Baby name consultation: Tiebreaker baby needs not-too-popular, classic, Catholic name with a great nickname

We had the opportunity to go away for the weekend, so we took it! So I missed wishing you all a happy feast of St. Dominic (Saturday) — a big deal for this lay Dominican! — and of St. Edith Stein (Sunday) — a big deal for me because it’s my second oldest’s birthday (he turned 14)! Such a great couple of feast days!

Nicole and her husband Brenden both — separately — survived accidents which left them with severe traumatic brain injuries, then met each other in rehab and got married, became motivational speakers with the so-needed message that every life has a purpose, and are expecting their fifth baby — a tie-breaking boy! (Read more about their mission and ministry on their web site!) Each of their children is extra miraculous, since Nicole had been told she wouldn’t be able to have children. Such an inspiring couple and family!

Their littlest guy joins big sibs:

Faith Marie
Seth William
Veronica Kateri
Kieran James

Of course I love all these names! I love how they each have at least one name that’s a little more unexpected: Faith, Seth, Veronica, Kateri, and Kieran are all out of the top 100, coming in at numbers 122, 376, 357, not top 1000, and 497, respectively, in 2018. I like that a lot!

Nicole writes,

We like relatively classic names that are not unheard of but not super popular either … I think finding a name is so so so difficult for us for a few reasons:

(1) Our friends are almost completely Catholic and have pretty much chosen all of the best names

(2) I love nicknames and if there is a controversial nickname or one that I don’t care for it gets excluded

(3) So far baby names we’ve thought were “the one” but changed from are:

— Christian (I think it sounds redundant with big sister Faith)
— Maximilian (my husband has a cousin named Max)
— Kellan (I think the names Kieran & Kellan are too much next to each other and we would potentially like to use Cole as the middle name and [I don’t want to use the initials KC])

I would love it if you could find name options with either a -ca or -an ending [like Veronica or Kieran] of a letter in common with all of the [kids’ names] … we have a special devotion to the rosary … A Marian name might be good for this babe as I feel (like so many other people) a special devotion to Our Lady … [also] I was diagnosed with a rare genetic autoimmune disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) [and] I was hoping you could offer a name option of someone that either lived with a sickness their entire life (similar to me), who cared for the sick, or a patron saint of respiratory, joint, arthritis.”

I love that Nicole let me know about their devotion to the rosary and Our Lady, as well as her diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Those kinds of things are really meaningful to me as well, and I kept them in mind as I was working on this for her. I admit I couldn’t figure out a connection with EDS (I looked it up quickly, but didn’t see anything that seemed relevant — if any of you know of anything, please share!), but Marian and Rosarian connections are my specialty! (Or at least, one of my favorite inspirations for names!)

Before getting to my list of suggestions for this family, I want to address the names that they’ve considered (and even thought were “the one”) and decided against (they gave me good extra info to use in my research). I thought it might be helpful to hear my thoughts on those names:

  • Christian: Such a great name, one of my favorites! I can see what Nicole means about Christian being redundant with big sister Faith
  • Kellen: I totally agree that Kieran and Kellen are too similar, unfortunately, especially with Kellen immediately following Kieran
  • Maximilian: I love St. Maximilian Kolbe, so I love seeing this name on their list! If Max is the biggest reason that they don’t want to use it, I wonder if a different nickname would help? My favorite nickname suggestion for Maximilian is Miles — I’ve suggested it many times to parents in other consultations. Not only do I think Miles is a cool and totally possible nickname for Maximilian, but it has Marian connections of its own! I wrote a book of Marian baby names and included Miles in it for this reason:

Miles is an Anglicization of an old Irish name — in this case, Maolmhuire, meaning ‘servant of the Virgin Mary.’”

And Maximilian is in my book too! I wrote:

This name points to the greatness of Our Lady, as Maximilian means ‘greatest,’ as well as to St. Maximilian Kolbe … who had a great love for Our Lady

So I could see Maximilian nicknamed Miles being a great option for this baby! However, if Nicole still doesn’t want to go with Maximilian, I wonder what they would think of Miles as a given name, for the reasons I outlined above?

I love that they’re considering Cole as a middle name — in honor of Nicole, I’m assuming? I love the name Cole, and think honoring Mom in a son’s name is fantastic. However, I have a few ideas below that wouldn’t go so well with Cole as a middle name, so I offered some alternative ideas, in case they’re helpful.

In terms of finding a saint connected to Nicole’s autoimmune disease, St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron of arthritis, and St. Bernardine of Siena is the patron of respiratory illnesses. I didn’t think either one is their style, though I included St. Alphonsus below in the list of “rosary saints” (and he’s got a bunch of amazing names included in his [very long] given name!). Nicole’s thought about a saint who lived with a sickness his/her entire life reminded me immediately of Bl. Margaret of Castello (she was a lay Dominican! And patroness of disabled/physically challenged people!), so I included a name connected to her below.

Alrighty, so when I was looking for names that Nicole and Brenden might like, I took into account how Nicole said she’d love name options with either a -ca ending, like Veronica, or an -an ending, like Kieran, or a letter in common with all the kids. I kept nicknames in mind, as well as the fact that they prefer more classic-sounding names, and the aforementioned devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary. Otherwise, you all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard book, 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 then took a look at the list of results to see if any names jumped out as being similar to more than one of their children’s names, as well as those with great faith connections. Based on all that, these are my additional suggestions for this baby boy:

(1) Gabriel
I noticed Gabriel immediately as it’s a style match for Faith and Christian! Additionally, Gabriel is incredibly Marian and Rosarian because of his role in the Annunciation. Its traditional nickname is Gabe, which I love because it’s so friendly, but I’ve also seen Gib and Gil, both of which I think are amazing. I quite like Gabriel Cole.

(2) Caleb
Though Nicole had suggested a -ca name or an -an name to match up with Veronica or Kieran, I focused more on the fact that both had strong K sounds (as do Kateri, Christian, and Kellen), and hoped to find names with a similar sound. Caleb seemed like a perfect candidate! I love that it not only has the strong K sound like Kieran, but also begins with the same Ca that Veronica ends with, is biblical like Seth, and was an actual style match for Faith per the BNW. Caleb Cole isn’t the best flow, perhaps, but maybe Caleb Maximilian? Caleb Francis, for St. Francis de Sales (Nicole told me in another message that she was born on the feast of St. Francis de Sales)? Caleb Brenden, for Dad?

(3) Kolbe
Very similar in sound to Caleb, I wonder what they would think of Kolbe as a first name? It’s got that strong K sound that ties Veronica and Kieran together, and is a non-Max way of honoring St. Maximilian Kolbe. It could also possibly nod to Nicole, because of the “Cole” sound at the beginning? Kolbe Francis and Kolbe Brenden are both nice options.

(4) Dominic
Maximilian has that heavy, monastery feel of names like Augustine, Benedict, and Dominic, and when I saw Dominic listed as a style match for it, I thought it could be awesome for this family. Not only is it a great name, but according to tradition, St. Dominic was given the rosary by Our Lady and the Dominicans have always promoted it. Additionally, it’s got Veronica’s and Kieran’s hard K sound, and the ending “nic” could be a nod to Nicole! Some nicknames include Dom/Dommy (like Tom/Tommy, so cute!) and Nic/Nicky/Nico. I quite like Dominic Cole, as well as Dominic Francis, Dominic de Sales, and Dominic Brenden. It’s an entry in my book of Marian names, and I spotlighted it on the blog here (a big reason was to assure those who aren’t of Italian or Spanish heritage that Dominic is an amazing option!).

(5) Patrick
The more I think about Patrick, the more I like it for this family. It’s got the hard K sound, it’s Irish like Kieran and Brenden, and it’s got some really cool nickname ideas. If they like Pat, that’s great — I know a few men named Pat, and it works well. They could go the ultra Irish route with Paddy, which I also love! But I think they might prefer something like Packy or Pax, both of which I’ve seen used for Patrick, and I think they really help freshen up the name. Also, Pax means “peace”! They could use it as a nod to Our Lady of Peace, giving it a Marian spin. Patrick Cole, Patrick Francis, Patrick de Sales, and Patrick Brenden are all really handsome.

