Birth announcement: Zelie Gianna!

I posted a consultation for Rachel and her husband back in April, and Rachel’s let me know her little green bean has arrived — a little GIRL named … Zelie Gianna!

Rachel writes,

I wrote you a few months ago for a baby name consultation, on June 5th we welcomed our little girl, and we named her Zelie Gianna. Her brother, Albie is loving his new sister!

In the end, I felt like I had been praying for these 2 saintly mommas in heaven so much during my pregnancy (and continue to even more now!), when we found out the baby was a girl after she was born, it just seemed like we couldn’t name her anything else!

Zelie Gianna! What a great name!! And I love it with big brother Albert Francis (Albie) — what a great, saintly pair!

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Zelie!!

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Zelie Gianna

Baby name consultation: Short, meaningful, unique, pronounceable name needed for baby girl no. 3

Emily and her husband are expecting their third baby — their third girl! This little lady joins big sisters:

Eden Holly (born at Christmas)
April Grace (born in April)

What beautiful names, and what a fun style!

Emily writes,

My first daughter is Eden Holly (born at Christmas), second daughter is April Grace (born in month of April), and third daughter we had intended to name Quinn Verity. My husband and I were so certain on the name. However, we just shared it with our in-laws and they say it sounds like “Queen Vanity, or Vanity Queen”. Now this is stuck in my head, and we’re at a loss on what to name her with just over 5 weeks to go.

We like short and meaningful names, which are unique but still pronounceable (we live in Asia, so we want to limit the opportunities for mispronunciations or mispellings).”

I love Quinn Verity, and I share Emily’s disappointment that her in-laws hear “Queen Vanity”! I don’t think I would have noticed it if it hadn’t been pointed out to me, and even still I don’t think it’s a huge problem, especially since she’ll mostly just be known by Quinn, or Quinn LastName, or Quinn LastInitial. Even if I were to hear a mom call out “Quinn Verity” as her daughter’s full name, like at the playground, or hear her full name said as her name is announced for her high school diploma, I think my initial reaction would always be, “Wow, Quinn Verity is such a great combo.” But I totally get having something stuck in your head and not being able to ignore it!

Anyway! I approached this consultation in two different ways: First, to find alternate middle names to go with the first name Quinn, and second, to find alternate first names to go with the middle name Verity. Here are my alternate middle name ideas (these are all based on my research in the Baby Name Wizard — I looked up the names Emily and her hubs used for their older girls, as well as Quinn and Verity, as the BNW lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity; I also had some ideas of my own):

(1) Quinn Celeste or Quinn Caeli
I suspect that these middle names might not pass the “easily pronounceable” test in non-English- or non-Romance-language-speaking countries? But I kind of thought it might be cool to use the “queen” sound of Quinn to create a meaningful “queen” first+middle combo — it struck me as very Marian to do so! Celeste and Caeli both refer to heaven — Regina Caeli is a Latin title of Our Lady, meaning “Queen of Heaven,” and Caeli is said “CHAY-lee” in Church Latin, though you could say “KAY-lee” if you prefer. Celeste is a step away — though it means “heavenly,” I’ve not really seen it used for Our Lady. But “heavenly queen” certainly nods to her!

(2) Quinn Amata
This, too, is a Marian thought — another of her titles is Mater Amata (“Beloved Mother”), and Quinn Amata could nod to her in that way. Lovely!

(3) Quinn Juniper
Juniper is a style match for Verity, according to the BNW, and since Eden, April, and Holly have a nature feel, I thought Juniper fit right in.

(4) Quinn Edel
I should note that I found out after the fact that Quinn is actually for Ven. Edel Quinn, and so my first two middle name ideas, which mostly played on the “Queen” sound in order to make Marian combos, probably get a little too far from Ven. Edel connection (though I suppose they could think of them as “first name for Ven. Edel, middle name for Mother Mary”). I wondered if Quinn Edel might be a good solution?

As for new first name ideas to go with Verity as a middle name, I thought these might be good ideas:

(1) Wren Verity
I haven’t decided yet if I think Wren Verity is too close in sound to Quinn Verity — and thus doesn’t move it far enough away — but I love the idea of it for this family. It’s nature-y, like so many of the other names they like, and when I spotlighted Hope from Hope and Justin, I loved this beautiful explanation she had for her daughter Wren’s name: “Another thing that made this name special for me was this quote by St. Therese. ‘O Jesus, your little bird is happy to be weak and little. What would become of it if it were big? Never would it have the boldness to appear in your presence, to fall asleep in front of you.’ I had just discovered the Theresian book ‘I Believe in Love’, and was very moved by this quote and her message of littleness; with this in mind, she was named … Her birthday (October 3) is the old feast of St. Therese, and the eve of St. Francis, and I think the name Wren goes well with the spirit of both of these Saints.”

