Thora and Theda and Agatha as style matches per the Name Matchmaker — I’m sure if I went through enough pages of results I’d find and Agnes and Thea as well — I think it feels right with the name style Liz and her hubby like!

(2) Cleo/Clio

I was so intrigued to discover that Cleo is a match for Ignatius, Arlo, and Sidney! Wow! I knew nothing about the name, but in looking it up I was delighted to discover that it’s from the Greek for “glory” — what a great meaning!

I was doubly intrigued to discover that Clio is a match for Jago! I’ve never seen Cleo or Clio on any of the parents’ lists I’ve worked with, so these feel like really fresh ideas. Clio is also from the Greek for “glory,” but I wanted to give it its own paragraph because Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter’s name is Claire Caroline Wren, and she goes by Clio, which is just so fun and interesting, and because of that (even though it’s just one family’s experience/decision and not an objective thing) I thought maybe Liz could also attach any of the Sts. Charles (including John Paul) or Caroline/Charlotte or Clare to Clio as patron.

(3) Ione/Iona

Two more names that sort of shocked me when they were in the BNW results were Ione and Iona! Like Cleo, Ione is a match for Ignatius, and Behind the Name says it’s from the Ancient Greek for “violet flower” — how lovely! Violets used to be called Our Lady’s Modesty, and have also been considered to represent her humility, which is why I included Violet in my book of Marian names — so I think in this case Liz could consider Ione to be Marian!

Iona is a match for Magdalene, and it’s the name of the Scottish island where St. Columba founded his monastery, and also where he died. Could be very cool!

(4) Dona

I was sitting at Mass on a Sunday recently trying to pay attention but my mind was wandering to Liz’s name dilemma (God forgive me), so I was sort of on high alert for any mention of anything that seemed like it might be a good fit for this family. We were singing Dona nobis pacem when I thought that maybe Dona would be interesting as a name! It’s Latin for “give” or “grant,” and I like that it’s also similar to Donna, which means “lady” and can be Marian.

(5) Vesper

I admit I was thinking of Liz’s husband here because of the Bond association, which I thought he might like, but Vesper is such a great Catholic name, too: it means “evening” in Greek and “Vespers” refers to Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.

(6) Remy, Romy

I originally had Remy on my list for this family for a boy (which I still like), but then I thought maybe for a girl? It’s a short form of Remigius, and there’s also a (male) St. Remy, but it can also be a nickname for Remedios, which gives it a Marian spin: Remedios is Spanish for “remedies” and refers to the titles Our Lady of the Remedies, Our Lady of Good Remedy, and Our Lady of Good Remedies.

Remy reminded me of Romy, which is a nickname for Rosemary — it could be a pretty, short-and-sweet nod to Our Lady!

(7) Others

These aren’t really suggestions, because they were all too popular for what Liz said she’d like, but I wanted to list them anyway because I thought they might strike a chord with her and/or her hubby:

  • Lola
  • Lucy
  • Rita
  • Gwen
  • Margo
  • Merry
  • Marion

Boy

(1) Inigo

In working on this, I discovered something I never knew: St. Ignatius of Loyola’s birth name was Íñigo, which is unrelated to Ignatius, but he changed it to Ignatius in honor of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and because Íñigo and Ignatius are similar in appearance and sound and they both belong to St. Ignatius, they’re often taken to be variants of each other. So interesting! And Inigo (the English variant with no accent or tilde) was, according to Behind the Name, “well-known in Britain due to the 17th-century English architect Inigo Jones. He was named after his father, a Catholic who was named for Saint Ignatius of Loyola.” Isn’t that awesome?! I’m loving Inigo for this family! AND the Princess Bride connection (“I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”) could be perfect for Liz’s husband! Another awesome thing is that Behind the Name says Íñigo is the medieval form of Eneko, which might translate to (from Basque) “my” plus a diminutive suffix. So maybe “my little one”? Which is so sweet!

(2) Milo

Milo is a style match for Thea, Caspar, Arlo, and Daisy (which Liz had separately said her husband likes) — I thought that was pretty great! You all know how much I love Miles and Milo because of their history of usage as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — such an awesome, unexpected, under-the-radar way to give a little boy a Marian name!