(6) Nicholas or Nico
I’m guessing that maybe they’ve already considered Nicholas and decided they like Cole more? But it’s a style match for Veronica and Christian, it’s got the hard K sound, it’s a perfect way to name a boy after Nicole, and they can totally use Cole as a nickname. It’s also biblical like Seth. Nicholas Francis would be a really nice way to honor Nicole — the male version of her first name and the Saint whose feast day is the day she was born! If Nicholas is too popular for their taste, then maybe Nico as a given name? Nico Francis?

(7) Luke
Luke is a style match for Faith and Seth (!), it’s got the hard K of Veronica and Kieran, and it’s a super Marian name! Luke’s gospel is considered the most Marian, as it contains the accounts of the Annunciation, the Visitation, the first half of the Hail Mary, and Our Lady’s beautiful Magnificat, which is why it’s in my book. Luke Cole doesn’t sound so great, but maybe Luke Nicholas? Luke Francis? Luke de Sales? Luke Brenden?

(8) Owen
Owen is a match for Faith, it has the -n ending of Kieran (not -an, but the -en has a similar sound), and it has that Irishy feel of Kieran and Brenden (and Kellan, to a certain extent). It’s also the last name of one of my favorite saints — St. Nicholas Owen — so something like Owen Nicholas or even Owen Cole would be extra meaningful. I also love Owen Francis and Owen Brenden.

(9) Isaac
Isaac is totally based on the fact that it’s biblical like Seth and has the hard K of Veronica and Kieran — it’s such a great name! Ike is a traditional nickname for it, as is Zac. Isaac Francis, Isaac Cole, Isaac Nicholas, and Isaac Brenden are all great.

(10) Garrett
Garrett is inspired by Bl. Margaret Castello — and I know of a little boy named in honor of a different St. Margaret, because his dad has a devotion to her, and the name they chose to honor her in a boy was Garrett (because of the -garet ending of Margaret). I love Garrett! It’s got an Irishy feel, and is actually derived from Gerard, which is another great patron — St. Gerard Majella is the patron of pregnant women and unborn children.

Those are all my “official” suggestions for first names for Nicole and Brenden’s little guy, but there are also a bunch of Saints and other names that relate to the Rosary that might be perfect as middle name contenders (or maybe first name ideas as well?), which I wanted to include in case one of them hits the right note (these are all from my book):

  • Bl. Alan de la Roche (also known as Alain de la Roche, Alan de Rupe, Alano de la Roca, and Alanus [de] Rupe)
  • St. Alphonsus Liguori (his full name: Alphonsus Maria Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de Liguori!)
  • Bl. Bartolo Longo (Bartolo is a variant of Bartholomew)
  • Benedict (it means “blessed” and as such can refer to Our Lady; there are of course a bunch of Sts. Benedict)
  • Clement (means “merciful” or “gentle,” and is used as an adjective for Our Lady in the Hail Holy Queen)
  • Francis (can be used for St. Francisco, one of the children at Fatima)
  • St. Louis de Montfort (he’s a huge Marian saint and wrote the classic The Secret of the Rosary)
  • Rosario (means “rosary”)
  • Royce (as I wrote in my book: “This traditional male name is from a medieval variant of Rose, which makes Royce an entirely appropriate way to name a little boy for Our Lady”)

And those are my ideas for Nicole and Brenden’s baby boy! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Bernadette Frances!

I posted a consultation for Margie and her husband back in May, and I’m thrilled to share that their baby has arrived — a little girl given the first name Margie’s loved for a while, with a family middle: the beautiful … Bernadette Frances!

Margie writes,

We went with the name I originally loved, Bernadette. And I really can’t picture another name for her (although we joked at the hospital and sent the family Cora Deeann — CDC). We picked Frances as the middle name as the tribute to my father-in-law, my grandpa and my husband’s grandma. We really like honoring family in that regard.

We’ve considered Birdie as the nickname and our 2-year-old, Penelope, likes to call her Adette (adebt). And Henry is already asking for a brother. 😝”

I love love love Bernadette Frances! I’m so glad they went with it! (Cora Deeann — CDC! 😂😂😂)

Congratulations to Margie and her husband and big sibs Henry and Penelope, and happy birthday Baby Bernadette!!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Iris Miriam!

I’ve emailed the five winners of the St. Anne giveaway, but have only heard back from three of you — Thalita and Anne, please check your email! 

I posted my predictions for Grace Patton’s baby back in February, and for those who haven’t already seen, I’m excited to finally share the birth announcement for said baby — a little girl given the gorgeous name … Iris Miriam!

Grace wrote in the birth announcement on her blog:

Iris Miriam has arrived! She was born on June 1st and I’ll save all the details for the birth story that should be up superdupersoon but she’s been a delightful addition to the family and I’m still SO surprised that she was a she! All of the older kids have been a huge help and Clement is pretty independent and hasn’t seemed bothered that there’s a new baby in town … yet. Abe finally started calling her, “Iris” instead of, “virus” and is always walking around closing the shutters in the house saying she doesn’t like the sunshine (??). Overall, we’re adjusting well and feel so fortunate to have her here safe and sound.”

(Abe calling her “virus” kills me! 😂😂😂)

And in her birth story post, Grace wrote:

Simon and I were SO sure that I was having a boy (her heart rate was super low throughout the pregnancy which isn’t a proven theory — it was proof enough for me and my late night Google searches) that we hadn’t nailed down a middle name in the event we had a girl.

We decided to toss around some girl middle names and decided we wanted to go the Marian route and I was super surprised Simon agreed to Miriam because he normally goes through a, “no way … maybe … I’ll think about … maybe … I don’t know … I guess … maybe … okay!” song and dance when I suggest any name at all. So, easy peasy.”

I just love the combo Iris Miriam so much! I know Iris was a longtime favorite of Grace’s, so I’m thrilled for her that she got to use it. And a Marian middle will never not be my favorite thing. So beautiful!

Congratulations to Grace and Simon and big siblings Julia, Sebastian (Bash), Theodore (Theo), Phoebe, Bosco, Abraham (Abe), and Clement, and happy birthday Baby Iris!!

Check out Grace’s web site and her Instagram for pictures of her beautiful baby!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

New names for Brothers of two religious orders, and a question about religious name changes

Good morning! Happy Friday!!

I read on Facebook and Instagram yesterday the announcement by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph of the upcoming Simple Profession of six Brothers on the feast of the Assumption. They listed them by name, and asked for prayers for them:

Br. Samuel Macarias
Br. Robert John Henry
Br. Leo Rocco Maria
Br. William Pius Mary
Br. Peter Micah Mary
Br. Daniel Raphael Mary

Of course, you know I’m so interested in their names — it seems clear that there are is least some partial taking-on of new names, but the middle name(s) seem the most obvious examples — are the first names new too? You know I love seeing Mary and Maria in there!

