Name story: Porter Joseph

Please note that this may be overly difficult for some to read, e.g., those who are pregnant, as it’s about stillbirth, and includes photos at the end.

This latest installment in our Name Story series is from a mama with a story that I’m sure will simultaneously break your heart and cause you to marvel at the mystery of God’s unceasing and unfailing love and goodness, and the fact that we can always trust Him, even when we don’t understand His plan. At least, that’s what it did for me! I’m confident that you will be touched by the story of Baby Porter — a tiny baby with a big impact.

His mama writes, in an email with the subject line “A naming story about Solanus Casey,”

Through you, I first heard of Blessed Solanus Casey. As I read about him, I became so intrigued. Both of my parents were born and raised in Detroit, and I was born and raised in a suburb of Detroit, so he felt so ‘real’ to me! I slowly developed a devotion to him. I remember reading once about your suggestion to name a child Porter as a way to honor Fr. Solanus and thought it was a neat idea.

My husband and I were married in June of 2017, and after nearly two years of trying, praying, seeing doctors, etc., we were shocked and thrilled to discover I was pregnant on Mother’s Day 2019.  As the weeks went by, we talked about many girl names we loved but couldn’t find any boy names. I was so sure I wanted a girl! Then one day, I heard the name ‘Porter’ come to me and knew it was God giving me this baby’s name. God used it to change my heart, and for the first time, I was happy thinking about having a boy. I suggested Porter to my husband, and he immediately loved it. Sure enough, in August, we found out we were having a boy!

Everything with my pregnancy was textbook and complication free. Then, on January 17, the day before my due date, I went to the hospital to get checked out because I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off.  An ultrasound revealed there was no heartbeat. The next evening, at 6:30 PM, I gave birth to the most beautiful little boy, already at home in Heaven

We hadn’t decided on a middle name, but had a short list of names we were considering and had planned to decide once he was born. After I delivered him, the nurses asked his middle name, and I looked to my husband, who said ‘Joseph’. Joseph had been on our list because we have a particular devotion to him, as I’ve worked for the past ten years at a Catholic school named for St. Joseph, but I never really thought we’d use it. The next day, my husband told me he chose that name because Joseph is the ‘silent saint’, and though we don’t have a single recorded word from him in the Bible, his intercession and impact is so powerful. In the same way, he said, Porter never spoke a word, yet we believe his life can be a powerful witness.

I knew God was giving me Porter’s name all those months ago to honor Fr. Solanus Casey. But now I see how fitting his name truly is. Fr. Solanus’ life was simple and humble, and from the outside looking in, seems like a ‘small’ life. But it was anything but. Porter is the same — his life was ‘small’, yet the impact we have seen already is truly overwhelming. His funeral was standing room only, with more than 500 people in attendance, many of whom have never set foot in a Catholic church, or hadn’t in years. In the months since, we have heard so many stories of how his little life has touched others. A scholarship fund to support our poorest students has been set up at my school in Porter’s memory. So many people have thanked us for introducing them to Solanus Casey. Not to mention how his life has changed my husband and me, healing wounds in our family, softening our hearts, and making me braver, more vulnerable, and more compassionate.

It’s also not lost on me that a porter opens doors. It is our hope and prayer that Porter’s life will open doors for people to allow Christ in. We believe that is his purpose, and though my husband and I are unbelievably sad at the life we will never share with him, we wholeheartedly believe that God does not allow any evil from which He cannot bring a greater good. In my times of deepest pain, I am comforted by the thought of just how GOOD that good must be to be greater than the pain!

I was just so blown away by the tremendous faith and trust this mama and papa have, to remember, in the face of the death of a child — the worst sadness that a parent can experience — that “God does not allow any evil from which He cannot bring a great good” and “just how GOOD that good must be to be greater than the pain.” This beautiful story was such a reminder to me to trust always, and that God’s ways are not our ways.

