Baby name consultation: Baby no. 3 needs name that connects to both big brothers

(Be sure to check out the great piece Fr. Michael Rennier — husband, father of five, and an ordained Catholic priest through the Pastoral Provision for former Episcopal clergymen that was created by Pope St. John Paul II — wrote on naming babies over at Aleteia! He mentions Sancta Nomina! 😍)

(Also, don’t forget about my book signing this Sunday [July 29 from 1-3]! I know there aren’t many of you in my area, but I’d love to see any of you who live close by or happen to be passing through!)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! 🌱 He or she joins big siblings:

Peter William (“Peter is for Peter the Apostle, William for Dad“)
Damien Andrew (“Damien for St. Damien of Molokai, and Andrew for the apostle and also for St. Andre Bessette, recently canonized when hubby and I were both students at Notre Dame (he was the first saint to be canonized from the Holy Cross order, which established Notre Dame)“)

Loooove both of these names!! You know I have a particular soft spot for Damien. 🙂

Lauren writes,

My favorite thing about their names is that they link together: Peter and Andrew were brothers, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. I also found out after they were born that there is a St. Peter Damian who is a Doctor of the Church.

I like that both boys have great saints as their namesakes. I especially like that Peter hears about St. Peter frequently at Mass during the readings, especially during the Easter season, when he was born.

For New Baby (gender TBD, due on Christmas Day), we would love to find a name that links to at least one (preferably both) of the other kids’ names, looks up to a great saint or mystery … Because our last name is so common, we would like a first name that is somewhat more off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien).

Names we are considering for a girl:

Cora (for the Sacred Hearts: St. Damien was a priest in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Notre Dame basilica is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart [of Jesus] — is there a connection to Peter in there somehow? This is the front-runner)

Madeline (for St. Mary Magdalene, a favorite — but I don’t like the nickname “Maddy” and am afraid that people would call her that)

Bethany (maybe where Mary Magdalene lived, but at any rate it’s where Jesus’ friends lived)

Grace
Monica
Cecilia
Adelaide (I love this name but my husband is not sure)

Other favorite female saints include [Mother] Theodore Guerin (born Anne-Therese), Hildegard of Bingen, Veronica, and Mary of Egypt — but these names don’t seem to suit our taste.

Names we are considering for a boy:

We are having a harder time with this, and none of these feels quite right.
Adam
Thomas
Michael
Patrick
We like St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas More, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Augustine, John Paul II, etc.

Family names we can’t use:

Ann
Paul (love this name!)
Joan
Daniel
John
William, Willem
Matthew
Sebastian
Willem
Xavier
Annika
Charlotte
Janet

Names that have been floated that one of us has vetoed:

Clementine
Mary
Ruth
Gregory
Joseph
Nicholas
Theodore
Vera
Noel(le)
Stella
Gloria
Noah
Jacob
James
Anthony (I love this name and St. Anthony of the Desert, but my husband doesn’t like it)
Many of the most obvious Christmas names: Natalie/a, Emmanuel/la, Gabriel/la, Lucas. I like the idea of a Christmas name, but I just haven’t come across one that I really like

Some names that have come up recently on the blog that we don’t care for are Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel.

We also don’t really care if the style of the names match among our three kids. We are all about the meaning, namesake, history, spiritual significance. We want them to be spiritually inspired by their names and hopefully feel connected to their siblings by means of the spiritual (not necessarily stylistic) connections among their names.”

Whew! You all know I love a good name challenge!

You should have seen me doing research for this family — I looked everywhere I could think of for connections between names, it’s such a fun thing they want to do, but hard! Wow! I think Lauren and her hubs will find it’s even more difficult the more children they have (if they’re so blessed), but it’s still a really fun thing to do. Honestly, I could probably spend months seeking out more ideas with connections to their Peter William and Damien Andrew. Hopefully the ideas I have here are helpful in some way!

