Out with the old (temporarily), in with the new

Happy Thursday everyone! There are some changes happening here at Sancta Nomina, which I’m excited about!

First: Starting today I’m going on hiatus from baby name consultations until probably around Christmas — some things are happening in my family (all good!) that I need to be able to focus on for the rest of the summer and through the fall, but I think things should even out by Christmas. That said, I won’t be off the blog entirely — I hope to use these next few months to clean up the blog a little (update old links and other housekeeping) and finally get some posts written from my list of topics that keeps growing and growing, and I’m always happy and eager to receive your birth announcements! I’ll still be posting those on the blog with parents’ permission (and as always, if you prefer to keep our email correspondences private, that’s totally fine!).

Second: Those of you who would like baby naming help will still be able to receive it! I’m happy to announce that longtime reader, Catholic mama, and baby namer extraordinaire Theresa Zoe Williams will be offering baby name consultations through Sancta Nomina! Theresa has told us about herself and her naming sensibility in the guest posts she’s written here over the last few months, and here she introduces herself as a our new baby name consultant:

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The New Baby Namer In Town

I have been naming things since the moment I could speak –– stuffed animals, pets, cars, characters in my stories, and even three children of my own (you can read about their names here and here). All of my children and pets have two middle names (the dog is Jackson Coakley Francis and goes by Jack) because I have two middle names (my parents wanted to honor both sides of their family while still using their favorite saint’s name). As part of a family tradition, I also took on my Confirmation name as part of my legal name, which is where the Zoe comes from. I have always been interested in finding creative ways to honor the people in my life, like my oldest daughter’s name being both my and my mother’s birthstone, giving each child a unique name but one grounded in their history. Kate has even called my style of naming spunky but grounded! Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator. I am pleased to announce that I will now also be offering baby name consultations to the public.

Just as I have experience naming things and people in my own life, I do come with experience of helping to name other people, too. The first time occurred almost four years ago. A woman I was acquainted with asked a group of Catholic moms that I was a part of for help in naming her third child, a boy. She set out all of her parameters and offered a gift card to the person who suggested the name they ended up choosing. The most important criterion was that the name had to be connected to the Passion in some way. We all had at it. I rattled off a couple suggestions but then one name hit me like a ton of bricks. I researched the name to make sure my perceptions of it were correct and then suggested it. Tristan means “sorrowful”, was not on their “couldn’t use” list, went well with another name they liked for a good first-middle combo, and wasn’t too popular nor weird. The woman and her husband loved it! They named their baby Tristan Oliver and I was awarded a $15 Starbucks gift card.

As far as naming goes, I tend to go off of my gut instinct and do research to back that up. I also look for creative and out of the box ways to meet criteria given by the parents. To practice, I asked a group of women if they would allow me to try to guess their naming styles. They gave me sibling names and maybe another detail or two about what they look for in a name and I would rattle off six to twelve guesses or suggestions. Many of them exclaimed that I had correctly guessed some names on their lists and many of those women also said that I’d given them more names to add to their lists!

Helping families find meaningful names they love for their children is a passion of mine and I’m so honored to help anyone I can. To kick off my tenure as the new baby naming consultant in town, I’m offering my first three consultations for free, provided you are okay with me posting the consultation on the blog. This offer is good for regular and mini consultations. Logistically, I will be offering the same two types of consultations Kate does and for the same prices. To get a consultation from me, you can email me directly at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com. Thank you for welcoming me into the family!

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“Naming, for me, has always carried the weight of the sacred and it is a unique way to enter into the life of the Creator” — isn’t that beautiful?! Theresa has such a great understanding of the awesome responsibility that parents have in naming — I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for you and your babies! As she noted, you can email her directly to request a consultation, and any requests that come to me will be forwarded on to her as well. Hurry to secure your place as one of her first three FREE consultations! The free consultations will be posted on the blog in order that you can get a feel for Theresa’s style and expertise. (I still have a few to post, so Theresa’s won’t post until July.)

If you’re not one of the first three free clients, you can use the Sancta Nomina PayPal buttons to pay for your consultation — the Mini is still $25 and the Ordinary is still $50, however the buy-my-book-and-get-a-discounted-consultation deal that I’ve been offering will be suspended until I return to consultations.

I know you will all be as gracious and lovely to Theresa as you have been with me all these years! And even though I have put an automatic away message on my email, I’ll still be checking email regularly and will reply to your non-consultation emails when I can.

Have a great rest of the week!


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!

