Baby name consultation: Baby no. four needs Marian name that’s consistent with big sibs’ styles

A prayer today, and always, for an end to racism, and a prayer of thanks for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his courage and good work. 🙏🙏🙏

Today’s consultation is another of the five I opened up for January; if you’d like a consultation of your own, Theresa is available to help!

Madison and her husband are expecting their fourth baby, a little green bean (gender unknown)! 🌱 This little one joins big sibs:

Cooper James (“We thought about naming him John Phillip after both of our dads. This choice is so handsome and I still love it! But it’s just not our style. After talking about it for a while we finally narrowed our list down to 3 names: Cooper, Colton, and Duke. I was all for Colton but [my husband’s] eyes lit up when he said Cooper and it made me fall for it as well. Cooper suits him so perfectly! James is my husband’s middle name and my husbands grandpa’s name so it was an obvious choice. Plus we love the flow of Cooper James together! It was shortly after Cooper was born that I had my re-conversion. I scoured the internet for faith connections and was so happy to come across your blog and the connection of the name Cooper to St. Joseph of Cupertino. We call him Coop, Coopy, and Cupertino for fun.”)

Reagan Elyse Mary (“her due date was in May and I immediately knew I wanted a name to honor Mary. The name Reagan stood out to me on every baby name list, but I kept ignoring it because I needed something Marian! But when my husband suggested it I just blurted out yes. After that I searched hard for some sort of connection. I stumbled upon a probably unreliable source that said for little girls the name could be taken to mean “little queen.”* I was sold! (It didn’t take much haha) I then found some amazing history about Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II that further solidified our choice. Elyse is my middle name which I love — it has a sort of cool elegance to it. I didn’t know it at the time but Reagan’s due date was on the Feast of the Visitation so it really was the perfect middle name! Mary wasn’t added until later. About 5 months after Reagan was born I had this crazy urge to add the actual name of Mary to her name. I looked into it and saw that it wouldn’t be too difficult to do. After I got my husband’s permission, I sent the paper work in on October 22 [Reagan’s 5 month birthday and the feast of Pope John Paul II!!] We call her Reags, Reagy Roo, or just Roo.”)

Fulton John (“When I was pregnant with Reagan I remember giving my husband a long list of saints names I liked. He turned down literally all of them. Jokingly, I mentioned Fulton thinking he would think it was an absurd name. I wasn’t super fond of it myself, but I did like the idea of it. To my surprise he told me he liked it, and I realized I would probably have a son named Fulton. It may have taken me 2 years to warm up to it, but I love it now! When I found out I was pregnant I started seeing Fulton Sheen quotes all over Social Media. When I suggested Fulton John [John for hubby’s dad] he said yes immediately. We call him Fults or Fultsie.”)

* [I just have to note that, though Behind the Name disagrees, Baby Names of Ireland says that Regan (Behind the Name says Regan and Reagan are variants of the same) may come from a diminutive of the Irish word for “sovereign, king,” which to me means “little king” or — if used for a girl — “little queen” (not “king’s child” as Baby Names of Ireland suggests. So says this non-liguist! Haha!). So I think the meaning that Madison is using for Reagan is entirely defensible, and even if not, I’ve always felt that intention trumps meaning in almost all cases.]

I LOVE this family’s style! In Madison’s email she noted that she feels like their “taste in names is pretty secular,” but I think they’ve done a fantastic job of working within that, and I think that’s so thrilling! It’s like a stealthy sneak attack, Catholic-style! Such a fantastic way of blending in with the culture and thus bringing the possibility of evangelization in a way that’s easier for the average American to swallow. Nice job! I really love that they were able to connect Cooper to Cupertino, that has always been one of the coolest things I discovered through the blog, I love that! Reagan is one of my FAVORITE ideas for a girl as an unusual Marian idea — I’ve seen it before and always thought it was awesome … in fact, I just looked in my book of Marian names, because I was sure I included it, but I didn’t — why didn’t I?? I love it! And Fulton! Such a perfect fit style-wise with Cooper and Reagan, and so faithy! All so great!!

Madison writes,

I am so early on in my pregnancy that it might seem crazy to do a consultation already, but my husband shot down almost every name on my list so I need some fresh ideas! The due date of our baby is somewhere between September 6 – 14 which is AMAZING because there are so many Marian celebrations within that time as well as the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I would love to give this baby a Marian name.”

Sounds perfect to me!

Some girl names they’ve considered include:

  • Callie (“love that it means ‘Most beautiful.’ I was researching about Our Lady of La Salette and learned the shepherd kids called Mary “Beautiful Lady” when they saw her. Could be a little connection?“)
  • Blair (“I’ve always loved this name and my husbands open to it, but I find it less appealing with no faith connection. It sounds really good as a sister to Reagan though!“)
  • Maren (“[rhymes with Karen] — worried about pronunciation, would majority pronounce it MA-rin? Our last name is already difficult to pronounce. Just not sure that I like it, but I like that it’s Marian, so I want to like it“)
  • Aurora nn Rory (“I love the idea of it and my husband said he was open to it, but it doesn’t seem like us“)
  • Reese (“seems a little masculine to both of us, though I like that I could connect it to the St. Teresa’s!“)
  • Emery (“same as Reese, a little masculine. Though I liked the idea of Emery Catherine called Emery Cate for Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich“)

Madison continues,

Hubby says he likes Emma and Ava but he’s not overly excited about them nor am I, but might help with his style? I prefer names not in the top 50 but am not strict about it if it’s the right name. I think he wants a name that is familiar, that’s why he turned down all my Catholicky Catholic suggestions.”

Boy names on their list include:

  • Phillip (“[after my dad] Paired with a cool middle like Kolbe? Or Phillip Pierce for the pierced heart of Mary? Worried about the nickname Phil since we shorten our kids names a lot! Husband didn’t like the idea of Phillip Neri nn Finn“) 
  • Watson (“my mom’s maiden name. Could be a good way to honor her? We talked about Watson Phillip or Phillip Watson. I don’t think I love Watson though. I want to because it’s a family name and my hubby thinks its cool“)
  • Declan (“I love this name!! Hubby is only ‘open to it’“)
  • Bennett (“I like it but not overly excited about it“)
  • Owen (“My Godfather’s middle name and a name we like. Owen Phillip or Phillip Owen is handsome!“)
  • Duke (“this has been on our list since Cooper but it always gets pushed to the side. One of the English Martyrs was Edmund Duke! Still considering it“)
  • Gannon/Cannon (“We like the sound of these. But I don’t think we’d use either“)
  • Kolbe (“I love the name Kolbe and even though my husband has vetoed me on it a few times now, he does say he likes the name C/Kole. I still see a glimmer of hope with that name so I’m going to keep it on my list“)

Some other family considerations include:

  • Lourdes (“my dad was born on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. My Nana and Great Nana have St. Bernadette as their confirmation saint. I love this as a middle name option for a more girly sounding first name — like Caroline Lourdes or Felicity Lourdes. Hubby is actually open to using this as a middle! But he didn’t like the two combos I just mentioned.”)
  • I’d love to honor my mom but there are names I prefer to hers, which is Sally Michele. Naming a daughter Callie could be fun since it rhymes with her name? She loves the names Felicity and Rosemary, so maybe using one of those as a middle? My husband doesn’t like those ones though :/

Names that they considered but can’t or won’t use for various reasons include:

  • Avila
  • Magdalen/Magdalyn
  • Caroline nn Callie (“for Pope John Paul II“) 
  • Emmeline
  • Isla
  • Ivy
  • Mary Grace
  • Marian
  • Felicity
  • Zelie
  • Rosary (“love it but probably too bold for me any way“)
  • Rowan/Rowen (“I really like this name but can’t decide for boy or girl. Husband doesn’t like it“)
  • Quinn
  • Finley
  • Morgan (“like it but too similar to Reagan“)
  • Greer
  • Perrin
  • Sienna
  • Stella
  • Cana
  • Riley
  • Or any Saint last name that’s a bit unusual like Clairvaux, Vianney, Cabrini etc.
  • Becket 
  • Kolbe 
  • Campion
  • Pierce
  • Cruz
  • August
  • Luke
  • Shepherd
  • Cassian
  • Crispin
  • Bastian
  • Xavier

Finally, Madison notes,

Most importantly: I want a girl to have a Marian connection. I might add Mary or Marie as a third name like I did for Reagan!

I have your book of Marian names and have been scouring it! I think boys will be easier for us to agree on a Marian name — Leo and Maximilian are names my hubby has expressed he was open too as well, though he doesn’t care for nickname Max because that’s his parents’ dogs name. But we are open to moving away from surnames as long as it still feels like it fits. Leo feels like it might not fit and I can’t find a longer version I like. Maximilian nn Leo?? Maybe too much of a stretch ha.

The middle name for a boy will be Phillip unless we use it as the first!

I am sort of inclined to avoid “n” ending names just to help the flow of all the sibling names, but I’m not committing to that because I tend to love names that end in ‘n.’

Okay, first off — I’m sure you all know that I was DYING over the names Madison said they/won’t use! I even said to my husband, “Oh man! Alllll the names I would have suggested for this family are on their can’t/won’t use list!” Quinn and Greer would have been right at the top for me, as well as Finley (I agree about Morgan being too similar to Reagan). But that’s totally fine, because it just makes the challenge extra challenging, which I always love!

