I saw a comment on social media recently by someone named Mary, who said her mom was also named Mary, as was her grandmother, etc., but none of the them went by Mary (she didn’t share what they actually went by). I may have asked this before, but if so, it’s been a while, so I’d love to hear again and from new readers too: Tell me your Mary name stories! Does your family have a tradition of all the girls having a Marian name? Do you know of sisters all with Mary as their first name, and if so, what do they all go by? Do you know of boys/men with a variant of Mary in their names?
These can be recent stories about you or your kid, or older stories about previous generations in your family tree or others that you know of — I’d love to hear them all!
Read all about how to get your own baby name consultation from either Theresa or myself here.
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!
A few people have asked for help in coming up with ways to honor St. Joseph (beyond the obvious), which is a fun topic to pursue! I’ve spent quite a bit of time brainstorming and researching, and yet I feel like there must be more ideas out there, so please add yours in the comments! This is what I came up with:
“Names in [St. Joseph’s] honor for boys include, of course, Joseph, and its variants in other languages, such as Josef and Jozef, Giuseppe, José, and Joosep. Several of the non-English diminutives and short forms are intriguing as well, including Pepe, Seppel, and Zef.
The feminine Josephine is currently popular, but other options for girls include Josephina, Josepha or Josefa, Josée, and Giuseppa, with the sweet diminutives and nicknames Josie, Posy, Josette, Josiane, Pina, and even Fifi.
In Matthew 1:19, we’re told that Joseph was a ‘just man,’ so Justin, Justus, and Justine or Justina could also work as honor names for him.”
The Lily names, since St. Joseph is often portrayed with a lily because of his chastity
Branch, as one of his symbols is a branch (see my post on Longmirefor an example of Branch as a given name)
Carpenter, as he was a carpenter and is represented by a carpenter’s square specifically and carpenter’s tools in general. I’ve never heard of Carpenter as a first name, but it’s not really different from other occupation names like Mason, Taylor, and Carter, right? Maybe with Cap as a nickname?
Callixtus, which is a Callistus variant that may have been influenced by calix, which is Latin for “wine cup” and is where our “chalice” comes from — one of St. Joseph’s symbols is a chalice. (My spotlight on Callixtus here)
Cruz or Croix or other “cross” names, as the cross is one of his symbols.
Agnes, as a lamb is one of his symbols and agnus — Latin for “lamb” — is visually similar to Agnes
Rod (Roderick, Rodney, or any name that could nickname to Rod, or maybe ROD initials), as a rod is one of St. Joseph’s symbols
What ideas can you all add to the wonderful desire to honor our good St. Joseph in a baby’s name?
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!
I read on Facebook and Instagram yesterday the announcement by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph of the upcoming Simple Profession of six Brothers on the feast of the Assumption. They listed them by name, and asked for prayers for them:
Br. Samuel Macarias
Br. Robert John Henry
Br. Leo Rocco Maria
Br. William Pius Mary
Br. Peter Micah Mary
Br. Daniel Raphael Mary
Of course, you know I’m so interested in their names — it seems clear that there are is least some partial taking-on of new names, but the middle name(s) seem the most obvious examples — are the first names new too? You know I love seeing Mary and Maria in there!
