Naming after women

I spent a few minutes in the Baby Name Wizard discussion forums this morning as I ate my breakfast, and saw a comment containing a sentiment that I see with some regularity over there and that kind of irks me every time I see it:

I think it’s totally lovely to honor a mother with a name for a change (I know lots of men who name their sons after themselves, either as juniors outright or using variant forms or middle names, but very few women who do so).”

I don’t even disagree with the comment! I know it’s more common for a dad to have a son named after himself than for a mom to have a daughter named after herself. And the commenter herself is one I highly respect, as her thoughts are *always* well balanced and fair. But I feel testy and defensive when I see things like “honor a mother with a name for a change” and “lots of men who name their sons after themselves” — probably because I feel like it’s a tentacle of a whole “down with the patriarchy!” thought process that usually includes the “old men in white hats in Rome.” Blah.

Anyway, my contrarian Rome-loving self immediately thought of lots of examples, old and new, of people (babies and olders) being named after women. My mom, for one example, was half named for her mom (I saw “half” because her mom’s name was Anne, and my grandfather wanted to name my mom Anne — imagine that! A man! Wanting to name his baby girl after his beloved wife! But my grandmother wanted to name her one of the names-of-the-day: Susan. So they compromised with Susanne). My sister has my mom’s name as one of her middle names. My paternal grandfather was given his mom’s maiden name as a first name. Before I had so many boys, I’d always planned to work one or more elements of my name into one or more of my daughters’ names.

Moving farther afield from moms naming daughters after themselves, my youngest son’s first name is for my mother-in-law and his middle name for my mom. Julianamama shared that she knows a dad with a great devotion to St. Margaret who named his son Garrett after her! (I died when I read that! Brilliant!)

I’ve done two posts (On my bookshelf: A Dictionary of English Surnames and Girl names turned surnames) highlighting how various surnames are originally metronymics (identifying a person by his or her mother), or diminutives of female first names that became surnames, or perhaps arising from religious devotion to a female saint — like Marriot (from Mary), Ebbetts (from Isabel), Scollas (from Scholastica, specifically for St. Scholastica, according to Reaney & Wilson), and Emmett (from Emma). All of these would be fine and interesting for a child to be named, and they’re all feminine in origin (even if the parents don’t realize it or it wasn’t their intent). And I did a couple posts on current men religious who took their Mother Mary’s name as part of their new religious names: Eleven new Dominican priests and Men Who Love Mary: MFVA (a whole Order of men who take Mary as part of their new name! And one had Therese as well!), never mind all the male saints with Mary in their names: St. Clement Mary/Maria Hofbauer (depending on what you’re reading), St. Maximilian Mary/Maria Kolbe, St. Anthony Mary Claret, St. Jean Marie Vianney, St. Josemaria Escriva … who else?

I’d love to know what stories you all have of moms naming their daughters or sons after themselves or similar family stories, and whether you know any Brothers or Priests with female saints’ names, or boys who have taken a female saint’s name for a Confirmation name. It’s not all oppression, people. (I’m done ranting now. 🙂 )

 

 

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Men Who Love Mary: MFVA

Grace shared a link in the comments yesterday to an ah-MAZ-ing group of men — the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (MFVA).

Check.Out.These.Names.

Rev. Fr. Patrick Mary
Rev. Fr. Leonard Mary
Rev. Fr. Anthony Mary
Rev. Fr. Joseph Mary
Rev. Fr. Mark Mary
Rev. Fr. Dominic Mary
Rev. Fr. Miguel Marie
Rev. Fr. John Paul Mary
Rev. Fr. Paschal Mary
Br. John Therese Marie
Br. Leo Mary
Br. Bernard Mary
Br. Tarcisius Maria
Br. Matthew Mary
Br. James Francis

I did search around a little trying to find an official explanation of why they use a form of Mary as their last names and how they choose their religious names, but couldn’t find anything. I did find this, from their Constitutions:

9. Our two pillars are the Eucharist and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the mantle of the Magisterium of the Church.

