Birth announcement: Stellamaris Anne!

I posted a consultation for Lindsay and her husband right before Christmas, and Lindsay’s let me know her little green bean 🌱 has arrived! A little lady given the gorgeous name … Stellamaris Anne!

Lindsay writes,

Thank you so much for all your help on the baby names! Going in we decided the boy would be Thatcher Pio or Theodore Bent (I just loved your suggestion of using the Danish Benedict). For a girl we went in with Stellamaris Anne or Zellie Anne. I was really feeling Stella though because it had always been at the top of my list. I’ve also felt particularly close to Mother Mary during this pregnancy and once again consecrated myself to Jesus through our Blessed Mother at the end of March. I knew the babe would really have to strike me as a Zellie to go that route.

On April 8th we welcomed our baby girl Stellamaris Anne!  We are so pleased to have our little lady and I am truly in love with her name! I love to say it! 😉

PS After we knew we had our girl and were deciding what her name would be my husband threw in the name Gemma as an option. I love the name and it had been mentioned before but I said no it hasn’t been on the final list I can’t handle adding it now haha.”

Isn’t this a great name story?? I love the two boy names they’d decided on, and I love Lindsay’s explanation of Stellamaris vs. Zellie — so beautiful all around! And also — Gemma as a last-minute addition! I totally get not being able to handle a last-minute addition to the list! I love the name, I hope they keep it on their list of future possibilities.

Congratulations to Lindsay and her husband and big brother William, and happy birthday Baby Stellamaris!!

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Stellamaris Anne

Birth announcement: Alice Catherine and Clare Elizabeth!

You guys! Remember the consultation I posted for Kristin and her husband back in January for their miracle twin girls? A bunch of you told me that it was one of your favorite consultations ever — I loved working on it! Go back and read their story if you haven’t yet, and then come back here because they’ve arrived! And you’ll die over their names: the perfectly perfect … Alice Catherine and Clare Elizabeth!

Kristin writes,

On March 28th, we were proud to welcome Alice Catherine (6lb 2oz. – born at 7:57am) and Clare Elizabeth (7lb 4 oz. – born at 7:58am).

I was extremely blessed to carry the twins to full term (37 weeks + 5!) You’d think we would have been able to pick names by delivery time, but we hadn’t. We knew that one twin would be Alice, but Twin B’s name and both middle names were not selected until after we arrived at the hospital for delivery! We loved so many names that you suggested, especially the classic pair – Catherine and Elizabeth. My husband loved the name Claire/Clare, but I was on the fence because it is so popular! Yet as I prayed about their names, St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Clare of Assisi continually came up in reading or in passing. It was obvious these Saints would be patrons for the girls.

Thank you so much for helping us sort through names for our little miracle babies!

I can’t think of a better pair of names for twin girls!! I love that Alice and Clare have the same number of letters, and are a similar style but not too twinny/matchy, and I love that their middle names are the well matched Catherine and Elizabeth … I love that Alice and Elizabeth sort of echo each other, and Catherine and Clare begin with the same letter … so many great connections between these sweet girls’ names — Kristin and her husband did a fantastic job!!

Congratulations Mom and Dad, and happy birthday Alice and Clare!!

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Alice Catherine (left) and Clare Elizabeth (right) with their patron saint dolls St. Catherine of Siena and St. Clare of Assisi from the Saintly Silver Etsy shop

Baby name consultation: Bold Catholic names okay for Baby no. 2!

Rachel and her husband are expecting their second baby — a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 He or she joins big brother:

Albert Francis (Albie)

How cuuute is Albie??!! 😍

Rachel writes,

We always knew we wanted to have an Albert, as he is my husbands favorite saint, I am a nurse and my husband is a Physician Assistant so we spent most of undergrad and grad school praying that he would help us with tests as he is the Patron of the Sciences! St. Francis is also a favorite or ours and when our newest Pope took that name, we also felt called to use it when we were naming a baby someday. We love that Albie’s name is a mixture of a person so full of worldly knowledge and the sciences as well as a saint best known for his humility.  We didn’t know what we were having with our first (we also don’t know this time around) we were lucky that it was a Boy- as we had not really settled in on a girl name but had some options that we liked. However, settled in on Albie’s name right away- which I think is why it feels different this time around not being able to think of a name that we both agree on or have been able to feel connected to.

Naming babies is something that we have loved to do, we try and be really intentional in praying about it, as we really see as a making such an important decision for our kids- we celebrate Albie’s Feast day, have come across relics of St. Albert, visited the one St. Albert the Great church we could find- and have really looked to St. Albert as a protector for our son- trying to bridge the gap between the saints and us- even in a small way. For that reason I know that we would like the name to be a specific saint or blessed so that we can have that same connection for the next baby.