On the same topic, just the other day one of you readers, Mary, who has often sent me interesting name tidbits over the years, sent me a link to a podcast episode by the Servants of Christ Jesus (a community of priests and brothers “committed to advancing the new evangelization through the praise, reverence and service of God, our Lord … inspired to live the Gospel through the evangelical poverty of St. Francis of Assisi and the apostolic formation of St. Ignatius Loyola”) on the topic of religious name changes! In their community, each priest or brother is given a new name, which is composed of the name of an apostle and the last name of an Ignatian saint. The men listed on their web site have these names:
Fr. John Ignatius
Fr. Paul Kostka
Fr. James Claver
Br. Thomas Gonzaga
Br. Peter Xavier
Br. Andrew Brébeuf
The podcast was a discussion between the host and Br. Thomas Gonzaga and Br. Peter Xavier on religious name changes in general, and specifically in their community, and specifically to each of them individually. I listened to it this morning, and wrote down several things:
Br. Peter Xavier says ZAY-vyer, not k-SAY-vyer (ex-ZAY-vyer, ig-ZAY-vyer)
Religious name changes are “one of those curious aspects of Catholic religious life”
In Catholicism, there is “always a physical sign that symbolizes an interior reality”
Name changes are a way of “leaving behind the old man and putting on the new man,” as St. Paul says in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4
They have a small community, so it hasn’t yet been a problem that there are only thirteen apostles’ names to choose from (the original twelve, minus Judas, plus Matthias and Paul); they thought if they run out of apostles’ names they’ll go to other New Testament names, then Old Testament names, but not sure what happens after this. Naming in this way is their tradition, but they’re not bound by it, and their Superior will ultimately decide
When it comes time for them to receive their new name, their Superior proposes a name option that he thinks would be fitting, then he asks the man to bring it to prayer to discern it. “There’s always a discernment process after the offer” of a name
Each of the Brothers told the stories behind their new names — so interesting, and so personal! They both felt that Jesus showed them both at least part of their new names, if not the entire thing, before they were proposed
They both felt that, though they’re given the opportunity to discern the new name, they both had a sense of “trusting and obedience to the Superior’s will”
The new name provides them the constant opportunity to “willfully recall that Jesus has renamed me”
Fast food places are the hardest places to give their religious names!
Their legal names are still their baptismal names, which makes things like traveling and visiting the doctor somewhat complicated
There is a lot of emotion surrounding their new names on the part of family and friends, and especially parents. One said he feels “so loved” when he sees his family and friends stretch themselves to remember to use his religious name. To him, it’s a sign that they want to respect what Jesus has done in their lives, it’s a way of showing respect and honor for the Lord. Taking on a new name is not a way of trying to distance themselves from their family, but a way of trying to get closer to Jesus. “I want to identify myself with what Jesus has declared”; “Detachment is never easy, especially when it’s such a good in your life”
A new name provides the “grace of greater intimacy with Jesus”
Some communities allow the candidates to submit name options, but they both like the process in their community of accepting a name given to them by their Superior. Since Jesus gave them their new names, they feel Jesus’ love in their new names
“There’s so much hidden in a name”
These are just the things that jumped out at me — there’s lots more for you to discover, and I know you’d love to hear about each of their particular name story! You can find the podcast on their site, or on iTunes.
“A friend’s daughter just had her 1st baby (my friend is now a grandfather). The baby is named Quinn Louis after St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand. I have to admit that Quinn for Aquinas is very creative and now I’m wondering whether that could be used as a religious name.”
I do love Quinn Louis for St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand! While I’m sure the question was meant lightheartedly, being the crazy Catholic name lady I am, I’d be interested to know if Quinn for Aquinas would be considered okay for a religious name change. My sense is no? That’s it’s a bit too informal/not etymologically related/not obvious enough? Do any of you know?
Have a great day and weekend!
My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!
You guys. I started writing this post when the baby was two weeks old — that was eleven weeks ago! My high maintenance little guy isn’t a fan of me doing anything but mother him, and I’m not hating obliging him. 😊 ❤ He’s three months old today (by the calendar; thirteen weeks by weeks)!
I’ve been posting a bit on Instagram since he was born — it’s such an easy platform that doesn’t require two hands to type! — but I’ve been wanting to post his birth announcement and name story here for those of you not on Instagram, and also to provide more info than an Instagram post allows. (So sorry to those who prefer Twitter, I think I checked it once in the last three months, I hope to jump back in soon!)
So yes, my newest little one is a “he”! Another little boy! A seventh son! Just before the doctor delivered him he said to me and my husband, “Okay, last chance, boy or girl?” and we both said “Boy,” but more, I think, because we’ve never been wrong guessing boy than because we really *knew*. So we weren’t surprised by our little guy! And at the same time, we were. Seven boys!
