Today is one of my very favorite feast days: the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary! The cover art of my book of Marian names was inspired by this beautiful holy card:
The inscription on the bottom, S.S. Nomen Mariae, means “The Most Holy Name of Mary” in Latin (Sanctissima Nomen Mariae). Fun fact: Mariae was the middle name we planned for a girl through several of our pregnancies! Two little ladies connected with Sancta Nomina have been given the name as well — one as a first name (Mariae Josephine, loooove), and this one (Theresa’s little girl!) as a middle (Theresa has fantastic taste and creativity!). I explain a little bit about how this beautiful feast came about in my book. A perfect feast day for those who love the names of our faith, especially the names of and for Our Lady! I hope you all have a wonderful one! Today’s consultation actually includes one of the names listed in my book for boys!
Josh and Mari are expecting their 10th baby — their 4th boy! I’ve had the great privilege of doing consultations for several of their older children (posted here, here, here; birth announcements here, here, here, here), and I’m delighted to offer some ideas for their newest little guy! (For those of you wondering, I did this consultation a couple of months ago, when I thought I might be able to do some this summer.)
“So, as you probably remember, we have a theme going – the girls have A first names and C middle names (with some variants) and the boys have C first names and middle names that similar stylistically. Here’s the rundown:
Ariana Camille (16)
Audrey Caroline (14)
Caleb Daniel (11)
Amelia Clare (“Millie”) (9)
Anne-Catherine Gianna (“Gianna”) (8)
Charles Michael (6)
Anessa Corinne (4)
Christian Gabriel (3)
Aurelia-Rose Celeste (“Rosie”) (2)
#10 is a boy, so we’ll be looking to continue the theme generally. Due date is November 3, so he’ll join two other sibs with November birthdays (Audrey and Charles) unless he gets here early, in which case he’d be our only October baby. Here are some first names we’ve discussed and like:
For middle names, we’ve discussed Samuel as a possibility. Thought about Raphael too since we have a Michael and a Gabriel, but I’m not sure I love it. But I would say we haven’t definitely ruled it out either.”
As always, it was such a pleasure to work on this consultation for Josh and Mari! They’ve done such a great job with baby naming — I’ve always loved how they figured out to adhere to their themes (girl theme and boy theme) without it getting weird or feeling forced. I’m excited to help them again!
Okay, first off, my thoughts on the names they like/are considering:
- Clement: I have always loved Clement for a few reasons — specifically to me, it’s the name of my parish’s patronal Saint, St. Clement Mary Hofbauer (and it belongs to a bunch of other Saints and a Pope as well!). Secondly, it’s a Marian name, as Our Lady is called “clement” in the Hail Holy Queen (“O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary”). Thirdly, it means “merciful” — such a great meaning! All that said, though, I admit I’ve often had a hard time really seeing it on a little boy! I actually knew an older gentleman named Clement, and it was so cool on him — it felt just perfect for a sophisticated old man — and of course I know that little boys grow up to be men. And “Clem” as a nickname seemed a little less thrilling than some of the other nicknames I love for boys. But then Grace Patton named her son Clement, and it took on a whole new life for me! So that’s my conclusion: I think it can be really great option for Josh and Mari’s little guy! (I’m still a little hung up on nicknames … I was just rereading the birth announcement I posted for Grace’s Clement and noted that she named the Clement videos on her Instagram “Clement Clips” and thought, “Huh. Clip is kind of cute!” You know me and my crazy nickname ideas!!)
- Carter: I was surprised by Carter! Their other kiddos’ names have saintly connections, but I didn’t think Carter did. I shouldn’t have doubted, though! I’ve often argued that just about every name can have a saintly connection, and Carter, indeed, does: According to CatholicSaints.info, there’s a St. Carterius of Bourges and a Bl. William Carter. I’m very intrigued by Bl. William Carter, since I struggled a bit over new middle name ideas for this family — it seems difficult to move away from their established -el theme, but if they did something like Carter William, it would make a lot of sense — it would give them a good, solid reason to move away from -el names and would strengthen the connection to Bl. William. Does that make sense?