Baby name consultation: Maggie Clare’s little sister

Molly and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second girl! Their Little Miss joins big sister:

Margaret Clare (“I’ve always loved the name Maggie so picking her name was very easy. We decided on Clare as a middle name because we thought it flowed well with Margaret and we used the Irish spelling to honor our Irish roots.  If we hadn’t already used Clare, it might very well be the name we would have picked for this baby.”)

Margaret Clare is beautiful and timeless; Maggie is sweet and friendly; and Maggie Clare is a darling combo. I can see why it was an easy choice! I was determined to try and help Molly and her husband find a name they love just as much!

Molly writes,

This is our second rainbow baby girl and we are so very happy that she is joining us! I had started to think we wouldn’t be able to have another baby and I feel bad that the name is still up in the air.

Below are the names we are considering:

  • Elizabeth (nn Libby) — We thought we were set with this name but I am not sure if it’s quite right. We would love to use my maiden name (Christy) as the middle name. Maggie Clare is such a cute name and I don’t think Libby Christy has the same ring to it. Additionally, Elizabeth Christy LastName [a long Italian name] might be a mouthful. I do adore the name Elizabeth however, and the versatility it provides. I also think Libby is an adorable nickname. It may still be the frontrunner.
  • Nora — Nora has come in strong lately. I love the simplicity and think it flows better with Christy as a middle name. My concern is its current popularity. I feel like I hear the name a lot these days.  

Names we’ve discussed:

  • Bridget — a name I still really like but my husband does not. I’m also not a fan of the initials BM [last name begins with M].
  • Maeve — Love this name but doesn’t feel right.
  • Grace – Also considered this but again, not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora

As you can see, I like traditional, classic names with Irish roots — nothing funky but not too popular. I’d also love to incorporate my maiden name as the middle name.

Names we cannot use:

  • Katherine
  • Mary
  • Maureen
  • Patricia
  • Regan
  • Anne
  • Eleanor
  • Brianna
  • Riley
  • Rose

Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby is an absolutely fantastic choice for baby girl no. 2! I completely agree with Molly about Elizabeth’s versatility, as well as how adorable Libby is. This, to me, is the name to beat! And I personally don’t mind Elizabeth Christy LastName at all — it’s a beautiful, sophisticated name and not too much of a mouthful in my opinion. So let’s talk about Libby Christy for a minute. I love how Maggie Clare flows, and I agree that Libby Christy isn’t quite as pleasing. I spent some time trying to figure out why — the matching “ee” sound at the ends of the two names makes it seem too rhymey maybe? But then Mary Christy doesn’t bother me, nor does Ree Christy, nor does Molly’s own name Molly Christy, so I think with Libby it specifically has to do with the matching “short i” sound in the middle of both names as well. But then again, I was imagining myself naming a daughter Elizabeth Christine and could very easily see coming up with Libby Christy to use sometimes, especially in those early years when it’s so easy to use cutesy babytalk, so I don’t think it’s a total dealbreaker! My recommendation would be to go ahead with Elizabeth Christy nicknamed Libby and see what happens.

That said, I had some ideas about how to tweak this idea to maybe make it work better, one of which I included in my “official” suggestions below, and the other, which is less dramatic, is: Modify Libby when using it with Christy. I thought a name that didn’t end in the “ee” sound would sound better with Christy, and I thought that even if they call their little girl Libby most of the time, if they said “Libba Christy” every time they paired it with Christy, that flows a lot better. Another idea I had was inspired by a neighbor — her name is Elizabeth but she always (and still!) went by Libbett. Libbett Christy works nicely too, I think.

Before getting to my list of suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the other names on Molly’s list, in case they’re helpful:

  • Nora: I love Nora! I think it perfectly fits Molly’s preference for “traditional, classic names with Irish roots,” and I love how it sounds with Christy — it has a much more natural flow than Libby Christy. I personally wouldn’t worry about its popularity — it was no. 30 in 2020, and has hovered around there for the past few years, though it is remarkable that in 2000 it was no. 502 — it’s definitely had a steep increase in popularity in the last twenty years! But I think national popularity only really matters if it matches one’s local popularity, and it sounds like Molly lives in a place where Nora might be more popular than the national average, especially if she adds in any little Eleanors that also go by Nora. I think I do, too — my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter is Nora — but something else I love is that my parents’ neighbor is an older lady named Nora! Even with its current popularity, I think it still has that lovely vintage feel. Also, Nora’s popularity can’t even touch Elizabeth’s! Elizabeth was no. 16 in 2020, having dropped out of the top ten in 2014; before that, it was in the top ten just about every single year since 1980; and it’s been in the top 25 since forever. Elizabeth is a powerhouse! Which I’m sure is why so many nicknames for it have sprung up — to differentiate among all those Elizabeths! So I would say Molly’s concern probably isn’t popularity so much as it is a feeling of trendiness. It’s funny to think of a classic name like Nora being “trendy”! I definitely think Nora is one of those names that will endure, no matter its ups and downs on the popularity chart, which definitely sets it apart from the truly trendy names. Elizabeth is still my favorite for this baby, but if they go with Nora, I won’t be disappointed at all.
  • Bridget: I love Bridget too! BM-type initials are always an issue, though, I agree.
  • Maeve: Also a gorgeous name! And I like it with Christy! But if it doesn’t feel right, then I would suggest shelving it for now. They can always revisit it for a later baby, maybe.
  • Grace: So pretty and simple, but it’s telling that Molly said, “not feeling it so much as Elizabeth/Nora.”

So I think Molly and her hubs have a fantastic list — Elizabeth rises to the top for me as the strong favorite with, perhaps, some tweaking; Nora is a fantastic second, which I could see overtaking the first place spot without too much effort. Great options! But I can always come up with more! Haha! I always hate to muddy the waters, but it was fun to look for more ideas for this family.

You all know that I always start a 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 for this family, and as mentioned I also tried to think of other ways to work with Elizabeth. I also looked up “Irish immigrant names for girls,” as I felt like that best described Molly’s style, and I looked up two-syllable-ends-in-a names on babynamewizard.com. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Tess(a) (Elizabeth? Theresa?)

While I love Libby, and I love that Molly loves Libby, there are about a trillion Elizabeth nicknames, and some of them work better with Christy than others. I like how Ella Christy and Liza Christy sound, for example, and one of the more unexpected nicknames for Elizabeth is Tess (which is also one of my favorites, and if we’d ever had a second daughter she likely would have been Elizabeth nicknamed Tess) — Tess Christy and especially Tessa Christy have a really pleasing flow I think. Tess is actually a style match for Libby according to the Baby Name Wizard, which is one of the reasons I thought of it for Molly’s baby. Tess is also one of those “old timey Irish-y names” — names that seem to often be given to Irish girls/women in movies, like Nora (I immediately think of the grandmother in The Secret of Roan Inish, who was named Tess) — so even if Molly doesn’t care for it as a nickname for Elizabeth, perhaps she’d like to consider its “parent” name, Theresa (or Teresa or Therese) with the nickname Tess(a). (Tess and Tessa also have usage as given names in their own right, but using them as a nickname for a more formal name seems more Molly’s style.)

(2) Caroline

I really love Caroline for this family! It’s a style match for Margaret, Clare, and Elizabeth, and has some really sweet nicknames. One is Cara, which is also the Irish word for “friend” and works beautifully with Christy; others are Carly and Callie, which don’t work as well with Christy but aren’t terrible. The initials for Caroline Christy would be C.C., which could also lead to a nickname (like Cece for Cecilia, and they could spell C.C. as Cece, that totally works!). I could also see Cora working, if they want it to, which is so similar to Nora that it might be perfect.

(3) Sarah, Maura, Moira

I’m including these three together because they really feel like they could be replacements for Nora if Molly wants them to be. Sarah is a style match for Clare and Elizabeth, and was one of the top ten names for girls born in Ireland in 1864 according to this article. While Sarah works best with Christy when said together, they might also like Sarah’s traditional nickname Sadie. Sarah has been dropping in popularity from its top ten status from the late 70s to the early 2000s to no. 87 in 2020.

Maura and Moira are both Irish forms of Mary — I know Molly has both Mary and Maureen on the list of names she can’t use, but perhaps Maura and Moira are different enough? Maura rhymes with Nora and I’ve seen some people say Moira that way, too, though I think Moira is more often said like MOY-ra. Neither Maura nor Moira are in the top 1000.

(Bonus) Other two-syllable names ending in the A sound like Nora, Tessa, Sarah, Maura/Moira

Two-syllable-ends-in-a names work really nicely with Christy, so I looked through the list of such names on babynamewizard.com to see if there were any other ideas. I like these:

  • Anna: From this list, I think Anna is the closest to the style Molly seems to favor, it’s a beautiful, traditional, classic name that has good usage in Ireland
  • Deirdre: Deirdre Christy sounds like quite the Irish-American lass!
  • Emma: I’m sure Molly won’t want to use Emma because of popularity, but it is a sweet name
  • Gemma: Gemma is like Emma with a twist and far less popular and with a more obvious patron saint. I love it with Christy!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Maggie Clare?


