Double middle names?

A reader was asking me about double middle names so I looked up all my posts on middle names and was surprised to see that I hadn’t written about them yet! Surprised because I feel like I do discuss them with some frequency in my email discussions with parents. It’s definitely time to post here and get your feedback!

My thought is that two middle names is fine. I have two brothers and three sisters, and one of my brothers and two of my sisters have two middle names, and I’ve never heard any of them complain about them. Even now, as adults, they include all their initials when they’re writing out their full names. I know my mom has told me that sometimes the second middle would get dropped (not enough room on forms, or a bureaucratic decision or misunderstanding by some official person to only include one middle), which irritated her as the mom, and she and Dad even hyphenated my youngest sister’s two middles to try to avoid that, but otherwise it hasn’t ruined anyone’s lives.

If you didn’t want the hassle (or didn’t want to saddle your child with the hassle) of two middles but you have two middle names you’d like to use, you could do what this mom did and only put one middle on the birth certificate — thus having his/her legal name be First Middle — but everywhere else in life (within the family, when you’re telling others, on the baptismal certificate, etc.) use First Middle Middle. I think this is such a great solution for certain families! And I think the idea of one’s “legal name” being different from one’s “real name” to be an interesting thing to muse on.

What do you all think about double middle names? Do you have two middle names? Do you like them? Hate them? Feel indifferent? Do you all feel like it’s an unnecessary burden for a child, or a reasonable way to work in all the names you want to use?

Honoring St. Rita

Are you all as much a fan of St. Rita as I am? Like St. Jude, she’s a patroness of desperate and impossible causes (among other things), and I’ve seen her intercession bring about some pretty amazing, nearly miraculous things, both for myself and for others.

In this consultation from July, the mama said she had a special devotion to St. Rita, to whom she attributed the conception of the baby the consultation was for. If the baby had been a girl, she intended to give her the middle name Pearl, as a nod to St. Rita, whose given name was actually Margherita — the Italian form of Margaret, which means “pearl.” I had another conversation more recently over email with a reader who was looking for ways to honor St. Rita for both girls and boys. So I thought doing a post with some ideas of how to do so would be fun! This is what I came up with for girls

Rita
Rita would be the most obvious way of honoring St. Rita — if you gave your daughter the name Rita for either a first or a middle, people who know about saints would think, “She must be named for St. Rita!”

Margaret, Magdalene
Since St. Rita’s given name was Margherita, and Rita a nickname for it, then any of the Margaret names can honor her. And after her husband and sons died, St. Rita joined the Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene Monastery, so Magdalene could work too.

Pearl
Like the mama in the July consultation I mentioned above, you could certainly use the name Pearl, since that’s what Margherita means.

Daisy
In addition to meaning “pearl,” the Italian Margaret variant Margherita is the name for the daisy flower in Italian, and the French Margaret variant Marguerite is the name for the daisy flower in Italian.

Cascia
St. Rita’s known as St. Rita of Cascia, and I think Cascia would be a pretty cool way to name a little girl after her. I say it KA-shuh, which is similar to established first names Kasia and Cassia.

Lotti
St. Rita’s full given name was Margherita Lotti, so Lotti could make a cute nod to her, especially since Lottie is a traditional nickname for Charlotte …

Charlotte
… which makes me think that even Charlotte itself could be an unexpected honor name for St. Rita.

For boys, I had a few ideas that I thought could work:

Garrett
I have loved and shared many times the story julianamama told of the family she knew who named their son Garrett after St. Margaret, and that would work for St. Rita as well.

John, James, Jacob
One of St. Rita’s sons was named Giangiacomo, which is a combination of two names—Gian (a short form of Giovanni=John) and Giacomo (James, Jacob). St. John the Baptist was one of her three patron saints, and when her cause for canonization was being pursued, her story was compiled by an Augustinian priest named Fr. Jacob Carelicci.

Paul
Her other son was Paolo, which makes Paul a good option.

Anthony
When I’m looking to honor a woman in a boy’s name, I often look to her dad’s name for inspiration. St. Rita’s dad was Antonio, so Anthony and its variants could work.

Urban
For those looking for something unusual, Pope Urban VIII beatified Rita — one of our regular readers has an Urban!

Leo
Pope Leo XIII canonized St. Rita, so a great idea there as well!

Augustine, Nicholas
Not only did St. Rita join the Augustinian nuns, but St. Augustine was one of her three patron saints, so Augustine would be a great possibility. St. Nicholas of Tolentino joined St. John the Baptist and St. Augustine as her third patron saint, so Nicholas works as well.

And those are my ideas! What about all of you? Can you think of any other names that could honor St. Rita?

FUS Households

Not only do I love baby names, but I love names for groups, organizations, businesses, and products as well. I know I’ve mentioned before, but when I worked in advertising we got to spend some time brainstorming name ideas for a couple of new products and services, and I loved doing it! More recently, I’ve also been able to help name a new business, as well as this project focused on women as mothers (whether they’ve given birth or not).

Anyway, I’ve always loved reading the shoutouts from alumni to others in their households in the Franciscan University of Steubenville alumni mags — the households always have the most incredible names! I discovered recently that they’re all listed online, and I had so much fun looking through them all. The women’s households are here, and the men’s are here. Such gorgeous, significant names!

If any of you went to FUS and have any insight as to how the household names are chosen, I’d love to hear about the process!