On the same topic, just the other day one of you readers, Mary, who has often sent me interesting name tidbits over the years, sent me a link to a podcast episode by the Servants of Christ Jesus (a community of priests and brothers “committed to advancing the new evangelization through the praise, reverence and service of God, our Lord … inspired to live the Gospel through the evangelical poverty of St. Francis of Assisi and the apostolic formation of St. Ignatius Loyola”) on the topic of religious name changes! In their community, each priest or brother is given a new name, which is composed of the name of an apostle and the last name of an Ignatian saint. The men listed on their web site have these names:

Fr. John Ignatius
Fr. Paul Kostka
Fr. James Claver
Br. Thomas Gonzaga
Br. Peter Xavier
Br. Andrew Brébeuf

The podcast was a discussion between the host and Br. Thomas Gonzaga and Br. Peter Xavier on religious name changes in general, and specifically in their community, and specifically to each of them individually. I listened to it this morning, and wrote down several things:

  • Br. Peter Xavier says ZAY-vyer, not k-SAY-vyer (ex-ZAY-vyer, ig-ZAY-vyer)
  • Religious name changes are “one of those curious aspects of Catholic religious life”
  • In Catholicism, there is “always a physical sign that symbolizes an interior reality”
  • Name changes are a way of “leaving behind the old man and putting on the new man,” as St. Paul says in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4
  • They have a small community, so it hasn’t yet been a problem that there are only thirteen apostles’ names to choose from (the original twelve, minus Judas, plus Matthias and Paul); they thought if they run out of apostles’ names they’ll go to other New Testament names, then Old Testament names, but not sure what happens after this. Naming in this way is their tradition, but they’re not bound by it, and their Superior will ultimately decide
  • When it comes time for them to receive their new name, their Superior proposes a name option that he thinks would be fitting, then he asks the man to bring it to prayer to discern it. “There’s always a discernment process after the offer” of a name
  • Each of the Brothers told the stories behind their new names — so interesting, and so personal! They both felt that Jesus showed them both at least part of their new names, if not the entire thing, before they were proposed
  • They both felt that, though they’re given the opportunity to discern the new name, they both had a sense of “trusting and obedience to the Superior’s will”
  • The new name provides them the constant opportunity to “willfully recall that Jesus has renamed me”
  • Fast food places are the hardest places to give their religious names!
  • Their legal names are still their baptismal names, which makes things like traveling and visiting the doctor somewhat complicated
  • There is a lot of emotion surrounding their new names on the part of family and friends, and especially parents. One said he feels “so loved” when he sees his family and friends stretch themselves to remember to use his religious name. To him, it’s a sign that they want to respect what Jesus has done in their lives, it’s a way of showing respect and honor for the Lord. Taking on a new name is not a way of trying to distance themselves from their family, but a way of trying to get closer to Jesus. “I want to identify myself with what Jesus has declared”; “Detachment is never easy, especially when it’s such a good in your life”
  • A new name provides the “grace of greater intimacy with Jesus”
  • Some communities allow the candidates to submit name options, but they both like the process in their community of accepting a name given to them by their Superior. Since Jesus gave them their new names, they feel Jesus’ love in their new names
  • “There’s so much hidden in a name”

These are just the things that jumped out at me — there’s lots more for you to discover, and I know you’d love to hear about each of their particular name story! You can find the podcast on their site, or on iTunes.

Finally, one of you tagged me in a tweet from Fr. Thomas Petri, OP (OP means “Order of Preachers,” which is the Dominicans), in which he said,

A friend’s daughter just had her 1st baby (my friend is now a grandfather). The baby is named Quinn Louis after St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand. I have to admit that Quinn for Aquinas is very creative and now I’m wondering whether that could be used as a religious name.”

I do love Quinn Louis for St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand! While I’m sure the question was meant lightheartedly, being the crazy Catholic name lady I am, I’d be interested to know if Quinn for Aquinas would be considered okay for a religious name change. My sense is no? That’s it’s a bit too informal/not etymologically related/not obvious enough? Do any of you know?

Have a great day and 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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

We have winners! And happy feast of Bl. Solanus Casey!

Congratulations to the winners of the St. Anne giveaway: Kristen, Samantha, Anna, Thalita, and Anne!! I emailed you all — please let me know if you didn’t get it!

Thank you to all who entered! If you’d still like one of these beautiful prints (available in a variety of sizes), you can purchase one at Delphina Rose Art. And don’t forget that Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)

Today is my mom’s birthday AND the feast of Bl. Solanus Casey — it would be such a gift if you would say a prayer for my mom, and if you could invoke Bl. Solanus’ intercession for her, all the better! This is what I wrote on Instagram at the end of the several photos I posted during Bl. Solanus’ beatification Mass, which was attended by my parents and my sister (and my sister was part of the procession):

Today was all about #BlessedSolanusCasey, and for my family it was also about my sister, but a shout-out to my mom @irishnannie is a must: she painstakingly compiled all the information pertaining to the miracle of my sister’s life, gathering materials from thirty three years ago from her own notes and hospital records; she tracked down the neonatologist who cared for my infant sister and got him on board (it didn’t take much convincing! And he’s not even Catholic!); she secured the enthusiastic support of our bishop; she kept up continuous communications with the vice postulator; and most of all, she has never ever wavered in her conviction that her baby’s life was given back through Fr. Solanus’ intercession. So I was so happy for her that this beautiful Irish music was played during the Mass, as a nod to Fr. Solanus’ Irish heritage (my mom’s a first generation Irish-American and prouder than proud of it!) AND that his feast day has been set as July 30 — which just happens to be Mom’s birthday. #MollyandFrSolanus #FrSolanusCasey @albanydiocese

I was amazed at God’s generosity in allowing Mom’s birthday to be chosen as Bl. Solanus’ feast, after all her unwavering faith and focused hard work in pulling together the necessary materials to submit my sister’s story to his cause for beatification. (A different miracle was accepted as the required miracle for Fr. Solanus’ to be beatified, but my sister was invited to be part of the procession because of her special connection to this special priest. I recently read this biography of him, which I highly recommend.) (Fr. Solanus died on July 31, so it’s a truly unexpected gift that his feast day was set for the day before.)

So many things to celebrate today! I hope you all have a great day!!


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

St. Anne giveaway ends tonight! Don’t forget to enter!

Be sure to head on over to Rafflecopter to enter! The giveaway closes tonight at midnight Eastern time, so you have about twelve more hours! A refresher on the details:

That’s it! And don’t forget that Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

What’s in a (Catholic) name? {An interview with Sancta Nomina by Jenny Uebbing}

This interview with Jenny Uebbing (longtime friend of Sancta Nomina) appeared on her blog Mama Needs Coffee on March 10, 2017. She’s not maintaining her blog anymore, so the link to the original post no longer works, and I really loved all the information I pulled together for it — I found it helpful for my own self, and I think a lot of you might as well! — so I moved it here!

What’s in a (Catholic) name? {An interview with Sancta Nomina}

Questions from Jenny: What is the significance of using a saint’s name? Why does the Church care about names, period? What’s in a (Catholic) name? Why is the Church concerned with what names we give our children, and why should we think with the mind of the Church when naming? What is the history behind the Church desiring saint’s names for baptism (obviously that had to start somewhere, since canonized saints were a later theological development).

Kate: The Church is concerned with the names we give our children because names are important! I recently read something our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (or Papa Benny, as I like to think of him) wrote about the Patriarch Jacob wrestling with God in the book of Genesis, and the subsequent bestowing of his new name (Israel), and BXVI explained that “in the biblical mentality the name contains the most profound reality of the individual, it reveals the person’s secret and destiny. Knowing one’s name therefore means knowing the truth about the other person.”

That’s heavy stuff! And we certainly see names given a lot of attention in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, from God allowing Adam to name all the animals, to name changes that signified a change in identity and mission (Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul — we see this even today with Confirmation names, religious names, and papal names), to God Himself choosing certain babies’ names (John the Baptist, Jesus). Some of the most moving verses in the Bible, to me, are from Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:9-11): “God greatly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”—every time I read them I feel a swell of emotion, they’re so full of the awesomeness and power of God.