I’ll start with thoughts on the list of names they’re considering:

  • Cora: A gorgeous name! I love that they’d be using it for the Sacred Hearts, and so cool that they already have a connection to Damien! The only connection to St. Peter I could find — which I think is a pretty great one — is that, in St. Peter’s Basilica, there’s the Altar of the Sacred Heart, whose altarpiece was blessed at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque’s canonization (she was *the* promoter of the Sacred Heart).
  • Madeline: I love Madeline, though I wonder if they might be interested in switching to one of its variants: Magdalen/Magdalene/Magdalyn/Magdalena? That way they bypass the Maddy issue, and they have a less common name, more in the vein of Damien (Damien is no. 266, while Madeline is no. 100 and none of the Magdalene variants I listed are in the top 1000 except Magdalena, which is no. 955) (note that the spelling Damian is no. 119, which is actually pretty similar to Madeline in terms of popularity. Funny enough, Peter’s no. 213!).
  • Bethany: Another nice connection here is that Bethany is where Jesus ascended from, and his apostles (including Peter and Andrew) were there: “Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.” (Luke 24:50–51)
  • Grace: A beautiful name! It can be Marian, for Our Lady of Grace, and also in the Hail Mary, “full of Grace.” I didn’t find any connections between Grace and Peter/William/Damien/Andrew, except if they wanted to think of them as living grace-filled lives, or being open to the grace of God, etc.
  • Monica: I love St. Monica, I love that they have her name on their list!
  • Cecilia: Ditto, beautiful name and saint.
  • Adelaide: I love it too! I looked at the various blesseds/saints named Adelaide and found that St. Adela of Messines (also known as Adelaide) was the mother-in-law of William the Conqueror, but I’m thinking that’s probably not the kind of connection to their Peter William that Lauren and her hubs were hoping for …
  • Adam: I don’t see many parents considering Adam these days! Nice job to Lauren and her hubs picking something that feels fresh! Although … looking at the data, Adam’s actually no. 77, so it’s not as uncommon as I thought. I looked through the holy Adams I could find, and the only one I could find a connection to their older boys of any kind is with Adam the Patriarch in the sense that he was a biblical character like St. Peter and St. Andrew. Not the greatest connection, but a cool thing is that his memorial is celebrated on Dec. 24, which is nice for a Christmas baby.
  • Thomas: Thomas fits all of their criteria except being less common … he was an apostle like Peter and Andrew, and one of the connections I thought might be useful (especially moving forward with possible future children) is that there are holy Peters, Andrews, and Thomases in the listings of Martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland (there are a lot of martyrs in those countries, so I thought it might provide good fodder for the future as well).
  • Michael: There are loads of holy Michaels, too many for me to go through them all! Here’s the list in case it’s helpful. It’s a great name, but I suspect it’s more popular than Lauren and her hubs would like? It’s been a top 10 name since 1943, spending more than 40 years in the no. 1 spot, and only dropped out of the top ten in 2017 (it’s currently no. 12). One way to jazz it up, if they’d like to, is to consider an alternate nickname for everyday use … one of my favorite unexpected nickname ideas for Michael is Miles, and one of the English martyrs is Bl. Miles Gerard.
  • Patrick: I like it! And Ven. Patrick Peyton is a great patron that ties in with Andrew, since he was a member of the Holy Cross order like St. Andre Bessette.

I’m glad Lauren included the list of family names they can’t use (such a bummer about Paul!) and those that one of them has vetoed, this is such helpful info! I’m also glad to know they don’t care for Leo, Bennett, Maximilian, Karol, and Annabel, as I almost certainly would have suggested Leo and Annabel to them otherwise! As for Christmas names, I’m glad they listed the ones they’ve considered and decided they don’t like, that’s very helpful. Here’s my latest Christmas-and-Advent-names post, which they might like to go through (lots of names!). I looked through it myself to find ideas for this family, some of which I incorporated in my official suggestions below.

Okay! On to those suggestions! I used a few different strategies to find ideas for Lauren and her hubs. My first one was to look up all the names they’ve used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard, which you all know I start all my consultations with, as it provides for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I know Lauren said they don’t care so much about their kiddos’ names matching each other in terms of style, but this kind of research gives me an idea of the kinds of names she and her hubby are likely to prefer. I then looked through the list of potential matches for the for any connections with their older boys’ names. I also looked up St. Peter, St. Damien, St. Andrew, and St. Peter Damian to find any possible connections between them that might be helpful. That’s where I came up with the idea of looking through the list of British Isles martyrs (here and here), which has several Peters, Andrews, and Thomases, as well as the holy people of the Holy Cross Order and the Dominican Order (as a Third Order Dominican, I kept being struck by how many names I remembered from the litany of Dominican Saints and Blesseds that I thought might provide good connections for Lauren and her hubs).