- Caedmon: I see Caedmon from time to time on parents’ lists and I’m always surprised by it, since I’ve never met a Caedmon in real life. It’s such a cool name, though, and saintly, and it inspired some of the more Celtic-ish names I included in my suggestions below. My one hesitation with Caedmon is always pronunciation — apparently CAD-man is the correct pronunciation, but I’ve also seen CADE-man, so that will probably be something they’d have to deal with. It absolutely doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker though — loads of names have pronunciation issues!
So those are my thoughts on the names currently on Josh and Mari’s list. As far as middle names, I had the suggestion of William, which I explained in the Carter part above, and I looked back at my previous emails with them and their consultations and see that in addition to the Samuel and Raphael that they said they’re considering, I’ve suggested these as well:
Some new ones I’ll add include:
- Angel: a not-uncommon name for boys of Hispanic descent, and it was also the name of the main male character in the English novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles
- Bartel: Dutch diminutive of Bartholomew
- Engel: means “angel” in German, and is also included as an element in a bunch of Saints’ names
- Hansel: German diminutive of Hans, which is the German form of John
- Israel: Jacob’s name was changed to Israel by God
- Marcel: originally a diminutive of Marcus; also included in the names of quite a few Saints
- Martel: from a medieval pet name of Martin
- Peniel: A biblical place name (see Gen 32:30) meaning “face of God” — what a beautiful meaning!
- Roussel: French form of Russell, from a nickname meaning “little red one” — maybe perfect for a baby with red hair, or who is particularly red when born? (My mother-in-law always talked about how red my husband was as a newborn, far redder than other babies she’d seen!)
- Wenzel: a German name that’s technically pronounced VENT-zel, but the cool part is that it’s a medieval German form of Vaclav (Wenceslaus)! St. Wenceslaus is awesome! I did two posts on the name that might be helpful: here and here
(I used this web site to help with this list — it has a million names on here and I spent quite a bit of time scrolling through and only got about a third of the way down! Josh and Mari might want to spend some time on that page themselves in case there was a good option that I missed.)
So there are plenty of -el names if they’re committed to that theme! However, I think both Samuel and Raphael are good choices right now if they’re not sure they want to continue with this theme, since I sense that many people will not realize that Daniel and Samuel are -el names, since they’re so familiar (sometimes the details of very familiar names are almost invisible — a “missing the trees for the forest” type reversal of the old saying, if that makes sense), so if they use Samuel, I don’t think people will bat an eyelash if they use a non-el name in the future. And if they use Raphael, most people will realize they’ve now exhausted the archangels (without getting into discussions of Uriel and others that are questionable from a Catholic standpoint), and won’t necessarily expect an -el middle name going forward. Of course, the fact that this baby is their tenth baby and that they’re heavily weighted towards girls makes it more probable that this won’t be an issue to deal with again! (Or perhaps God has more boys in their future!)
Okay! On to my new ideas!
This idea is really a cheat idea, since it’s (a) not a C name, and (b) Josh and Mari had it on their list in the first email they ever sent me, so it’s not an original idea of mine, but I’d thought I’d include it in the list because Mari is due on Nov. 3 — the feast of St. Martin de Porres! If they don’t want to go off-theme for a first name, then I’d highly suggest it as a middle name, ESPECIALLY if the baby is actually born on his due date! And in that case, I’d suggest changing it to its variant Martel, which I mentioned above — an -el name that nods to St. Martin! Seems like it could be perfect!
Okay, back to C names! I’ve suggested Cashel many times in the past to families who love Irish or Celtic names, so Caedmon on their list makes sense of Cashel to me. The faith connection is the Rock of Cashel; this is the faith connection (from something I wrote for a baptism gift for a little Cashel):
The Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phádraig) is also known as St. Patrick’s Rock and Cashel of the Kings. In Irish, cashel (caiseal) denotes a circular stone fort and has come to mean “castle.”