So yeah, they’re big Mary Men. I also love that Br. John Therese took Therese as part of his name! And I found this article, which gives a little paragraph about why Fr. Paschal took the name Paschal.

All in all, a very satisfying start to today’s name thoughts!

Celebrity guest: Tommy Tighe (The Catholic Hipster)

Happy feast of the Immaculate Conception! One of my favorite things about holy days is that they’re meant to be celebration days, so let’s break out the yummy desserts and live it up!

A special treat for us today is this fun guest post from one of Mother Mary’s biggest fans, Tommy Tighe, who, as you probably know, blogs and tweets and writes at CatholicMom.com and podcasts — all as The Catholic Hipster. He’s also living my dream of writing an actual book that’s going to actually be publishedThe Catholic Hipster Handbook is in the works! (Available Spring 2017 from Ave Maria Press.)

I’ve had “Catholic hipster baby names” on the brain because of Tommy, but, as I told him, I’m either too old or too uncool to really *get* exactly what all this hipster stuff means, so I asked him if he could suggest a name or two for each gender that would fall squarely in Catholic hipster territory.

As with all his writing, the result made me laugh out loud! (Or lol, for all you younguns 😀 )

The Top Catholic Hipster Baby Names of 2015

By Tommy Tighe

It’s coming close to the end of 2015, and that means one thing: A ton of blog posts telling you the top somethings of 2015!

And this will be no different, as we bring you the top Catholic Hipster baby names of the year!

Boys

Hippolytus
Kids love themselves some horses, right? So why not name your son after the Patron Saint of horses, St. Hippolytus?!

The actual Hippolytus was a martyr from Rome back in 235. He spent some time in exile for being elected as an antipope, the first in the history of the Church; however, he was reconciled to the Church before his martyrdom.

Your child’s name would be a clear sign that no one is too far away for God to bring them back in.

Plus, you could call him “Hippo” for short, and that would be pretty clutch.

Guinefort
Now here’s one that may be even too hipster for the biggest Catholic Hipsters among you.

Guinefort was a 13th-century French dog that received local veneration as a folk saint after miracles were reported at his grave. Evidently, the dog’s owner was a well-known knight who left his infant son in the care of the dog while he went off to battle. When the knight returned, the nursery was in disarray, and the jaws of the dog were bloody. Figuring that the dog devoured his son, the Knight killed the dog, only to hear the sound of his baby crying moments later. When the Knight flipped over the overturned crib, he saw the baby, safe and sound, lying next to a dead viper, which Guinefort had killed in order to save the child.

The dog became recognized by locals as the patron of infants, and sick infants brought to the dog’s grave would often have a total and miraculous recovery.

Guinefort … do it!

Girls

Quiteria
Nothing like a good ol’ “Qu” name for your daughter, right?

The real Quiteria was one of nine children … all born at the same time. That’s right, she was nonuplet! In a fit of rage, her high ranking mother demanded that their nurse drown the babies in a river. Thankfully, the nurse couldn’t do it, and instead snuck the babies out to a remote village where they grew up together.

After they grew up, they formed a badass Christian gang that travelled around breaking other Christians out of jail and smashing Roman idols. After being jailed themselves, they ended up breaking out and waging a guerilla-style war against the Roman Empire.

Sure, they lost, but how cool would it be for your baby girl to tell the story of where she got her name to her Kindergarten teacher?

Helena
Helena isn’t just an awesome name for your baby girl because of that one tweeting nun; it’s also awesome because of St. Helena of Constantinople.

The mother of Constantine the Great, Helena is credited with finding the relics of the cross on which Jesus was crucified! She was a powerful empress, a very important yet still somewhat unknown figure in the history of Christianity, and even lived a life worthy of getting her face on a coin!

She’s also the patroness of divorcees, which is a pretty hot topic around the Catholic Church these days.