Outside of the Bible — and certainly taking example from it — the Church has had a lot to say about names! According to The Catholic Encyclopedia “the assumption of a new name for some devotional reason was fairly common among [early] Christians” and was usually associated with baptism, especially from the fourth century and later. Examples of new names included those of apostles, martyrs, and even peers who had helped effect one’s conversion to the faith. And St. John Chrysostom advised parents in the fourth century:

So let the name of the saints enter our homes through the naming of our children, to train not only the child but the father, when he reflects that he is the father of John or Elijah or James; for, if the name be given with forethought to pay honor to those that have departed, and we grasp at our kinship with the righteous rather than with our forebears, this too will greatly help us and our children. Do not because it is a small thing regard it as small; its purpose is to succor us.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia offers several more references to the practice of Christian names being bestowed at baptism throughout history, including pronouncements by the Church (local and universal), and in the old Code of Canon Law, which was in effect from 1917 until 1983, parents were *required* to give their child a “Christian name” (which didn’t necessarily have to be a saint’s name — virtue names, for examples, were fine) or the priest would bestow a saint’s name upon the baby at baptism.

It wasn’t until the new Code of Canon Law took effect in 1983 that the wording was changed to say: “Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given” (Canon 855), which, as you can see, allows for a lot of names that might not have been okay before (see my CatholicMom article on names that are foreign to Christian sensibility). Basically, these days most names are just fine, and I feel like the change of wording in Canon Law is further evidence of the wisdom and foresight of the Church because modern parents love individuality and creativity in naming! According to name expert Laura Wattenberg, “it took a list of six names to cover half of the population of children born in England in 1800 (U.S. Social Security Administration records don’t begin until 1880). By 1950 in the United States, that number was up to 79. Today, it takes 546 names to cover half of the population of U.S. babies born.” To parents naming babies in this environment then, the names that are traditionally thought of when “saints’ names” are considered — John, Mary, Joseph, Anne — often feel restrictive and uninspired. Couple that with how many people seem to leap at any chance to dismiss the Church’s teachings as outdated or out of touch, and you can see how the new Canon on names came at a perfect time — now you can be a 21st-century namer AND a good Catholic!

I love how you phrased your question: “Why should we think with the mind of the Church when naming?” We’ve just discussed the Church’s history of understanding how important names are, and I also really like this explanation given by Cathy Caridi, J.C.L., at the Canon Law Made Easy blog:

This is not merely a question of personal taste … if a priest is to baptize a child, there must be a well founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith … If the parents wanted to give a bizarre, unchristian name to their child, it would be altogether natural for the parents’ pastor to question their intentions! Are they serious about rearing their child as a Catholic? Or do they regard the whole baptismal ceremony as an empty tradition or even a joke? It is the pastor’s duty to find out.”

And I love how St. John Chrysostom pointed out that the purpose of giving one’s children the names of saints is to help us, and that by doing so we allow the name of the saints to enter our homes and strengthen our relationship with those holy men and women, and encourage our reliance on their example and intercession. That’s how I think of all the names that I consider to fall within the sphere of Catholic names (saint/biblical/virtue names, and names of prayers, Marian titles/adjectives and apparition sites and other holy places; other ideas here) — they all allow our faith to enter our homes and families and stay top of mind and heart.

Jenny: What uniquely Catholic naming trends have you observed in the years you’ve been following/studying? Any crazy things stand out to you (either crazy awesome or crazy awful?) Any commentary on the insanely wonderful JPII situation in my preschool, for example? ([I]n my pre-k’s Catholic Montessori class, we have John Paul (ours), Giovanni Paulo, JP, Juan Pablo, and JohnPaul.)

Kate: I really love seeing the variety of tastes among devout Catholic families! Among the families I’ve connected with through my blog and name consultations, I’ve seen children with really classic, traditional names, and children with totally outside-the-box names, and everything in between. I’ve gotten loads of ideas and inspiration from the names of the babies I’ve encountered — beautiful names connected to both little-known and well-known saints and other holy people (Servants of God, Venerables, Blesseds), and creative twists like double first names (Anne-Catherine) and names that recall prayers through their sound (Sylvie Regina, Agnes Daisy). Marian names are some of my very favorites, and there are so many! I’m also a big nicknamer, so I think it’s really fun to see a serious, sophisticated formal name with a playful nickname (like Romy for Rosemary or Bash for Sebastian).

I like to spotlight families on my blog who have done something different and eye-opening with naming their babies, in order to show others the wide array of Catholic naming possibilities — names like Vianney, Clairvaux, Kapaun, Lourdes, Bosco, and Tiber and combos like Indigo Madonna and Hyacinth Clemency Veil. Each one of those names has impeccable, uber Catholic ties to holy people, places, or ideas while still being unexpected. I also love encountering real-life babies with hardcore old-school Catholicky Catholic names like Perpetua, Philomena, Gerard, Augustine, and Clement, as well as sibling sets with a mix of names — traditional and modern, unusual and familiar — like brothers Michael, Benedict, Kolbe, and Casper.

I really really love the “insanely wonderful JPII situation” in your son’s class! I definitely see a lot of love being given to our St. John Paul the Great through names — your son and his classmates demonstrate perfectly the various ways to use his papal name, and I know both boys and girls named after him using his pre-papal name, Karol (Polish for Charles), as inspiration: Karol, Carol, Charles, Charlotte, Caroline, Karoline. I’ve even seen some Loleks, after his childhood nickname! I’ve also had several conversations with parents who want to use the name John Paul but aren’t sure how to handle it: is it a double first name, and therefore they should choose a middle name? Is it a first name and a middle name? Should they spell it John Paul or John-Paul or Johnpaul? I spotlighted one family who solved the issue of a middle name for John Paul in a really interesting way, and I really love that families are willing to wrestle with it for the ultimate goal of giving their boys such an amazing and beloved patron saint.

Another name that’s been really hot with Catholic families is Zelie, both with and without the accent on the first ‘e’ and in all its forms, including Azelie, Zellie, Zaylee, and Zaley, and also used in combos like Zelie-Louise, thus really reinforcing the connection to the Martin saints, Zélie (born Marie-Azélie) and Louis. (I wrote more about the whole phenomenon here.)

Jenny: What advice do you give parents when they’re naming a new baby? Any do’s or don’ts you care to share?

Kate: Hm, interesting questions! So many things that I believed in the past to be naming “rules” have shown themselves, through real-life examples, to not be so hard and fast and to be really changeable on a family-by-family basis. I really love hearing the song in a parent’s voice when he or she tells me the story of their child’s name, and sometimes the name they’re telling me about goes against all the “advice” I might feel like giving! I do have my personal preferences though, based on my own experiences — I like hearing feedback on our name ideas from friends and family, to be sure we aren’t missing some huge negative association of which we’re unaware. I think floating names in online discussion boards or running them by a name blogger (ahem) can be a good way to get feedback if going the friends and family route is going to cause rifts in relationships. At the same time, I think it’s important to feel free to dismiss others’ negative reactions if they’re based on pure opinion — we’re all allowed to like and dislike names, and in the end the parents alone have the gift and responsibility of naming their baby.

Pope Francis touched on this in Amoris Laetitia, saying: “For God allows parents to choose the name by which he himself will call their child for all eternity” (no. 166). The Catechism reminds us that “God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it” (2158). There’s reassurance in those statements (“For God allows the parents to choose the name”) and also responsibility (“for all eternity”; “Everyone’s name is sacred”; “The name is the icon of the person”). Keeping all that in mind, as well as approaching the naming process with maturity and prayer, will surely help lead parents in the right direction when choosing their children’s names.

Jenny: And really, anything else you want to answer that comes to mind.

Kate: I really like to remember that God meets us where we are — for example, a name chosen without regard to the faith might end up being the name of a saint that one comes to have a devotion to later on (I wrote here about how sometimes patron saints find us — sometimes through names!). Name norms also vary depending on cultural considerations and points in history, which is important to remember. Also, regarding the strife I see in families and online discussions surrounding a baby’s name, a good rule of thumb for all concerned is to be kind and reasonable.

Jenny: Also, please share your social media locations and where my readers can read you, whether it’s on your blog or any recurring features you run.

Kate: My blog is http://sanctanomina.net, where I post several times a week on whatever namey thing’s on my mind — questions from readers, name spotlights, birth announcements, random thoughts. I also do name consultations (info here), and post one every Monday for reader feedback, which are a lot of fun.