So here are my thoughts on the girl names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Callie: As a variant/diminutive of Cal(l)ista, Madison’s right that Callie can mean “most beautiful,” which is such a fantastic meaning for a girl! I didn’t know about the shepherd children calling Our Lady “Beautiful Lady” when they saw her at La Salette, but I love that and yes, I totally agree that Callie can work as a nod to her because of that! In fact, I think Reagan’s and Callie’s connections to Our Lady are at a similar level, which I always find pleasing in a symmetry sense. A couple thoughts I had about Callie are that Calla (like the Calla lily) might feel a bit less nickname-y, if Callie’s nicknaminess was bothersome to Madison or her hubby, and so could work as a given name with Callie as the nickname if they’d like. Calla also comes from the Greek kallistos “most beautiful,” so the meaning is still there. Another is that I’ve seen Salette considered as a given name in honor of Our Lady of La Salette, and with Madison’s mom’s name being Sally, I wondered if Salette could work as a nod to her and Our Lady at once? I love the idea of Callie Salette or Calla Salette as a double whammy Marian-wise and also with that possible connection to Madison’s mom. (Also, back to her mom, Sally is a variant of Sarah, which means “princess,” so Madison could possibly think of Reagan as having a connection to her mom that way if she wanted.) (Also, the fact that Madison wondered if Callie, rhyming with Sally, could nod to her mom makes me extra love Callie Salette because of that double-whammy idea.) I also love Callie as a nickname for Caroline, as Madison noted they’d considered in honor of JP2, but I don’t love Caroline with the other kids’ names (you’ll see that this is a theme with me during this consultation — I love that Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton all fit together style-wise really nicely in my opinion, and while I don’t want Madison and her hubby to feel boxed in by that, I would very much love to help them find a name that they love that also fit with their style!)
  • Blair: I’m so interested that Madison has “always loved” this name — that definitely counts for something! The first thing I did was try to find a faith connection for it — it apparently means “plain, field, battlefield,” which is why I suggested it recently as a possible way to honor St. Hildegard of Bingen, because Hildegard means hild “battle” plus gard “enclosure,” so that’s a possibility. Also, pairing a less faithy name with a more faithy middle name often helps a less faithy name to feel more acceptable to parents who are worried about such things, you know? So like Blair Immaculata hits you right in the face with the faith, even though Blair itself doesn’t — anyone who knows the full name and knows anything about Catholicism will *know.* A couple ideas that came to me regarding Blair were that the rhyming Clare, spelled that way, is both St. Clare’s name and also Co. Clare in Ireland — I thought Clare being a place name as well as a Saint’s name might make a good bridge going forward between the names they’ve already chosen (Cooper, Reagan, Fulton) and some of those Madison likes (Emma, Caroline, Mary Grace). And then Clare being a place name made me think of the Irish place name Adare, which is cool on its own; if you spell it Adair, it’s a form of Edgar, which is a Saint’s name. (I did a whole post on Irish place names — definitely read the comments too if you like this idea!)
  • Maren: This is a lovely option! Regarding pronunciation, it is one of those names that people aren’t always sure how to pronounce, but that’s the case with lots of names, so unless it’s one of those things that will drive them crazy forever, I’d encourage them not to worry too much about it — they should just be firm and consistent when correcting people who get it wrong. Saying “rhymes with Karen” is really helpful for them when explaining it to others, and will be helpful for their daughter as she grows up. I’m not surprised Madison’s hubby doesn’t love the double middle name idea — in my experience with my own husband and husbands I learn about through consultations, dads tend to prefer “less fuss” over “more fuss.”
  • Aurora nn Rory: I totally get loving “the idea” of a name, but having a hard time getting totally on board with the name itself. I think what Madison said about it not seeming like “them” is the key — there are a bunch of names on their list that I feel this way about — names that I know Madison likes or her husband likes but that don’t seem to fit the naming style they’ve agreed upon up until now. That said, I think Rory as a given name feels definitely like their style! I wonder if they would consider Rory on its own, for either a boy or a girl? (I actually did a whole post on faith connections for Rory!)
  • Reese: Like Rory, I actually feel like Reese fits their style really well! Though Madison and her hubby think it feels more masculine, Reese Witherspoon makes it very feminine in my opinion — I think Reese is great for a girl, and I agree that it can be a nod to any of the Sts. Therese/Teresa! I remember reading years ago about twin girls named Aurora and Therese and called Rory and Reese, I thought that was just so brilliant.
  • Emery: As with Reese, my impression of Emery is just flipped from Madison’s — though it certainly started as a masculine name (and in fact, it’s a form of Emmerich!), even Behind the Name says it’s “now typically feminine”; the one Emery I know is a little girl. I wonder if using the Emerie spelling would help make it feel a bit girlier for them? I love the idea of Emery/Emerie Catherine for Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich — a double-call-name with Kate/Cate as the second element has always appealed to me, I think it’s so pretty.

I’m also interested that Madison said her husband likes Emma and Ava, because there seems to be huge potential for compromise with Emery and Emmeline from her list with the nickname Emma or Emmy, and also with Avila with the nickname Ava. From what I know from Madison’s email, it seems exactly right how she articulated that she thinks her husband “wants a name that is familiar” and it makes sense that “he turned down all [her] Catholicky Catholic suggestions.” I really think sticking to the kinds of names they’ve already chosen for their older kids will help her hubby feel comfortable with the choice, and Madison has done a terrific job of finding those kinds of names with faith connections, or finding faith connections for those kinds of names.

Just quickly about a name on the list of those Madison likes: Rosary is exactly the kind of middle name that could balance out a more secular-sounding first name! It doesn’t flow so well with Callie, Blair, Rory, Reese, or Emery, but I love Calla Rosary, for example.

For family names, I addressed ideas for Madison’s mom in the Callie point above, and I love the Lourdes connection! I also love the idea of adding Marie like how Madison added Mary to Reagan’s name — that could be a really nice connection between all their girls! And Lourdes-Marie and Marie-Lourdes are common constructions I see, to make the Our Lady of Lourdes connection even stronger. “FirstName Lourdes Marie” is really nice.

Okay, on to the boys!

  • Phillip: I have always loved Philip! Madison’s original idea of John Phillip is one of those names that makes me swoon, even though my taste in names also runs a bit spicier than that — it’s just so handsome. I love that she suggested Phillip Neri nn Finn to her husband — that’s one of my favorite ideas! And of course, pairing it with a fiery middle name like Kolbe or Pierce is absolutely the way I would go if they decided to go with Phillip. That said, I do find it jarring with their other kids’ names — but that never has to be a dealbreaker! They should definitely go with the name they love! But if they wanted to be more consistent style-wise, I would definitely put Phillip in the middle. BUT, I might also like to see them consider using it as the call name! A Kolbe Phillip, for example, would fit right in with their kids on paper, but they can use whatever nickname they want, even if the “nickname” is the actual middle name, or a nickname of the middle name. I’m a big nicknamer, too, and I agree that Phil doesn’t feel right, and Finn is out, but I love Pip and even Flip (I worked with a Philip nn Flip). Maybe they could do a combo nickname from the first+middle, like Kip for Kolbe Phillip or Billy for Bennett Phillip. Or, I just discovered that the surname Phelps means “son of Philip” — I wouldn’t worry about the “son of” part, and what a cool connection to Madison’s dad’s name! Phelps could be a nickname for Phillip, or a given name in his honor. Or, I wonder what they would think of, ahem, *flipping* (haha!) the name from the boy side to the girl? I love Pippa, and I think Pippa could work well with their kids! It’s a diminutive of Philippa, so it’s an obvious way to honor a Phillip in a girl’s name. Pippa Salette would be a really interesting way to name after both Madison’s parents! Or Pippa Felicity or Pippa Rosemary, if she could get hubby on board. And Madison also asked about Fulton and Phillip being too much … I mean, the fact that they have the same beginning sound and they both have an L in the middle and the same number of syllables does make them feel overly similar, but if they went with Phillip as a first name, a one-syllable nickname can help, or a non-F nickname, that kind of thing. The family connection is so great that if they just really wanted to use it, I wouldn’t argue with them!
  • Watson: Oh MAN, I LOVE this! I think it’s a fanTAStic way to honor Madison’s mom! And I love that her husband thinks it’s cool! This is definitely one of my favorites for this family. Maybe learning more about the name will help Madison like it more? It means “son of Wat,” where Wat is a medieval diminutive of Walter. Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek is a favorite of a lot of my readers — he’s got an amazing story. I think Watson is a great middle name for lots of first name options, and as a first name, Wats and Watts are traditional nicknames. Watkins is another variant of Watson, and I could see that being a fun nickname for a Watson. Even Wally is cute and unexpected in a super-old-man way, which I always think is adorable on little boys, and totally do-able I think because of the connection to Walter. Even better, a Watson Phillip would have that double L in Phillip that could make sense of Wally as a nickname. I feel like there’s a good chance that, even if Madison can’t really bring herself to love it, eventually she will grow to love the fact that her son has such a great family name. And Watson is smashing with Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton!
  • Declan: Declan is a great name! I love that it has that Irish feel of Reagan and Fulton, which Cooper isn’t far off from because I think Cooper feels British (and is, in fact, an English occupational surname), so even though my preference is for them to stick to names that either are or feel surnamey, I wouldn’t be disappointed with Declan.
  • Bennett: I like Bennett a lot, especially that it’s a form of Benedict but also fits in with their surname style, but since it doesn’t have a family connection, I’m not loving that Madison is “not overly excited about it” — I think we can do better!
  • Owen: I agree that Owen Phillip and Phillip Owen are handsome! And being the sucker for family names that I am, I like having Madison’s dad and her godfather together in the same name. And it even counts as a surname — one of my favorite Saints is St. Nicholas Owen! (Incidentally, Cole can be a diminutive of Nicholas, so something like Cole Owen could be very explicit for St. Nicholas Owen.) I was musing about Madison’s idea of Leo being a nickname for Maximilian (which I don’t think is too much of a stretch, by the way), and wondered what they would think of Leo as a nickname for Philip Owen? There’s the “Li” of Phillip and the O of Owen … maybe? Is that way too crazy? Madison’s hubby probably thinks so, haha! Another thought I had was to switch from Owen to Bowen — that makes it obviously more surnamey, opens up the awesome nickname Bo, and can still be for Madison’s godfather, since Bowen means “son of Owen”!
  • Duke: Like with Blair, the fact that Duke has been on their list from the beginning is so meaningful! I love Duke, and I love that Madison found that Saint connection! In fact, Edmund Duke is making me think of Eamon, which is the Irish form of Edmund … I wonder what they would think of Eamon Duke? It would be the martyr’s actual name, just in Irish, and Eamon is a style match for Declan … He could even go by Duke as his everyday call name!
  • Gannon/Cannon: I think Gannon’s very cool, and I’ve often thought Canon could be a cool Catholicky Catholic name (with that spelling). I’m not sure I love Cannon (and even Canon by sound-association) — “weapon” names are certainly controversial, which any parent who is considering one should be ready to deal with. I loved discovering that Gannon is related to Finn, how cool is that??
  • Kolbe: I’m excited that Madison thinks she might be able to bring her husband around to Kolbe because he likes C/Kole! Kolbe would be very cool for this family, I think.

So when I was trying to come up with new name ideas, I found myself really going far afield from what I would usually suggest, mostly because my suggestions are all on their “no” list! In my suggestions below, I included some results from the research I did in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link), where I looked up names they’ve used and those they like, as the BNW lists boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity, but at least as many are based on nothing more than my own gut reaction! I definitely kept in mind that avoiding ends-in-n names is preferable, and that Madison wants a Marian connection (or at the very least, a faith connection), and that she’s open to moving away from the surnamey names if it feels right. I really hope I hit the mark here with at least some of my ideas below!