Currently the names that we like for girls are

Chiara Agnes (I really love that Agnes was Mother Theresa’s real name)
Zelie
Philomena
I like Faustina because I think she is a wonderful saint.
Being a working mom I probably ask St. Gianna for help 12 times a day 🙂

We do really love Blessed Chiara, I have been praying to her a lot during this pregnancy but for whatever reason just haven’t settled in on it for sure.

Names we have tossed around in no particular order for boys are:

Charles
Aloysius
Sebastian
Dominic
Jude (this is maybe my favorite?)
Maximilian

There are not many names that are definite “no’s” but we have a lot of Michaels in our family- so not really a name we would use- also our siblings names are Luke, Andrew, Joshua, Anna, Therese so would probably avoid these as well.

Nicknames are super important to us- so would love a name that we could shorten in a creative way. The most important thing is that we can feel connected to the saint that we are naming him or her after and that we are able to help blend the lessons we can learn from that person into the life of our child.

We aren’t intimidated by using pretty bold names (or “super Catholic” as my husband puts it!) We love being able to evangelize through this process, even in a small way, by teaching others about the lives and stories of saints through explaining how we named our kids- which is a position the I really think God has put us in time and time again when being able to explain how we named Albert to people may not otherwise hear these stories. We have always been so passionate about the way that science and religion in many ways complement each other rather than go against each other- and being able to speak about a saint whose life mission was to blend the 2 has been so fun for us!

Did you all see that? >>> “We aren’t intimidated by using pretty bold names (or “super Catholic” as my husband puts it!)” >>> Yessss!!! 😁

I love the names Rachel and her hubs are considering for their baby, and in fact I thought it was such a great and complete list that I had a hard time thinking of what I would add to it! Each one is heavy hitting and faith-y, and I love how St. Gianna and Bl. Chiara have been close to Rachel this pregnancy. I wonder if they would consider putting them both in one name? Chiara Gianna doesn’t have the best flow, but knowing that Chiara is the Italian variant of Clare/Claire/Clara and Gianna is a feminine form of John (so Joan, Jane, Joanna), they could do Chiara Jane or Clare Gianna or any of those combos, and though Clare/Claire/Clara/Joan/Jane/Joanna aren’t as obvious to others as Chiara and Gianna, they’re just as legitimate.

Also, re: Chiaria, I wanted to address how Rachel “for whatever reason just [hasn’t] settled in on it for sure” even though it seems clear to me that it’s her frontrunner. I wonder if maybe it’s because it’s such a different style from Albert? Certainly there’s no requirement to stick with the same style of name for every child—indeed, that’s one of the things I love about Catholic naming, that Archangela, Kateri, Joseph, and Bernadette can all be siblings under the umbrella theme of “Catholic saints”—so that might not be the hold up for Rachel and her hubs here. But Albert has a very distinct old-man feel to it (which is great! He’s a great saint and the names that peaked when his did [early 20th century] like Alice, Walter, and Helen are totally coming back right now) while Chiara feels more current and very Italian. So anyway, all that to say that Clare/Claire or Clara are much closer in feel to Albert. They can totally still honor Bl. Chiara, though I do understand that they might not feel close enough to her name.

So then I also wanted to suggest Mary Chiara. Adding Mary in front of any name makes that second name totally doable in my opinion, and can jazz up a second name (Mary Kate), sober a second name (Mary Willow), feminize a masculine name (Mary Charles), and Catholicize a more secular name (Mary Topanga). Or, in this case, it can pull Chiara a bit closer to Albert with its old-school Catholic feel. A Mary Chiara could still go by Chiara as a call name (most of my dad’s first girl cousins are Mary ___, and they all go by their middle names. One of them signs her name M. Kate, so that’s an option too, for signatures and school papers and that kind of thing), or she could go by the full Mary Chiara, or of course just Mary (or one of Mary’s many nicknames, like Molly, Mamie, Mimi, Mae/May).

If they liked the idea of Mary Chiara, they could still do Agnes as a middle name, thus considering “Mary Chiara” to be the first name. They could hyphenate it, if they wanted it even clearer: Mary-Chiara Agnes. Or maybe they’d like it to just be firstname Mary middlename Chiara, and save Agnes for a possible future daughter?

All that said however, they have such a good mix of older names and more current names on their list—and with Rachel’s favorite, Jude, being at an all-time high—that I’m guessing all this doesn’t fuss them a bit! I really do love the mix of styles.

