Baby name consultation: To Mary or not to Mary?

The farther we get into January, the happier I am — is it crazy that I’m counting down the days until spring?! I hope you’re all having a great Monday! Enjoy this consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Amber writes in asking for advice on naming baby #6, and second girl.

The girl name has me at a loss. Nothing is lighting that spark. I’ve always wanted a Mary, but it’s not feeling right. My husband would like Claire Terese. It’s a fine name, it’s just not clicking with me. St. Theresa of Calcutta is like my soul sister. THERESA though isn’t a name I can see myself using. The same with Mary. I’m not feeling like Mary is the right name for this baby … and at the same time my heart has a little ache, knowing I won’t likely have another opportunity to make a girl Mary.”

Creative naming might be just what this family needs! Maybe to look at names in a new way will help these parents pick the right name for their new addition. They’re solid on their boy name, so we’ll be focusing on girl names for them.

This child will join big siblings:

Samuel Francis (in heaven)
Thomas Joseph
James Dominic
Michael Paul
Emily Melynne (muh-LYNN; Amber’s sister’s middle name)

First, some thoughts on Claire Terese, Mary, and Theresa. I really love Terese in the middle for their girl! It’s unusual but not outlandish, much like sister’s middle name, giving them a connection. I think it also solves their problem of loving St. Teresa of Calcutta but not the name Theresa!

Claire is such a beautiful name and goes so well with Emily, but if they’re not feeling it, they’re just not feeling it! I wonder if a variation of the name would work better for them. What about Clara Terese? Clara has a little more pizzazz than Claire but still has that feminine, classic feeling.

I also understand wanting to honor Mary but feeling like Mary itself does not fit this child. What about a variation of Mary? Some of my favorites are Molly, Mara, Mae, and Mariae (which is the Latin possessive for “of Mary”). They could also do a variation of an apparition or title they love –– Lola or Ivy for Our Lady of Sorrows (Lola from Dolores and Ivy from the ivy plant Mary’s Tears), Annunziata for The Annunciation, Lourdes, etc. Check out Kate’s book on ways to honor Mary in a name for even more ideas, too.

Okay, on to new ideas. I mainly went with my gut for this but also looked up names in the same style of the names of their other kids.

(1) Audrey

This name means “noble strength” and is the name of a saintly princess, St. Audrey (also known as Etheldreda). This has the same feminine, classic feel as Emily and Claire and is also French, just like them! Audrey Terese or Audrey [insert Marian name] would be beautiful and fit well with the other children.

(2) Juliet(te)

The meaning of this name is disputed but can mean “youthful” (my favorite), “downy-bearded”, or “sky father” depending on where you trace its origins. It’s feminine, classic, French, and has some pizzazz. It’s also a great way to honor a family member with a July birthday (I noticed sister Emily has an honor name in hers). There are tons of saints to go along with this name, too, including Julias (Juliette is actually a diminutive of Julia). Some that stood out to me were St. Juliette Verolot and Ven. Juliette Colbert de Falletti di Barolo.

(3) Chloe

I thought of this name immediately as an alternative to Claire. It just has a little more pep than Claire. It means “green shoot,” speaking to the newness of life, and is about as popular as Emily right now. I really like Chloe Terese or Chloe Mariae.

(4) Alice

This is more clunky cool than Claire is, but this name came to me as an alternative to Claire, too. It means “noble” and is a modern form of Adelaide for which there are several saints, including St. Adelaide the Abbess and St. Alice the Empress. Alice Terese, Alice Claire, and Alice Mae all sound really beautiful to me. Are Emily and Alice too close for their tastes, though?

(5) Brigid/Bridget

This name means “strength” or “exalted one” and it came up as a match to their other kids’ names. There is, of course, the very famous St. Brigid as namesake. Brigid is snappy and cool, where I think Claire seems a little more boring to them. Brigid Terese and Brigid Claire are both great combos.

(6) Lydia

This name came up as a match to their other kids’ names but it also struck me as having more pep and pizzazz than Claire, which seemed to me to be their problem with it. St. Lydia Purpuraria is a great patron and she’s the patroness of the color purple, if that’s significant to them at all (or could just end up being the child’s favorite color!). Lydia Terese is really nice and Lydia Mariae is unexpected.

(7) Ruby

This name also came up as a match to their kids’ names but it stood out to me for a few reasons. It’s clunky cool but more spunky than Claire, it has all sorts of cool faith connections (Kate wrote a post on it that you can read here), and it’s the name of my oldest child. So I’m biased! Emily and Ruby make great sisters, though, and I thought it fit their style and wheelhouse perfectly. Ruby Mae is a super amazing combination (okay, I’m really biased here because that is my daughter’s first name and first middle name) and it can encompass connections to Jesus, Mary, and anyone in the family with a July birthstone (ruby is the gemstone for July). Ruby Terese is also stunning, as are Ruby Claire and Ruby with any Marian name in the middle. I really really love this name for them.

Okay, these are my thoughts. What do you think?

The five consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!


13 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: To Mary or not to Mary?

  1. I like Maria Theresa, with Theresa pronounced as tuh-RAY-suh or tuh-RAY-zuh. The more traditional pronunciation of Theresa is lovely also.

    Nicknames could be Marta, Marti or Martie, Mattie, Maris, Rita, Tessa or Tess.

    Claire is a beautiful name and works especially well as a middle name. One of my daughters has Claire for her middle name and she loves it so much she has said she’d like to use it for a first name if she has a daughter. Her first name is very similar to Mary and ends in “dith” (ranked 585 on the SSA website for 2020). At first I thought we might call her a combination of her first and middle names, but we use her full first name.

    My first name is Mary, but, from birth, my parents and everyone else have always called me by my middle. I use Mary when asked for my name at Starbucks because it’s the easiest of the two names.

    As suggested by Laura above, Caroline is also a beautiful name and pairs well with Emily.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love reading about your daughter’s name — a beautiful combo! I like your original idea of using a combo of first and middle on a daily basis, that’s a cool idea with that particular combo. So funny how sometimes name plans don’t work out the way we think!


  2. Maybe Rosemary?
    Rosemary Claire
    Rosemary Therese

    A few other ideas:
    Clara Rose
    Lucy Therese
    Anna Therese
    Anna Rose
    Grace Marie – I love Grace Marie as a Marian alternative!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wonder if any of the double-names with Mary might be more up their alley rather than just Mary:

    Mary-Claire Terese
    Mary-Rose Terese
    Mary-Kate Terese


    Marianne Claire
    Marielle Therese

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary Grace and Mary Claire have always been my favorite double Mary names, but I love the suggestion of Grace Marie. So many great suggestions. I would add K/Catherine, Julia and maybe Hannah

    Liked by 1 person

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