Mr. Nomina (as one of you hilariously dubbed my husband!) actually agreed to let me post a photo AND the baby’s name on Instagram! It’s with great pleasure that I share the same info here: Introducing Luke Benedict!
His name likely won’t come as a surprise to those of you who read the consultation Abby did for us — Luke was always a frontrunner (and has been on our list for years), and Benedict was my favorite first-name pick for a while. But funny enough, though we finally agreed on Luke Benedict if we had a boy, neither my husband nor I were totally sold on it until he was actually born. I held out hope until the bitter end that I’d discover some new, unexpected name that would feel exactly right … Hubby said he would be open to last-minute suggestions (which is actually how our no. 6 was named!) and one of my last-ditch efforts was Walsingham (an entry in my book) with the nickname Walt, thinking hubby might like Walt because he loves Stan (he didn’t like Walt, and liked Walsingham even less, though he gave me points for creativity and apologized for being so picky). Hubs had one of his own — he reminded me of Abby’s suggestion of Peter, and I sat with it for a few days, but I’ve always called my boys Sweetie Petey or Stinky Pete, depending 😀 , so that really took the name off the table for me.
In the end, we bestowed Luke Benedict upon our boy and the next day my hubs said something like, “You know, I wasn’t totally sure about Luke, but it’s really grown on me” (in the last twenty four hours! Haha!). And I felt the same way! Since his birth, we’ve both marveled several times at what a strong, solid name it is; at how much of a Luke our boy is (even at his young age!); and at how well it goes with our other boys’ names.
But wait — there’s more! 😀 I wanted a Marian name for this baby, not only because of course I love Marian names, but also because this baby was born in the same year as my book, so it seemed extra special to do so. And in fact, during one of our name conversations during my pregnancy, Hubs made a point to look through my book for names he’d like, and Luke was his favorite of all of them. Additionally, there have been so many times in my life that I’ve found myself repeating the words of Our Lady’s Magnificat, which is found in the book of Luke: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:46–49). This is exactly how I feel about the blessings in my life — I’m so, so grateful and humbled and in awe, and naming my son after the evangelist that included this canticle in his gospel is so meaningful for me. ❤ ❤ ❤
Speaking of Luke’s gospel, the Bible verse that has always spoken to me as *mine,* as the verse that most guides my life, is Luke 12:48: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” I have been given so much, and I keenly feel the responsibilities that come with such gifts. I love that Luke’s name is a nod to that as well.
As for Benedict, I love it for so many reasons (including that it’s another Marian name! Woo!), but I had a realization late in my pregnancy that cemented it for me as the perfect middle name for the baby: It’s important to me that each of our kids have a family name as either a first or a middle name, and since Luke isn’t one, the middle name would have to serve that purpose. But I was having a hard time finding a family name that would do, and I thought that rather than look through our family tree for a suitable name, why not think about who has been represented in our boys’ names so far and focus on those who haven’t yet been. We’ve covered my grandparents (both sides), my husband’s grandparents (both sides), both my parents, both my husband’s parents, my brothers, my husband’s brother … the only people who hadn’t yet been included were my sisters. Finding one name that included my three sisters was a challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed! I ended up with Benedict for two reasons:
My sisters’ Confirmation names are Bernadette, Bridget, and Anne, and I think it’s reasonable to consider Benedict a combination of all of those, letter-wise. It might seem like a stretch to think so, but once I realized this, it’s all I can see, which I love. I will always tell Luke that his middle name is for his three aunties.
My sisters and I all have Marian names for either a first or a middle, and Benedict fits right in with that.