(3) Linus, Lando

Linus is a match for August and Arlo, and I see it being used a bit more by the families I work with than I ever had before. Pope St. Linus was the second pope! And St. Irenaeus said that that Linus was the Linus mentioned in 2 Timothy 4, which is pretty cool.

Lando is also a papal name (he was also known as Landon and Landus), and while he wasn’t a Saint, Liz’s husband might appreciate the connection to Lando Calrissian in Star Wars. To get really geeky for a minute, I just read that Lando Calrissian, whose given name was Landonis Balthazar Calrissian (!), was born on a planet called Socorro, which is one of the entries in my book of Marian names! Socorro is “help” in Spanish — Our Lady of Perpetual Help is Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro. I don’t know how this bit of knowledge is helpful at all though, haha!

(4) Cyril

Cyrus is a match for Agnes and Cyril for Ignatius, but I don’t think Cyrus flows well with Simon as either a first or second middle name, so Cyril is my suggestion here. Not only is Cyril a Saint’s name, but it’s also derived from the Greek for “Lord” (like Kyrie), so it can also nod to Jesus.

(5) Elliott

Elliott is a match for Oliver, and Ellis and Everett are both matches for Sidney, so I thought maybe Liz’s hubs might like Elliott, which would be cool because Elliott is originally a diminutive of Elias/Elijah, and I included them all in my book because of Elijah’s connection to Our Lady: Carmelite tradition holds that Elijah understood the cloud he sees in 1 Kings 18 to be a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah.

(6) Grant

As Dona means “give” or “grant” in Latin, I thought maybe Grant would be a name Liz and her hubs would like to consider. It’s nickname-proof and Liz can assign it the meaning of “Grant us peace” in the Mass.

(7) A “B” name

Because of the superhero thing for Liz’s hubby, and the fact that she likes Blaise, I thought maybe a name beginning with B would be cool, since their last name begins with a B — alliterative first+last combos can come across as really superhero-ish (like Peter Parker). Some I thought of for this family are:

  • Bram: I love Bram! It’s a short form of Abraham, which gives it a nice faith connection in a sort of hidden way. It’s also the name of the author of Dracula, which makes it seem kind of like a contrary choice, which is the word that came to mind when I was thinking of Liz’s husband’s taste: he seems sort of contrary. So maybe Bram is great! I’ve often thought it can be a nickname for Ambrose as well — maybe in this instance, Liz could consider Bram to be a nod to St. Ambrose.
  • Basil: Basil is a match for Magdalene and there are a lot of holy men named Basil! I quite like St. Basil the Great.
  • Blaine: Blaine is almost exactly Blaise, but without the “fire” sound (which is problematic with their last name). I actually just looked through the B section in the BNW for ideas, and I thought Blaine was a great one. There’s a St. Blane, who’s also known as Blaan, Blan, and Blain, and his feast day is August 10 — near Liz’s due date!

(8) Others

Like with the girls, there were some boy names that I wanted to suggest that didn’t quite fit for one reason or another (popularity, or that Liz doesn’t care for last names as first names, or they’re too long to not go by a nickname), but I wanted to include them here just in case:

  • Hugo
  • Oscar
  • Thaddeus
  • Barrett
  • Bartlett

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of X@vi3r and Eug3n3?


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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Expectation vs. Reality When Naming Children

Theresa Zoe Williams wrote a guest post for Sancta Nomina back in January, and I’m happy to share another piece by her! Theresa is 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). She is a freelance writer whose work can be found online at EpicPewCatholicSingles, and Where Peter Is, as well as at her personal blog Theresa Zoe Williams. 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. She hosts the comedy podcast Up Too Late and is writing her own book on fairytale princesses and virtue. Find her on Twitter @TheresaZoe

I have loved names since I was a little girl and named everything I could –– pets, stuffed animals and dolls, characters in my stories, our family’s vehicles, future children. Names meant possibilities and I loved all of the combinations, meanings, and styles. Suffice it to say, by the time I married, I had a long list of names and name combinations for our future children. Some names on this list were ones I loved on my own, like Chiara, Lux, Milo, Carmine, and Basil, and some were ones my now-husband, Jess, and I liked mutually, like Irrianna, Patrick, and Jack. Jess didn’t have nearly the history of loving names like I did but that doesn’t stop him from being opinionated! Even though I had a long list of personal favorites, none of these names ended up being the names of our three children, Ruby, Peter, and Penny.