Girl

(1) Scarlett

I’m going to start with one that I *don’t* think they’ll love … but maybe they will? Scarlett is a style match for both Cooper and Duke, and also Ivy from the list of names they can’t use, which I thought was pretty amazing. I never would have thought of Scarlett! I’ve actually seen Carly used as a nickname for Scarlett, which is so similar to Callie — maybe Madison would like that? I did a spotlight on the name Ruby, and I feel like a lot of the faith associations for Ruby can also be used for Scarlett, plus also the Feast of the Most Precious Blood on July 1 AND the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross during Madison’s due-date week!

(2) Tierney, Kearney

I’m putting Tierney here on the girl’s side because I knew a girl growing up named Tierney, but it’s actually derived from the Old Irish word meaning “lord” — such a great meaning, and can totally work for a boy if they prefer! With that meaning, it reminds me of Dominic/Dominique (“of the Lord”) or Emmanuel/Emmanuela or Christopher/Christina — a great “Jesus” name! But hidden in plain sight, like their other kids!

Kearney rhymes with Tierney, and like Tierney can be masculine or feminine; I’m putting it here on the girl list because when I was looking for Saints whose feast days fall during Sept. 6-14, I found Bl. Elizabeth Kearney, whose feast is Sept. 13 (there’s also a Bl. John Kearney, if they like this idea for a boy). Kearney seemed like a perfect fit for this family!

(3) Gemma

This is a gut-reaction name, brought about because, in thinking about their style being surname-y (but not into unusual surnames like Clairvaux etc.), I thought maybe faith-y *thing* names might be a good direction to go that would feel consistent but open up more ideas. With their British/Irish feel, I thought of Gemma — it means “gem” in Italian and is the name of the Italian St. Gemma, but has amazing usage in England/Ireland/Australia, which gives it that English/Irish feel.

(4) Eliette

Elliott’s a match for Bennett on the boy side, and maybe they’d prefer to consider it for a boy (I do love it for a boy!), but it made me think of Eliette right away — one of the families I worked with has a daughter named Eliette, which was the mom’s grandmother’s name, and is derived from Elijah, just like Elliott. As you know from my book, the Elijah names can be considered Marian because of the awesome connection to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so I thought that was cool; I also thought this very feminine spelling of an otherwise masculine-sounding name could be one of those “bridge name” ideas between what they’ve already done with their older kids’ names and how Madison might like to branch out going forward. I was thinking particularly of Eliette Catherine nn Ellie Cate — I thought maybe her husband would like that?

(5) Maeve

Madison had mentioned in another email that she kind of likes the nickname Mav, so Maeve was mostly inspired by that. Of course it’s an Irish name, and I also put it in my book of Marian names, so it checks that box as well. I really like the repeating sounds in Reagan and Maeve — beautiful, Marian (in an unexpected way), Irish sister names!

(6) Maisie

Josie, Molly, and Maggie are style matches for Callie; Lacey for Blair; Daisy for Duke; Lucy for Emma and Leo; and Maisie for Rory — they all have a similar sound and feel, and of them, I like Maisie the best for this family. It’s a Celtic (Irish/Scottish) diminutive of Margaret, which provides a fantastic patron.

(7) Talbot

Lindsay from My Child I love You introduced me to this name — she considered it for a first name for one of her girls, but ended up using it in the middle for her daughter Lourdes Marie Talbot. It’s for Bl. Matt Talbot, who was Irish (!) and had a devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes (!!) — how cool is that?! Read about it in this post. The nickname Tally/Tallie is awesome, and so similar to Madison’s beloved Callie; if they spell it Tally it mirrors her mom’s name really nicely. Another really cool thing, in addition to it being a nice nod to Bl. Matt Talbot, is that there’s a Bl. John Talbot whose feast day is Sept. 8!

Boy

(1) Miles

Since Madison said she has my book and has been scouring it, and she’s clearly familiar with the blog, then she must have come across Miles and decided against it. But let me make an argument for it! First off, it’s a style match for Bennett, Owen, and Ivy; secondly, it (as well as the spelling Myles) has a history of usage as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — a totally, legitimately Marian name for a boy! Thirdly, I’ve suggested it as a possible nickname idea for Maximilian, which would get away from Madison’s in-laws’ dog’s name Max and/or could claim St. Maximilian as a patron even if they go with the given name Miles instead of the given name Maximilian with Miles as a nickname; fourthly, I’ve suggested it as a nickname idea for Michael, being that it can be thought of as sort of a contraction of the name Michael, and also since Miles means “soldier” in Latin, which ties in nicely with St. Michael. And with Madison’s mom’s middle name being Michele, Michael or a name related to it could be a nod to her! There are so many reasons to love the name Miles! I think it goes amazingly well with Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton, and I love that it has a different ending than all of them.

(2) Garrett

Garrett is a gut-reaction idea — I was inspired by both Gannon and Bennett on their list, and also the fact that it’s an English surname that’s also categorized as “Celtic” in the BNW, and it derives from Gerard, which gives it a great saintly connection. I’m loving Garrett for this family!

(3) Kells

Kells is so much like Madison’s Callie, but is actually a surname like their older kids, and also the name of that beautifully illuminated manuscript containing the gospels at Trinity College in Dublin: The Book of Kells. I think Kells is so cool, and like Tierney and Kearney is really a unisex idea, so if they like it better for a girl, that could totally work, too.

(4) Finnian

I admit I had a hard time coming up with ideas for a boy for this family, so I do feel like I included ideas here that probably wouldn’t have passed muster if I had more ideas. Finnian is one — I love it, and I think it would be great in their family, and I was specifically inspired to include it here because St. Finnian of Moville’s feast day is Sept. 10. I do, however, realize that it’s maybe overly similar to Finley, which Madison said they can’t use, and it ends in -n, which isn’t ideal. But maybe they’ll like it anyway? Or, maybe this St. Finnian will provide them with the perfect patron for a little Gannon, since they’re related?

(5) Lolek

My last idea is a departure in that it’s not a surname, and it’s not English or Irish/Celtic. But it does have a different ending than their other kids’ names, and it is specifically Catholic and Marian, since it’s the nickname that St. John Paul II went by during his growing up (it’s a diminutive of Karol, which is the Polish for Charles/Carl/Karl). I just love the idea of Lolek! Because it was JP2’s childhood nickname, it feels sweet and affectionate. It’s sort of similar in sound and/or rhythm to Leo, Luke, Colton, Cole, and Kolbe, so I can see Madison and her hubby liking it from that perspective. Here’s a little guy named Lolek, if you want to see it in real life (his mom said it feels like an “underground code name,” which I thought was so fun!).

I’m sorry my boy ideas are so sparse! I feel like Madison might have good luck going through the names of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales as well as the Irish Martyrs to check out their surnames — I’m sure there’s a lot of good inspiration there! (I don’t think those lists are totally comprehensive, but definitely provide a lot of possibilities.)

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Cooper, Reagan, and Fulton?


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: Eloise, Penelope, or … ?

This is the first of the five consultations I opened up for January — this baby is coming any day! Rebecca and her hubby are expecting their first girl after four boys! Big brothers are:

Henry Blake 

Theodore Jude (“we call him Theo“)

Everett Scott

Oliver Ambrose

I love these! Such a fantastic bunch of names — all so handsome!

Rebecca writes,

With each of our boys we tried to have a way to honor our family either in the first name or the middle name. We also tried to have either the first name or the middle name be Catholic/biblical/a saint name. The only name that didn’t fit it was our third son Everett Scott, which is my cousin’s name and my husband’s middle name.

We have had a girl name picked out with each of our boys just in case. However, now that we are pregnant with our first girl I don’t seem to want to use any of those names. Some of the names that we had picked before are: Amelia Eloise, Lucia Eloise, Vivienne Simone, Violet Eloise

The day I took a pregnancy test and found out it was positive I immediately looked up the due date which turned out to be January 21. I looked up the Saints feast days and it turned out to be the feast day of Saint Agnes who is the patron saint of girls

Prior to finding out and that I was pregnant … I swore if I would have a girl I would name her Eloise. So this whole pregnancy I’ve pretty much been trying to find a middle name that I like with Eloise but I can’t seem to find ‘the one’ … I feel a lot of pressure to find the exact perfect name because I am 41 years old and this is probably going to be my only daughter so I want to find the most perfect name haha!

I totally get that!!

Rebecca continues,

Names that we have considered: Eloise Agnes, Eloise Marie, Eloise Lucia, Eloise Bernadette. My husband isn’t a big fan of Agnes but he said he would be fine if the name was Eloise Agnes Marie. But that feels like quite a mouthful

Names that I would love to use but cannot would be Eloise Therese, Eloise Beatrix, Zelie. My husband doesn’t like Beatrix or Zelie

Names other than Eloise that we like: we have seriously considered Penelope Eloise. My problem is is there doesn’t seem to be a Catholic connection in any way. Other names that we have considered: Opal, Lucy, Marigold, Josephine. My husband does not like Marigold. I adore floral type names and would love to call her Posie, Blossom, little flower as a special ‘between us’ nicknameOne other name that we can’t use is Claire!

There aren’t many family names left that haven’t been used by other people and I’ve been trying to avoid using the same names as other people in my family. Some family names that I have considered is Lorraine but only as a middle name, Anne or Anne Marie (This is my mothers name and she would really like me to use it in some way but ok if I don’t). I’m not set on having a family name this time.

I just feel like if I don’t use Eloise I’m going be sad but at the same time I can’t seem to find the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows. I would love some suggestions that go well with my boys names!

Such a fun “dilemma” to have — naming a girl after so many boys!! I love the names Becca and her hubby have considered for girls in the past, and of course I immediately picked up on the fact that Eloise was part of almost every combo, so my first thought was, “Why not Eloise as a first name?” And then of course the very next thing Becca wrote is that she swore to herself she’d name a girl Eloise! So I definitely think that Eloise as a first name should be at the top of their list. I’m not surprised, though, that they’re having a hard time finding “the one” in terms of a middle name for Eloise — while working on this, I spent a lot of time trying to think of some, and I find Eloise to be an unusual rhythm to work with, so not a lot of names seem to flow quite right. Not that that has to matter at all — they’ll likely find they’re happy with a middle name that has significance, whether it flows exactly right or not.

So I want to start with the idea of Agnes. I love that Becca’s due on St. Agnes’ feast day! She’s a great patron for a little girl! I would encourage Becca and her husband to lean into that, whether their daughter ends up being born on her feast day or not! I wonder if using an Agnes variant might appeal to them? Agnes itself still has an “old lady” feel for a lot of people, but Ines/Inès, Inez, Inessa (like this family’s second little girl), Annis, Agnesa, and Agneta are all variants that have a very different feel than Agnes while still being 100% Agnes.