All that said, these are my thoughts/ideas/suggestions:

Girl
(1) Susanna
I rarely suggest Susanna, which is funny since it’s the girl name we’ve held on to through all six of our boys! But I really like it for this family, for a few different reasons: it’s biblical, like Peter and Andrew; it’s saintly (there are several); it’s more unusual, like Damien (in fact, it’s not even in the top 1000!); and I consider it a Christmas name as well, via the movie It’s a Wonderful Life — Zuzu is a nickname for the Susan- names, so George Bailey’s little Zuzu was likely Susan, as Susan was popular at the time. Susan’s also one of the Narnia children, but while siblings Peter and Susan might possibly feel like too much, I don’t think Peter and Susanna would raise an eyebrow.

(2) Lucy
Speaking of Narnia, Lucy might be too much Narnia with brother Peter, or maybe they’ll love the connection! Lucy means “light,” which, in order to connect it to one of their older boys, they could think of as relating to the light of the Advent candles, and the first Sunday of Advent is set by St. Andrew’s feast day!

(3) Josephine
I know Joseph is on their vetoed list, but what about Josephine for a girl? I love that St. Damien’s birth name was Joseph, so Josephine would connect to him, as well as to their devotion to St. Joseph the Worker. It’s also, of course, a feminine variant of a biblical name, which loops in Peter as well.

(4) Christina, Christine, Christiane, Christiana
Lauren didn’t mention any of the Christ- names as possibilities for their Christmas baby, but Christina was a style match for them based on my research in the BNW, which made me think of all the gorgeous Christ- names for girls. I love Christine, Christiane, and Christiana as well as Christina.

(5) Margaret
There’s more than one Margaret in the list of martyrs of England, Wales, and Scotland, which connects it to Peter and Andrew in that way. Since they have Madeline on their list, which made me think of the Magdalene names, I wondered if Margaret — which of course can also take Maggie as a nickname, like Magdalene can — would be appealing to them. There’s also the Sacred Heart connection with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and there are several Dominican saints/blesseds named Margaret (along with St. Peter of Verona and several Bls. Peter, Bl. Damien of Finale, and a few Bls. Andrew).

(6) Maura
A very cool connection I found is that St. Peter Damian lived for a time in Ravenna, Italy (in fact, he took the name Damian after a priest he was sent to live with in Ravenna AND St. Andrew the Apostle is one of the patrons of Ravenna!). On top of that, St. Maura of Ravenna was martyred in Ravenna, and as I’m a sucker for any Marian name, I thought Maura would be an amazing idea. As a variant of Mary, it even works as a Christmas-y name!

(7) Ravenna
Just in case they want to have at least one far-out suggestion, what about Ravenna as a first name? I actually know of a devout family who named one of their daughters Ravenna (there are other saints associated with Ravenna, I’m not sure which one they chose the name for). Its rhythm reminds of Susanna, it’s a really cool idea for a certain kind of family.

Boy
(1) Dominic
Let’s kick off the boy names by going right to the source of the Dominican Order! Not only does Dominic have the Dominican connection like the Peters, Andrews, and Bl. Damien listed above, but I also included it in a list of Advent names having to do with the O Antiphons.

(2) Henry
Henry’s a big name in the lists of British Isles martyrs, including Sts. Henry Morse and Henry Walpole, and Bl. Henry Suso is a Dominican blessed. I liked that it seemed like yet a third, distinct style from Peter and Damien.

(3) Owen
St. Nicholas Owen is one of the English martyrs and one of my favorite saints. I might have suggested Nicholas to Lauren and her hubs, in order to loop in the Christmas theme, but since Lauren said Nicholas has been vetoed, then Owen it is! (Owen’s actually a style match for Madeline and Grace, which made me think they might like it).

(4) Edmund (or Campion?)
Sts. Edmund Campion and Edmund Arrowsmith are two of the English martyrs — Edmund’s a great name! If not Edmund, while Arrowsmith seems a bit much for a first name, I’ve seen Campion used from time to time, and I like it a lot. Campion might seem like an extra good option if Lauren and her hubs thought brothers Peter and Edmund were just too much Narnia (like with Lucy).

(5) Lewis
I was enjoying coming up with names that I thought were a different style from either Peter or Damien, and I thought Lewis was another one. St. David Lewis is one of the English Martyrs, and while I thought Damien and David were too similar in sound, I thought Lewis might be perfect. This family named their youngest Lewis in his honor.