(2) Cara Verity or Kira Verity
I like the Irish feel of Quinn, so I wanted to find a name that might have that feel and be a meaningful choice as well. Though Cara’s an Italian name meaning “dear, beloved” it’s also used in Irish — the beautiful Irish phrase anam cara means “soul friend,” where cara means friend. Cara Verity could therefore be thought of as “true friend,” or “friend of truth,” or — using the Italian meaning, “beloved truth.” Lovely meanings!

Kira’s another one that I like for this family. The Irish variant is what I first thought of (Ciara, or Keira), but I thought Kira might be an easier spelling. The Irish Ciara means “black,” while the spelling Kira has been connected to the Greek for “Lord,” as in Kyrie eleison (“Lord have mercy”).

(3) Iris Verity
I like the nature-y feeling of Iris, as it’s a flower name, and it also means “rainbow,” which is pretty cool.

(4) Rowan Verity
Rowan is listed as a style match in the BNW for both Eden and Quinn, which I thought was pretty great! It’s a tree name and it has an Irish feel as well.

(5) Skye Verity
Skye was also listed as a style match for Eden and Quinn, and I thought they could think of “Skye Verity” as meaning “heavenly truth,” which is so pretty!

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Eden and April’s little sister?

The importance of names in this particular beatification case

Have any of you seen this article? On the road to sainthood: Family of 9 murdered for hiding Jews in Poland by Dominika Cicha, posted yesterday at Aleteia.

It was more horrifying than I anticipated: The Ulma family — the 44-year-old dad, his 32-year-old pregnant wife, and their seven children (ages 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1.5, and unborn) — were shot and killed for hiding eight Jews (father, mother, and four sons of the Szall family, and two daughters of the Goldman family), who were also killed. The Jews were murdered first, in front of the family; then the parents, in front of the children; then the children.

And some people don’t believe the devil exists. SMH.

This holy family consisted of:

Józef (dad)
Wiktoria (mom)
Stanisława “Stasia” (age 8)
Barbara “Basia” (age 6)
Władysław “Władzio” (age 5)
Franciszek “Franuś” (age 4)
Antoni “Antoś” (age 3)
Maria “Marysia” (age 1.5)
Unnamed baby, who was due not long after the killings, and was discovered partially born when a few men from the village secretly recovered the bodies for a proper burial

All I can think of when reading something like this is Jesus on the cross saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The particular detail of this story that caused me to want to post it here is this bit:

At the diocesan stage of the process a decision was made to add the Ulmas’ six children, because of their parents’ faith. There is dilemma concerning the child who died in mother’s womb. Provisions applying to canonizations and beatifications clearly stipulate that a candidate to be declared saint or blessed in the Catholic Church should be known by first and second name. The Vatican congregation will ultimately decide whether the youngest member of Józef and Wiktoria’s family will be considered a martyr, too.”

I did some research and couldn’t find that information anywhere — that a candidate needs to be known by first and and second name. Certainly the baby’s credentials are not based on disagreements about personhood, as the Church holds we are persons from the moment of conception. And of course not being beatified or canonized doesn’t mean the baby isn’t in heaven, just that the Church doesn’t have enough information to declare him or her to be so.

The fact that this comes down to his or her name is also really interesting from the perspective of choosing names for our babies before they’re born, and not just a boy name and a girl name, but the baby’s actual name, which would require finding out the sex during pregnancy. Are there some among us who might decide to find out our baby’s sex, in order to name him or her, so that if the worst happens our babies will be known by name and be able to be included among the list of Venerables/Blesseds/Saints? Given the wide range of personalities in the Church, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some who would do so!

I wonder, too, if “be known by first and second name” means more than just having a name, but also means that others must know it? That is, not just that there’s a name the parents have given or intend to give to the baby, but that it’s one that’s been shared with others, so much so that others would know and refer to the baby by that name?

I wonder, too, if the Church can name the baby. Though that right and privilege is given to parents, this is certainly an unusual situation that might require an unusual solution.

Also, what is this “second name” business? Perhaps a new requirement? I’m just thinking of when people didn’t even necessarily have surnames, but we certainly have saints from back then. (Not that the second name matters here — the baby’s second name IS known:  Ulma.)

I’m not being argumentative, I’m just interested. I trust the Church’s process, and I know there is so often more to a story than what we know.

In trying to find out more, I was googling variations on “can children and babies be canonized” and I was getting pages and pages of results having to do with Jacinta and Francisco — I couldn’t get past them! I did find a couple things that I thought were helpful and/or interesting, though:

Divinis Perfectionis Magister is the 1983 Apostolic Constitution by Pope John Paul II that outlines the canonization process (no mention of names though)

Child saints have much to teach the Church on suffering, sacrifice by Charles Collins at Crux 

5 Child Saints Who Totally Put All of Us Adults to Shame at ChurchPOP

It’s important to note that with the Ulma children, there isn’t any controversy about whether they were old enough to have led lives of “heroic virtue” (as is sometimes argued in regards to children), as they’re being considered martyrs (though even then, it’s an unusual case I think, because they’re being considered martyrs “because of their parents’ faith” rather than because of their own).