Back to Agnes itself, I actually quite like how Eloise Agnes sounds — it’s a nice-flowing combo! I’m surprised that Becca’s hubby doesn’t care for Eloise Agnes, but wouldn’t mind Eloise Agnes Marie — in my experience, husbands tend to like “less fussy” rather than “more fussy.” But I love Eloise Agnes Marie as well! And I really like that it loops in Becca’s mom.

Let’s talk about Marie for a minute, and also the fact that another thing that jumped out to me right away is that Becca loves French girl names!! Vivienne, Simone, Bernadette, Therese, Zelie, Josephine, Marie itself, and even Lorraine (the name of a region in France!) and can’t-use Claire are all beautiful French names, so I let my mind wander a bit down the French path and wondered what they’d think of switching Agnes Marie to Marie-Agnes? That is SUCH a French construction, and I think the French girl names come across as so girly and feminine! Marie-Agnes as a first name can take the nickname Maggie, which makes everyday life so easy. If they were open to considering the French spelling/pronunciation of Agnes — Agnès, pronounced like ahn-YES — then Marie-Agnès become even more gorgeous, and I would still use Maggie as a nickname. If Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès feels too much for a first name, and/or they like the Agnès idea but don’t want their daughter to have to deal with it in the first name spot, I think Marie-Agnes/Marie-Agnès would be an amazing middle for Eloise! It also absolutely without a doubt fits the “Catholic, girly name” theme Becca was hoping for. As for a double middle name being a mouthful, I encourage them not to worry about that — the middle name spot is the place to put all the names, and when one has a girl after so many boys who is likely to be the only girl in the family, it’s very likely one has All The Names to work into her name! I spotlighted writer Rachel Balducci on the blog once, and she did that with her daughter, too — the only girl and youngest baby after five boys; she named her Isabel Anne-marie and noted “her middle name is Anne-marie, which is from each of the grandmothers. It’s a lot of name but I had to cram a lot into this one girl!

I’m actually also loving the idea right now of Annis Marie — Annis is a form of Agnes, and has Ann in it, so Annis Marie could be a double nod to Becca’s mom while still getting St. Agnes in there! And I’m also thinking of the French diminutive of Marie: Manon. I’ve always loved that! Maybe it could work here? Marie Eloise nicknamed Manon? Marie Agnes nicknamed Manon?

One last thought about Marie — it’s a very traditional thing for a Catholic girl to have Mary as her official/legal first name but go by her middle name. The Marie Eloise idea above made me think that Becca might like to do that too — Marie Eloise called Eloise? I think Marie Eloise is very girly and any name that includes a form of Mary sounds very Catholic to me, especially when it’s in the first name spot like that.

Don’t you love how my mind jumps all over the place?? Haha! Let me back up a minute and share some thoughts I had about names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Amelia: I wonder if the French Amelie (said like AH-muh-lee) would appeal to them? Or maybe the spelling Emilia, which is the way St. John Paul’s mom’s name was spelled?
  • Lucia, Lucy: The fact that Becca mentioned both Lucia and Lucy as names they’ve considered, and the fact that they share a lot of sounds with Eloise, makes me wonder if they might like the idea of Louisa with the nickname Lucy?
  • Vivienne, Violet: Because of their obvious love of V’s with Vivienne, Violet, and of course Everett and Oliver, I wanted to suggest Evangeline or Genevieve … but then I thought, that’s a lot of V’s! And Evangeline is probably too similar to Everett anyway, but I wanted to mention them just in case.
  • Opal, Marigold: Both of these make me think of Margaret — Opal, because it’s a jewel and Margaret means “pearl,” and Marigold because of the similarity between Marigold and Margaret in terms of appearance, sound, rhythm, and the nickname Maggie. There are a lot of Margaret names that Becca might like! Marguerite is the French form, and not only does it mean “pearl,” as the French form of Margaret, but it’s also the French word for the daisy flower! Daisy is a traditional nickname for Margaret, and with a Margaret name Becca would have her built-in flower connection for using Daisy or even Posie/Blossom/Little Flower as nicknames for her girl. Another form of Margaret that I thought she might like is Margot — it’s also French (am I killing you all yet with all the French ideas?? They just seem so perfect!) and can take all the Margaret associations, since it’s a French short form of Margaret (and can be a nickname for Margaret, if they prefer). One last thing about “pearl” — not only would Becca have a flower connection if they used a form of Margaret, but her girl would also have her very own gem! Pearls could be one of her things!
  • Josephine: I love Josephine anyway, and Posie is one of my favorite nicknames for it, so that was fun to see on the list.

I wanted to discuss Penelope on its own and not as a bullet point in the previous list. Penelope is a great name! I’ve heard from many parents who love it but don’t love that they can’t find a faith connection, but you don’t need to worry about that, because indeed there is! Venerable Ersilia Penelope Frey was declared Venerable in 2015! So Penelope Eloise would work just fine!

On to new ideas! Becca specifically said she wants “the perfect ‘Catholic, girly name’ that just flows” and that goes well with her boys’ names. To that end, I looked up her boys’ names, as well as the names she and her hubby have considered for a girl, in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also consulted the article I wrote a few years ago called Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names (from that list, Becca and her hubs have already considered Bernadette and Marie). Finally, I tried to think of names with a floral connection that I thought they might like. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Fleur, Flora

The very first idea that came to mind was one of the names that actually means “flower”! Any of the sweet flower nicknames could work if they used a name that means flower! Fleur is the French version, and Flora is every other language; they’re both lovely (and Flora is a style match for Opal).

(2) Eleanor

Eleanor is the name that’s the biggest style match for Becca’s boys’ names and the names she and her hubby like overall! It’s a style match for Henry, Theodore, Oliver, Penelope, and Josephine, and the variant Leonora is a match for Ambrose. It also begins with El-, like Eloise, so I wondered if making a small switch from Eloise to Eleanor would preserve what they like about Eloise while giving them a name that flows easier with other names? Eleanor Amelia, Eleanor Lucia, Eleanor Simone, Eleanor Agnes, Eleanor Marie, Eleanor Agnes Marie … they all have a really lovely rhythm. Nicknames include Elle/Ellie/Ella, Nell, and Nora, which really go well with the big brothers (Nell can also be a nickname for Penelope, and Nora is specifically a style match for Theo). (I discuss Eleanor in depth in this consultation post, which also includes some great, heavy-hitting middle name ideas that Becca might find helpful as well!) (I also recently discovered Bl. Eleanora, in addition to the saintly connection I discussed in the blog post and also below [no. 7].)

(3) Elizabeth nn Lily

The El- of Eloise and Eleanor, as well as Becca’s love of “floral type names,” encouraged me to add Elizabeth to this list. It’s feminine and serious, solid and saintly, and I even included it in my book of Marian names because of how closely tied Elizabeth is to Our Lady via the Visitation. But what I really love about Elizabeth for this family is that Lily is a traditional nickname for it! Not only is Lily a floral name, and not only would using Lily as a nickname for Elizabeth be a little offbeat (despite its traditional usage), which is fun, but Lillian is a style match for Theodore and Lily is so for Oliver. (If they like the idea of Elizabeth but would prefer a different nicknames, there are a zillion and one!) They might also like to consider the French spelling Elisabeth, which is said the same as Elizabeth but I think that S really gives it something different. (Do you know about Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur? I love her!)

(4) Rosalie

Rosalie is a style match for Everett, Eloise, and Vivienne, and I’m also struck by how many sounds it shares with Eloise, making me think Becca might really like this one! It’s also got the nice Rose connection, and Rose, Rosa, and Rosie/Rosey are all great floral nicknames.

(5) Camille, Camellia

Camille is a match for Vivienne and Simone, and Camila for Lucia, so I thought there might be something there. I also love its similarity to the flower name Camellia. The Camille names aren’t obviously Catholic, but there is a Bl. Camila Díez Blanco, Bl. Camilla Gentili, and St. Camillus de Lellis. (There’s also a Bl. Angela Truszkowska, whose birth name was Zofia Kamila Truszkowska. Zofia Kamila! Wow!)

(6) Felicity

Felicity is a style match for Oliver, and it’s included in my article of Unmistakable Catholic Girl Names. I think it’s so feminine and pretty, so I had to include it! Sts. Perpetua and Felicity are such a well-known saintly pair and such great patrons for girls. I spotlighted Felicity, including nickname ideas (one of which is Lily!), here.

(7) Seraphina, Seraphine

This is totally inspired by Becca’s hope for a Catholic girly name. I think Seraphina is just so beautiful, and I included it in my book of Marian names because it “refers to the seraphim, the order of angels who ‘stand before God as ministering servants in the heavenly court,’ and gets its Marian character from two of Our Lady’s titles: ‘Our Lady of the Angels’ and ‘Queen of the Angels.’” I like how the French variant Seraphine flows with Eloise!

(7) Archangela

This was inspired both by Seraphina, in that it’s an obvious angel name — and specifically for the archangels, which means three patrons! — but also by Eleanor, because of Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor.

(8) Immaculata

Finally, Immaculata is one of my favorite of the super-obvious-Catholic feminine names, and I LOVE how it sounds with Eloise! Eloise Immaculata! Ohhh my! This is one of my very favorite ideas for Becca’s baby girl.

I also wanted to offer a list of names beyond the obvious (but also including some of the obvious ones) that have floral connections. I used the posts Daring Flower Names and Botanical Girl Names on Appellation Mountain to compile this list (I didn’t include all the ones listed in those articles, so definitely check them out!), and I’ve asterisked the ones that I included in my book of Marian names. I also want to share the quote I found in a book called Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations by Vincenzina Krymow: “It is thought that at one time all flowers and plants honored Mary, the ‘Flower of Flowers,’ in legend or in name,” which would give a Catholic connection to any floral name (Behind the Name is the site I use for all name meanings if you wanted to look up the less obvious ones below).

  • Anthea
  • Azalea
  • Briallen
  • Calla
  • Carmel*
  • Eden
  • Hazel
  • Iris*
  • Ivy*
  • Jacinta, Jacinthe, Hyacinth
  • Lily, Lillie, Lilia, Lillian, Liliana, Liliane*
  • Linnea
  • Magnolia
  • Primrose*
  • Rosanna*
  • Rosary*
  • Rosemary, Rosemarie*
  • Susanna*

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Henry, Theodore/Theo, Everett, and Oliver?