You can find me @SanctaNomina on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest [eta: also Instagram!]. I also write a monthly column for CatholicMom.com (they can all be found here) and have had several pieces on Nameberry’s Berry Juice blog (all found here).

I have a couple of exciting things coming up: I’ll be on the Go Forth with Heather and Becky podcast [no longer online], airing March 21 — we’ll be discussing name ideas for Heather’s baby-on-the-way! Also, I contributed to The Catholic Hipster Handbook, compiled by Tommy Tighe (*the* Catholic Hipster) and published by Ave Maria Press, which will be available for pre-order this spring and released in the fall (2017). Here’s a little blurb about it: “Coming this Fall from Ave Maria Press, The Catholic Hipster Handbook is going to rock your world. This book is going to cover everything about the Catholic Hipster life and features contributions from an amazing lineup including Jeannie Gaffigan, Lisa Hendey, Arleen Spenceley, Anna Mitchell, Sarah Vabulas, and many more!” I’m thrilled to be included in an actual published book, and with such amazing people!

All in all, I’m humbled and honored at all that God’s allowed me to do with my funny little interest in names! Reading back over my answers, I see that I wrote, “I really love” quite a few times — I was going to try to change up the wording but it just expresses so exactly how I feel about the gift of my blog and my readers that I decided to keep it in.

# # #


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Ideas for baby girl whose parents like names like Bridget, Rowan, and Saoirse

Don’t forget to enter the St. Anne giveaway! Rebecca has generously added a $2.00 off coupon code for any order over $2.00 for all Sancta Nomina readers, which you can use for any coloring page of your choosing (they’re $2.00 each) — they’re all gorgeous! Lots of our favorite Saints, including one of the Immaculate Conception (St. Anne and the child Mary)! The coupon code is sanctanomina, and it’s valid through August 7. (Rebecca is also running a Summer Coloring Contest for all ages, starting today! Go check it out!)

I posted a consultation for Megan and her husband’s second baby a couple of years ago, and the resulting birth announcement, and I’m excited to post this new consultation for baby no. 3 — another girl! This little lady joins big sibs (alt characters for privacy):

F!nni@n Dani3l
Gr33r E!leen

I looove their names! It was so fun to come up with names in a similar style!

Megan writes,

At this point, we’d like to try to stick to the Gaelic names theme, but are broad in this goal and could/would extend to Welsh/Cornish names — although ideally, I’d prefer an Irish/Scottish name since that is my heritage. That being said, I feel like I’ve looked at every name in this realm so maybe I need to branch out (or, stop obsessing and pick one of the ones we like). We do not like overly feminine names and like uncommon (but not completely unheard of) names that are easy to spell and say (although Gr33r’s name is uncommon, I haven’t heard it mispronounced yet! Strangely, one time someone pronounced F!nni@n’s name like “Onion” with an “F” though).”

(“Onion” with an “F”! 😂)

I love that F!nn has a saint’s name and that Gr33r’s has a saintly connection as well. We typically use family names for the middle and are considering Margaret, Clare/Clara, and Mae … although I’m not sold on any of these until we pick the first name.

Right now, the name that we both like the most is Adair. But, I’m worried that it’s just a bit too “out there” and will sound like a made up first name, which we don’t want. What do you think? Other names that we like are Bridget/Brigid (a suggestion from you last go around), Rowan, Arwen, and my husband still likes Saoirse… but I don’t think he can sell me there as it’s just too hard to say/spell. I like the idea of a two-syllable name to balance out the three for F!nni@n and one for Gr33r.

We recently saw the name Cliona/Cliodhna and liked it, but how would you say it? Klee-ona (like Fiona) or Klee-uh-na? I’ve seen it both ways … I thought Clio would be a super cute nickname, as we still like those (although, a nickname for Gr33r hasn’t really stuck and that’s OK).”

I love that Megan and her hubby have broadened their goals to include Welsh and Cornish names, as I think that will make it easier on them moving forward, but I tried to stick mostly to Irish and Scottish names when I was coming up with ideas for them.

I love Adair as their frontrunner! I don’t think it’s too “out there,” nor that it sounds made up. For reference, there were 17 girls named Adair in 2018 (the most recent year data is available) and 22 boys, so it’s basically exactly unisex. In that spelling, it’s a variant of Edgar, so it’s traditionally a boy name, but it can definitely be pulled off by a girl. It’s pretty similar to the breakdown for Gr33r: 87 girls and 27 boys in 2018, and 18/6 for the spelling Grier.

(A different spelling, Adare, is the name of a town in Ireland, and there were less than 5 babies of either gender so named in 2018.)

I love Bridget/Brigid (reminds me of this family, with a Finnian and a Bridget!), Rowan (Brooke Shields’ daughters are Grier and Rowan!), and Arwen, all lovely! And Saoirse is fantastic too, despite its spelling and pronunciation difficulties (though I totally understand wanting to stay away from names like that). I also love Megan’s preference for a two-syllable name — that’s what I mostly restricted my search to, I too like the balance of that with the older kids!

As for Cliona/Cliodhna, I agree, it’s a pretty name! And Clio is darling. I’ve never known anyone with the name, but both Behind the Name and Forvo say it’s said more like KLEE-e-na. That’s not an intuitive pronunciations for Americans, so they’d likely have to do a lot of correcting, but that’s not a big deal (unless that would drive them crazy). I looked for other ideas that could lead to Clio as a nickname within their parameters (ish), and thought immediately of Abby from Appellation Mountain’s daughter, who also goes by Clio — her given name is Claire Caroline Wren. I love that kind of creativity! So maybe for this family, if Megan and her hubby love Clio enough, maybe they could do Clare as a first name (I love that spelling for them since it’s the county’s name in Ireland, and I think a place name goes well with Gr33r) with a middle that has a strong EE sound, maybe something super Irishy, like Clare Líadan. Another idea is Clodagh — the one I know says KLO-da — I could see Clio being do-able as a nickname for Clodagh (it can be spelled Cloda too).

Alrighty! So for this consultation, I first did my usual research — I looked up the names Megan and her hubby have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, without looking back at the previous consultation I did for them, so that my ideas would be fresh. But then of course I did go back and cross off the ones I suggested last time (Aislin(g), Aine, Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Grainne, Gwenfair/Mairwen, Briege, Tierney, and Rhiannon). I also went through the comments the readers left on their previous consultation post, and I went through the “Celtic” list in the back of the BNW book. I also had a couple of ideas that seemed like good suggestions, even though they didn’t show up in any of my research. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for this baby girl:

(1) Mabel
Mabel is a medieval feminine form of Amabilis, which is part of one of Our Lady’s titles: Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable, where “amiable” means “lovable”). How great is that?? I probably would never have thought of it for Megan except that Mabel’s relative Amabel (also a medieval feminine form of Amabilis) has Annabel as a variant, which “appears to have arisen in Scotland in the Middle Ages” (according to Behind the Name). So in my weird, twisted way of thinking about names, I thought, “Mabel is two syllables and has Scottish connections!” (Except Mabel itself isn’t Scottish, which is a bummer. But I still thought I’d suggest it. I have lots more suggestions though!) They could use Mae as a nickname? Maybe that could be the honor part?

(2) Edel
I’ve blogged about Edel before — I see it from time to time on Catholic girls, given in honor of Ven. Edel Quinn. I’ve generally heard it said like Adele, though also EH-del (rhymes with petal) and AY-del (like the first part of Edelweiss). I like that it’s two syllables and as far as I know is always connected with the Irish Venerable.

(3) Casey
This Irish surname has a special place in my heart because of Bl. Solanus Casey, whose parents were Irish immigrants. Casey has historically been used mostly for boys, and in 2018 was ranked no. 583 for boys and 916 for girls. But the fact that it’s on the top 1000 chart for both boys and girls makes it pretty unisex in usage, and makes it pretty similar to both Gr33r and Adair I think (though more popular) (though not overly so!).