I also loved the Fr. Solanus connection! I’m so pleased that God allowed my little blog to introduce Porter’s parents to him, and the mama shared even more great information:

One last note: As I had learned about Solanus Casey over the years, I discovered I had family connections to him. My great-aunt (my grandmother’s sister) had been a friend and frequent visitor of his in Detroit. As a little girl, my dad’s older sister once visited him in Huntington, IN on a trip with my great-aunt. Apparently he made her a peanut butter sandwich on a hot dog bun! Then, a few weeks after Porter was born, my parents were looking through a box of papers to find some information to renew their passports, and they found a membership card for the Solanus Casey Guild belonging to my grandmother (my dad’s mom), who was a lifelong Catholic and died when I was a teenager. My dad had never seen it and never knew she belonged. I love to think how Fr. Solanus was weaving his way into the fabric of our story long before I was even born.

Thank you for introducing me to this humble man, who forever changed the course of my family’s life. I believe our family’s journey with Fr. Solanus is just beginning.” 

Isn’t that just perfect?! “I love to think how Fr. Solanus was weaving his way into the fabric of our story long before I was even born” — that gives me “holy bumps” (as my mom calls them)! Heaven is so close to us — truly, “it’s a thin veil that separates.”

I asked the mama for information on how to contribute to the scholarship fund that has been set up in Porter’s name — such a wonderful cause! If you’d like to donate as well, checks can be made out to St. Joseph’s Catholic School, with “Porter Miros Fund” on the memo line, and mailed to:

St. Joseph’s Catholic School

Attn: Advancement Office

100 St. Joseph’s Drive

Greenville, SC 29607

Please also keep this family in your prayers!

Scroll down to see photos of Porter with his parents, his great-grandmother’s membership card in the Fr. Solanus Guild, and Fr. Solanus himself. ❤️❤️❤️

Porter Joseph and his parents

Bl. Solanus Casey, and Baby Porter’s great-grandmother’s membership card in the Fr. Solanus Guild


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 an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Celebrity guest: Pauline, who started reading as a daughter and continues as a mama!

On Thanksgiving 2015, I posted such a fun consultation — a pseudo consultation, really, because it was commissioned by the eldest daughter of the parents in question, who wrote,

I don’t see my parents having more but they always joke that they would have absolutely no more name ideas if God were to send us a #10. If you want a project, even though there truly is no baby coming (that I know of!) I thought it might be fun to see some name suggestions that you might come up with!

There haven’t been any more babies for her parents, BUT that daughter is now a mama herself! And she still reads the blog! And I was so excited to talk names with her! Scroll down to read all about Pauline and her beautiful family!

Kate: Tell me about yourself! Hubby’s name (if he doesn’t mind), are you home with your kids and/or do you work? Anything you want us to know?

Pauline: My husband’s name is Ian and we met at Benedictine College. We have been married for 3 years. Ian works in surgical technologies and he is Army National Guard. I am home with our boys full-time, so life is a hot mess but I couldn’t imagine it any other way 🙂

Kate: What are your boys’ names (first and middle) and how did you and your husband choose them?

Pauline: Our boys are Rowan Michael (2) and Fulton Patrick (5 months). We joke that we are lucky we had two boys first because those were the two baby names we were sold on from the start — after this we are in trouble!

Rowan Michael is after St. Rowan of Lorrha, who is known as one of the 12 apostles of Ireland and studied under St. Finian. We didn’t know any of this until researching the name and we loved what we learned! Michael is after St. Michael, Ian Michael and Rowan’s grandpa Mike.

Fulton was actually a name my parents almost used but they thought it might be confusing because they already had a Fintan! Ian and I babysat the sweetest kids when we were just dating and one of them was named Fulton. We have talked about it ever since! Ven. Fulton Sheen has always been a favorite of ours and we liked the unique Irish style of the name. Patrick is after St. Patrick and my dad, Patrick.

Ian and I cherish the opportunity to find out our babies’ genders at their anatomy scans during pregnancy. We named both boys soon after we found out and prayed throughout the pregnancies for the intercession of their Patron Saints. I have difficult pregnancies so this really helped me to have hope and to bond with our little ones long before they were born. I love the identity and personhood a name gives.

Kate: I know your parents were really influenced by their French and Irish heritage in choosing their children’s names — did you or your husband have a theme in mind?

Pauline: We are drawn to the idea of Irish names for boys and French names for girls, just like my family. I think Ian and I both like less traditional/more unique Catholic names. I love that it is becoming more common to get creative with Catholic baby naming!