So you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be for this family, since their taste is more eclectic and harder to pin down in one area (which is awesome), but it did give me some good ideas that I thought might be helpful for them. I admit I was swayed by the fact that Albert is the name Rachel and her hubs have already used—every time I saw a name that I thought had the same feel as Albert I’d excitedly scribble it down! But I did also try to bring in some names that fit more of a Chiara/Zelie/Gianna/Sebastian/Jude sensibility:

Girl
(1) Edith
Like Albert and Agnes, Edith is an old-timey name that’s coming back around again. I think, for broader society, the amazing nickname Edie has a lot to do with it; for Catholics, St. Edith Stein, aka St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, is a major inspiration.

(2) Hildegard
Rachel said they’re not intimidated by bold names, and Hildegard is definitely bold! It’s Germanic like Edith and Aloysius and really heavy-duty Catholicky Catholic because of our new(ish) Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. And is Hildi the cutest nickname ever or what??

(3) Genevieve
I like that Genevieve is an older name with some good current use, and St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris, which is pretty cool. It’s also got some great, popular nicknames: Evie, Vivi, Genny.

(4) Regina
Regina is one of the *most* Catholic names! I really can’t imagine anyone using it who isn’t Catholic, and I think everyone knows right away when they hear it that it refers to Mary. I’ve seen the combo Regina Caeli used recently as a first+middle combo, which I love.

(5) Veronica or Monica
Veronica is another Catholicky Catholic name—I know non-Catholics use it, but that always makes me chuckle! There are some really pretty nicknames for Veronica too—there’s the expected Ronni(e), but also Via, Vera, Vero, Vivi, Nica, and Nicky.

Monica has exactly the same sound as Veronica except the beginning V—which I think makes all the difference! V is hot right now, which makes Veronica a less surprising choice these days than the more mid-century Monica. But St. Monica’s an amazing saint, of course, and Mo, Mona, and Nica/Nicky could be nicknames for it. Or even Molly for something like Monica Zelie.

(6) Zita
Zelie always makes me think of Zita, and though there’s the Italian St. Zita, who is a great patron, it’s Servant of God Zita, Empress of Austria that I’ve been loving lately. What a woman she was!

(7) Gemma
Gemma was one of the names listed as a style match for Jude, and to me it’s 1000% St. Gemma Galgani. It’s such a pretty name with a Brit feel, due to its good use in England, that I think it fits in really nicely with Albert.

Boy
(1) Ambrose
Maybe following Albert with another A name won’t be their favorite idea? But since they have Aloysius on their list I thought Ambrose was a good one. It’s been on our list for a long time, and I’ve come up with a few nicknames that I love for it: Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially with a D middle name, like Ambrose Dominic).

(2) Leo
Leo has a similar feel to Jude—short, punchy, and totally Catholic, like Pope St. Leo the Great. There are a bunch of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee.

(3) Stanislaus
I’m living a bit vicariously through this suggestion! I love St. John Paul II and one of my favorite stories had to do with how he defied the Communist government with the help of St. Stanislaus—I shared it here. I’ve wanted to get on board with Stanislaus for one of our boys, but so far no luck! Stan is a natural nickname and has that friendly, old-timey feel of Albie (and funny enough, my not-really-namey husband has been telling me recently he likes the nickname Stan!).

(4) Gerard
I love St. Gerard Majella—he’s an invaluable help to expectant mothers and those whose babies are already born! I was thinking about how important nicknames are to Rachel and her hubs, and the ones I’ve suggested in the past for Gerard are Ged and even Jedi for the Star Wars inclined! But I was thinking … what about Jude? As a nickname for Gerard? That way they’d have a given name that was a natural fit as a brother to Albert, and a cool, equally saintly nickname. It might also provide a really natural “bridge” into other naming styles—Jude would help make Chiara/Zelie/Gianna a little less jarring I think (not that it matters what others think, of course!).

(5) Benedict
Up until 1968 Benedict stayed in the top 1000 but never got higher than 447 (1914) and dropped off completely after that, so I can’t even say it’s got a similar popularity arc as Albert, but it definitely has an old-school feel while still being able to hang out with the 21st century kids because of Pope Benedict and Benedict Cumberbatch. The nickname Ben has always struck me as friendly and easy, and Benny is also really sweet. I’ve also heard Ned for it, and I’ve often thought Bede could work for it too (another twofer! Two saints in one!).

(6) Louis
Not only have Louis and Albert followed a similar popularity arc, but—like with Benedict—Louis has a modern Catholic feel because of St. Louis Martin, St. Zelie’s husband. Maybe the connection between them would knock Zelie off their list for the future? Or maybe, like with this mom, they would like it!