(6) August
Lauren said they love St. Augustine, and there’s also a St. Augustine Webster who was one of the English Martyrs, but I thought maybe August might be more their speed (and could still nod to either/both of those men).

(7) Bartholomew
This is my farthest-out idea for a boy, and I love it for this family. Not only is Bartholomew an apostle, like Peter and Andrew, but it’s also the name of two Dominican blesseds: the male Bl. Bartholomew of Cerverio and the female Bl. Mary Bartholomew Bagnesi. I would also consider Bartholomew “off the beaten path but without being weird (like Damien),” as Lauren put it.

And those are all my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Peter and Damien?


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. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

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Word names (Catholic edition)

I’ve been digging word names related to the faith lately, like Tiber, Shepherd, Vesper, and Rosary. This may or may not be due to my frantic desire to add some unexpected names to our short list for our baby (if a boy), which I really just need to calm down about. !!! I read about a baby with the middle name Banner yesterday, inspired by Psalms 60:6 (“Raise up a banner for those who revere you”), and it got me all fired up again!

Anyway, I’d love to hear what Catholic word names you would add to this list! For both boys and girls, because I love making lists of girl names I like as well, even though we’re set with a girl name. Happy Saturday!

More endorsements for my book!

I posted recently with some of the endorsements I was fortunate enough to receive for my book (here and here), and wanted to add the last few! I also wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I have a new tab at the top of my page called, “My book of Marian names!” in which I put all the info you could possibly want about my book — description, where to buy it, and links to all the endorsements and reviews its received as well as any other bits of info (like my upcoming book signing!).

While most of the endorsements I received were from the Catholic world, and each one is such a treasure!, I love that these pages include endorsements from name experts Abby from Appellation Mountain, Linda Rosenkrantz from Nameberry, and Laura Wattenberg from Baby Name Wizard. I’m so pleased that they thought my effort was worth supporting. ❤

I was also thrilled to secure the endorsement of my bishop!

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Latest CatholicMom column, and a namey question

My July column is up at CatholicMom.com! It’s the winning essay of the second year of the St. Francis de Sales Writing Contest I instituted at my alma mater, in which the student discussed his devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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This student won first place last year as well! The judges were the editor of my diocesan newspaper, the superintendent of schools for my diocese, and the campus chaplain at Siena College. Very impressive!

I’ve also been thinking about something a couple of you mentioned on a post last month — Sarah said,

My aunt was born the day after the Assumption so her grandmother named her Mary Virginia, but my grandma didn’t like her mother naming her baby so she re-named her Carole Jean

and Annie said,

My parents technically named me, but did so after my grandma’s wishes after she made her wishes very clear

and I’m still trying to wrap my head around how grandparents got to have such a strong say? It sounds like Sarah’s great-grandmother especially wasn’t merely voicing an opinion, but was actually naming the baby — I’ve seen references to this kind of thing from time to time and always wondered about it. I think it’s likely an older custom, which explains a lot; I can also see this being a cultural custom. Do any of you have examples of this happening in your family? Do you have any insight into how this happened, including from a generational or cultural perspective?


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. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Baby name consultation: Baby girl needs less popular, sounds-like-it’s-spelled name

Gwen and her husband are expecting their third baby — a girl! Little Miss joins big sibs:

James Robert (“Named after my father, my husband, and his Father. LOVE James, [and] I used Robert because it’s a generations-old tradition.”)

Evelyn Blanche (“My first name was my father’s favorite girl name which is special because each of my siblings has two family names. We continued that with our Evie … Evelyn is hubby’s (and my) favorite girl name; Blanche is my middle name and I was named for a childless great-great-aunt who was an incredible self-made woman in the very late 1800s/early 1900s.”)

I love the stories behind these kiddos’ names! I love that James Robert honors Gwen’s dad, husband, and father-in-law, that’s a pretty amazing feat with one baby’s name! And Evelyn Blanche—what a cool combo with a great nickname, and Gwen’s great-great-aunt sounds amazing! I love that Blanche is her middle name as well, so nice for a girl to have a connection to her mama in that way.

Gwen writes,

Here are our parameters —

  • At least one family name (or variant of a family name) and the other must have a special story. We’d love to name this girl for my husband’s grandmother (Anna Katherine). We are strongly considering Katherine, but I don’t like any nicknames except “Ryn” and I just don’t know if that works? I honestly don’t love Katherine as a first name and would prefer to use it as a middle name … unless there is a variant or nickname (none of the Kathy/Katie/etc) that I don’t know of.