The Rock of Cashel was long the seat of the High Kings of Munster. One of the kings, Aenghus, was baptized by St. Patrick himself at that very spot. In 1101, King Murtagh O’Brien dedicated the Rock of Cashel to God and St. Patrick and gave it to the bishop of Munster. Currently, the Ecclesiastical Province of Cashel includes the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly, as well as the dioceses of Cloyne (in which lies Cobh), Cork & Ross, Kerry, Killaloe, Limerick, and Waterford & Lismore.
I love Cashel and I love the nickname Cash! And because Cashel is an -el name, they could also consider it for the middle!
Campion is the surname of St. Edmund Campion and I think it’s a fantastic name for a boy. It has the awesome nickname Cam, which I‘ve always loved. It’s also a Marian name! I included it in my book of Marian names — the white campion is a kind of flower, which is where the connection to Our Lady comes in. Finally, campion means “champion” in Old French! What a great name for a boy!
I know a boy named Canaan — I’ve always thought he has the coolest name! Canaan is, of course, the name of the Promised Land, so it has great faith connections in that regard.
I saw Caetano in a list of C names for boys, and I immediately remembered that I’d had Cajetan on my own list for years! Caetano is an Italian form of Cajetan (as is Gaetano), and St. Cajetan is a pretty amazing Saint. Caj (pronounced like CADGE) is a pretty cool nickname too!
(6) Curt, Cord
I’d previously suggested Conrad to this family, which I don’t think they loved, but both Curt and Cord caught my eye when I was looking up C names for them, as they’re both contracted forms of Conrad, so they can take any of the Sts. Conrad as patron. Curt and Cord have very different feels to me, so hopefully if they don’t like the one maybe they really like the other!
My last idea is Cruz, which has just the coolest, hippest, zippiest feel but also has very deep faith significance, as it means “cross” and has traditional use in both Spanish and Portuguese in honor of the Cross of Crucifixion. I also found evidence of its usage in honor of Our Lady at the foot of the Cross. How beautiful! Though it’s used in Hispanic cultures for both boys and girls, I think in America it has a predominantly masculine feel.
As a bonus, I really wanted to suggest Casey, with Bl. Solanus Casey in mind, but I didn’t think Casey was ideal for their last name, so I wanted to include it here in case it’s helpful for any of you readers. I also noted that Kolbe was on Josh and Mari’s original list several years ago — I still like it for them and think it can make a nice addition to their C theme — sort of keeping with it while still branching out. Interestingly, I looked up the surname Kolbe and discovered that some spelling variations include Colb and Colbe — maybe they want to consider one of those in honor of St. Maximilian while still sticking with their C theme?
As an addition to this post, Josh and Mari wrote again to let me know about some more ideas they have:
“[D]o you mind if I ask your thoughts on a new idea we had — Clement Joshua? Obviously Joshua is my name, which in a way fits a pattern with the boys (Daniel and Michael are also family names). We also thought “CJ” might be a cute nickname — we love the name Clement but aren’t wild about ‘Clem.’
Our oldest daughter is lobbying hard for Clement Ezekiel with “Zeke” as a nickname, which is also kind of cute. What do you think?“
My immediate thoughts are that I love both ideas! I love using Josh’s name as the middle name — doing so trumps any -el theme or any other theme, in my opinion — and CJ is an easy, friendly nickname. This is probably my favorite of the two, because of the connection to Dad and how easy and natural it feels. I do love Zeke, though — what a fun, friendly nickname! And I love that Ezekiel keeps the -el theme, because even though it’s completely one-hundred-percent not necessary to continue with the theme, there’s something just so satisfying about sticking with a theme! What say you all??
And those are all my ideas! What other ideas/suggestions/thoughts can you share for the littlest brother in this beautiful family?
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!