So, there you have it, the ultimate Catholic Hipster baby names list for 2015.

Are you pregnant right now and spending countless hours trying to select the perfect name? Well, I’m happy to have done all the work for you!!

And, for all of you kids out there with regular old names like James, Paul, or Andrew … sorry guys, but Daddy stuck with the classics.

Thanks a million to the funniest hipster I know for entertaining my namey request, and I hope you all have a very happy feast day!!

Baby name consultant: Baby #4, if a boy

Angela and John have three born children already, with these amazing names:

Lucia Marina (Italian pronunciation of Lucia)

Kolbe Oliver

Blaise Campion

Baby #4 is due February 4th!! That’s in two days!! And they’re struggling to come up with a boy’s name. Angela writes, “Now we’re expecting #4 on Feb 4 and I’m starting to stress that we don’t have a boys name … given our history, I’m guessing chances are it’s a boy.  I love the name Benedict, but my husband had an ill-behaved dog with that name.  We are both warming to Clement, but it hasn’t really jumped out at me.  I have been reading a bit about Bl Pier Giorgio, but I think Pier Giorgio is a little heavy for a non-Italian family (our last name is very German sounding and we’re very anglo-looking).  We do like Raphael, and he was in our OT reading at our wedding, but I had a student with that name, so a bit of a mixed association.  My husband likes Chrysostom for a middle name, and I think the name has great meaning, but with a middle name like that I’d like to have something more accessible for the first.  I liked your suggestion for Bede as a nickname for Benedict, and I’ll try that one out with my husband.  But he really can’t seem to get on the Benedict band wagon.”

I had loads of fun thinking of names for this little baby on the way, if a boy. I love Angela and John’s bold over-the-top (in the best way!) Catholic naming style. I mean, it’s *Catholic*. Woo! I think I came up with some good ideas (I usually shoot for three) for a little brother to Lucia Marina, Kolbe Oliver, and Blaise Campion:

(1) Xavier

Instead of a specific name, I almost made my #1 choice “super Catholic, short-ish, last-namey.” Lucia, Kolbe, and Blaise are all of similar length, which is visually pleasing; they’re super heavy-hitting no-doubt-about-it Catholic; and Kolbe and Campion are both last names. I love all those attributes, so I tried to think of others that I thought felt similarly and came up with: Jude, Damien, Fulton, Claver, Bede, and Xavier. Angela said she liked my idea of Bede as a nickname for Benedict, so I wondered if she’d like Bede on its own. Jude is great, Fulton is great, Damien is great. Claver is more unexpected, and maybe too much hard-C/K with Kolbe? I think my runner-up for #1 would be Jude. I like Jude Chrysostom very much.

But Xavier really rose to the top for me as it perfectly fits all the above criteria (super Catholic, short-ish, last-namey). I particularly like that, though it was originally a last name, it’s become well used as a first name, so it kind of bridges the very-last-name feel of Kolbe (though Kolbe is on the rise as a first name, I hear it from time to time) and the first-name-ness of Lucia and Blaise. One downside is that it has two acceptable pronunciations in English (ex-ZAY-vyer and ZAY-vyer), a fact that tends to be polarizing enough that some parents can’t handle it if someone calls their son by the wrong pronunciation. I myself think it’s easy enough to just correct people, probably as they already have to do with Lucia. I like Xavier Chrysostom, and the nicknames Xave and Xavey are super cute on a little guy, never mind the coolest initial ever: X.

(2) Gabriel

The presence of Raphael on their list right away made me think of Gabriel, and then when Angela said she’d like to have a more accessible first name to balance out Chrysostom, I was totally sold. Gabriel has that heavy-hitting-Catholic feel of the other kids, and totally fits in well with them in my opinion, while being pretty popular at the moment on the name charts, so it’s more familiar to people than Kolbe and Blaise. Gabriel Chrysostom is such an awesome name imo, I really like it for this new baby. A runner-up for #2 for me would be John — just John. As in, John Chrysostom. As in, John the dad. With Lucia, Kolbe, and Blaise, it’s unexpected, but John is always a great name, especially when paired with an unusual middle.