(7) Blaise
Finally, Blaise was included in the Saints list in the BNW—a list at the back of the book that focuses on more unusual/exotic/surprising names like Aloysius, Chiara, Philomena, and Faustina—and as soon as I saw it I wanted to suggest it for this family because of their science/medicine connection! St. Blaise of the throat blessings was a physician—described as a “Healer of men and animals” on CatholicSaints.info—and Blaise Pascal is familiar enough to people I think that he automatically adds a math and sciences feel to the name.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Albie’s little brother or sister?

Birth announcement: Maristella Rose!

I posted a consultation for Stephanie and her husband at the end of January — in which they were looking for help with a boy name for their green bean 🌱, as they’d already decided on a girl name — and Stephanie’s let me know her little Miss has been born and given a *different* name than planned! Instead of Hope, they went with the gorgeous … Maristella Rose!

Stephanie writes,

I gave birth to a beautiful daughter on March 2nd and her sex was a complete surprise to us! I was so convinced I was having a boy. We decided in the last few weeks of my pregnancy that the girl name we had chosen early on did not seem to suit us anymore – Hope. I wasn’t too concerned about coming up with another one though because, like I said, I was so convinced I was having a third boy. So you can imagine my surprise when I delivered a baby girl! My husband had suggested Maristella a few days before she was born and I thought the name was lovely. I actually have a friend named Sr. Maris Stella and I love the Ave Maris Stella hymn so I was familiar with the name/title for our Lady. My husband suggested the name again after she was born but I definitely needed to sit on it and pray about it for a few days. I love Marian and unique names but this one seemed a little out of my comfort zone. So I prayed on it and received a lot of grace and peace that this was the name for our daughter. Maristella seemed fitting too because I met my husband at a Maritime college and Mary our Mother has brought us on quite a journey over the last 6 years with 5 kids (two in heaven), 7 jobs, 6 houses in 3 states! But she’s always been our guiding light through all the ups and downs. We chose Rose as her middle name because we have a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and the stars in her mantle tied into Star of the Sea.

Anyway I’d love your input on a nickname! Maristella seems so big and long for such a little baby. I sometimes call her Stella Rose but I’m not sure of myself! Do you have any other thoughts?!

Thanks again for your lovely boy suggestions! We’ll save them for next time!

Maristella Rose is such an amazingly beautiful name!! And all the layers of meaning Stephanie listed blew me away too, what a meaningful choice!!

As for nickname ideas, I actually really love that Stephanie’s calling her Stella Rose — I love nicknames that arise naturally, and since she’s been calling her that, it sounds like Stella Rose is a natural fit. If they wanted to consider others for Maristella though, I could see Mari, Molly, Missy, Milla, and Mia all working pretty well. Even something like Mo if they wanted to combine sounds from her first and middle names. Or Rosie, if they were open to a nickname of her middle name. So many pretty options! Do you have any to add?

Congratulations to Stephanie and her husband and big brothers Jude and Isaac, and happy birthday Baby Maristella!!

Maristella Rose with her big brothers

Birth announcement: Rowen James!

I did a consultation for Haley and her hubs a while ago, and she recently updated me on the name they chose for their handsome little guy — the equally handsome … Rowen James!

She writes,

I reached out to you for help naming my second son back in 2015. He ended up coming two weeks early (even though I KNEW this was a possibility, I wasn’t expecting it!), and all new baby craziness broke loose before time slipped by into regular life, and for that I apologize. I had wanted to write and let your know what names we ended up choosing, but it took another Patton Post to remind me–almost two years later–to get with it!

As a reminder, we wanted the name to have some family connection and we wanted it to match his older brother, Miles Howard. We were still pinning down names when he was born, but we went with Rowen James. The “Rowen” spelling a nod to a family surname Bowen (as opposed to the more traditional “Rowan”–I went the rounds on that), meaning “little red” . I was sold on it after he came out with red hair, also to match his brother! The  name James is after his grandfather.

Of course, after all is said and done, I’ve come to see that Rowan is becoming a trendy indie name for girls (why?! WHY?), but I had not idea that was the case at the time. Oh well. It’s not like he’s a boy named Sue, right? 😉

Thanks again for all your help and input into our name. You really likes James at the time, and I’m glad we went with it.”

Well I think Rowen James is an amazing name, and I love all the layers of meaning! The spelling being a nod to a family surname, the meaning of the name, and the fact that the baby actually did (and does!) have red hair — perfectly perfect!!

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and big brother Miles, and happy belated birthday to the dashing Rowen! (Could he be any more adorable??)

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Rowen James

April CatholicMom column is up!

My CatholicMom article for April posted today! It was inspired by a consultation I did for a family last year, and I thought it would be fun to revisit. I’d love to know what names you’d add to my list of Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names.

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(If you’d like to know what that family ended up choosing, check out the wee lady’s birth announcement — such a great choice!)