Kate: Since both of your little ones are boys, do you mind sharing the names you guys discussed for girls? Or, if you don’t want to get specific, maybe just broadly: is your taste in girl names similar or different than your taste in boy names?

Pauline: It’s so fun to talk about French girl names! Rowan would have been Caroline if he was a girl, but we probably won’t be using that name. We had a discussion when I was pregnant with Fulton about whether or not we wanted to give our daughters “normal” French names (names that would pass as “normal” here in the States like Caroline, Genevieve, Sophie) or if we wanted to use more uniquely French names (like my sisters’ names — Florie, Domitille, etc.). Ian really liked the latter and sold me on it so even though we still love Caroline, we are going to use names that are much less popular here. We have two that we love. We will see what God has in store for our family and if we ever get to use our girl names!

I am honored that anyone might even want to read our crazy baby naming thoughts. Isn’t it funny that we put so much thought into it all?! 

Sancta Nomina was so special for me to find years ago because I couldn’t believe someone else was as interested in names as I was! So thank you for your amazing work on the blog and thank you for thinking of our family!

Isn’t this all just so wonderful?? I absolutely loved reading Pauline’s answers to my questions, and then going back and reading my previous post about Pauline’s parents and her siblings (I’ve actually referred to it many times when doing consultations, as there are some really great French names for girls in it!). This is an extended family with great taste in names! I also love that her parents are Patrick and Beatrice and she and her husband are Ian and Pauline — Irish + French, both. So cool to see that reflected in their children’s names!

Thank you so much to Pauline for introducing us to her family and talking names! I’m sure you’ll love to follow her: here’s her web site and her Instagram.

pauline_taylor

Pauline with her husband Ian and their sons Rowan and Fulton ❤


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!

Name Story: Eden, Abrie, Bradley, Blaise, and Valen

Happy Easter to you all!! I hope you all had a wonderful, holy, happy Easter, as much as possible in this time. He is risen!! He is truly risen!! What a blessing to celebrate the greatest hope during this time of suffering.

A reader emailed me recently to share about the names of her kiddos, which I just love — I’m always excited to read about the names you chose and why! She graciously said I could share them with you — she and her hubby have an outside-the-box way of thinking about names that I thought you might be inspired by! Mama writes,

[S]ince you love names so much I figured I would share with you the names of my 5 children ages 7 and under! Most of their names are not so “out there” but a couple of them take even our Catholic friends and family by surprise!

Eden Koryn: “The Garden of Eden was the ultimate paradise and gift. We got Koryn from Corinthians and for some reason we decided to go all millennial on it and change the spelling from Corin to Koryn. Nevertheless I do still love the ring to her name … Her patron is St Therese of Liseux … and the beautiful Little Flower has adopted her as if she was named just for her.”

Abrie JoAnne (pronounced AY-BREE): “Abrie is a completely secular pick … my husband wanted Avery and it was so common at the time that I solidly said no way. So he pulled Abrie out of his thoughts somewhere … I couldn’t turn him down. He was so set on it. We began to become more traditional during her pregnancy though and I had decided to give her the middle name after my late paternal grandmother. And even though we don’t do nicknames in our family, we knew from day one we would call her Abrie Jo. I started to get worried that we were going to name yet another child with no saint name, until our priest said that JoAnne was absolutely a form of Joan for St Joan of Arc. So we were happy to keep the name we chose and oh my is that girl our little Joan D’arc! It’s perfectly her.”

Bradley Joseph: “His name is fairly cut and dry. We had this name set on the shelf from baby number one. And since he was the first boy, it got to come down off the shelf. Bradley is my husbands devout late grandfather. His mother’s father. And Joseph is my husband’s first name, and his fathers middle name, and his grandfather’s first name and his great grandfather’s middle name and so on for many generations. St Joseph is dear to our family and maybe the tradition will be passed on!”

Blaise Anthony: “When I first told family that we were naming him Blaise, they scrunched their face and said they didn’t like it. Some even said “that’s not a saint name”! But of course Feb 3rd is the marvelous feast and blessing of the throats with St Blaise!