  • Girl Family Names: Anna, Katherine, Kjerstin (Swedish version but would consider variations), Vera, Juliana, Florentina,  Juliette, Elna, Leona, Elana, Philomena, AnnNancy, Rose, Bernadine, Loretta, Jane — names in red would have to be a variant of those names

  • Boy Family Names (perhaps a variant for a girl): Francis, Otto, Henry, Anders, Notley, Sebastian, Cosgrove, William, DeCourcy, Patrick, John, Charles

  • “Special Story” — if one name isn’t a family name we’d like there to be some connection. Perhaps it’s a traditional name that honors our heritage or has strong saintly connections

  • Our ancestral homes include: Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Sicily

  • Her first name should be a classic/traditional name that isn’t top 10-15. Evie ended up being WAY more popular than I like and it bugs me. I wouldn’t mind a name that’s popular in another country, but it can’t be going crazy here in the states. It needs to sound like it’s spelled which, unfortunately, eliminates most Irish names 🙂

  • Strong “No” names that we won’t use — Margaret/Margot, Karen, Kathleen, Clare, Mary, Rebecca, Aidan

  • Another name has come up that might be a really strong contender: Noelle. What do you think about nicknames, style fit, and spelling?! I’m not 100% and I’m not sure if we would do Noelle Katherine or Katherine Noelle (but call her Noelle). My husband is dead set on Katherine so we have to make that work

At first I thought it seemed that Gwen and her hubs were open to using a variant of Katherine, so you had to know that my mind immediately started clicking over their Katherine dilemma as soon as I read Gwen’s email! But then Gwen said her hubby has his heart set on using Katherine, so I’m assuming that’s what they’re going with and I didn’t spend too much time coming up with Katherine variants. If they would still like this option though, this site has all the ones I could possibly hope to share. Of those, some that jumped out at me included the spellings Kathryn, Katheryn, and Katheryne, which Gwen might like because they mirror the spelling of Ryn; Caitlin and Catriona because of their Irish heritage; Kasia (Polish) and Carina and Katja (both Swedish); Katia and Rina (Italian); and Kateri, for our St. Kateri.

I like Gwen’s idea of Katherine nicknamed Ryn a lot! I think it’s perfectly logical and a very cool twist on Katherine. Katherine definitely fits their criteria of not being in the top ten or fifteen names, as it was no. 105 in 2017, and using a nickname like Ryn makes it even less popular, since I think Kate and Katie are the more common nicknames for it.

I think Katherine Noelle is lovely, and I love Noelle Katherine as well. Their baby’s actually due in December, so Christmas names like Noelle work nicely and can provide the “special story.” As far as nicknames for Noelle, I know a little Noelle who goes by Nell and Nelly with her family, both of which I love. I’ve seen Noe as a nickname for it, and I think Noly/Noley could work too. There’s a former child actor named Noley Thornton who played Heidi in a 1993 version of the movie, and I remember thinking she was so sweet and her name was so cool. Noelle is no. 235, which is a great ranking—it’s familiar but not popular. I also think they could easily do Elle/Ellie if they wanted to as well.

As far as spelling, I love the Noelle spelling—it’s so pretty and feminine and makes the pronunciation more obvious in my opinion. Noel is much more used for boys, though it has both male and female usage (no. 386 for boys vs. no. 870 for girls), and can be said like Noelle or like Nole. In terms of style, you all know that I rely heavily on the Baby Name Wizard (no link available because Amazon’s down due to Prime Day!) when doing consultations as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity—I thought it was pretty cool that several of the style matches for Evelyn are French or French-ish (Charlotte, Claire, Madeline) like Noelle.

I actually think Gwen and her husband are really set with Katherine as a first name, with or without Noelle as a middle, or with Noelle Katherine as the given name—I feel like they hit all their hopes (family name, special story, etc.). It seems like they have a lot of great middle names for Katherine other than Noelle from their family list, if they decided not to use Noelle—I really like Katherine paired with a variant of Anne, which would honor the Anna, Ann, and Nancy that they have in their list of family names. Katherine Annika maybe? (Annika is Swedish.) Katherine Hannah? Katherine Aine, for an Irish twist, or Katherine Anja for a different Swedish twist? (Both Aine and Anja are said like Anya. I know Gwen said she wants names that are said like they’re spelled, but maybe it doesn’t matter so much in the middle spot?)