Peter was an easy choice for us. We had both always liked the name Peter and so we knew that would be our first boy’s. His middle names, Leon and Gerard, are names of our fathers, so again, an easy choice. We never did agree on a second boy’s name, though. Girls’ names were much harder for us. When we were pregnant with Ruby, before we knew if she was a boy or a girl, we had two competing girl names: Ruby Mae Anastasia and Chiara Lucy Jeannette.

I am part Italian and I always wanted to give my children beautiful, flowy Italian names. I first heard Chiara when I was studying abroad in college and fell in love immediately. I later learned of Bl. Chiara Luce Badano and fell in love with her, so Chiara Lucy was my homage to my Italian heritage and to this beloved holy teen. Jeannette is the name of my mother who passed away before I met Jess. So, altogether, that name carried a lot of weight and meaning for me.

 Ruby and Mae were names I had once offhandedly said I liked and my husband fell in love! I reminded him that we agreed the children would all have two middle names like me (I was given two at birth and now legally have three, as I added my Confirmation name as another). Without hesitation, Jess said, “Ruby Mae Anastasia,” Anastasia being a name he liked and the Confirmation name of one of his sisters. It didn’t seem, at first, like this name had as much weight for us and, initially, I rebelled against using it for our first daughter. But it just wouldn’t leave us alone and we finally agreed that Ruby should be her name. We later discovered how rich in meaning for us Ruby Mae Anastasia really is and then it was clear why that was to be our daughter’s name. Our second daughter’s name, Penny Annalise Mariae, was less of a tribulation to choose, but was a whole different journey.

Both stories of my daughters’ names illustrate how different expectation versus reality really can be. Ruby and Penny are neither Italian nor flowy and nowhere near the spectrum of names I considered previously! And I have been sad that I’ve needed to pass on Chiara twice now, but that doesn’t negate how wonderful I think my children’s names are and how perfectly they fit them. If I had full reign over naming my children, they’d be named Chiara, Peter, Milo, Liliana, Sofia, Basil, and someone would have had the middle name Giuseppe. As wonderful as those names would be, they would represent only part of each child’s family and history. My personal naming style can probably be called “heavy-handed Italian” but when you add my husband and his family history and style into the mix, we come out as “grounded but spunky.” My proclivity for off-the-beaten path names with my husband’s for familiar but not overused names combine together to make this new, cool style that’s completely us.

Us. That’s really the long and short of it. Having children is an “us” endeavor and a beautiful sign of the inner reality of two lives becoming one. The names of our children should reflect that, also! There are all sorts of ways to do this, including finding ways to combine your styles (like we did), compromising (one style for first names and another for middle names, for instance), picking the names of favorite saints regardless of style, or asking for outside help (Sancta Nomina is fantastic at bridging styles and finding names with deep meanings for families!).

Do you and your spouse have this problem? How do you solve it? Are there any names you wanted to use but then didn’t for your children?

Copyright 2021 Theresa Zoe Williams

Baby name consultation: Names for a little brother that work in both English and Spanish

Happy Mother’s Day to you all! In honor of this day of remembrance and celebration, I’ve requested a Mass be said by the Marian Fathers at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy for “the Sancta Nomina community and their families and intentions,” which includes all those for whom Mother’s Day is a happy day, and all those for whom it’s a difficult day. ❤️❤️❤️

Also, I’m sure you all already know, but the new baby name data (based on 2020 births) was released by the SSA on Friday! Happiest day of the year for name enthusiasts! I haven’t yet had a chance to get into it too deeply (though I did notice that Ambrose is one of the boy names that climbed the most — up 137 spots from 958 to 821. I was surprised by that!), but Abby at Appellation Mountain always has great, immediate analysis and insight, as does Nameberry, Nancy’s Baby Names, and Namerology (formerly Baby Name Wizard). Here are the new top ten:

I hope to post more about it later this week!

Now for today’s consultation! Maggie and her husband are expecting a little green bean 🌱 (=gender unknown), baby sister or brother to:

Augustine James

Augustine James is so handsome! Nice job!

Maggie writes,

I need help with our son’s name should we have one. We’re due 5/31/21 and not finding out the gender … Our stipulation is obviously Catholic, nothing our friends have (which is becoming a short and shorter list) and can be said in both English and Spanish. I would love to honor Our Lady, but don’t care for Diego.