My husband got to go on a pilgrimage to Quito, Ecuador for Our Lady of Good Success during this pregnancy. At the time we didn’t know what I was having but I sent him with a list of names to pray about in front of the miraculous statue of Our Lady Of Good Success. I had no idea when the feast of St Blaise was, but the name was on the list because I was partial to the saint for having suffered with a thyroid disorder my entire life. The feast of Our Lady of Good Success is on Feb 2nd, so my husband was still there in Ecuador on Feb 3rd, so therefore he realized his name is Blaise. We were going to use my father’s family middle name which is Matthias.

I was due on June 2nd 2017 and my patron saint has been from the very start St Anthony of Padua. I knew his feast was 11 days past my due date. So I “joked” with [St. Anthony] all pregnancy that if he wanted me to name this baby after him that he could show me in some other way than to make me go 11 days past my due date for his feast. St Anthony is quite funny though and there I was at 2:32 AM on June 13th the Tuesday of St Anthony’s feast day having my son. So Blaise Anthony he is!”

Valen Mariana: “My due date was January 27th, 2019. Since I have a history of going over we were thinking February baby. Because of my husbands pilgrimage to Quito to Our Lady of Good Success 2 years prior, he has had a devotion to this title of Mary. So he told me all pregnancy that she would be born on her feast day on February 2nd. I didn’t believe him.

So we said that if she was born in February at all that we would name her after St Valentine. It’s pronounced just like Valentine, without the “tine”. Even though the name is derived to be masculine, we loved it shorthanded for a girl to Valen. We got lots of eye brow raises for this one. But we were to name her Valen Rosemarie. My husband told me he would be starting his OLGS novena with the intercession of the visionary from this apparition who is not yet beatified. Her name is Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres. He finished his novena at 10 pm on February 1st, and I was past my due date. I went to bed shortly after, but woke up to labor and had our Valen Mariana on the feast of Our Lady of Good Success through the intercession of Mother Mariana on Feb 2nd at 3:29 AM.

We later realized that the original place of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Good Success was not in Quito, Ecuador but was in Valencia, Spain! Which then melted my heart even more to this title as Valen is now indeed a nod for the original home of this amazing story of Our Lady and her miraculous statue.”

Aren’t these great stories?! And such cool names! I love the layers of meaning that are included in each name, and the really original ways these parents have had of choosing names that fit with their taste and also have solid faith connections. I had particular goosebumps over Valen’s story — being named for a February Saint, only to find out that the truncated version they chose is exactly shared with the original location of the miraculous Marian statue of the title of Our Lady they have a particular devotion to, and that baby Valen was born on the actual feast of that title of Our Lady — amazing! It’s stories like those that always make clear to me how aware God is of our every hope, desire, and individual characteristic. ❤ ❤ ❤


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!

Name story: Leland, Elliot, Fulton, Selwyn

Happy third day of Christmas!!

A reader emailed me recently to share her boys’ names — I love when you guys do that!! (Check out my Name Stories tag for more!) I know you’ll love reading about this beautiful family! Emily writes,

I thought you would get a kick out of our name rules!

Our first we named Leland, we wanted something classic but not common. It was a name of a trustee at my husband’s school and an editor of a Bible we purchased.

Number 2 we named Elliot just because we liked it, a slight nod to T.S. Eliot. We thought it went well with Leland.

We found out number 3 was another boy, and I enjoy several Catholic blogs despite not being Catholic myself, and I fell in love with the name Fulton. What a perfect fit for our boys’ names!

I was wrapping the big brother presents prior to his birth and used dot stickers and noticed the first 2 had 6 letters . . . and so did Fulton! And they all had an L as the 3rd letter! Other things include being last names, sort of British, and generally pretentious 🙂

Boy #4 would arrive in 2018, so we had to find a name that would fit our “rules”! While reading a short story by L.M. Montgomery I came across the name Selwyn, and at first I thought it was too much, but then it really grew on me and now here we are with 4 boys who fit the rules!

… [H]ere are their full names. The first 3 middle names are family names, the 4th middle name we wanted a Bible name with a good meaning and of course flow.

Leland Daniel (God will judge the meadowlands)

Elliot David (God is the Lord, Beloved)

Fulton Ray (Either, Sunshine on the bird enclosure, Or, King of the fields of the village)

Selwyn Jude (Friend of the manor, Praise God)

One more story — when I looked up Selwyn on one baby name website, it said “you may also like: Leland”!!!

