Happy feast of the Assumption! I always love telling this name story in conjunction with this beautiful feast (which I also included in my book). It always makes me laugh! Today’s consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams is particularly Marian — perfect for today! Enjoy!
Dad Zach writes in asking for help naming baby number 3! He writes,
“My wife and I have been reading your blog and love the names you come up with for Catholic families and the great meanings behind them! We just purchased your book on names and we are very excited to start reading it! (currently name discerning for our 3rd baby due in September).”
I love that the blog and my consultations are helpful to others who are discerning names! Zach sent in a bunch of great info for names they are considering and what they’re looking for in a name. He writes,
“It is a boy! Anticipated Due Date: September 24th Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. Prayed through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes to conceive this baby. Also, prayed a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes sporadically and at the end of it found out we were pregnant right as the feast of the Immaculate Conception passed! Zach wants a name to honor Mary under this title. Bayley [his wife] does not have a preference for this idea and didn’t like the name Lourdes or Bernadette/Bernard for this baby. However, we both want a Marian devotion for this baby’s name. Zach wants to know if there is anything masculine for a boy that honors Our Lady of Lourdes.”
Ooooh a challenge, I love it!
“Our style is more classy, vintage, and old, but also open to some “spunk”. We do not like names that are super popular. The name having a good meaning is very important to us. Marian devotion (first or middle name) is very important to us. Name after a saint/blessed for intercession from that saint and for our child to look up to / learn from- for this pregnancy, a saint with a strong devotion to Mary would be a huge plus! If the first name is after a saint, we would like the middle name to be in devotion to Mary, or possibly St. Joseph. We did not end up nicknaming our daughter Josephine, but we are open to nicknames. Do not like: Mainstream, ordinary, no meaning, double names (Bayley does not like the double names). Don’t want to name anyone after a family member.”
This is such great info for me when considering possible names for them. This gave me a great feel for their style.
This baby will join siblings:
Gabriel Mary (in heaven)
Names they are considering include Judah/Jude, John Paul nn Pax, Augustine nn Auggie, Benedict, Callum (they saw this in a consultation I did and fell in love!), Samson, Kolbe, Mercer, Clement, Lolek, Theodore, and Xavier.
Mama Bayley writes about Theodore and Xavier,
“I know they are more popular but just wanted to see how they match up style wise and flow with Josephine. What would be your thoughts on Theodore and Xavier??”
I will definitely give my thoughts on those names below! They are fantastic names, though.
What’s great about their current two children’s names, Josephine and Gabriel, is that they are both very versatile names that can go with a lot of other names. For numbers purposes, Josephine currently ranks at #72, so while she’s old fashioned, clunky cool she’s definitely more cool right now. Gabriel is currently #38 so he’s even more cool right now and what I would consider more modern.
Names they don’t like or cannot use include: Elijah, Ellis, Pax, Cruz, Dominic, Julian, Maximillian, Cole, Cameron, Nicholas, Blake, Amos, Taylor, Edmund, Benjamin, Emmanuel, Ambrose, Isaac, Liam, Raphael, Leo, Bosco, Matthew, Mark, Michael, Luke, George, Daniel, David, Joseph, Joshua, Jeremiah, Josiah, Jonah, Louis, James, Simon, Simeon, Anthony, Micah, Thomas, Brandon, Christian, Vincent, Connor, Christopher, Bennett, Rowan, Wyatt, Nathan, August, Silas, Beckett, Samuel, Brooks, Oliver, Nolan, Oscar, Abel, Emmett, Blaise, Asher, Marcus, Isaiah, Sawyer, Jacob, Alexander, Frassati, Henry, Hugh, Nico, Dean, Sebastian,
Peter, and Carmello.
Alright, on to names!
First, about names they are considering.
Judah/Jude– I really like both of these names and think it fits well with their other children. It is pretty popular in Catholic circles. Also, this would be two J- names though and I don’t want them to feel like they’re setting a precedent with this name.
John Paul nn Jax– I love the nickname with this one! John Paul is also pretty common in Catholic circles and they’d have the same J problem again. But I think the nickname really makes this one.
Benedict– This is nice and strikes me the same way Josephine does. Catholicky without being too in your face and very classic.
Augustine nn Auggie– Love this. Josephine and Augustine sound like siblings to me, just be careful because these two have the same ending.
Callum– I love that they saw this in another of my consultations and fell in love with it! It’s a great unexpected Catholic name. Josephine and Callum fit will together, although they are a bit different stylistically. What’s great about Josephine is that almost any other name will sound good with it.
Samson– I think this name takes them in a wholly different direction, which isn’t a bad thing! Unexpected and cool, I like this.
