Spotlight on: Oscar

The scene in the movie “Romero” where the soldiers are shooting up the tabernacle and Archbishop Oscar Romero was risking his life to save the hosts — to literally and freely take the risk of dying for Jesus — was one of the single most moving things I have ever seen — I saw it once in high school and once in college and that scene has stayed with ever since. He was eventually killed while saying Mass “in El Salvador in 1980 by Right-wing death squads. His murder came a day after he had said in a homily that soldiers should obey God’s commands and put down their guns.” (From “Archbishop Oscar Romero was a martyr, declare Vatican Theologians.”)

“Archbishop Romero’s Cause was opened at the Vatican two decades ago but was delayed for years as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith studied his writings, amid debate over whether he had been killed for his faith or for political reasons.” But now it has been ruled that “Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered “in hatred of the faith”” — that he was indeed a martyr — and even that the Archbishop “will “almost certainly” be beatified in 2015, and that Francis may skip the beatification and canonise him in San Salvador.”

So: Oscar. It’s one of those names I want to like. It always shows up in lists of names that are similar to names I like. Like … Leo. And Victor. And Hugo, Rosa, and Milo. (All this according to the Baby Name Wizard book.) And it’s got great Irish connections, which is always appeals to my overwhelmingly green heritage — Oscar was the grandson of Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn McCool). It’s somewhat popular in the Scandinavian countries, which is a large part of my husband’s heritage, so that’s appealing as well.

But there’s Oscar the Grouch and Oscar Meyer bologna and (good heavens) Oscar Pistorius. It’s just not a name I could get on board with … until now? Here’s betting a Blessed or Saint Oscar Romero will make the name jump up and dance all over the baby name stats. Oz or Ozzie are cute nicknames for a little guy (Ozzie Osbourne notwithstanding), or even Scar, I suppose, for the edgier among us, and I could see a grown-up Oscar being an athlete (Oscar de la Hoya) or a poet (Oscar Wilde).

What do you think of Oscar? Can you think of other nicknames for it? Do you know any little or big Oscars? What do they think of their name?

Baby name consultant: Suggestions for Baby Fisher

I think I’ve posted a time or two about blogger/writer/mama-of-many Simcha Fisher, one of my favorites. (Find her at Patheos and National Catholic Register; she also wrote The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning.) She’s expecting her tenth born baby and has graciously agreed to let me offer some suggestions for the wee one’s name. And I’m trying not to freak out that (1) I get to offer actual suggestions for an actual baby and (2) that the baby’s a Fisher baby. (I’m also trying not to use too many exclamation points.) (!!!)

Simcha and her husband Damien have name tastes that I would characterize as kind of eclectic but consistent, and somewhat contrary, as well as Old World and elegant. Their older children are:









Benedicta (“Benny”)

If I wanted to pin down their style more exactly, I might group them thusly:

A little old-fashioned, like black-and-white-movie starlets or a gorgeous antique or a hardworking immigrant: Lena, Dora, Clara, Lucy, Irene, Moses, Elijah

Old Testament/Jewish: Moses, Elijah

Currently popular or on its way there: Clara, Sophia, Lucy, Elijah

Clearly Catholic: Clara, Sophia, Lucy, Irene, Benedicta

Simcha also posted once about other names they’d considered and rejected at one time or another, which gives a further peek into their style—Alma, Ada, Delia, Beryl, Oceania, Moselle, Edith. Though rejected, they seem pretty consistent with the names they did choose.

So with all that information at hand, I have the following three suggestions for first names for each gender, in descending order:


(1) Stella

Stella has that same starlet feel to me as Lena and Dora; the same old-fashioned feel as Clara and Lucy; and as it’s part of the Marian epithet Stella Maris (“Star of the Sea”) it totally fits in with Lucy and Benedicta.

(2) Esther or Miriam

I really really like Esther for the Fishers. It’s Old Testament/Jewish, like Moses and Elijah (and I love when a name bridges two styles, as seem to loosely exist between the Fisher girls’ names and the boys’ names); it’s old-fashioned; it’s elegant. But I could see not everyone loving the –er ending of Esther with the –er ending of Fisher. If that were the case, Miriam would be my alternate for choice #2—it has similar attributes to Esther, it flows better with the baby’s surname, and it gets bonus points for being a Marian name.

(3) Hannah

Hannah is soft and sweet, like Clara and Lucy. It’s an Old Testament name, like the brothers’ names, and currently the height of popularity, like Sophia.


(1) Isaac

Simcha and Damien’s taste for boys so far has seemed pretty straightforward: Old Testament/Jewish. Simcha’s parents converted from Judaism to Catholicism when she was a child, so I’ve always assumed Moses and Elijah are nods to her heritage. Isaac certainly fits that mold. It’s also currently fairly popular, which fits in with Sophia and Clara, but old-fashioned at the same time, with its previous peak being in the 1880’s, like Lena and Dora and Moses. It’s also pretty Catholic, what with St. Isaac Jogues being one of the North American Martyrs (and the recent canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha helping to raise his profile even more).

(2) Solomon

Old Testament/Jewish, the end. Also wise and kingly, elegant and old-fashioned. A solid, consistent choice for a brother to Moses and Elijah.

(3) Asa

Asa is old-fashioned and Old Testament/Jewish, and it’s short and punchy like Lena and Dora and Lucy. It’s also a bold choice because of its rarity (it peaked in popularity in the 1880s), potential for mispronunciation by those who are unfamiliar with it, and potential for crossover to the girl’s side because of the –a ending. But I get the sense that Fishers would not be swayed by such considerations, and Ace is a pretty cool nickname (if a nickname were to be used).

What do you think? Have I hit the nail on the head or missed altogether? Do you have any suggestions for naming the new Fisher Baby?


In formulating my thoughts on the Fishers’ name style and determining other names that I think they might like, I consulted The Baby Name Wizard book and web site, especially the Name Voyager and Namipedia, as well as the Behind the Name web site, and my own mind, which contains a lifetime of conversations about names, reading about names, and thinking about names. (Seriously. I never tire of it.)