Here are some names I liked:

  • Roman Alexander
  • Felix 
  • Isaiah 
  • Dominic – astronomers 
  • Cristiano – travelers & children 
  • Sebastian  
  • Alexander
  • Cassian 

Cannot use:

  • Lukas [but Maggie loves it]
  • Noah 
  • Daniel 
  • Patrick 
  • Jude 
  • Gregory 
  • John
  • Blaise
  • Kolbe
  • Maximilian 
  • Basil 
  • James
  • Elijah

Maggie and her husband have a great list of names! I thought I’d start by offering my thoughts on them, in case they’re helpful:

  • Roman: I love the name Roman, and it goes so great with Alexander!
  • Felix: I’m seeing the name Felix more and more among the families I work with, it’s a great name and I’m so glad it’s getting more usage.
  • Isaiah: I’m a huge fan of Old Testament names, Isaiah’s a great one!
  • Dominic: One of my very favorites. It’s a style match for Augustine, so it would be a great fit for his brother! Maggie said that she’d love to honor Our Lady in a son’s name — I included Dominic as an entry in my book of Marian names because of this quote from Fr. Calloway’s Champions of the Rosary: “Saint Dominic was a Marian saint who, as he walked from town to town preaching the Gospel, raised his voice in song to Our Lady by preaching her Psalter and singing the Ave Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea). His early biographers mention that he frequently received visions of the Virgin Mary and preached about her with great fervor. In one particular vision, Jesus himself informed St. Dominic that the Dominicans were entrusted to the protection of Mary.” Dominican tradition also holds that St. Dominic received the Rosary from Our Lady. Dominic is a very Marian name!
  • Cristiano: I love both Cristiano and Christian!
  • Sebastian: I like that Sebastian really matches the length and weight of Augustine, great name. One thought is that Christian and Sebastian have the same ending, so it’s probably the kind of thing where if Maggie and her hubby used one for one son, they wouldn’t want to use the other for another son — that could help them decide between the two names: which one would they be sadder to lose?
  • Cassian: Cassian is so cool, and the nickname Cash is so appealing.

So they have a lot of great options! But of course, I can always come up with more, haha! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering 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. I did so for this family, keeping an eye out for names that were listed as matches for more than one of the names on Maggie’s list. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com to look up Augustine, as Augustine doesn’t have its own entry in the book, and I also paid attention to any names that could be Marian. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Leo, Leander

Leo is a fantastic option for anyone who loves the Luke/Lucas names but can’t use them! Leo is a match for a couple of the names Maggie and her hubby like, so I definitely think it’s a good bet that Leo might appeal to them as well.

Leander is a match for Augustine, and I’ve recently been loving it — St. Leander (Leandro) of Seville was a Spanish saint, so the name definitely works in both English and Spanish, and Leo can be a nickname for it, if they’d like.

(2) Nic(h)olas

Nicholas is a match for Alexander, but more than that, I thought of it because of Dominic having the -nic ending (and Nic can be a nickname for Dominic) as well as the fact that Maggie noted Cristiano is a patron of travelers and children — I’m not sure which Saint she means, but St. Nicholas is a patron of travelers and children as well. And it’s not on the list of names they can’t use, which is a plus!

(3) Milo

I’m not entirely sure Maggie and her hubby will like Milo, as I think it’s not as obviously Catholic as they’d like, but Miles and Milo are matches for several names Maggie likes — Miles and Milo are variants of the same name, and both have traditional usage in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Such a great, very Marian name for a boy! I thought that, of the two options, Milo was preferable to Miles, since I assume Milo is easier to say in Spanish, but maybe not? I like them both!

(4) Oscar

Though the results in the Name Matchmaker for Augustine were certainly helpful, I also looked up August in the book to give some added ideas — I’ve often found that the matches for August are appealing to parents who like Augustine. Oscar is a match for August, and it works really well in both English and Spanish.

(5) Gabriel, Raphael

Gabriel is a match for Isaiah, Christian (Cristiano doesn’t have its own entry), and Sebastian, and it, too is an entry in my book of Marian names for his role in the Annunciation, which of course is also the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — such a Marian name!

Raphael is a match for Roman, and is certainly the least common of the three angelic names, but I love that he’s mentioned in the Book of Tobit, which isn’t in the Protestant Bible, which makes me think of the names contained therein that aren’t elsewhere (also including Tobit and Tobias) as having a particularly Catholic character.