The five consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: To Mary or not to Mary?

The farther we get into January, the happier I am — is it crazy that I’m counting down the days until spring?! I hope you’re all having a great Monday! Enjoy this consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Amber writes in asking for advice on naming baby #6, and second girl.

The girl name has me at a loss. Nothing is lighting that spark. I’ve always wanted a Mary, but it’s not feeling right. My husband would like Claire Terese. It’s a fine name, it’s just not clicking with me. St. Theresa of Calcutta is like my soul sister. THERESA though isn’t a name I can see myself using. The same with Mary. I’m not feeling like Mary is the right name for this baby … and at the same time my heart has a little ache, knowing I won’t likely have another opportunity to make a girl Mary.”

Creative naming might be just what this family needs! Maybe to look at names in a new way will help these parents pick the right name for their new addition. They’re solid on their boy name, so we’ll be focusing on girl names for them.

This child will join big siblings:

Samuel Francis (in heaven)
Thomas Joseph
James Dominic
Michael Paul
Emily Melynne (muh-LYNN; Amber’s sister’s middle name)

First, some thoughts on Claire Terese, Mary, and Theresa. I really love Terese in the middle for their girl! It’s unusual but not outlandish, much like sister’s middle name, giving them a connection. I think it also solves their problem of loving St. Teresa of Calcutta but not the name Theresa!

Claire is such a beautiful name and goes so well with Emily, but if they’re not feeling it, they’re just not feeling it! I wonder if a variation of the name would work better for them. What about Clara Terese? Clara has a little more pizzazz than Claire but still has that feminine, classic feeling.

I also understand wanting to honor Mary but feeling like Mary itself does not fit this child. What about a variation of Mary? Some of my favorites are Molly, Mara, Mae, and Mariae (which is the Latin possessive for “of Mary”). They could also do a variation of an apparition or title they love –– Lola or Ivy for Our Lady of Sorrows (Lola from Dolores and Ivy from the ivy plant Mary’s Tears), Annunziata for The Annunciation, Lourdes, etc. Check out Kate’s book on ways to honor Mary in a name for even more ideas, too.

Okay, on to new ideas. I mainly went with my gut for this but also looked up names in the same style of the names of their other kids.

(1) Audrey

This name means “noble strength” and is the name of a saintly princess, St. Audrey (also known as Etheldreda). This has the same feminine, classic feel as Emily and Claire and is also French, just like them! Audrey Terese or Audrey [insert Marian name] would be beautiful and fit well with the other children.

(2) Juliet(te)

The meaning of this name is disputed but can mean “youthful” (my favorite), “downy-bearded”, or “sky father” depending on where you trace its origins. It’s feminine, classic, French, and has some pizzazz. It’s also a great way to honor a family member with a July birthday (I noticed sister Emily has an honor name in hers). There are tons of saints to go along with this name, too, including Julias (Juliette is actually a diminutive of Julia). Some that stood out to me were St. Juliette Verolot and Ven. Juliette Colbert de Falletti di Barolo.

(3) Chloe

I thought of this name immediately as an alternative to Claire. It just has a little more pep than Claire. It means “green shoot,” speaking to the newness of life, and is about as popular as Emily right now. I really like Chloe Terese or Chloe Mariae.

(4) Alice

This is more clunky cool than Claire is, but this name came to me as an alternative to Claire, too. It means “noble” and is a modern form of Adelaide for which there are several saints, including St. Adelaide the Abbess and St. Alice the Empress. Alice Terese, Alice Claire, and Alice Mae all sound really beautiful to me. Are Emily and Alice too close for their tastes, though?

(5) Brigid/Bridget

This name means “strength” or “exalted one” and it came up as a match to their other kids’ names. There is, of course, the very famous St. Brigid as namesake. Brigid is snappy and cool, where I think Claire seems a little more boring to them. Brigid Terese and Brigid Claire are both great combos.

(6) Lydia

This name came up as a match to their other kids’ names but it also struck me as having more pep and pizzazz than Claire, which seemed to me to be their problem with it. St. Lydia Purpuraria is a great patron and she’s the patroness of the color purple, if that’s significant to them at all (or could just end up being the child’s favorite color!). Lydia Terese is really nice and Lydia Mariae is unexpected.

(7) Ruby

This name also came up as a match to their kids’ names but it stood out to me for a few reasons. It’s clunky cool but more spunky than Claire, it has all sorts of cool faith connections (Kate wrote a post on it that you can read here), and it’s the name of my oldest child. So I’m biased! Emily and Ruby make great sisters, though, and I thought it fit their style and wheelhouse perfectly. Ruby Mae is a super amazing combination (okay, I’m really biased here because that is my daughter’s first name and first middle name) and it can encompass connections to Jesus, Mary, and anyone in the family with a July birthstone (ruby is the gemstone for July). Ruby Terese is also stunning, as are Ruby Claire and Ruby with any Marian name in the middle. I really really love this name for them.

Okay, these are my thoughts. What do you think?


The five consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, my book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Baby name consultation: First girl after three boys needs a “short, strong, distinct name”

Happy Sixth Day of Christmas! I’m working on my annual “Year in review” post and hope to have it up in the next few days. In it, I’ll be detailing my return to baby name consulting — stay tuned! In the meantime, enjoy this latest consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Megan writes in to say she’s having her first girl after three boys and she and her husband are having some problems coming up with a name they both love.

She writes,

The girl’s name that has been with me for years now is Marin. I like the sound of it, the Marian reference, and the ocean reference. Interestingly, when I was pregnant with my 3rd baby, my oldest son called the baby Star or Sea Star for most of the pregnancy (we didn’t know the gender until birth). My husband is ‘so so’ about Marin — I think he is warming up to it, but he is from Marin County in California, so there is kind of a weird association for him with the name. So we may be open to other first names, if you could provide a couple of options.”

First, a little bit on the name they love, Marin. To distance it from the county in California, maybe use a different spelling? Maren is the more traditional spelling of this name and it carries the same meaning and sound. Mauren makes it even more distant but moves it to a form of Maureen, which is itself a form of Mary. All are Marian-related in this way (Marin means “of the sea,” making it related to Mary Maris Stella). I think changing the spelling might make this name more palatable for her husband.

She writes that they would like some middle name suggestions, too.

Considerations for the middle name:

  • We lost my mom this year, so it would be nice to commemorate her in some way — her name was Marcia Ann and I think we are inclined to use Ann, however Marin Ann sounds a little off to us, so we have considered adding a 2nd middle name (my mother in law’s middle name is Victoria, so adding that as a second middle name is a consideration)
  • We have chosen saint names in the past for middle names

As far as middle names go, I love double middle names! I was given two middles at birth and each of my children have two middle names. I say definitely do this!

About honoring her mom, Marcia Ann. I understand that Marcia is a tough name to work with nowadays and that’s probably why they’re considering the more classic and flexible Ann. Might I suggest a different form of Marcia to honor her instead? It’ll give their child some uniqueness without feeling weird or dated, especially in the middle spot. Some alternate forms of Marcia include Marcy, Marceline, Marcellina, Marzia, and Marcella. I really love Marceline and Marcella. Maren Marcella Victoria and Maren Victoria Marceline are so lovely!

This baby will be joining big siblings:

Cole Dominic
Reston Theodore
Declan Patrick

Megan writes their considerations for first names are “shorter, strong, distinct names — that aren’t overly popular.” That I can work with!

On to new suggestions. I kind of deduced that their style is short, spunky, and strong, so that’s what I tried to stick to. Any of these would be lovely as a first name or work great in the middle spot with Maren.

(1) Louisa/Luisa
Megan said they love Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin so I thought this was a natural choice. Not many people honor St. Louis with a girl! This name means “famous warrior” which is perfectly fiery for a little girl after three boys! This name checks all of the short, spunky, and strong boxes. Louisa Marcella Victoria is straight fire!

(2) Ivy
This name is growing in popularity but isn’t too popular yet. It’s a plant name like St. Zelie’s name and there’s a type of ivy called Mary’s Tears which makes this a Marian name! This name is short and spunky, although I don’t know if it would meet the definition of strong. Maren Ivy Marceline is a great combination.

(3) Flora
I was thinking of ways to honor St. Zelie and I thought, why not just go for the flower? This name means “flower” which makes it a nice honor name for Zelie and for her famous daughter Therese. It’s definitely short and spunky. Maren Marceline Flora has such a lovely flow.

(4) Alice/Alix
These are actually the same name, so I’m including them both here. Alice has that clunky cool feel, while Alix feels cutting edge and new. These names are forms of the name Adelaide which is another possible origin for the French name Azelie, the full name of St. Zelie. This is how I came to these names for them, as a roundabout way of honoring St. Zelie. Once I found these names, though, I loved them on their own merit for them and think they really fit their style. Maren Alice Victoria, Maren Alice Marceline, and Alix Marcella Maren are all incredible combos!

(5) Aliza
This is another possible for of Adelaide, which could honor St. Zelie but it definitely means “joyful” in Hebrew and I thought what a wonderful name for a first daughter after three boys that is. It’s short, spunky, and strong and goes great with Maren, Marceline, and Victoria! Some of my favorite combos with this name include Maren Aliza Marceline and Aliza Marceline Victoria. So much strength!

(6) Marta
Since they have a devotion to both of the Martin saints, I thought maybe they’d like this name to honor them both. Marta is a feminine form of Martin and while the meaning leaves a little to be desired (it means “warlike”), the association with the saints makes up for it, in my mind. It’s short, spunky, and strong and actually made me think of Marin, so maybe this is a good alternative for Megan and her husband? I love the combinations Marta Marcella Victoria and Marta Victoria Marceline.

(7) Margo(t)
I was trying to think of alternatives to Marin that they both might like and this name came to mind. It’s a form of Margaret, meaning “pearl,” and was the name of many saints. It’s short, spunky, and strong and goes great with their boys’ names. I like Margot Victoria Ann, Margot Marceline Victoria, and Margot Marcella Victoria.

These are my thoughts! What do you think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back soon for details of my return), but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Fifth boy and no boy names left!

Happy Third Week of Advent! I hope you’re all as excited about Christmas as everyone in my house is! Enjoy today’s consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams:

Mama Frances writes in asking for baby naming help.