The legality of Confirmation names, and going by a different name than your legal name

I was going through some paperwork of my father-in-law’s yesterday and found the court order legally changing his last name from the consonant-heavy surname his father brought with him from Poland to an English surname that shares enough sounds with the original Polish surname to make sense of the change. Though my FIL died when my husband was small, we’ve always known that he and his siblings legally changed their surname, so that wasn’t a surprise — but what was a surprise was that, in the documents, I read that my FIL had been using this new English surname his whole life. He’d been registered under it in school and had it on his high school diploma, and according to the document, “All records of employment, registration under the Selective Service Act, and voting records” had already, always, been under the new English surname, despite the fact that he didn’t apply for the legal change until he was 25. So interesting, right?!

One question that my husband and I have had that wasn’t answered by this document, though, is when and how he took his Confirmation name as his legal middle name (he hadn’t been given a middle name at birth). This document has his full name as including the Confirmation-as-middle, but no mention of making it so legally, so I assume it had already been done. Or not? Maybe it didn’t need to be? This was back in the 50’s, and also, even now, in New York State anyway (which is where I am and where my FIL lived his whole life), you can go by any name you want without getting a legal name change. According to the New York State Unified Court System,

In New York State, you have the right to adopt any name you wish by using that name for everything in your life. This does not apply to children or prison inmates. But, it may be better to legally change your name because most government agencies will not accept your name change without a court order.

You can ask the court to legally change the name you were given at birth, adoption or marriage.”

And indeed, in my FIL’s application for legal name change, he wrote that having his surname legally changed to the surname he’d always used “will prevent confusion and possible legal difficulties for me in the future.” So I wonder if his usage of his Confirmation name as his middle name was just one of those things — he just started using it, and that was fine, and no one bothered about it, and it became so established as his middle name (or it was such a common practice for people to do that kind of thing) that he didn’t even feel the need to explicitly mention it in his application for his surname change? (In preparing to write this post this morning, I re-read this article I’d written for CatholicMom on middle names — I found it so interesting all over again! Haha!)

Anyway, that reminded me of something I read recently about Confirmation names actually having usage in real life that I’d wanted to share with you. This is from the Christian Names entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1911) on New Advent:

The practice of adopting a new name was not limited to baptism. Many medieval examples show that any notable change of condition, especially in the spiritual order, was often accompanied by the reception of a new name. In the eighth century the two Englishmen, Winfrith and Willibald, going on different occasions to Rome received from the reigning pontiff, along with a new commission to preach, the names respectively of Boniface and Clement. So again Emma of Normandy, when she married King Ethelred in 1002, took the name Ælfgifu; while, of course, the reception of a new name upon entering a religious order is almost universal even in our day. It is not strange, then, that at confirmation, in which the interposition of a godfather emphasizes the resemblance with baptism, it should have become customary to take a new name, though usually no great use is made of it. In one case, however, that of Henry III, King of France — who being the godson of our English Edward VI had been christened Edouard Alexandre in 1551 — the same French prince at confirmation received the name of Henri, and by this he afterwards reigned. Even in England the practice of adopting a new name at confirmation was remembered after the Reformation, for Sir Edward Coke declares that a man might validly buy land by his confirmation name, and he recalls the case of a Sir Francis Gawdye, late Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, whose name of baptism was Thomas and his name of confirmation Francis (Co. Litt. 3a).”

I’d never heard a story like that about Confirmation names before!

You know I’m always interested in hearing personal, real-life, interesting name stories, so feel free to share!

Religious names: One community’s tradition

You guys. Three of my boys had the amazing opportunity to be part of a week-long Vacation Bible School with two of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Nashville), finishing up today. I can’t even. It was so amazing. Not least because my boys LOVED it, and they started out not loving the idea of having to go to school in the summertime. But mostly because the Sisters were awesome. I know a lot of you have the opportunity to be around Sisters, but we don’t, and this week has just been such a gift. Check out a photo here.

But! What I really wanted to write about was their names! The Sisters we had this week are Sr. Mary Celeste and Sr. Vincent Marie, and I was dying all week to ask them about how they chose their names. Joy of joys, today they let the kids ask any question they wanted, and one of them asked about their names, and they shared that, in their community, on the day of their profession they receive their habit and their new name. They can give three ideas to Mother Superior of names they might like, and she might choose one of them, or she might choose a totally different one. I was so interested by that! I just assumed you got to choose your own!

I would have loved to have chatted with the Sisters about their particular names, but alas, we all wanted to be with them every second, and there’s only so much of them to go around and so many minutes in a day, so I didn’t have the opportunity. I know there are some of you here who have contemplated religious life, even having spent time in the convent as a postulant and/or novice — please tell us about the name traditions you’re familiar with! And please pray for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia!

Faaabulous Brit Catholic baby, and a fun question

One of you wonderful readers sent me the story of the birth of UK Parliament Member Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sixth baby, and then I saw it all over my FB feed! Everyone’s going gaga over this little guy! And for sure it’s because of his amazing name: Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher!

😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

Indeed, Rees-Mogg is Catholic, as his baby’s name proclaims! (Also, as his sister’s name proclaims — Annunziata!) Little Sixtus is also the sixth baby! According to British Baby Names, he joins siblings:

Peter Theodore Alphege
Mary Anne Charlotte Emma
Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan
Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam
Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius

In Rees-Mogg’s announcement on IG he referred to the big sibs as Peter, Mary, Thomas, Anselm, and Alfred, so no double names or interesting nicknames as far as I know. I love seeing Anselm in the first name spot! Congratulations to the whole family!

This all brings me to what I intended to post today — Cat said in a comment a couple of weeks ago:

I’d love to see a post and comments on the most unique or out-there Catholicky Catholic name people have ever used or known a person with that name.”

I would love to know that too! I’m on my way out the door and can’t martial my thoughts to share my own, but I can’t wait to read yours!