(6) Julian

Julius is a match for August, and Julian for Christian and Sebastian, so I think it’s just the kind of name that Maggie and her hubby might like. I also really wanted to include Jude on this list, but since it’s on the list of names they can’t use, I thought Julian was a good alternative.

(7) Xavier

Finally, Xavier is a match for Dominic, Sebastian, and Felix. It’s clearly Catholic, and points of course to the great St. Francis Xavier. You can choose the ex-ZAY-vyer pronunciation or the ZAY-vyer pronunciation, and Xave and Xavey are great nicknames.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Augustine James that can be said in both English and Spanish?


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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic (+English royalty?) name for baby boy

I posted a consultation and birth announcement for Beth and her husband’s third baby a few years ago, and now they’re expecting their fifth baby/fourth baby on earth — a rainbow baby and their third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“Each of his are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo, and Charlie has a special affinity for St. John Paul II — such a fun Charles connection“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“There is lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 7 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as a fellow Protestant convert“)

Henry James (“Our first difficult naming! He was Samuel Benedict for most of his in utero life which led to a lot of confusion for our family! Henry for St. John Henry Newman, and James for my grandpa“)

Felicity Perpetua (“In heaven — her name came to me almost the day I found out I was pregnant. I knew in my heart from day 1 she was a girl, and I had never considered the name before, but it choose her. I miscarried her at 12 weeks, and we named her for the two best friend Saints who are remembered for not only their courageous martyrdom but also their tremendous motherhood“)

I love each of these combos and the reasons behind them, a really well-named bunch of kids!

Beth writes,

My husband and I just found out we are expecting a baby boy! And once again, we are a bit clueless about what to name him (you may remember doing our consultation for our third born, also a boy)

I had been concerned with Henry of continuing an English royalty theme, but in the end we just went with it, and he is very much Henry James. While I love all of my children’s names, I really love the beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua. I would love to find a boys name with similar resonance. It’s somehow a combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.

Boys names we have considered in the past include:

  • Leo
  • Luke
  • Benedict
  • Samuel
  • Julian
  • Gabriel

None of these names particularly stand out to me; I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before. Girls names we love include:

  • Teresa (Tessa)
  • Rosemary
  • Stella Maris

If this baby was a girl, she would have been one of the three above names for sure.

Names we cannot use due to family include:

  • William (I have always loved William)
  • Alexander
  • Vincent
  • David
  • Joseph
  • Jack
  • Daniel
  • John Paul
  • Isaac/Isaiah
  • Benjamin (this one makes Benedict problematic because he goes by Ben)
  • Matthew/Mathias
  • Eli/Elijah
  • Miles
  • Thomas
  • Nathan
  • Tobias

Thanks so much for your help! We have plenty of time (we aren’t due until October 13), but I would love to give this little boy a name. Let know if you need any more information or have any questions!

Alrighty! I read and re-read my most recent email conversation with Beth, and also the one she sent when I did the consultation for Henry, really trying to nail down exactly what she and her hubby are looking for, since the names that come to mind as a brother for Charles, Catherine, and Henry really do have a very English and/or royal feel to me, which is a vibe that I love, but I know that’s something Beth was hesitant to continue with Henry. The addition of their sweet Felicity Perpetua both strengthens the English feel (both Felicity and Perpetua can have a real Brit feel, depending on the context!) and also brings the whole crew more into “Catholicky Catholic” territory, which fits right in with how Beth said that she’d love to “find a boy’s name with similar resonance” to the “beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua” — a “combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.” So that’s really where I focused for this baby: I wanted to come up with some ideas that really conveyed the faith in an obvious way, but not at odds with the Brit feel (no Juan Diego, for example). Also, how Beth said, “I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before”: that’s tough, but I tried! I definitely cast a wider net because of that, so some of my ideas here might be a little crazy.

I should also note that I mostly leaned into the British/royal-sounding names in this consultation, despite the fact that Beth has said before it’s not something she wants to continue. This is partly because of her wanting “something she hasn’t thought of before” and partly because I have a growing love for the English Catholic Church and its beautiful history (England used to be known as “Our Lady’s Dowry”!). And also because those names just go really well with her other kids! (I didn’t look through the list of English martyrs because I had enough ideas to work with already, but if Beth and her hubby decide that they might like to embrace this idea, there are so many who died for the faith in England.)