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!

Birth announcement: Gemma Theadora!

Liz and I emailed a bit over the past few months about names for her baby, and I’m very happy to report that her little girl has been born and given the absolutely beautiful name … Gemma Theadora!

Liz writes,

We had the baby Friday. We were between 2 first names, and my husband decided he preferred Gemma (so did I), so that stuck. Since the first name was shorter, I was trying to gun for a longer middle name. I absolutely love the name Stellamaris, but he’s not keen on it. I was looking up some longer names, and I honestly don’t remember how I came across this one, but I threw out Theadora … He really gravitated to it, so much so that he was thinking of overriding our first name choice and calling her Theadora nn Thea (saw your blog post about a recent Thea’s birth). Ultimately, we decided to keep the names how we’d picked them, and Gemma Theadora arrived after 41wk2d. It’s a lot of A’s, many people we’ve informed via text have already asked if it’s a hard or soft G, someone thought I’d said Jenna, and lots have asked how we came up with Gemma. But it’s sparked some fun conversations about the Italian mystic from the 19th century. I don’t have a devotion to her; I just really like the name.”

I love so many things about this name story!! Gemma was a name Liz liked from the beginning, and it fit her husband’s preference for a name that would be used as-is; I love that Hubby was crazy for the middle name idea Liz suggested; I love that despite some issues that before birth might have seemed prohibitively annoying (a lot of A’s, others not knowing how to pronounce it or thinking it’s a different name, etc.), Liz has been enjoying the conversations that the name has sparked. And I love that St. Gemma has found this family, despite them not having a previous devotion to her! And Gemma Theadora is an absolutely gorgeous name!!

Congratulations to Liz and her husband, and happy birthday Baby Gemma!!


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!)

Birth announcement: Caroline Grace!

I had the privilege of posting a birth announcement for Sarah’s third baby a few years ago, and I’m thrilled to share that she’s had another baby — her third baby girl — given the gorgeous name … Caroline Grace!

Sarah writes,

As usual, my husband’s girl list is pretty short. We had to debate if we continue on incorporating his favorite, Claire/Clare, into the name so that she matched her sisters. We also had to weigh whether or not it really mattered to us if two kids shared a first-name initial when the others don’t. Ultimately, we decided to prioritize choosing a name we both liked and that had meaning to us over trying to find a name that sounded ideal with her siblings. So we may trip over Claire and Caroline, but maybe it’s having more kids now – it seems like less of a big deal when mixed in with the oldest two? 

Caroline is a family name on dh’s side – a beloved, holy great aunt and also also Grandma’s middle name. I also like the connection to St. John Paul II (Karol) and St Charles as well as the meaning “free man.”

Grace is also a paternal family name. Dh’s holy and much-loved grandmother bore the Spanish version, Graciela. We also like the connection to Our Lady.”

Isn’t Caroline Grace just so lovely and elegant?! Sarah mentioned that they debated incorporating Claire/Clare into the name so that “she matched her sisters” — as explained in her third baby’s birth announcement post, one of Sarah’s older girls has Clare as a middle name, and another has Claire as a first name, but as I told Sarah, I’ve often thought of Caroline as sort of a “longer Clare” — people who like Clare/Claire tend to like Caroline and I’m sure the shared sounds are part of it — so to me, I think they do kind of have Clare/Claire in all their girls’ names! (I know that thought process wouldn’t make sense to anyone else haha! Crazy Catholic name lady strikes again! 😀 )

Congratulations to Sarah and her husband and big sibs Nathaniel, Julianne, and Claire, and happy birthday Baby Caroline!!

Caroline Grace


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!)

Lilibet Diana, and honor names

I posted briefly on Twitter and Instagram yesterday when I heard the news about the birth of Harry and Meghan’s daughter and quickly received the most IG likes and comments I’ve had in a while! Some people love the baby’s name, while others have been driven to deeper depths of anger at H and M than they were before the baby was born. I’d love to know what you think!

I’m also thinking quite a bit about what makes a name an honor name, and when an honor name does the exact opposite. If you have thoughts and/or personal experiences on that topic, I’d love to hear that too!

As for me, my initial reaction upon hearing the name was to be absolutely stunned at how very perfect I thought it was. I’m always delighted at being surprised by a name, and I was thoroughly and happily surprised by Lilibet Diana. Though I’ve since thought more about the possible negative aspects of it, I continue to love it.

Please share your thoughts!

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!)