My husband and I come to you in a name conundrum we really never imagined ourselves to be in. You see, we (and by we, I mean me) are very certain about names — so certain we have always named our babies immediately upon finding out their gender and shared them with anyone who would listen. It proved a great balm, with our first who has a critical congenital heart defect and lots of prenatal complications (and post-birth surgeries). It always tells me exactly who this little person is I am getting to know, and has come so naturally. However, we have now come to find we are happily expecting our sixth child and fifth boy, and we have used so many names we have loved that I am simply struggling naming another little boy … which makes me feel horribly guilty because we have about twenty more girl names waiting in the wings.”

That’s always tough when you’ve used so many of the names you like already!

This little man will be joining big siblings:

Walter “Walt/Wally” David

Franklin “Frank/Franky” Richard

Theodore “Ted/Teddy” Paul

Lottie Theresa

Arthur “Art/Arty” Daniel

They have a few naming rules, though.

  • family honor either in first, middle, or both
  • traditional, but not “popular” names (the more vintage the better)
  • a likable nickname and formal name (most of the time)
  • a way to tie the name to a saint, an etymological derivative is fine
  • we end boy nicknames in y (even if it is less common like Franky and Arty), girls in ‘ie’

Also, they’d like to keep their Irish and Polish heritage in mind when naming this child, though it’s not a hard and fast criteria.

Here are some names they like but don’t feel like “the one”:

  • Alexander (too common), Gerald (don’t like the nickname “Gerry”), Anthony (repeating first initial and nickname Tony would start with a different letter than the full name), George (friends just named their son this), Ronald (no family significance), and Richard (already used it in the middle spot for a different child)

Names they cannot use are:

  • John
  • Joseph
  • Robert
  • Oliver

First, some thoughts on names they like but have issues.

Alexander– I agree that it’s too popular for them but it is popular for a reason, it’s a great name! This is one of those names that you can’t really go wrong with, especially in the middle spot.

Gerald– I love this name for them. I feel like it ticks all of their boxes! Unfortunately, I couldn’t really think of any other nicknames for it besides Gerry, which they aren’t a fan of, without getting really creative (Gerdy, Gordo, Gordy, etc.).

Anthony– This one surprised me for them, in a good way! I love this name and the nickname Tony, but understand their hangups. Perhaps in the middle spot?

George– I don’t think they should worry too much about having two Georges in the same social circle. This is a great name and ticks most of their boxes otherwise!

Ronald– Another name that I really like for them and ticks most of their boxes. Ronald Alexander is a great combination, too, which would give it the family significance Ronald lacks on its own.

Richard– Great name, but I would worry about having already used it on another child, too. I would let this one go since they’ve already used it in a middle spot.

On to new suggestions!

(1) Edward/Edmund/Edwin/Edgar

I couldn’t decide which I thought they would like more, so I’m including them all! Edward is the most popular currently at 195 and Edmund is the least popular currently, not having ranked above 1000 since 1998. These all come with the built-in nicknames of Ed and Eddy and tick all but the family significance box. There are tons of saints to go with each name, too, such as St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edmund Campion, St. Edwin the King, and  St. Edgar the Peaceful. I like any of these names with any of the names they already like in the middle spot, some favorites are Edmund Alexander, Edmund Gerald, and Edwin Alexander.

(2) Lawrence/Laurence

I think I prefer the Laurence spelling for them, but I’ve included both just in case. I love the vintage-ish nicknames of Law and Laury (Laurey?), too. There are tons of Saints with both spellings of the name but one that stood out to me was St. Lawrence O’Toole, since they said their family background leans Irish (and Polish). I think this name fits in with their other kids’ really well but it does share the first initial with the only sister.

(3) Stanley

When they mentioned their family is part Polish, I immediately thought of this name! There’s St. Stanislaus Kostka and Bl. Stanley Rother to tie into it, too. It can take the nicknames Stan and Stanny and fits their vintage vibe so perfectly! I love Stanley Gerald and Stanley Alexander best out of the other names they like.

(4) Douglas

This name was originally a Scottish surname through the Gaelic language, tying it to their family’s heritage. I could only find one saint with the name Douglas, Bl. George Douglas, who was martyred for being a priest. Nicknames Doug and Douggy are super friendly and fun.

(5) Calvin

This was one of the first names I thought of when they said “the more vintage, the better”.  The only problem here is that there are no saints by this name and its connection with John Calvin and Calvinism. Otherwise, I think this fits in with their crew really well and I wouldn’t be afraid of the associations. Calvin Gerald is like peak vintage, too!

(6) Frederick

This comes with the obvious nicknames of Fred and Freddy but it would repeat an initial. I love its meaning of “peaceful ruler”; a great meaning for a 5th boy/6th overall! There are several saints to go along with the name, including St. Frederick and Bl. Frederick Ozanam.

(7) Terrence

I have Irish and Polish in my ancestry, so I actually looked to my family trees to see if there were any winners there. I found Terrence on my Irish side and fell in love! I think this is a great name for them and ticks almost all of their boxes. It has nickname Terry which is very friendly and fun, too. Amazingly, there is Bl. Terrence Albert O’Brien to go with the name! Paired with one of the other names they like, this name feels like a real home run for them. Maybe Terrence Alexander, Terrence Anthony, or Terrence George?

These are my thoughts. What do you guys think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Marian name needed for Nico’s brother

Happy Monday everyone! I’m happy to share another wonderful consultation by Theresa Zoe Williams. Enjoy!

Mama Whitney writes in asking for help with baby #3’s name, if baby is a boy (they already have their girl names picked out!). This baby will join big siblings:

Nicholas James “Nico”

Josephine “Josie” (in heaven)

Whitney writes,

After the miscarriage, we did not get pregnant next cycle (never had a cycle like that before), so I began a 54 day rosary novena. The positive pregnancy test lined up after the third novena, and the confirmation ultrasound is going to line up with the end of the novena next week. Because of this, I want to honor Mary in the baby name … I have read the Marian baby name book, but a lot of them seem … unique and creative. That’s great, but I think you can tell from our list of names that we really want some hard hitting classics. We’re willing to go a little more unusual for the middle name or have a more fun nick name, but we don’t want to go too far. Honestly, my name (Whitney) is a decent example of as far unique as we’d want to go — Whitney isn’t common, but it isn’t so uncommon that anyone gets tripped up by it or anything. We’re both also just general American Caucasian mutts and would feel uncomfortable with a name with a strong cultural association (like Mario or Guadalupe). It would just feel wrong to us, like a cultural appropriation thing.”

Names they like but aren’t excited about include:

  • Maximilian
  • Kolbe
  • Maximin (from the apparition of Our Lady at La Salette)
  • Fulton

They cannot use Dominic.

First, some thoughts on the names they like but don’t feel like are “the one”:

Maximilian: Great, strong name. I love the association with St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Militia Immaculata. I love that they could also get to Maximin with this name and also tie in the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette. Max and Nico make great brothers.

Kolbe: Another tie to St. Maximilian Kolbe and growing in popularity in Catholic circles. I like that this opens up their style a little bit more.

Maximin: This one might get some odd looks are be mispronounced and misspelled often but it is cute and I like its Marian connection.

Fulton: This opens their style, too, and of course, is a great Marian-connected name.

On to new suggestions!

(1) Gabriel

He was the angel at the Annunciation, giving this a strong Marian tie. I love that this name means “God is my strong man,” too, such a great name for a little boy. Nickname Gabe makes this name extra cute. There’s also St. Gabriel Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows, giving it a double Marian punch.

(2) Lucas

Luke wrote the most Marian Gospel, making this a Marian name, but I thought they might like this form of the name better. It can shorten to Luke or Luca and I thought Nico and Luca would be such cute brothers.

(3) Sebastian

Honestly, I just thought they would like this name. It’s a little more popular at #18 but it’s such a great name. It can also shorten to Seb or Bash which are adorable. I love the nickname Bash on little boys, it just seems so fitting! Nicholas and Sebastian make great brothers.

(4) Raphael

Another archangel name, this one means “God heals.” I thought that was so touching after losing a baby. I like that this name is not common but is still familiar. It can shorten to the super cute Rafe or even to the diminutive Ralph. Nicholas and Raphael are great brother names, as are Nico and Rafe.

(5) John

This name means “Yahweh is gracious” which, again, I thought was a great meaning for a rainbow baby. St. John the Apostle took Mary into his home after the Resurrection, giving this a great Marian connection. St. John Paul II was also an incredibly Marian pope, giving it a double Marian punch. There’s not much nickname potential here, though, but I’m not sure how much that matters to them.

(6) Philip

I thought of this name because of Mary’s title as Queen of the Apostles. Out of the rest of the Apostles’ names, I thought they might like this one the best. It means “friend of horses” and can shorten to Phil, Philly, Flip, or Pip. Lots of great potential with this name! They might also like Nathaniel or Peter, so I’m including them here.

(7) Isaiah

This is probably my most “out there” suggestion and may seem so to them but it actually ranks at #51 making it pretty common and not very “out there”! It’s common and familiar. I love this name for them because Isaiah is the prophet who prophesied the Virgin Birth, giving it a really cool Marian connection! It means “Yahweh is my salvation,” too, which is awesome. I really feel like this is such a powerhouse name for them It can shorten to Isa or Zay, too, giving it some more flexibility. Nico and Zay are awesome brothers and Nicholas and Isaiah are really cool, modern brothers.

Those are my thoughts! What do you think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Older three-syllable name needed for baby girl no. 3

Happy Veterans Day! Thanks to all who have served our country, including both my grandfathers, several uncles, a cousin, and friends. Here’s a lovely prayer for today. And enjoy this consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Corinne writes in asking for help with baby #4’s name. She’s the third girl! Baby joins big siblings:

Adelaide Therese “Addie”

Eleanor Chiara

Fulton Joseph

She writes,

The girls each have their patron saint as their middle name and we’d like to continue that tradition with Edith for Edith Stein.  I am also open to Benedicta as a middle name from her Carmelite name, but my husband is less thrilled.”

They love the name Lucy but are worried it’s become too popular now.

She says,

I do like that both girls have 3 syllable names, even if Addie’s is shortened. Obviously we like old names, nothing too popular or trendy. We are fine with nicknames if they fit.”

One name she likes but doesn’t feel right is Magdalene called Maggie.

First, thoughts on Lucy. It is pretty popular at #49. What about long form Luciana? It ranks at #405 and is longer, like their other girls’ names (although it’s 4 syllables instead of 3). There’s also the 3 syllable Lucinda, which hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1987. Both of these could get to Lucy easily and I think both sound nice with Edith (or Benedicta!).

She also mentioned Magdalene but wondered if Maggie is too close to Addie. I don’t think so! If it bothers them, though, they could also call her Madga instead.

On to new suggestions!