Before I get to my new ideas, I’ll start by offering my thoughts on the names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Leo: Great name, and definitely moving away from the Brit feel, while not feeling at odds with the older kids’ names.
  • Luke: I loved re-reading my previous emails with Beth, where she said Luke Benedict was one of the contenders for Henry before they landed on Samuel Benedict (my youngest is Luke Benedict). I think Luke’s a great option, and like Leo moves away from the Brit feel, while still sounding fine with the other kids.
  • Benedict: Even though I love both Leo and Luke, and for Beth I love that they move away from the Brit feel because that seems like something Beth would prefer, Benedict is actually the kind of name that is in my head as the ideal for them *because* it can have a Brit feel (Benedict Cumberbatch!) as well as being super Catholic. Beth said later in her email that Benjamin on her “no” list makes Benedict problematic because Benjamin goes by Ben, which makes me wonder if a different nickname would make the difference? I considered Benedict as a first name for Luke (Benedict Gerard as a first+middle combo, specifically), and I’d come up with a couple offbeat nickname ideas I thought could work: my favorite was Bear (so cute! And perfect for Benedict Gerard!); I also liked Boone for a while (similar sounds and meaning to Benedict); others are Bede (a two-for-one — St. Benedict and St. Bede in one name!) and Ned (super British-feeling!).
  • Samuel: I’d said in my last consultation that Samuel was great because it moved away from Charlie and Cate’s royal British feel, so that still remains — still such a great name!
  • Julian: I’m interested by Julian! It’s like Benedict for me — I think it has the Brit and Catholic qualities that would be great! Another thing I love about Julian is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which makes it like my idea of Benedict nn Bede — two saints in one!
  • Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names — I never tire of hearing it. Nicknames include Gabe, Gil, Gib, and Eli.
  • Lawrence/Laurence: Wow! Beth is the second mama in recent months to tell me that Lawrence is a real consideration! Here’s the consultation I posted for the other one — she was looking for nicknames besides Larry, and Rory and Lolek were my favorites of the ones I suggested to her. But I love Laurie too! In my experience, it’s getting Dad on board with a nickname like Laurie for his son that’s the challenge — is Beth’s husband okay with it? I love the special meaning Lawrence has for Beth and her hubby!

I’m glad she included the girl names she likes — Teresa, Tessa, Rosemary, and Stella were helpful in my research, as was William from their “no” list.

I started by doing my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard — whenever I work with a family for a second or third time, I always treat the current consultation as if it’s the first, and I do all the research anew. Then I look back at the previous consultation(s) to see what names I suggested back then, and cross them off my new list. I did so here, and before I list my new ideas below, I just wanted to mention again a few of the ones from before that I still think would be great:

  • Edmund: This was my number one choice for Beth and her hubs when I started doing this consultation, and was both thrilled and disappointed that I’d already suggested it to them! Edmund feels very British and it’s also a royal name so it would be really leaning into the style they’re trying to get away from! So Beth will probably hate this idea, but I just think it’s so stunning with her other kids. St. Edmund Campion is an amazing patron. Like with Benedict, Ned can be a nickname for Edmund; like with Thaddeus from their list when they were expecting Henry, Ted can be a nickname for Edmund.
  • Gregory: In one of the consultations I posted recently I discussed Gregory and how I see it a lot on lists of names that the parents I work with are considering. Pope St. Gregory the Great! Saintly and papal and so handsome! I also discussed nickname ideas other than Greg in that post, as I know that “Greg” is the reason a lot of parents don’t end up choosing Gregory.

Beth also had a longer list last time of names they couldn’t use, which caused me to cross Philip (Pip!), Ignatius, Dominic, and Maximilian off my list of new ideas, but if they’re actually okay to use this time, maybe they’d like to consider them?

In addition to the research in the BNW, I also went through the article I wrote for CatholicMom a while ago called “Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names,” and I went through my own mental files as well. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Francis

Francis is one of those ultimate Catholicky Catholic names for boys! There are so many great Sts. Francis to choose from, but if they were to pair Francis with the middle name Xavier, that would really be a one-two punch, similar to Felicity Perpetua. I occasionally see F.X. as initials, usually for an older man, and I immediately know that his given name must be Francis Xavier and that no matter where he is in his faith journey currently, he obviously comes from a Catholic family. I love that!