Kolbe– Popular in the Catholic circles but with good reason.
Mercer– I about jumped out of my seat when I saw this name. I love it! I love its connections to mercy and how they would tie that to Our Lady of Mercy and how her feast day is the due date for this baby. I just love this name! It’s unexpected but fits right in. I would be really remiss to not say that I hope they use this one in the first spot for their child.
Lolek– Only the Polish and the most Catholic of the Catholics will get this name. It’s definitely out there. It would be cool in the middle spot but potentially confusing in the first spot. For what it’s worth, I really love Mercer Lolek for them and this baby.
Theodore– This name ranks at #10 right now, so they will definitely hear this name more often than not. If being Teddy 2 or Theodore M. bothers them, perhaps they would consider Thaddeus. It comes from the same root as Theodore or means “heart” but is way less popular at #818. Nicknames Tad, Teddy, and even Tadpole make this name accessible and even cute. What’s even greater is that they have Jude on their list and Thaddeus is that saint’s other name! I say, choose Thaddeus over Theodore.
Xavier– This name ranks at #100, which I think is this couple’s sweet spot. Not too out there, not too popular. This name is more popular in Catholic circles but you still won’t run into it terribly often.
Okay, on to some new suggestions. They had a long list of names they don’t like or can’t use, so this was a particularly fun challenge for me. Hopefully, they’ll like what I came up with.
This name is born by St. Gerard Majella who is the patron saint of expectant mothers and means “brave or hardy spear”. It’s out of the top 1000, which I think will appeal to them, and is an enduring name. They may hear it in Catholic circles, but mostly, this name is unique. It has the same feel to it as Josephine, old fashioned clunky cool.
Some famous bearers of this name are St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Francis de Sales. Another more old fashioned name coming back into use, though I’ve seen Frances more for girls than for boys recently. It gives me the same vibes as Josephine. Currently, it ranks at #466, the most popular name I’m suggesting for them. I like that they have some nickname options with this one, too, in Frank and Frankie. Josephine, Gabriel, and Francis sound like siblings.
I was researching names of people connected to Lourdes and this was the name of the bishop in the area at the time. It also came up as a style match for some of the names they like. It’s out of the top 1000 and means “from Laurentum” but has a connection to the laurel plant which is said to symbolize eternity. Lots of meaning with this name and it can shorten to Larry, Law, or the literary wonder, Laurie.
I was thinking about Polish saints and names that sound a little old fashioned or classic and this name came to mind. It’s the name of St. Stanislaus Kostka who spoke about Mary and can shorten to Stan or Stanley. In fact, they may just like Stanley! It’s out of the top 1000 and means “someone who achieves glory”. Isn’t that what we’re aiming for in the spiritual life anyway? Pair it with a Marian middle and you get “someone who achieves glory through Mary”. Phenomenal! Josephine, Gabriel, and Stanislaus sound like Catholic siblings, to me.
I think this name is criminally underused but it’s outside of the top 1000 so what do I know! It means “king” or in Arabic “brave, valiant”. A famous bearer was St. Basil the Great. It does read rather British but I don’t think that will deter them (since they love the very ethnic Lolek). It pairs very well with most of the names they like, too, and with most of the ones I’m suggesting. I like Basil Jude, Basil Benedict, and Basil Mercer a lot.
Another name out of the top 1000, this names means “Easter” and Pope St. John Paul II famously said that “we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song”. I love the subtle nod to him in this name, since he is so important to them. I really love Pascal Benedict, Pascal Laurence, and Pascal Mercer. Josephine and Pascal sound nice together, too.
This is an older name and a very Catholic one, being the name of twelve popes! Three of those popes have connections to Our Lady of Lourdes. Pope Pius IX approved the veneration of the apparitions at Lourdes, Pope Pius X announced the feast of the Immaculate Virgin of Lourdes, and Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical on Lourdes on its 100th anniversary. If they’re looking for a male name to tie in to Lourdes, look no further! I love that this name also means “pious, dutiful”, being a great reminder for all of us, and that it’s out of the top 1000. They won’t even hear this name much in Catholic circles, as families tend to adopt the Italian variation of the name these days, Pio. I like Pius better for them and they could always call him Pio anyway. Pius Mercer, Mercer Pius, Pius Jude, Pius Benedict, Pius Augustine, Pius Laurence, and Pius Lolek (if they want to get crazy!) all sound good to my ear. Josephine, Gabriel, and Pius sound like siblings to me of the very Catholic variety.
My top choices for them are Mercer Lolek, Laurence, and Pius.
These are my thoughts. What do you think?
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 ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!