Rose from the list is a good option too—Katherine Rose is lovely. I love Katherine Loretta—Loretta was my grandmother’s name, and I don’t usually see it on little girls. I like the idea of Katherine Jane as well, but Gwen said it would have to be a variant—Jane is a feminine version of John, so any of the feminine John variants could honor Jane (as well as the John in their list of males family members): Joan, Jean, Gianna, Janina, Joanna (Joanna could maybe be for Jane, John, Anna, Ann, and Nancy all at the same time?) … St. Joan of Arc is an amazing patron for a little girl—strong, fearless, and faithful. St. Gianna is another great one—a modern saint, full of love and courage. Janina’s a Swedish AND Polish variant! If they were open to using the crazy Irish names in the middle, Sinead and Siobhan are both feminine John variants (and not even that crazy as far as Irish names go—I think most people are familiar with those two names).

Okay, on to additional ideas! As I mentioned, I really like so many of the options they have, like Noelle Katherine, Katherine Noelle, and Katherine + so many of the family names Gwen listed. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t offer some more ideas! As I mentioned, I use the Baby Name Wizard a lot in my consultations, and what I look for when doing that research are names that are style matches for more than one of the names on the parents’ list—that gives a pretty good indication that they might hit just the right notes. When there’s not a huge amount of overlap, as with this family, I then look through the style matches of the names on their list and any that *feel* right, on a gut level that I can’t explain, also make the list. So it’s partly a science, and partly emotional! James goes with most names, I would say—it’s so classic with so many varied associations that James can easily be a brother to children with names of all different styles. Similarly with Katherine I think. So I focused mostly on Evelyn, Blanche, and Noelle, as I thought they’d give me more distinctive ideas (though I didn’t disregard James and Katherine). Based on my research and my gut feelings, these are my ideas for Gwen and her hubs:

(1) Julia
I loved seeing Julia listed as a style match for both James and Katherine, especially after seeing Juliette and Juliana on their list of family names (and Juliette’s honor name needing to be a variant). Julia can easily be Evelyn’s sister, even while being so different in popularity (no. 93 in 2017). I also quite like Katherine Julia. I spotlighted the Julia names here, including patron saints.

(2) Rose
Rose is not only a style match for this family, but also a name on their list of family names. I mentioned it earlier as a possible middle name for Katherine, but I love it as a first name for them too. Rose is no. 141, well outside of the top ten or fifteen. Rosie is a sweet nickname with sister Evie; Rose Katherine is a lovely combo; and Rose can be for St. Rose of Lima or any of the other saints named Rose or with Rose in their names somewhere, as well as for Our Lady (roses are one of her symbols; the rosary literally refers to a crown of roses for her; and she has often had roses with her in her apparitions).

(3) Lucille
I know it might seem weird that I used Blanche as one of my inspirations, but it’s my experience that even when people choose a name for family reasons, thinking it has little to do with their style, it actually still tells about their style. If Gwen really hated Blanche, she wouldn’t have used it, no matter how cool her great-great-aunt was; if she hated it and still wanted to honor her aunt, she likely would have found a different way to do so. All that to say, when I saw that Lucille is a style match for Blanche, I liked it right away for Gwen’s little girl. Evelyn nicknamed Evie and Lucille nicknamed Lucy are so pleasing to me as sister names, and Lucille is no. 264. There are loads of great saints named a variant of Lucy that can serve as patron, and the Lucy names can also be Marian, as they mean “light” and Our Lady of Light is one of Our Lady’s titles. Lucille Katherine and Katherine Lucille are amazing.

(4) Camille
Camille’s a style match for Noelle, and I just thought it was a really pretty name that fit Gwen’s popularity criteria (it’s no. 251). Cami and Millie are adorable nicknames that feel like Evie to me, and there are both male and female holies that can be patron.

(5) Caroline
Caroline is a Katherine match that seems exactly perfect to me. It’s got good popularity (no. 55), sweet nicknames from the familiar to the unexpected (Carrie, Callie, Carly, Caro, Clio), it goes really well with James and Evelyn in my opinion, AND it can honor the Charles on their list of family names! There are lots of patron saint options too. Another not listed there is Bl. Karl, Emperor of Austria, who I wrote about recently.