I loved reading about these boys’ names! What a cool theme this family has going! And they’ve chosen really fun, unexpected names — “classic but not common” is a perfect description of them! I’ve never come across anyone in real life with the names Leland and Selwyn (though we love Monk and his boss is Leland Stottlemeyer) — it’s not often I’m surprised by names, and I’m always excited when it happens! Have any of you seen Leland or Selwyn in real life? I love Elliot and Fulton as their brothers, what a great set! Thank you to this mama for sharing these great 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 — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Ireland part 1: Edel

I have so much to tell you all about my fast four-day trip to Ireland for my sister’s wedding! I posted a bunch of photos over the last few days on Instagram, and had some longer things to write here, which I’m going to break up into a few posts.

I’ve written before about Ven. Edel Quinn — e.g., I posted a birth announcement for a little girl given Quinn as a middle in honor of her; I posted a family spotlight of three sisters, one of whom has Edel as a middle in honor of her; and I did a consultation for a mama who loves Ven. Edel and Edelweiss and would love to work them both in somehow — and she has a pretty incredible name story of her own. She was born in Co. Cork, which is where my sister’s wedding was, and I had the fun experience of seeing a twenty-something Irish girl in Dublin airport on my way home whose bag had her name stitched on it — and it was Edel! I heard her friends referring to her by name a couple times, and they said it like “Adele,” which is what I’d always assumed was the dominant pronunciation. BUT that same girl was paged several times during the several hours I was at the airport, and one of the times her name was said to rhyme with pedal (EH-del), and another time like the first part of Edelweiss (AY-del). How cool! Three different possibilities, all used by Irish natives (or so I assumed, given their brogues). Encountering names of the faith “out in the wild” — seeing them used in real life — is one of my very favorite things!


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 the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Name story: Oscar Thomas

A few years ago I did a private consultation for a mama pregnant with her sixth baby — a boy she and her husband named Oscar Thomas. (Oscar Thomas! I love it so much!) She recently wrote to tell me more of the story — specifically, how the name they chose for him ended up being so perfect for him in other ways:

You helped us out over three years ago with a name for our sixth child and fourth boy, Oscar Thomas.

Anyway, I have a story to share. Our Oscar began having seizures when he was five months old, and it turns out he has some profound, lifelong disabilities. (He is making good progress and he is an amazing, dear boy; we are in a great place as a family now but getting here was rocky.) But I am telling you this because I feel like Oscar is THE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT name for him, and one we would never have considered without your nudge. It is strong and determined and a little funky, just like him.

St. Oscar Romero was beatified while I was pregnant, but not canonized until after our “storm,” when we had really found our peace with Oscar’s medical issues. We prayed for his intercession on a daily basis and felt like he walked the whole journey with us, while he waited for his own reward. I am so grateful that our little boy has this tremendously powerful friend in heaven, and I am grateful to you by extension for making the introduction. 😉 We didn’t know at the time our Oscar was born how much we were going to need someone like that.

Anyway. You popped up in my Facebook feed today and I felt prompted to let you know that the work you do matters, sometimes maybe more than you know.”

How amazing is that?? What a wonderful story!! I love her description of both the name Oscar and her boy Oscar: “strong and determined and a little funky, just like him.”

There’s more! The mama, Christy, included Oscar’s name story and some more fun details in her amazing blog post entitled What’s in a name? How our kids got their Catholic saint names and why it matters. She said everything I always want to say, and she said it so well! There’s so much I want to quote from her post, but I don’t want to discourage you from going to read it in its entirety. Seriously, you’ll love it.

Thank you to Christy for sharing all this wonderful information!

Georgia O’Keeffe’s siblings

Claire emailed me not too long ago to share the names of artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s siblings, which she had come across while working on a project. I was delighted to read them too! Claire said she didn’t know if Georgia was Catholic or not, but thought her siblings’ names might provide a clue. Especially, I would argue, one sibling in particular — her brother, Francis Calyxtus, Jr.

Francis Calyxtus! I love it! (I spotlighted Callixtus here.) A bold middle name is always such a treat!