(4) Molly
I know this has neither a surname nor unisex feel, but I can’t shake Molly in my ideas for this family, so here it is! It’s clearly Irish, and perfectly Marian, and using a more familiar name in the first name spot could open up the middle for something like Saoirse. Molly Saoirse? I know Megan has her list of possible middle names culled from family, which I’d never want to sway her from — family honors are important to me too! One thought I had was that since Molly is a form of Mary, as is Mae, could Molly work to honor Mae? Another idea is, what if they did the Irish form of Margaret in the middle? Molly Mairead? So pretty!

(5) Willa
And here we go again with me breaking Megan’s rules! Willa isn’t Irish or Scottish (or Welsh or Cornish), BUT the mom of the family I linked to above with the Finnian and Bridget (their other daughter is Gemma! Initial G like Gr33r!) has said she loves the name Willa, and I keep thinking F!nni@n, Gr33r, and Willa sound amazing together! I spotlighted Willa here.

(6) Flannery
Okay, back to Irish/Scottish names! Whew! I know Flannery isn’t two syllables, and it begins with F like F!nni@n, but I feel like it’s just the kind of name Megan might like! I guess it’s not great on nicknames though? I’ll have to do a spotlight of it soon, with nickname ideas, so stay tuned if you like this idea. (If you have nickname ideas for Flannery, please leave them in the comments!)

(7) Isla
Pretty Isla is an entry in my book of Marian names; this is what I wrote about its Scottish connection:

Isla is a Scottish given name, after the Scottish Hebrides island Islay (which can also be pronounced EYE-la) … its Marian character comes from the title “Our Lady of the Isles” (Moire ro Naomh nan Eilean in Scottish Gaelic, referring to a statue of Our Lady on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland).”

It’s two syllables and Scottish!

(8) Tamsin
I’d thought Tamsin was Scottish (I was probably thinking of tam, which is a shortened form of tam o’shanter, which is “a woolen cap with Scottish origin with a tight headband, wide flat circular crown, and usually a pompon in the center,” and Tam as a name is actually a Scottish short form of Thomas), but Behind the Name says it “was traditionally used in Cornwall” — so maybe Megan can consider it both Scottish and Cornish? It’s a contracted form of Thomasina, which makes any of the Sts. Thomas the perfect patron — I love that it’s got a saintly connection similar to Gr33r’s (in that it’s not obvious — you have to tell a story to get there). I like that it’s two syllables, and I love the nickname Tam.

(9) Tegan or Teagan
It seems that Tegan is from a Welsh word meaning “fair,” while Teagan is from an Irish surname meaning “descendent of Tadhgán,” where Tadhgán is a diminutive of Tadhg, meaning “poet” (and Tadhg is often anglicized as both Timothy and Thaddeus, which is where patron saints come in). It’s cute!

(10) Sorcha
My last official suggestion is inspired by Saoirse, but it’s a bit more accessible. Sorcha is pronounced more or less how it’s spelled: SOR-ka (or SAWR-khe or SAWR-e-khe, as Behind the Name says; babynamesofireland also offers sor+aka and surk+ha … so basically SOR-ka or SOR-a-ka. The Sorcha I knew years ago said SOR-ka). That same BtN entry says it’s sometimes used as an Irish form of Sarah; both it and babynamesofireland say it means “radiant,” which is lovely.

There were a few other names that I scribbled down on my list for this family that didn’t seem quite right for my official list, but I wanted to list them briefly just in case: Brynn, Bethan, and Bronwyn (all Welsh); Ainsley (listed as Scottish though its meaning seems to be English); and Shea (Irish with a pretty sound and unisex usage).

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What would name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of F!nni@n and Gr33r?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Happy feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim! And a giveaway for you!

Today is the feast of the wonderful St. Anne, patroness of Sancta Nomina, and her husband St. Joachim — grandparents of Jesus! As I’ve noted before, not only do they have amazing names themselves, but they named Mother Mary. That’s some serious business for a Catholic name blog!

Two St. Anne tidbits: I read in an obituary recently that the deceased was “Born Anne MiddleName LastName on July 26, 1936, the Feast Day of St. Anne, her mother, being extremely religious, named her after the Saint,” though she went by her middle name her whole life. You know I loved reading that! (May she rest in peace.) And my mom sent me this funny piece today written by a friend of hers that has to do with a St. Anne pilgrimage he went on with his family when he was a little boy. Hilarious! (Maybe my boys will write about their St. Anne pilgrimages when they grow up!)

In anticipation of today’s feast, I prayed a St. Anne Novena for the past nine days, finishing last night, which I offered for all of you and your intentions. And I have a giveaway for you! 🎉🎉🎉

I know many of you follow the so-talented Rebecca Górzyńska on Instagram (@delphinaroseart) — her artwork is absolutely stunning, and I’ve learned so much about her process and techniques through her posts. And she has a book coming out! She illustrated the book Marian Consecration for Families With Young Children by Colleen Pressprich, available now for preorder, and each illustration is simply perfection.

How excited was I to discover that Rebecca painted this folk art style print of St. Anne and the child Mary as the Immaculate Conception?! I knew immediately that this would be the perfect item for the giveaway I wanted to do for all of you, in honor of the feast of our dear St. Anne!

I’m thrilled to be able to give away five (5) 5×7 prints! Here are the details:

  • Head on over to Rafflecopter to enter
  • The giveaway is live from now until midnight on Thursday, July 30
  • On Thursday I’ll have Rafflecopter randomly select five (5) winners, whom I’ll notify by email

That’s it! As always, please know how grateful I am to all of you for your presence in our lovely little community! Thanks to you all, thanks to Rebecca, and happy feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim! 💕💙💕💙💕💙💕💙


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Double first name for baby girl a priority to honor Grandma — lots of options!

Jenny and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, their third girl (on earth)! This little lady joins big siblings:

Lilyana Marie (“Marie is my middle name and I just liked the name Lilyana”)

Anthony Jay (“After my husband”)

Dominic Lucas John (“I went to our Parish’s “Traveling relics” and right after I picked up St Dominic’s relic I knew I was pregnant and I knew he was going to be a boy. Sure enough I tested the next week and I was pregnant and he was a a boy. I also have always loved the name Lucas and St Luke. John is after my Father-in-law.”)

Isabella Teresa Grace (“… so the whole time we were pregnant I was told she was going to be a boy. So the whole pregnancy her name was Benedict Emmanuel. Once we found out she was a girl we had to scramble to come up with a girls name. Her original name was Isabella Grace but after being born on Mother Teresa’s feast day we just had to add that in. I also love longer names. 🙂 And looove Mother Teresa!”)

Jameson Jude Ramiro (“Jameson was a little different for us. I wanted to go with Jude but my husband wasn’t so keen on it at first. We chose Jameson because it’s a variant of St James but a longer version. So we decided on Jameson Jude as first name but we ended up putting Jude on his BC as part of his middle name. We chose Ramiro because that is my Dad’s name”)

+Mary Irene (with Jesus; “Mary after Hubby’s Grandma who was very special to him. And Irene because my Mom used to say “Good night Irene” to me at night before bed when I was growing up”)

+Jesse Francis De Sales (with Jesus; “we picked a name that could be gender neutral because baby was 10 weeks and we didn’t know the gender yet but I felt like he was a boy”)

I love Jenny’s older living kiddos’ names! Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jameson are such a fun bunch of names — beautiful and handsome and with great faith connections. I love all the middle names, too, and the reasons for them. And Mary Irene and Jesse Francis De Sales are so perfect for her babies in heaven, as well — such a great job!

Jenny writes,

_______ Ann Is what we are really wanting. Not a must but we strongly want to use it. We’re open minded. My husband lost his Mom almost 2 years ago to cancer. Her name was Doris Ann. We really wanted to use her name with this next baby without copying Doris Ann. My husband doesn’t want to just use her whole name.
He likes the idea or using Dorothy Ann for a first name because Dorothy was the name of his Grandma, who was his Mom’s Mom and they were all very close.