(3) George

Pier Giorgio was my inspiration for George — I agree that Pier Giorgio would be too much for a non-Italian family, but Peter George is the same name and would totally fit with the family’s ethnic background. Lucia, Kolbe, Blaise, and Peter sound great together! And Peter George would be my runner up here. But then I was thinking about Pope Francis’ pre-papal name being Jorge, which is George in Spanish, and thought maybe George would be cooler in the first name spot — the Pope and Pier Giorgio remembered in one name! Then I was thinking even more about the Pope Francis connection, and how his full pre-papal name was Jorge Mario, and how Mario isn’t technically a male form of Mary, but I know some people use it that way, and I thought that George Mary would be an amazing name for a little boy with the kind of parents who could/would use Mary for a boy’s middle name. I could definitely see Angela and John pulling it off! Lucia Marina, Kolbe Oliver, Blaise Campion, and George Mary. Faaaabulous. 🙂

So those were my ideas — how about the rest of you? We don’t have long to help Angela and John name this little baby — please comment away!

UPDATED TO ADD: After I had typed all this up, I had two more names come to mind that might work: Bosco (or the full John Bosco) (I was inspired by my last name spotlight!), and Chrysostom itself. I have a friend who has a friend whose name is Chrysostom and he goes by Chrys.

Spotlight on: Juniper

Taylor asked for a spotlight on Juniper, and in light of Pope Francis’ recent announcement that he’ll canonize Bl. Junipero Serra when he visits later this year, I’m delighted to do so.

Junipero is all male to me, because of Serra, but Juniper is only feminine to my ear; it’s listed as a girl name at Behind the Name, but its entry at Namipedia is a bit more gender neutral. I’m a big fan of boy names for boys, meaning unambiguously male names (except for something really obvious like Mary as a middle name), so I think I’d have a hard time with Juniper for a boy. If anything can change that though, a new saint could!

For a girl though, I’ve seen it talked about a time or two, like when Swistle discussed it and a few times on Baby Name Wizard (here, here, here, here …), and it’s really grown on me. The nicknames are just the sweetest — Junie? Come on. It could not be any cuter. Juno’s another option, and of course just June. Up until now I’ve thought of Juniper as kind of a hippie name, but from here on out I’m going to be thinking all saint, which is so great.

What do you think of Juniper? Do you know anyone named Juniper? Does he or she go by a nickname? Would you consider using Juniper for a boy?

Baby name consultant: baby #8, a boy

Sarah and David are expecting their eighth baby, a little boy. Sarah describes them as “your typical Catholic family and like traditional (preferably French or Irish) names.” They have seven children already, named:

Zoe Olivia

Brady Patrick

Michael Joseph

Katherine Mary-Claire

Margaret Rose

George Thomas

Matthew David

They have some names they’re considering, but they don’t want to share them as they really want a fresh perspective. In trying to come up with suggestions, I was struck by what seems to be a difference in style between Zoe’s and Brady’s first names and the names of the rest of the kids. So I relied heavily on the style of Zoe and Brady when musing on names for #8, while also keeping in mind that their younger children have very traditional names.

I used both Nymbler and Name MatchMaker for ideas, and I usually shoot for three suggestions, as I’ve done for others. So my ideas for this little baby are:

(1) Henry

It was the first name that came to my mind, even before checking out the name matching sites, and it was one of the first names they suggested. Brady, Michael, George, Matthew, and Henry sound like a great set of brothers, and I love it with the girls’ names as well.