Here’s the whole family (source):

Georgia Totto (named for her grandfather, George Totto; Totto was her mother’s maiden name)
Francis Calyxtus, Jr.
Ida Ten Eyck (their mother was Ida Ten Eyck Totto)
Anita Ten Eyck
Alexis Wyckoff “Tex” (love Tex as a nickname for the Alex names!)
Catherine Blanche
Claudia Ruth

They’re all saintly, but that Francis Calyxtus is really what cements it, don’t you agree?

I looked into her religious affiliation, and while she unfortunately didn’t live her adult life as the kind of role model a devout Catholic would hope for, this site did say about her painting Black Iris III:

The iris is a familiar image in Western art, frequently used in Christian iconography; its swordlike leaves were especially employed as a symbol for Mary’s suffering, a pictorial metaphor which might also have been familiar to O’Keeffe from her Catholic upbringing and her parochial schooling.”

I love when a name can totally identify a person or family as Catholic!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Celebrity guest: Amy, mom of 11!

Don’t forget to enter the Mother’s Day giveaway I announced at the end of my previous post! You have until midnight (Eastern) on Saturday (May 19) to email me your entry. And if you haven’t listened to my interview on Coffee & Donuts with John & Mary on Mater Dei Radio, you still can!

I’ve followed Amy Laddbush on Instagram for a while, and as I told her, I just love seeing the joy that comes through the pictures of life with her six boys (like me) … and five girls! (Not like me! Wow!) Yes, ELEVEN children! And they all have amazing names too! Though I’d picked up some of their names here and there through various posts, it wasn’t until I read this article about her and her family that I was able to see them all. Ever since then I’ve wanted to contact Amy to see if she would mind telling me about the namesof her kiddos so I could share with you all here, and I’m so glad I finally did! I know you’re going to love reading this. 🙂 ❤

laddbush_family
Photo credit: Annie Norton

Our oldest, Ray, is 20. His full name is Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. We had him when we were young. We were both 20 when I was pregnant, and 21 when he was born. I remember I had a baby name book that we looked through. After finding out we were having a boy, I wrote down all of my top boy names in the book. I let Ryan pick out of those choices. Ray is a family name, my great grandfather was named Ray — not Raymond. I let Ryan pick the middle name Tucker. He liked that name a lot, and I thought it was cute. Shourds is my maiden name. Because we were unmarried at the time, at birth, I named him Ray Tucker Laddbush Shourds. After we were married less than a year later, we had his name legally changed to Ray Tucker Shourds Laddbush. (Confirmation name St. Padre Pio).

Josie is 17. Her full name is Josie Layne Laddbush. We liked the name Josie from the song “Josie” by Steely Dan. Layne was just something cute we came up with. I don’t know why we spelled it that way! Like Ray, it’s just Josie — not Josephine. (Confirmation name St. Joan of Arc).

After Josie is our daughter, Brady Ann. She is 14. I liked the meaning of Brady because it means “spirited”. She was very active in the womb. She is still a very active young lady. The name suits her, even though it is predominately male. Ann is a middle name/family name on Ryan’s side of the family that we thought sounded cute. (Confirmation name St. Patrick).

Next is Sean Patrick Whetzell, age 12. I liked Sean because it was the Irish form of John. Patrick just had to go with a Sean. Whetzell is my husband’s second middle name (he is Ryan Francis Whetzell Laddbush). We wanted to pass down the Whetzell name which is Ryan’s grandfather’s last name. He has 3 daughters (one being Ryan’s mom), and Ryan was the only grandson in the whole family. This was a nod keeping with the theme of the men/boys having 4 names (2 middle names). Also keeping with somewhat of a theme of having last names as middle and first names! (like Brady).

Next is Evan Matthew, age 10. At this point we decided 2 names was enough. I liked the name Evan, I can’t remember why, and Matthew is my brother’s middle name. I thought it sounded good so we went with it.

After Evan is Bennett Francis, age 9. He was supposed to be Francis Bennett. Francis after Ryan’s middle name and I don’t know where we got Bennett, but we liked it. After he was born, I thought he looked more like a Bennett, so Bennett Francis it is.

Number 7 is Mary Catherine, age 8. Mary is named after Ryan’s grandmother Mary Laddbush and Catherine is his other grandmother Catherine Whetzell. Easy peasy. At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.

Number 8 is Finnian Fritz, age 6. We call him Finn. Ryan came up with Finnian after researching saint names and found a St. Finnian. Fritz is named after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz.