(1) Angeline

I really love this one for them as it’s 3 syllables, has a vowel beginning like the other girls, can shorten to Angie if they really want, and hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 2015. It’s for the angels, and I’m writing this up on the feast of the Archangels and little girl is due near the feast of the guardian angels. Angeline Edith has a nice ring and flow, too.

(2) Clementine

This name means “merciful, gentle” which I just love for a little girl. It currently ranks at #610, so not very popular and not really trendy, either. If the association with the fruit bothers them, they can pronounce it “clem-uhn-teen”. Clementine Edith is really cute.

(3) Germaine

I know baby girl already has a patroness but St. Germaine Cousin would be a great secondary patron! It hasn’t ranked the top 1000 for girls since 1963, so it’s definitely more classic, underused, and not trendy. I always thought Mae would be such a sweet nickname for Germaine, but there’s also Ger and Geri. Germaine Edith sounds so clunky cool to me, too.

These are my thoughts. What do you think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: First girl after three biblically named boys!

Happy feast of All Saints! Did you know there’s a name that specifically refers to “all saints”? Toussaint does! It’s also the last name of the wonderful Ven. Pierre Toussaint. It’s a great name to consider for a baby born on Nov. 1! I’d love to know if any of you have used or considered the name Toussaint for your child (whether or not he or she was born today).

Enjoy this consultation from my co-consultant, Theresa Zoe Williams!

Mama Kathryn writes in, “Our baby is a GIRL!” after three boys! Little Miss is joining big brothers:

  • James Elijah
  • John Isaiah
  • Samuel Robert

She writes:

So we obviously like pretty Biblical/traditional names. We have chosen this baby’s middle name to be Gianna after Gianna Molla! I really loved Rachel Gianna [last name] but my husband didn’t love it, and he really loved Rebecca Gianna [last name] but I felt like that was too much of a mouth full.”

They cannot use:

  • Sarah
  • Lydia
  • Leah

Finally, Kathryn writes,

her name definitely doesn’t have to be biblical, but I would like either the meaning to be significant or after a saint or something else! We both like Audrey (Nobel strength) okay but don’t feel like it’s “the one”. Victoria (Tori) is also on the shortlist but again, don’t feel like it’s the one …” 

First, some thoughts on names they like but don’t feel right.

Rachel– Lovely, Old Testament name. Rachel Gianna has such a beautiful ring to it, too.

Rebecca– Reminds me of Rachel, which is why, I’m sure, they like it. I don’t mind the sound of Rebecca Gianna.

Audrey– Really beautiful name that’s coming back in popularity. It has an old, classic feel to it. Audrey Gianna doesn’t flow as nicely to me, though.

Victoria– Sounds a little out of place next to their boys, to me but is a lovely name. Tori makes me think of the 90s but that’s not necessarily a connection everyone would share. There is a nice connection to Our Lady of Victory through this name. Victoria Gianna is a mouthful, to me.

On to new suggestions!

(1) Ruth

Since they love Rachel and Rebecca, I went to the next Old Testament “R” name. It’s not too popular at all and brings it back to the Old Testament, like Samuel, since James and John are both New Testament names. It also means “friend”, which I thought was sweet. Ruth Gianna has a nice ring to it, too.

(2) Phoebe

Keeping it Biblical but bringing it up to the New Testament is Phoebe. She helped the Apostles and is a saint. The name means “bright, pure”. Phoebe Gianna has the same kind of flow as Rachel/Rebecca Gianna.

(3) Susanna

This name appears in both the Old and New Testaments, making it a nice bridge between all their boys’ names. It hasn’t even ranked in the top 1000 since 1997, either, meaning it’s not popular. The name also means “lily” or “rose”, giving it a sweet flower connection to names that are much more popular today. There are tons of nickname options, too, from Susie and Sue to Sanna and Zuzu to Lily and Rose. Susanna Gianna has a beautiful, song-like quality to it, too.

(4) Veronica

Since they like Victoria, I thought maybe they’d like this name. St. Veronica wiped Jesus’s face on the road to Calvary. There’s also St. Veronica Guiliani. The name isn’t very popular, keeping it right where they like it. It means “true image” and has super cute nickname Vera to go with it or even Ronnie. Veronica Gianna has a great flow.

(5) Abigail

This was the third wife of King David, a great Old Testament name. Surprisingly, perhaps, this name ranks at #13 nationally right now, though, so it’s much more popular than it seems. Abigail Gianna might be too many Gs, though?

(6) Emilia

Breaking out of the Bible, this is the name of Pope St. John Paul II’s mother. This name came up as a style match to all their boys and I thought it was a sweet version of Emily. Emilia Gianna flows so beautifully, too. However, this name does rank at #40 currently.

(7) Eve/Eva/Ava

Eve is perhaps the ultimate Old Testament name, the very first female name! And Mary is often referred to as the New Eve. Eve itself is not too popular, but Eva is #93 and Ava is #3. Personally, I like the flow of Eva Gianna best. The name also means “to live” which is so powerful. I initially thought of Zoe for them, because of the meaning but when Eve came up as a style match for their boys and it has the same meaning, I thought they’d like Eve/Eva better. I included Ava because of their love for Audrey–– it has the same sort of feel but I thought it’s popularity might be too much of a con for them.

These are my suggestions! What do you think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Strongly saintly+Marian names for baby no. 4

Please keep in your prayers the family of longtime Sancta Nomina friend Rosie from A Blog for My Mom — her two month old baby girl, Margaret Mary, died a few days ago. There are efforts to support the family, if you are willing and able — links are included in this post.

Here’s the latest consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams:

Mama Lucy writes in:

I am pregnant with our 4th child. Praise God! This babe is due in February 2022. We are not yet sure what gender this baby is, and I’m out 100% sure we will find out before birth! Our names for a boy and girl were set before we were even married, but the third was debated (mostly only by me ha!) until I saw her face.”

This baby will join big siblings:

  • Michael Dominic
  • Clara Marie-Therese
  • Gianna Marie-Rose

She writes:

Our girls have the Marie- _____  middle so that each one would be sure to have a Marian name. We kind of stole it from Louie and Zelie Martin. We also like that they will always share that even if their last name changes down the road. We have unintentionally gone with Italian saints for the girls first names so far, and I’d like to break from that so to not get too stuck on it. It’s not that we only like Italian names. Those just happened to feel right.

If we have another boy we’d like another strong saint first name (St. Michael) and a nod to Mary with the middle (st. Dominic spreading the rosary). Michael’s initials are MDW just like my husband’s and his father’s. I do love the name Jackson though and would love a baby Jack, maybe you could help find a saint connection? 

The only other non-canonized saint on our (very long) list is Anna Mae. This was my paternal grandmother’s name, and I love It but we have a lot of short a sound in or girls and the “Anna” in Gianna already. Am I overthinking? Names do not have to be canonized saints but we’d love a connection to our faith. Virtues, places, etc. I LOVE nicknames. Our first two mostly go by their first names but Gianna goes by Gigi, Geeg, and Geeger, and my husband and I both Love that she has multiple nicknames. We’ve discussed having a Lily Marie-Catherine and calling her Lily-Cate in the past. I also have a devotion to the miraculous medal. Catherine Laboure is another Catherine I’d love to honor. Like I said though, so many Catherine’s in the family already.”

Names they cannot use:

  • Caroline
  • Louie
  • Catherine (“So many variations in our family, but my confirmation saint was Catherine of Alexandria and I‘d love to honor her somehow“)

Names they like but don’t feel like the one:

  • Joseph
  • Peter 
  • Benedict
  • Karol (“as a middle“) 
  • George (“if Gianna was a boy she was going to be George Karol, two saints we love + GK for GK Chesterton who is one of my husband’s favorite authors“)  
  • Bosco (“nicknamed Bo“) 
  • Augustine (“I love Gus and Auggie!“) 
  • Sebastian (“Bash! I saw on this blog and loved!“) 
  • Jackson/Jack
  • Zelie
  • Beatrice (“my husband loves that a girl named Beatrice is what inspired Dante’s writings“) 
  • Anna Mae
  • Vianney (“I love St. John Vianney but we don’t like John, but again with that short a sound/ann“) 
  • Felicity (“husband is not a huge fan, I need nickname suggestions“)
  • Lily
  • Alice 

So first, I thought I’d give some thoughts on names they said they like but don’t feel like “the one”.

Joseph– Great, strong name, especially in this year of St. Joseph. Has a built-in Marian connection, too! Lots of great nickname potential here, too, including Joe, Joey, Joss, and Seph.

Peter– Another great, strong name literally meaning “rock”. Doesn’t get more solid than that! I love this name because it has so many faith and pop culture connections but is still fairly underused. I love the nickname Pete, too.

Benedict– I see a pope theme emerging! Another really great, strong name with lots of nickname potential. If they named their son Benedict Joseph, they could also call him Banjo, like a slur of Ben Joe. (Someday, someone will take me up on this and it will be glorious!)

Karol– They said they like this in the middle spot and, with their other kids, I agree. Pope St. John Paul II had a huge and very public Marian devotion, which is wonderful. Karol is also the Polish form of Charles, meaning “army, warrior” which is super cool for a kid of the faith. I love all the connections here.

George– On the rise but still fairly uncommon. I love this name. Nicknames here can be Georgie, Geo, Jory, or, a little bit of a stretch, Rory.

Bosco– This veers a little bit from their strong names for boys in that it’s not traditional or classic but is still very strong and is a trendy surname name. I think this is a really cute name, especially with nickname Bo, and St. John Bosco is a lovely patron.

Augustine– Can’t go wrong with this one, although it’s not a classic name but it is still very strong. I LOVE the nickname Gus and Auggie is super cute, too. Fun fact, this name means “exalted, venerable” which is cool considering St. Augustine is a Church Father and a Doctor of the Church.

Sebastian– Love this name and it has been growing in popularity. This would bridge the gap between their son’s name and their daughters’ names really well, too. I LOVE the nickname Bash! It just reminds me so much of a little boy.

Jackson/Jack– Super popular and trendy but because they’re such good, strong, classic names! They asked for a faith connection for these. Jack is a diminutive of John and Jacob (through the French Jacques) so any saint John, Jacob, or James (Jacob and James are etymologically the same name) can be patron! Lots and lots to choose from! Jackson could mean “follower or devotee of [insert patron saint John, Jacob, or James]” which is a cool connection. Jack has also come into being a slang term for a man which could then relate it to the Italian Guido and there’s a super cool Servant of God Guido Shaffer who could be patron. He was a Brazilian doctor, seminarian, and surfer, and has been proposed as the eventual patron saint of surfing.