So that’s the story of our little guy’s naming! I want to thank you all for your patience as well — I’ve received many messages and emails since I went on hiatus from baby name consultations, wondering when I’d be back at it. I’d hoped to reopen them at Christmas, but Luke and I are just not ready yet. I hate to put you off even longer! But this newborn time is so fleeting, and we’ve had some issues with my recovery and Luke’s eating that have made getting back into the swing of things a longer process than I experienced with my other babies. So I’m focused on being patient with myself and enjoying my little guy. I know you all understand, and I thank you for it! I’m going to try to get back into blogging, which will give me a good sense of how much time Luke will allow me to focus on things other than him. (See the skeptical photo above. 😀 ) I will certainly post here as soon as I can start consultations again. If you’ve emailed me and are awaiting a response, I’m starting to work through them, but it’s slow going — whew, I have a lot of emails! I’ll get back to you eventually!
Also, I wasn’t able to pull together a piece for my regular monthly spot on CatholicMom.com for September or October, but I did write one for November, which you can read here: Heavenly help and hellos. Mother Mary, St. Anne, St. Rita, and St. Gerard have had my back for a long time!
I hope you’re all having a blessed Advent and looking forward to Christmas with as much joy as we are here in my house!
*I know, Sanctino isn’t grammatically correct, but for my whole pregnancy I’d wanted to come up with a fun little name for my wee babe that tied to the name of the blog, and Sanctino/Sanctina was the best I came up with!
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 — a perfect Christmas present for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!
My book’s available on Amazon! Don’t be put off by the fact that it says it’s not Prime eligible — if you click on the “other sellers” link you’ll see that Amazon Prime is an option. If any of you would like to leave a review of my book on Amazon, I’d be forever grateful. 🙂 ❤
Happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker! I love that his feast day is on the first day of the month of Mary — it’s not for nothing that Joseph has its own entry in my book. ❤
Speaking of my book, and the month of Mary, I really want to focus in a special way on my book this month. There are so many elements of it that are so wonderful! (Said with all modesty. 😉 Seriously though, so much of what I love about it was done by other people, like the graphic designer.)
One of the things I love the most about it is the Marian monogram on the cover. I posted on Instagram a while ago about the holy card that inspired me through the writing of my book — I kept it with me every time I went to the library for the many, many day-long Saturday work sessions I put in over the last couple of years, seeking to finish and polish my book. This is the holy card:
“Mariae” at the top is Latin for “of/belonging to Mary”; “S.S. Nomen Mariae” underneath is the Latin Sanctissima Nomen Mariae, which means “the most holy name of Mary”; and in the middle is the Marian monogram — the fancy M topped with the crown. I really wanted to have this card be part of the cover of my book, but though I tried and tried to find out whether it was in the public domain, or, if it was copyrighted, who owned the rights, I was never successful. So my book cover designer, Catherine Shirley, set about to make one that we could own.
When I first saw it, I was absolutely blown away. Look at this gorgeous monogram:
I love everything about it! The crown! The blue for Our Lady! The roses! The way “Mary” is spelled out within the M! Or, alternately, I learned recently that in Marian art “MRA” can mean “Maria” (like IHS means “Jesus”), or it can stand for something like Maria Regina Angelorum (Mary, Queen of the Angels). So much meaning in this beautiful symbol! And it’s even more striking when you see it in person on the cover — it’s big and bold, it’s so perfect.
I wanted this book to be an ode to Our Lady as much as a tool for use by those looking to honor her by name. I really love that this monogram helps accomplish that!
Updated to add: I found this post, that explains a bit more about how Marian monograms have been used in the past. So cool!
You guys! I am SO EXCITED to share with you a very special announcement:
I’m having a book published! A book of Marian names! Ahhhh!!
I’ve been researching and compiling Marian names for nearly ten years — with a good amount of help from all of you via our conversations on the blog! — and I’m so thrilled that Marian Press (publisher of Fr. Calloway’s and Fr. Gaitley’s books, among others) has agreed to publish it!
It’s entitled Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady — yes indeed, names for boys too! It will be available for purchase in May (month of Our Lady!), and I’ll have more details for you in the coming weeks. It has turned out amazingly well under the guidance of the team at Marian Press, if I do say so myself. 😊
Writing a book is one of the dreams of my life, and you have to know that writing one that honors Our Lady, and has to do with names, is a greater gift than I could ever have imagined.
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. 🙂 )