Number 9 is Charlotte Jones, age 5. I don’t know how we got Charlotte, but we loved it. Jones is my grandmother’s maiden name. We thought we would call her Charlie Jones, or CJ, or something cool like that. Somehow she got the nickname Kitty and we’ve been calling her that since she was a baby. We try to call her Charlotte but she likes the name Kitty.

Number 10 is Sloane Stewart (Mary), age 3. I remember being pregnant and watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and hearing the name Sloane. I thought it was a cool name. Stewart is named after Ryan’s grandmother’s maiden name. Her name on her birth certificate is Sloane Stewart. When she got baptized, our associate pastor at the time, Fr. Lewis, asked if he could throw a Mary in there, so we said sure. Her baptismal name is Sloane Stewart Mary.

And finally number 11 is John Paul Nicholas, age 2. When I was pregnant with him, I read the book Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves. Saint John Paul became my best friend after that, so I had to honor him by naming my son after him. The December before he was born, there was a tragic car accident involving in my cousin’s best friend’s death. His name was Nicholas Cassidy (Nick). He was only 22. Also at this point we had a family devotion to St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately we have not been able to get pregnant since John Paul. We will be 42 this summer, it’s been a good ride. If we are blessed with another baby, I like the name Karol Józef, named after my good friend, Karol Józef Wojtyła.”

How wonderful is all this?? There’s so much here that I love! I love how Amy and her hubs just chose names they loved, I love what an eclectic bunch of names they used, and how many family names are woven into the first+middle combos. I love that they were like, “At this point we realized I guess we are one of those big Catholic families, so we had better have a Mary.” I love that Finn’s middle name is “after Ryan’s grandfather, George, nicknamed Fritz” (I love those kinds of name stories! I’d love to know how George came to be known as Fritz!) and that Charlotte has always gone by Kitty (and prefers it). I love that Sloane has Mary added on her baptismal certificate. And of course, I love that St. John Paul II is Amy’s “best friend.” ((sighing with happiness))

Thank you to Amy for such a lovely, intimate look at her beautiful children’s names!


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Name story: Caspian and Eliot

Today’s Name Story is about Shaina’s little guys! She writes,

Our first son we named Caspian Isaiah. I told my husband while we were dating that I loved the name Caspian and wanted to use it for a son someday! We are both big Lewis fans, and he played an important role in my grandfather’s faith walk when he went through a period of agnosticism. Well.. about nine months after our wedding, Caspian made his debut! We picked Isaiah because we wanted a Bible name and we loved the way it sounded with the first and last name. Our girl name (we haven’t found out gender before birth so far) was Melanie Rowena. I felt a little silly naming our baby Caspian…because really, who does that? But the slight weirdness wore off quickly and it fits him perfectly.

During my second pregnancy, my husband and I went back and forth on a boy name. I love the name Eliot and he didn’t. But I kept coming back to it and eventually he said we could use it as long as we spelled it his way. Agreed! We chose the middle name James. Our girl name for him was Aida Christine. We both love the sound of Aida and were having a really hard time finding a saint name we liked to go with it, but apparently there are several St Christinas and Christine is a family name on my husband’s side. When our son was born, he reminded us both so much of my side of the family and my father specifically that we gave him my dad’s name too, so he ended up Lane Eliot James. We mainly call him Eliot still. And Ee-ot! haha.”

Caspian and Eliot!! Looooovvvveeeeeee!! ❤ ❤ ❤ Shaina said that “finding a name that does go with Caspian without being total geeks is a difficult balance,” but I think they did an amazing job with Eliot!

Shaina wrote, “We became Catholic shortly after Eliot was born, so I’ve been enjoying diving into your blog and discovering a different motivation behind naming,” which makes me so so happy that I can help in this small way! And also — she shared her list of names for future babies! (She was very clear though that these aren’t necessarily husband-approved! 😀 ) Check these out:

John Michael Loren. (call name Loren. I love the name John but we have four of them in the family already. And love that Loren is less common.) John for our both our mentor and my husband’s confirmation names. And so many St Johns. Michael after my husband, and St Michael. And Loren after my husband’s grandfather.

