My March column posted today over at CatholicMom.com: To Mary Through Three March Saints!
(In case you were wondering what happened to February, it was the first time since starting to write for CatholicMom three years ago that I couldn’t get a piece done in time for my monthly slot, I was just not feeling well enough. So glad to be back at it!)
Also, I read an intriguing post over on the Baby Name Wizard recently, and though some of the comments on that post make some sense (my handle there is traleerose), and I’ve researched it a little to verify those comments and find more certain answers, I haven’t been satisfied with what I’ve found, and I wondered if you know the answer to the question: Why isn’t Jesus used as a given name in English?
I’m sure there are some instances of Jesus as a given name in English, and the SSA data shows that 3065 boys (and 8 girls [?]) were named Jesus in the U.S. in 2016, but their data doesn’t include accent marks, so I’m confident that most, if not all, of those are Jesús, which brings up the most interesting part of this question: Jesus isn’t well used in English, but Jesús is in Spanish.
I tried to find an official (or as close to as possible) Church stance on this, but didn’t come up with anything. The comments left on the BNW post suggest that the Muslim presence in Spain encouraged the use of Jesús as a given name, which I haven’t yet verified, but is interesting to consider. Joshua and Jesus are variants of the same name, and Joshua is well used; the Christ- names are well used, certainly, including Christ itself; Emmanuel has good usage; even Messiah has been bestowed on babies, so I admit I’m a bit baffled as to why Jesus isn’t used in English.
I did have the thought when I bowed my head at the name of Jesus recently that if there were little ones running around named Jesus, I’d be constantly bowing my head out of cultivated habit! I don’t do so when I hear Jesús, though I should — it doesn’t trigger that automatic bow that hearing Jesus does.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the answer is simply that Jesus is considered too holy for common usage by those who speak English (at least here in the U.S.). The name of Mary has a history of being considered too holy for common usage in Ireland, for example — it was a temporary and culture-specific consideration — so perhaps it’s the same with Jesus? Perhaps for today, in English-speaking families, naming a baby Jesus is foreign to Christian sensibility, as the Code of Canon Law puts it?
If any of you have any info about this — any sources you can point me to that explain this — please share them! My ideal would be anything from the Church, but I’d be happy to read anything authoritative on this topic. Thank you for your help!