(2) Oliver

Oliver is a style match for Henry, Felicity, Leo, and Julian! I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a favorite of mine, and Ollie is such a darling nickname. I also love that, as a reader pointed out to me, St. Oliver Plunkett wrote about Divine Mercy centuries ago (it’s about a third of the way down at that link — do a “find” search for “Divine Mercy”), which gives him a really nice connection to St. Faustina and St. John Paul II and our current heightened awareness of Divine Mercy.

(3) Simon, Peter

In considering Samuel and how wonderful it is but perhaps doesn’t quite have that “Felicity Perpetua” feel Beth is looking for, I thought maybe Simon would be a good replacement? As with Felicity Perpetua and Francis Xavier, the right middle name could really send it over the edge into Catholicky Catholic territory: Simon Peter, for example. Which makes me think of Peter — the more I think about it, the more I like Peter as a first name for this baby! I have a friend who named his son after St. Peter Damian by giving him Peter as a first name and Damian as a middle, which I absolutely love.

(4) Damian/Damien

Speaking of Damian — it’s a style match for Perpetua, and not only do I love St. Damien of Molokai, but this family — who actually lives in the U.K. (the mom is American and the dad is English) — named one of their boys Damien (Damien Edmund, specifically), which I thought of right away when I saw Damian in the list of Perpetua’s matches.

(5) Augustine

It was fun looking through the style matches for Perpetua, because I knew a lot of them would be the heavy Catholic names, and of course they were! Ignatius, Aloysius, and Dominic were the kinds of boy names that were listed as matches for Perpetua, in addition to Damian; of them, I like Augustine best for Beth’s baby.

(6) Fulton

When I was looking through the list of names I included in the article I wrote on unmistakably Catholic boy names, I was drawn to Fulton right away for this family. I love it with the other kids! I did a post on nickname ideas for Fulton — be sure to read the comments too!

(7) Walsingham

This is definitely my craziest idea! But I felt very much like Beth when I was pregnant with my youngest — I spent a long time looking and looking for “something I haven’t thought of before” (which, also like Beth, is hard to do when you’ve read all the sites and books and discussions and comments available on baby names!) and Walsingham was one I tried to convince my husband of — it’s for the English apparition title Our Lady of Walsingham, and as my husband had strongly suggested Stanley with the nickname Stan, I thought maybe he’d be interested in Walsingham with the nickname Walt! (He wasn’t, oh well.) This name is one of those that really honors the English Catholic tradition in a very specific way.

(8) John, Joseph

In trying to come up with “Felicity Perpetua”-type names for a boy, I really felt like double names more than any others achieve the effect Beth is going for — for a boy, that’s probably generally most comfortable looking like a first+middle combo like Edmund Campion or Simon Peter or Peter Damian, but a double first name might also be perfect (John Paul is one of the most familiar examples, but it’s on their “no” list; John Henry’s totally one I would have suggested for them if they didn’t already have a Henry! I included the idea of double names in my article on unmistakably Catholic boy names). In this vein, I kept thinking that John might be perfect, whether as part of a double first name, or as a first name to pair with a heavier or more offbeat middle name, or as the perfect middle name. For example, using ideas discussed here already:

  • John Francis: I’m dying over John Francis, such a handsome combo! And John (Giovanni) was St. Francis of Assisi’s given name.
  • Peter John: This was actually Fulton Sheen’s given name — Fulton was his mother’s maiden name that he went by.
  • John Benedict, John Damien, John Augustine, John Walsingham: With these, I love John as the legal first name, so their son can always have the option to go by John if he prefers, but it also allows them to use the middle name or a nickname of it as the name he goes by if they want. John Benedict called Benedict or Bede; John Damien called Damien; John Augustine called Gus; John Walsingham called Walt. Fantastic!

As for Joseph, with this year being the Year of St. Joseph, I simply must suggest it to all the families I work with! I would have suggested it as a first name here but that it’s on Beth’s “no” list, but I’m hoping they can consider it for the middle name. Damien Joseph has the nice added layer of Joseph being St. Damien’s birth name. Fulton Joseph is amazing.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charles/Charlie, Catherine/Cate, Henry, and Felicity Perpetua?


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! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)