Vivienne Cypress. just love it. the end. (well, and there’s a hymn written by a friend dear to our hearts from the scripture “how like a cypress evergreen”

William Wise

Lewis Martin. Lewis and Martin are both family names. And L M is my MIL’s initials.

Illa Anne-Marie. Illa is my husband’s grandmother’s name. And I dunno, I just like the way Anne-Marie goes with it.

Sebastian Philip. After Bach! And St Sebastian. And Philip after my husband’s friend.”

So many unexpected names! I LOVE unexpected names! I love that they’d call John Michael Loren by his second middle, WOW! Vivienne Cypress! Cypress! What a cool middle name! Same with Wise! I love William Wise! And Illa! Can you tell I’m all heart eyes over these interesting picks?! I love Lewis Martin and Sebastian Philip as well. Such a cool list!

Thank you to Shaina for sharing all of this with us! Here are her handsome little guys:

Caspian and Eliot

Name story: Owen, Violet, Eliza, Edmund

Leslie emailed me to share the stories behind the names of her kiddos, and I’m so glad she did! This is the latest in the Name Stories series, where I share families’ name stories, whether they’ve had a consultation done or not. (This one also fits nicely in with our recent conversations about literary names!)

Leslie writes,

I discovered your blog while my husband and I were going through RCIA (we were received at Easter 2016) and have enjoyed it so much! We just had our fourth baby (well, on 10/27 — it’s gone fast) and our first since joining the Church, and I was hoping it would be ok for me to say hello, and thank you for your awesome site, and tell you a bit about our kids’ names.

We were Protestant when we named our first three kids, but it’s been so cool to discover ways that their names connect to the Catholic faith, without our planning it. Our first child is Owen David. Owen we just picked because we really liked it but we have loved learning about the awesome St. Nicholas Owen, who used his carpentry skills to build priest holes in 16th century England. David is a family name for both me and my husband.

Next we had Violet Irene. I actually learned from you that Violet can be considered a Marian name! That’s another one that we just picked because we loved it. There is a St Irene, although not much is known about her — I love that the name means “peace” and is the name of the main character in George MacDonald’s book “The Princess and the Goblin.”

Our third child is Eliza Lark. My husband’s grandmother was named Elisabeth and my sister is Elizabeth so using Eliza was a nod to both of them. We picked her name out before she was born, but by the time I gave birth we were starting to think pretty seriously about converting and St. Elizabeth and the story of the Visitation became really important to me as we were going through all that. I believe her intercession played a significant role in my labor and delivery, and God gave me a lot of peace through that experience that we were indeed supposed to pursue joining the Church.

As for the middle name Lark, my husband suggested we try to use a nature-themed middle name for Eliza, since big sister is Violet, and Lark immediately felt right as it’s the name of one of my favorite children’s books, by Sally Watson. The main character is named Lark and she’s strong and spunky. So both our girls have middle names inspired by strong characters in wonderful children’s books!

We were team green for the first time ever with our fourth baby. I was POSITIVE we were having another girl, but luckily we did have a boy name picked out because that’s what we had!

It was a very easy choice — once we learned about St. Edmund Campion we knew we wanted to name another son after him, if we had one. We loved the sound, loved how it went with our other kids’ names, and loved how it connects us to our beautiful Catholic faith. We somehow made it to Mass on All Saint’s Day, even with the new baby, and it really hit me as I listened to the litany of saints what a precious gift it is to give our child a name that connects him from his first moments to an intercessor in Heaven! Wow, I love being Catholic.

Thank you for letting me share and thank you again for a great blog! God bless you!

What awesome names!! And such great name stories!! As I told Leslie, it’s so cool that they were able to discover saintly connections in their older three’s names after their conversion! And Edmund Campion (yes, that’s his full given name — love it!!) is an amazing addition. About his name, Leslie writes,

I thought we might use Camp as a nickname but so far we mostly just call him Edmund, although his sisters do love to call him “Campion ” or “Edmund Campion”, which is really cute. And something I forgot to mention is that it was very cool to make the connection that Edmund Campion and Nicholas Owen are both English martyrs, it’s a neat link for our boys to share (and Owen, age six, likes to hypothesize that maybe they were friends!).”

(Be still my heart! So sweet! 😍)

Thank you to Leslie for sharing these wonderful stories, and this photo of her beautiful family!

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