So we are considering Dorothy Ann as a first name.

Other name we like that we are considering are:

Lucia Ann or using Lucia in there somewhere. But don’t really think it goes well with Dorothy Ann … Lucy was Hubby’s Grandma from his dad’s side.

We also have considered using Lorelei. I’m not really fond of the basic meaning but I don’t know too much about the history of the name. We just have a cute background story of that name. It is my nickname that my in-laws gave me early on. They said I looked more like a Lorelei and the name just stuck. So Hubby’s Uncles and Aunts still call me Lorelei as a nickname and my mother-in-law used to call me that as an endearing name. So it has a good feel.

We also really want a pretty Saint name. I like longer names but this would be a first time using Ann with a first name so I’m flexible. We like names that aren’t very common but aren’t too rare. We don’t like off the wall names like River or Sun or Apple. 🙂 something classic and beautiful.

We are really stuck on this name. We have tried to go with names like Francesca or Philomena but it hasn’t really stuck … I’m really into have a special meaning to the name so I would love to get your recommendations!

I really love that Jenny and her hubs originally intended Jameson Jude to be a double first name — how cool is that?! I love bold ideas like that! I’m totally on board with their wish to have a ___ Ann double first name for their baby girl in honor of Jenny’s mother-in-law, so I wanted to spend a few minutes exploring this idea. First, I love the idea of Dorothy Ann — I love that Dorothy honors both Jenny’s mother-in-law (I’m guessing maybe she was named Doris as a way of naming after her mom, without using the same name?) and her mother, and Dorothy Ann as a combo strengthens that connection by using Jenny’s mil’s middle name as well. I might normally think that Dorothy Ann isn’t a great fit with Jenny’s older kiddos’ names (not that that matters at all, I think family honor trumps style considerations every time in my opinion), but I’m so charmed by Dorothy on the daughter of the Bucket List Family that it’s taken on a more modern, chic feel for me. Its meaning of “gift of God” (same as Theodore — in fact, Dorothy is the same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed) is so great, too.

Working Jenny’s hubby’s other grandmother into the name as well via some form of Lucy is pretty great — the more the merrier! I agree with Jenny that Dorothy Ann Lucia doesn’t have the best flow, nor does Dorothy Ann Lucy, but I think Dorothy Ann Lucille sounds quite nice — I wonder if that would be a possible solution? Another possible solution would be to change the way they’re planning to honoring Jenny’s hubby’s mom and grandmother. I spent some time trying to come up with different options that might honor them just as well in a way they might like, and came up with:

  • Dora Susann Lucia: I like how saying “Dora Susann” (or Suzann, if they prefer that spelling; I dropped the “e” to highlight the “Ann” connection) together makes “Dora S-” sound like Doris. I thought Dora could easily nod to both Doris and Dorothy, and Susann/Suzann (or Susanne/Suzanne, if they wanted to spell it the more conventional way) brings in the Ann in a new way. And Dora Susann allows their preferred Lucia to fit in nicely, I think.
  • Doriann/DoriAnn/Dori Ann Lucia: I was interested to discover that Doris is from the Greek for “Dorian woman” (the Dorians were a Greek tribe), which made me think that Doriann might be an interesting way to mash up Doris (and Dorothy, through the shared Dor-) and Ann, and Doriann Lucia also sounds quite nice I think. They could also do DoriAnn or Dori Ann to make the “Ann” part more obvious.
  • Lucia Ann Dorothea: I thought Lucia Ann Dorothea flowed better than Lucia Ann Dorothy or Lucia Ann Doris (Dorothea and Dorothy are variants of each other). One hesitation I have about Lucia Ann as a double first name, though, is that Lilyana is Lily + Ana (a variant of Ann) — Lilyana and Lucia Ann seem really similar. (Again, though, not a dealbreaker if they love it!)
  • Lucia Doriann/DoriAnn: This option takes away the issue of Lilyana and Lucia Ann being possibly too similar, as it moves Ann to the middle spot, on the other side of Dori.
  • Lucia Dorothy Ann: This option uses all the names Jenny and her hubs wanted in an order that has a nice flow and rhythm to my ear. They lose the double-first-name option (unless they wanted to do Lucia Dorothy, which is unexpected and pretty [though long for everyday use]), but they have all the special ladies in one name.

(I also like Lucy in place of Lucia for these options.)

As for Lorelei, I absolutely love that Jenny’s in-laws have called her Lorelei from the beginning! What a sweet story! It would make an awesome honor name for her (and her in-laws, by extension) in her daughter’s name (either as a first name or a middle name). It does have a history that gives some people pause — in legend it’s the name of a siren that lured sailors to their death — but I think Gilmore Girls and other associations have diluted that association (and some people don’t even know about it). I never thought it had any saintly connection, but when I was doing a little research on it for this family, I discovered that Lorelei’s Wikipedia entry gives August 17 as its Czech name day. Name days almost always coincide with saint feast days, so I was really interested to see what saint was connected with Lorelei. Pretty clever: Petra is listed on the Czech calendar for that day, which is the feminine form of Peter, which means “rock,” and the “lei” part of Lorelei is thought to come from a Celtic word for “rock” — the siren is actually named for the rock headland on the Rhine River called Loreley. I loved discovering that any of the holy Peters or Petras can be patron for a Lorelei!

Because I like playing around with names and was already in that mindset with the Dorothy Ann/Dora Susann/Doriann ideas, I wondered if that might be a fun thing to do for Lorelei: come up with some name combos that could nickname to Lorelei for everyday usage but provide a more obvious saint connection. I came up with:

  • Laurel Isla
  • Laurel Eileen
  • Laura Lyla
  • Loretta Lyla

Both secularly and in the faith, laurel wreaths have been used as “crowns of glory”; another cool saintly connection is that the stories of Sts. Tiburtius and Susanna include two laurel trees. Isla is an entry in the book of Marian names I wrote, for Our Lady of the Isles. Eileen is generally considered an Irish form of Helen (St. Helen(a) is awesome). There are a few saints and blesseds named Laura. I couldn’t find any holy connection for Lyla though, so maybe the Laurel ideas are better from a saintly perspective. But also, if there’s a saint’s name in the middle spot (or in the first spot, if they use Lorelei as a middle name), then they’re covered saint-wise! Maybe Lorelei Ann (could also be a double first name, as Jenny was hoping for), Lorelei Dorothy Ann (double middle, like Jude Ramiro), Lorelei Doriann, etc. Or maybe something like Laurel Ann would sound enough like Lorelei to feel like a nod to that name, while providing a double first name with Ann that isn’t overly long (like Lorelei Ann might be). Laurel Ann Dorothea maybe?

Okay! Those are all my ideas/comments on the ideas Jenny and her husband already have — now onto to my new suggestions/ideas!

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they 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 did so for this family, keeping in mind that they’d really like to have their chosen name pair up with Ann in a double first name, and also that Jenny said she’d like “a pretty Saint name” and “something classic and beautiful” (which I think she did really well with her older daughters). I also thought of Lilyana and Isabella as a pair and tried to think of names that went well naturally with them, without taking into account the brothers’ names or Jenny’s little ones in heaven. And finally, I thought of names that I thought would go well with Ann as the first element of the double name, instead of the second. I used the NameFinder and NameMatchmaker tools on babynamewizard.com to find additional ideas, and I also looked at the “Lacy and Lissome,” “Italian,” and “Short and Sweet” lists in the back of the Baby Name Wizard book. And I went through my own mental files for faithy names that I thought would go well.