(6) Willa
This might strike Gwen as a really out-there suggestion, but I was trying to think of ways to make a nickname like Ryn feel more comfortable for her, and I thought of the name Wren, and thought how a W first name with Katherine as a middle could lead to the nickname Wren (W+the ending sound of Katherine). So then I tried to think of a W name that might work for them (you see how my mind works?? So crazy!) and thought of Willa for two reasons—first, because they have William in their list of family names, and second, because Evelyn and Willa are such a literary pair, which I love! (Evelyn Waugh and Willa Cather. And of course James can get right in there in a bunch of ways—James Joyce immediately came to mind because of their Irish heritage.) Then I thought I like Willa Katherine for them so much, whether or not they like the Wren idea. Willa’s so pretty! It’s no. 454, and there’s even a St. Willa of Nonnberg, as well as, of course, all the Sts. William.

(7) Elizabeth or Elisabeth
My last idea breaks Gwen’s popularity rule, as Elizabeth is no. 13, but it’s a match for James, Robert, and Katherine, and when I see a name that matches so many of those on the parents’ list, I feel like I have to include it! One way to get around that popularity is to use the Elisabeth spelling, which is no. 775, but really, I thought the million Elizabeth nicknames could really help. From the common and familiar Liz, Ellie, and Beth, to the lesser used Betsey, Bess, and Betty, to the surprising Tess, Libbett, and even Zelie (we’ve talked a bit here about how Zelie can be a nickname for Elizabeth, and honor St. Zelie at the same time), there are so many options to fit whatever kind of vibe they’re going for. (I personally don’t mind that Elizabeth/Elisabeth and Evelyn start with the same letter, though I would understand if Gwen and her hubs prefer not to do that.)

And those are all my ideas for this little girl! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of James and Evelyn/Evie?


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. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Spotlight on: Shepherd

Happy feast of St. Kateri! I did a spotlight on her name back when I first started the blog, and she’s the first entry in my Sibling Project. I’ve also mentioned the Auriesville Shrine a few times, which is where St. Isaac Jogues and companions were martyred, and where it is believed St. Kateri was born — the Shrine is close to where I live, and I grew up going there and have brought my boys many times. And also, today’s my brother’s birthday and the birthday of my best childhood friend! A great day!

Given all this, it’s funny that I should be doing a post today that doesn’t have anything to do with Kateri! But I promised a spotlight on the name Shepherd to Theresa ages ago, and I woke up this morning full of determination to finally get it done, so here we are. A spotlight on Shepherd on the feast of St. Kateri. 😀

I’ve been digging word names recently, and Shepherd is one of the best for Catholic namers! We can use it to refer, of course, to Jesus the Good Shepherd. Shepherd and its variant Shep(p)ard literally mean “shepherd, sheep herder,” and the Good Shepherd is one of my favorite portrayals of Jesus. Jesus Himself said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) and “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27) — such a strong and comforting reassurance! In addition, as far as a feast day goes, Good Shepherd Sunday is the fourth Sunday after Easter, and in “1963, Pope Paul VI designated Good Shepherd Sunday  as World Day of Prayer for Vocations as those called to the priesthood are shepherds of the faithful” (source). I love that! There’s also a pretty great list of patrons of shepherds, if you’d rather go that route to find a feast day.

In addition to being a word name, it’s also a surname, so it can fit in with other saintly surnames (incidentally, speaking of St. Kateri and St. Isaac, Jogues is on that list of saintly surnames!) — this family has three boys with names in this style, including Shepherd — I love them!

Shep is one of the best nicknames too! It’s good for a boy and a man, and it has that friendly vibe that I always like so much in nicknames. I could also see Sheppy, which is a-dorable, and I’m not opposed to Herd as a nickname either, if Shep(py) isn’t quite right — it reminds me of Hart, which I see from time to time and like quite a bit, and in fact the surname Herd appears to be a variant of Hart, which I don’t know quite what to do with but it’s too interesting to not include! (Note that the first link to Hart is for its use as a nickname for Gerhardt, which is a variant of Gerard, and in that case means “hardy,” while the latter link to Hart as a variant of Herd refers to its meaning as a male deer [stag]. Both of them cool meanings, but neither refer to sheep!).

What do you think of the name Shepherd? Would you consider it for a son, or have you? Do you know anyone named Shepherd? Does he go by a nickname? Happy feast day to all the little Kateris that are part of the Sancta Nomina community!


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. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).