Zelie– Super on-trend, rising Catholic name. I absolutely adore this name. It’s got the cool Z beginning and the lovely -ee sound ending. St. Zelie was also amazing and this brings them away from the Italian saints like they said they wanted

Beatrice– One of those clunky cool old names coming back. This is another Italian name, though, but just so lovely and I don’t think it has a very immediate Italian connection. It means “voyager, traveller” which is what we’re doing in this life. In this way, it could be a cool nod to St. Therese who said, “The world’s thy ship and not thy home.” There’s a St. Beatrice of Rome and several other Blessed Beatrices.

Anna Mae– I love this combo and I don’t think Anna is too close to Gianna. The one thing for consideration here is that Mae is a form of Mary, so they’d have to figure out a different way to do their Marie- middle name. Maybe Anna-Mae in the middle and a different first?

Vianney– This was super unexpected! St. John Vianney is a lovely patron but I just didn’t expect this for a girl! They could do nicknames Vi or Annie with this name for her, too.

Felicity– Great name that’s rising in popularity. They were wondering about nicknames for this so I’m assuming they thought of Lissy and didn’t like it. Flick and Flicka are two unexpected nicknames and a Hungarian diminutive is Zita (I know this is also an Italian name and might defeat their trying to get away from Italian names rule). Another nickname could be the literal “Happy”, which is the meaning of the name or “Lucky” which is another meaning of the name.

Lily Marie-Catherine nn Lily-Cate– Oh my goodness! I read this and I just felt like this is “the one” for them! It checks all of their boxes! It moves them away from Italian saints, gets their love of Catherine in there, stays the course with all of their girls having Marie- middle names, and has a lovely nickname! I really think this one is it for them.

Alice– Another clunky cool old name making its way back. I like this for them and with their other children. It’s a short form of Adelaide and there are a couple Sts. Alice or Adelaide to take patronage from.

On to new suggestions! Let’s start with the boys first.

(1) Joachim/n

This uncommon names means “Yahweh establishes” and is the name of Mary’s father. I think they might like this best in the middle but it does shorten to Joe, which is an especially cute nickname in this year of St. Joseph. Their love for Karol made me think they might like this name. It’s still strong, just not classic, and gives them more leeway in naming any future children. It opens up their style a bit without going completely left field. Again, though, I think they may like this in the middle best.

(2) Gabriel

It doesn’t get much more Marian and classic, strong than this name! It means “God is my strong man”. Gabriel was the archangel at the Annunciation and is also the name of St. Gabriel Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows, giving it a double Marian punch. This would mean that two of their sons would have the same names as Archangels, though.

(3) Luke

St. Luke wrote the most Marian Gospel, which is what gives this name its Marian connection. It’s simple, sweet, and classic. I don’t think they could go wrong with this name and it fits so nicely with all of their other children.

(4) Thaddeus

He was the apostle also known as Jude and the name means “heart”. The nickname Thad is adorable, too! Likewise, an unofficial suggestion is Theodore. I think they may like this one for the same reasons and it has lots of nickname potential like Theo, Ted, and Teddy.

(5) Gerard

I always think of this name as a Marian name since he is the patron saint of expectant mothers. It’s classic, underused, and strong. I really love this name for them. It has a ton of nickname potential like G/Jerry, G/Jer, or, starting to stretch it a bit, Gordo or Rory.

Now for girls. This one was a little harder for me because their tastes lean Italian but they wanted to get away from that. I cast my net really wide for these suggestions and I think they’ll like what I’ve thought up.

(1) Alexandria

I thought of this one because of their love for St. Catherine of Alexandria. It gets one of their Catherine names in without using Catherine and is more unexpected. There’s TONS of nickname potential here: Alex, Ana, Ria, Alexa, Lexi, and even Alix or Alice! This name has the flourish like their other girls’ names without being an Italian name, which I think is something they’ll appreciate.

(2) Sophie

It’s a French name! And it means “wisdom”. There are lots of Sts. Sophia to take patronage from and I thought it would be cool to use a French name to honor an Italian saint, like they’ve done before. However, there’s also the French Bl. Madeleine Sophie Barat for patronage!

(3) Zoe

A Greek name and saint! St. Zoe of Pamphylia was a mother who lived in the 3rd century and watched her whole family be tortured and martyred. She’s an incredible, little-known saint. Zoe was also the birth name of St. Catherine Laboure. This name came to me because of their love of Zelie, it’s got all the same things going for it, plus it’s the Greek word for the spiritual life.

(4) Madeleine

Another French name! It’s the French form of Magdalen, so she could take her patronage there. St. Mary Magdalen also accompanied Mary to the cross, so it’s a solid Marian name, too. There’s also St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. Sophie Marie-Madeleine or Zoe Marie-Madeleine are just so swoony to me!

(5) Charlotte

I took their love of the name Karol and kind of ran with it. I thought they might like the feminine, French form Charlotte. There are lots of Venerable Charlottes, most of them martyred in the French Revolution. One other stood out to me, though, Ven. Marie-Charlotte Dupouy Bordes founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of Mary, making it a Marian name in another way.

These are my thoughts. What does everyone else think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Names that work in Spanish and English for little green bean

Happy Monday, everyone! Enjoy this latest baby name consultation from Theresa Zoe Williams!

Parents Laura and Kevin are expecting a little green bean (gender unknown) in October. Little bean is joining siblings:

Zelie Faustina

Fontina (in heaven)

What lovely, somewhat unusual names!

Laura writes,

I am from Mexico and would love for our baby to have a name that you can pronounce in both Spanish and English (we did not do that with Zelie but I would have liked to). We both love St. Peter but cannot agree on any variations of his name. Kevin loves the names Mary or Maria but I’m not too crazy about them. And I would love some sort of name / version of Eucharist or Eucharistia but I just can’t think of any. (For a girl).”

She also mentioned that her husband loves Jesuit saints.

Names they like:

  • Gianna
  • Juliana
  • Lucas
  • Analia
  • Amelia
  • Javier
  • Santiago

Names they cannot use:

  • Isabela
  • Daniel

I thought I’d give my thoughts on their shortlist first.

Gianna– Fairly popular in Catholic circles but very feminine and lovely. Goes well with Zelie and I think this would be able to be pronounced okay in Spanish.

Juliana– Love this! Uncommon but not weird and can be pronounced easily in Spanish. Very feminine and frilly. There are also some saints and blesseds Julia for patronage!

Lucas– Good, strong name with lots of nickname potential. Maybe they’d both like Luca better, though?

Analia– I had never heard of this name before but it’s so lovely! I love that it’s a combination of Ana and Lucia, giving lots of patronages and a beautiful name. Maybe they’d also like Analee?

Amelia– A beautiful name but getting popular. But, it’s popular for a reason! I know several little Amelias. I like how this sounds with Zelie, though.

Javier– I like that this is a version of Xavier and you can get that great patronage of St. Francis Xavier from it. Comes across as very cool and Mexican to me, which they may or may not love about it. I think it sounds a little mismatched next to Zelie, though.

Santiago– Great name! I love the nickname Santi, too. I like how this sounds with Zelie.

Next, I know they like Peter as the saint and would love to find a way to honor him but they can’t agree on a version of the name they both like. Here are a couple other international variations of Peter: Pierre, Pier, and Piero. If those don’t strike their fancy, what about a name that means rock, like Roch, Rocco, or Rocky? Personally, I like Piero and Rocco the best–– both are pronounceable in Spanish and still sound good next to Zelie.

Laura mentioned she wanted a way to work in Eucharist or Eucharista for a girl. Since neither of those work for them, I thought of some names that mean “thanksgiving”, “grateful”, or “blessed” which is what “eucharist” means: Beatrix, Beatriz, Zendaya, Shakira, Jayden, Benedicta, Gwynn, Benedetta, or Beata. Of these, I like Beatriz, Zendaya, and Benedetta best for them.

Okay, on to new suggestions! Let’s start with girls.

(1) Sienna/Siena

For St. Catherine of Siena and it’s also easily pronounceable in Spanish. I love this patron and this way of honoring her. Siena sounds good next to Zelie, too.

(2) Marina/Mariana

Technically, these are two different names but I liked them for them for the same reasons, so I’m including them together. Marina means “of the sea”, so a nod to Mary, Maris Stella. Mariana is a combination of Mary and Ann. Each of these gives a little more oomph to Mary/Maria while still being classic and feminine.

(3) Carolina

This is a feminine form of Charles, so it can be a nod to St. John Paul II or take Jesuit saint Charles Garnier as patron. It ties Kevin’s love of Jesuit saints into a feminine, frilly name that works in both English and Spanish.

(4) Catalina

This is a Spanish form of Catherine and so there are lots of saints to go with it. It’s very underused but has that frilly feminine feel they both seem to like.

(5) Gemma

I think this could be pronounced easily in Spanish? It’s short like Zelie and not actually Spanish in origin like big sister’s name, too, which connects them nicely. There’s also St. Gemma Galgani as a patron.

On to boys!

(1) Luis

I saw that there is a Jesuit St. David Lewis and that made me think of Luis! There’s also St. Aloysius Gonzaga as a patron, as Aloysius is also a form of Lewis! Outside of Jesuit saints, St. Louis Martin is a fantastic patron and would connect brother and sister in a fun way.

(2) Joaquin

This is the name of the grandfather of Jesus and means “Yahweh establishes”. I love this name for them. After losing a baby and then having Zelie, this name with this meaning, to me, really signifies the work God is doing in them and their family.

(3) Gabriel

I was looking through a list of Jesuit saints and came across St. Gabriel Lalemant whom I had never heard of. He was a missionary in Canada and is a martyr. When I think of names that work in English and Spanish, Gabriel is one of the first that comes to mind, so when I saw this connection, I couldn’t pass it up! There are also lots of other Sts. Gabriel including the Archangel and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows Possenti.

(4) Mario

Technically, this name relates to the Greek god of war BUT it’s most often used as a masculine form of Mary. Since Kevin likes Mary and Maria but those are a little too plain or popular for Laura, I thought Mario might be an interesting way to bridge that gap. Like Zelie, it’s not a Spanish name but it does work in Spanish.

(5) Alexio

This is an unusual form of Alexander that I first heard on one of my son’s Mexican classmates. I think it’s so cool and unusual! Alexander is such a strong name but Alexio makes it work easier in Spanish and gives it some cool vibes. There’s even a Jesuit saint Alexander Briant to go along with it.

These are my thoughts. What do you guys think?


I’m currently on hiatus from doing consultations, but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

During my hiatus, please don’t forget about my book! Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!