Based on all that, these are my additional ideas (buckle up — there are lots of them! I actually did two consultations for Jenny, which I’ve condensed into this one post):

(1) Natalie or Natalia
Natalie is a style match for Anthony and Lucas (I included Lucas in my research since Jenny said she’s always liked it) and Natalia for Lilyana and Dominic, so it seemed like a great suggestion to start with! I think Natalie Ann flows better than Natalia Ann, but if they like Natalia they could consider doing Natalia Ann as her given name and a nickname + Ann for everyday usage, like Talia Ann or Tally Ann. I know a Natalie who goes by Natty, so that’s an option too — Natty Ann. There are some Sts. and Blds. Natalia (Natalie is the French form, so St. Natalia would be patron for a Natalie or Natalia), and Natalia also literally refers to Christmas Day — it comes from the Latin natale domini, which means “the birth of the Lord.”

(2) Camille or Camila/Camilla
Camila/Camilla is a match for Lilyana, Jude, and Lucia, but like with Natalie and Natalia, I thought Camille Ann had a better flow than Camilla Ann. But again, they could do Camilla Ann as the given name and Cammie Ann or Callie Ann as an everyday nickname. There are some holy Camillas, which work for Camille as well.

(3) Sophia/Sofia or Sophie (or as a nickname?)
Sophia is a match for Dominic, and Sofia for Lucas and Lucia. Sophia/Sofia Ann is lovely, but again I feel like Sophie Ann has a better flow. While I love both Sophia/Sofia and Sophie, I’ve seen them (especially Sophie) used as nicknames for Seraphina/Serafina and Josephine/Josefina, which remind me of the Francesca and Philomena that Jenny said they’ve tried but haven’t felt quite right. So maybe one of those? Josephine Ann nicknamed Sophie Ann? Serafina Ann nicknamed Sofie Ann? On its own, Sophia means “wisdom” and is an entry in my book of Marian names because one of Our Lady’s titles is Seat of Wisdom.

(4) Olivia
Olivia’s a match for Lucas and Isabella, and Olivia Ann strikes me as similar to Sophia Ann — quite pretty, but maybe Olivia Ann with Livvy Ann as the everyday nickname would be easier? Olivia’s also in my book of Marian names, after Our Lady of Olives.

(5) Audrey or Aubrey
I was surprised by these names, as they’re a bit different than the ends-in-a names Jenny and her hubs gave Lilyana and Isabella, and are considering with Lucia, but Audrey’s a match for Dominic and Aubrey for Jameson, and since they’re so similar to each other I thought their shared sound and rhythm might be one that appeals to them. There’s a St. Audrey (her entry on CatholicSaints.info is for St. Etheldreda, which she’s also known by), and I quite like Audrey Ann — it has a bit of a Hollywood starlet feel to me, probably because of Audrey Hepburn. Its shorter length makes it easier with Ann as an everyday double name, too. Behind the Name (my go-to for name meanings) says Aubrey is a form of Alberich, and there are a few saints by that name — all male. I believe Aubrey was predominantly a male name until recently. If they love it, it’s certainly no problem for a girl to have a male saint as patron! Like with Audrey Ann, Aubrey Ann is quite easy enough for everyday use.

(6) Rosemary
My thought process behind Rosemary is a little funny. It’s a style match for Dorothy, which normally wouldn’t sway me because I don’t get the sense that Dorothy is really this family’s style, but rather their favorite option of the ways to honor Jenny’s hubby’s mom (and grandmother), but one of the nicknames I’ve seen used for Rosemary is Rory, which always makes me think of Lorelei because of Gilmore Girls. And then thinking about it more, I thought Rosemary Ann nicknamed Rory Ann might be a really cute idea, with that connection to Lorelei too if Jenny wants it to. Rosemary also has a little bit of that Hollywood feel I get from Audrey (e.g., Rosemary Clooney). I think Rosemary is classic and beautiful; it honors Our Lady; and not only is Rory a great possibility for a nickname, but so are Rosie and Romy — Rosie Ann and Romy Ann are both darling. (Just a note of caution that Rosie Ann, being “a flower + Ann,” is similar to Lilyana, being “a flower + Ana.”)

(7) Magdalena
Magdalena Ann is certainly long and difficult for everyday, but I love Maggie Ann! And St. Mary Magdalene is an awesome patron.

(8) Emilia
Emilia is an Italian name, and it’s also the name of St. John Paul II’s mom, whose cause for canonization has been opened! Emilia Ann isn’t terrible, and Emmy Ann is darling.

(9) Carys or Charis
Carys is Welsh for “love,” and Charis — which is said the same as Carys — is Greek for “grace, kindness” and is contained within the word “eucharist.” Carys Ann and Charis Ann are awesome!

(10) Vesper or Verity
Vesper is from the Latin for “evening” and in a Catholic context is used to refer to Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours (“Vespers”). Vesper Ann is lovely! Verity means “truth” and even thought it’s three syllables, I think Verity Ann is easy enough, and wonderful.

(11) Sunday
I posted a birth announcement for a little Sunday Josephine on the blog a while ago, and I love it for this family — it’s got that faith connection for the Lord’s day, and I love Sunday Ann as a combo!

(12) Elodie
This is a French name that I think sounds smashing with Ann! Elodie Ann!

(13) Caeli
Caeli is Latin for “of heaven” (like the Marian title Regina Caeli: Queen of Heaven) and would be really sweet and very Catholic with Ann: Caeli Ann. It’s said CHAY-lee in Church Latin, but you could say it KAY-lee if you wanted.

(14) Mercy
Mercy is a great and unexpected virtue name — I saw quite a bit of it as a baby name during the Jubilee Year of Mercy (2016). Maybe Mercy Ann?

(15) Ann Catherine, Ann Madeline (or similar); something like Ann Seton?
My last ideas have to do with putting Ann first in the double-first-name idea. Catherine is a match for Anthony and Madeline is a match for Dominic, and both of those made me think of Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich and Ven. Anne-Madeleine Remuzat — I think both of those combos are so lovely, and thought maybe Jenny would like to consider something like that? I particularly like that Ann Catherine could go by Annie Cate. I know a little AnnClare, which might also appeal to them. From their ideas, I like Ann Lucia quite a bit. If Jenny knows who her mother-in-law’s favorite saint was, that might be an option here too. Then I was noticing that the girl style matches for Jameson were mostly surname-type names, like Kendall, Larkin, and Harper, and wondered if they might like Ann with a saintly surname? Seton was the first that came to mind, because of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — Ann Seton would be a cool, unexpected first name that would immediately call to mind that particular saint without having to use Elizabeth. Some other surnames that might work in this way include Ann Kolbe, Ann Vianney, Ann Goretti (is it crazy that I just thought Annie Grey could be a doable nickname for Ann Goretti??), Ann Majella (St. Gerard Majella is a patron of expectant mamas!). Or maybe Ann + Jenny’s maiden name? Or Ann Lorelei? So many options!

(16) Ann Elise or Ann Elisa (Annelisa?)
I was staying away from Elizabeth names because of big sister Isabella, which is a form of Elizabeth, but then I realized that Lily and Lillian have a history of usage as nicknames for Elizabeth, so then I thought it might be cool if Jenny’s living daughters have that connection — just kind of lean into it, you know? But without using the full Elizabeth. So if you switch the elements, I think Ann Elise and Ann Elisa are quite pretty! Anneliese is a German mashup of Anne and Elizabeth, so I thought they could do the same with Annelisa if they wanted to combine them. But I quite like them separate too, and doing so highlights the Ann moreso.

(17) Ann Colette, Ann Juliette, Ann Corinne
I definitely found that I think French names go really well with Ann as a combo, especially if they’re in the second spot (like Ann Elise above). I love Colette, Juliette, and Corinne — so feminine!

(18) Alessandra, Carolina, Caterina or Catalina, Veronica
Finally, these ideas are just names I came across that I thought Jenny would like, since she said she likes longer names. I like them all with Lilyana and Isabella, though I’m not sure Ann goes as well with them. But I thought it would be fun to include them!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Lilyana, Anthony, Dominic, Isabella, and Jamison?


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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!