(2) Myles

As soon as I saw Myles I thought it was a great fit. I think it’s a little more offbeat than Michael, George, and Matthew, which makes me think it’s a great bridge between their names and Brady’s. It does make for a lot of M’s, but with so many kids I don’t think that matters much, and besides — one of my favorite things about Myles is that it can be considered a Marian name! One of my name books, Oxford Dictionary of First Names, says that Maolra is a “[m]odern spelling, common particularly in the west of Ireland, of earlier Maoil-Mhuire ‘devotee of Mary.’ It has been anglicized as Myles.” It’s Irish, it’s Marian, it seems more stylistically consistent with Brady than your other boys’ names, I love this idea! (Do note though that the spelling of Miles is unrelated.)

(3) William

I love William for you. Its traditional-ness is a great style match for your younger boys, and its current popularity, as well as both nicknames Will and Liam (though I know Liam can stand on its own), seem well suited as Brady’s brother. I wouldn’t mind if you chose just Liam as the first name, but William seems just that much more a better match in my opinion.

Oliver was a heavy contender for me until I remembered that Zoe’s middle name is Olivia, and Charles and Jude also struck me as possibles, but in the end I settled on Henry, Myles, and William. If I had to choose a middle name, not knowing anything about how you choose them (family names?), I’d guess Francis.

What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Sarah and David’s baby boy?

Baby name consultant: He likes/she likes

A reader recently asked me for thoughts on how to find compromise names when Mom’s and Dad’s tastes are vastly different. I’ve mentioned before that I have found over and over that the absolute height of baby naming satisfaction for me is when my husband and I hit on that name that we both agree on. It might not be my very favorite name or his, but I find that I’m much happier and more peaceful with our choice knowing that we agreed on it together. I think I would actually hate it if I got my way, if my husband gave in – I want him to love his children’s names too.

But how do you find that name that you both agree on? For my reader, her preference is Joseph/John/Patrick-type names – names traditional to our faith that “don’t raise too much of an eyebrow.” Her husband loves heavy-hitting uncommon super-Catholicky Catholic names — think Church Father type-names: Polycarp, Irenaeus, Eusebius. Here are three ways I could see working with this:

(1) Nicknames—usual or unusual

To me, a good nickname can solve the vast majority of he likes/she likes disagreements. If the proposed name is too exotic for the other parent’s taste, could a friendly, “normal” nickname be tricked out of it for everyday use? Or the proposed name is too vanilla for the other parent, could a more unusual nickname be fashioned? To tone down the more exotic, Augustine could spend his days as Auggie or Gus; Ignatius as Nate; Cajetan Joseph could go by CJ. To jazz up a more common name, you could try Finn as a nickname for Francis, or Bede for Benedict (a two-for-one saint bonus here! St. Benedict and St. Bede in one little guy), or even something like Rory for Robert or Toby for Thomas Bernard.

(2) Use a saint’s full name as a first and a middle

Like Justin Martyr, Philip Neri, Peter Damian, Anthony Mary Claret (bonus points for Mary in the middle for a boy!), Charles Borromeo, John Chrysostom, Francis de Sales, Nicholas Owen, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, John Fisher. Totally heavy hitting but the “crazy” part is hidden in the middle. This article, which I linked to the other day, good naturedly pokes fun at the Catholic tendency to do that, but there is a reason it’s done!

(3) Otherwise compromise

There are a few different ways to do this, of course, and I’m sure you all know them already. For example, for Baby #1 Mom gets to choose the first name and Dad gets to choose the middle; next baby vice versa. Or decide together to have Dad go nuts in the middle name while Mom chooses a more conservative first name. Or find names with overlap – in this case, to bridge Patrick and Polycarp, such overlapping names might include: Augustine, Dominic, Benedict, Simon, Nathaniel, Roman, Adrian, Jude, Matthias, Sebastian, Gabriel, Thaddeus, Jerome. Names that hit you in the face with their Catholicism, but don’t require you to have read The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection (3 volumes) to know who they are.

What about all of you? How have you handled the inevitable disagreements in baby naming? Do you have a system worked out (e.g., Mom names this baby, Dad the next; Dad chooses first names, Mom chooses middles)? Will you share some of the names you disagreed over?