If any of you can point me to any sources that explain or demonstrate that candidates for the canonization process need to be known by first and second name, please do! And also, the idea of children being considered by virtue of their parents’ faith (I’ll be musing on that for a while — it certainly adds an extra something to parents’ responsibilities in regards to their children!).

 

Baby name consultation: Antique/exotic/saintly name for baby no. 6/boy no. 3

Amy and her husband Brandon are expecting their sixth baby! And how lucky is Amy — Brandon bought her this consultation for Mother’s Day!! 😍😍😍 Husbands, take note!!

This new baby is Amy and Brandon’s third boy! Brandon explained about their older children’s names:

Mason Douglas (“We like strong masculine names for our boys, and Mason fit the bill nicely. We don’t care for names that can be for boys or girls (Pat, Chris, etc), though I later had a co-worker with a daughter named Mason. We didn’t think it was too popular at the time, but I think it turned out to be very near the top of the list that year or shortly thereafter. Douglas is my middle name and my dad’s middle name and I’m also the oldest in my family.”)

Molly Marie (“So at this point I need to pause and explain that we found out ahead of time that Mason was a boy. At the time, we couldn’t agree on whether or not to find out the sex of the baby, so we ended up flipping a coin and agreeing to take turns. Amy won the first round, so we found out Mason was a boy at the 20-week ultrasound. For #2, it was my turn, so we waited until Molly was born to learn she was a girl. Not knowing what she was, we of course couldn’t choose a name for sure ahead of time, so we had a boy name (Isaac) and a girl name (Anna) picked out. Somewhere along the way very shortly before Molly’s birth we ended up at the hospital with pre-term labor, and one of the nurses had a daughter named Molly. We both fell in love with the name, and when Molly was born she got it. It fits her perfectly, we think. Since we used my middle name for our first boy, it only made sense to use Amy’s middle name, Marie, for our first girl.”)

Kateri Elizabeth (“Amy always wanted a daughter named Kateri. At first I thought it was a little “out there”, but we knew as soon as we found out we were having another girl (at the 20-week ultrasound again this time) that she would be our Kateri. Blessed (at the time) Kateri was Amy’s confirmation saint, and she’s always had a particular attachment to her. Elizabeth is my mom’s middle name, so we honored her by sharing it with Kateri.”)

Anthony Mark Benedict (“By the time Anthony was born, we’d formed a close friendship with the pastor at our church, Fr. Tony. We honored him by naming Anthony after him. Mark is Amy’s dad’s middle name, and Benedict was the Pope at the time.”)

Gianna Nicole Francesca (“We had a hard time getting pregnant with Anthony, and we had gone to a display of relics of St. Gianna and prayed for her intercession numerous times before we got pregnant with Anthony. We knew when we found out Gianna was a girl (odd number, so at the 20-week ultrasound again) that we needed to honor St. Gianna for her help in having our second son. At this point we had run out of eligible related godparents, so Gianna’s godparents are not family (#1-4 have aunts and uncles for godparents). Amy has a younger sister named Nicole who was too young to be a godmother when Gianna was born, so instead of choosing her as a godparent we gave Gianna her name as one of her middle names. We liked the two-middle-name arrangement with Anthony, and we had a new Pope, so Gianna also got Francesca as a second middle name.”)

I love how intentional and thoughtful each of the names is! I love each combo — both the names and the reasons (and I love Molly Marie’s Marian-ness, what a blessed little lady!).

Brandon continued,

Amy was so so so certain for the first part of this pregnancy that she was having a girl. She was so certain about it that I had to know if she was right, so I wanted to find out at the ultrasound what we were having. She was shocked to find out it is a boy.

Somewhere between babies #1 and #2 we rediscovered our Catholic faith and began learning and re-learning and growing in our love and knowledge of the Church and her wisdom. We didn’t pick Mason for any saint (the closest we know of in name is Blessed John Mason), but all the others have particular saints attached to them as well as family meaning.

Amy is currently hooked on the name Isaac for this baby, but I’ve cooled off on it a bit. We had Isaac picked out for baby #2 eight years ago, so I’m just not as attached now. We also agree on Titus, Oliver, Dominic, and Tobias for first names. St. Joseph as the patron saint of families has always been a particular love of ours; we have leaned on him many times for assistance through difficult situations. We’d like to include Joseph in this child’s middle name. However, my father passed away recently after a 2-year struggle with ALS, so we are considering his name, James, as a middle name also. My grandfather’s name was Thaddeus, which is also in the running for a first or middle name. Also in the running for middle names are Paul (Amy’s uncle) and Fulton. Other names we like for first or middle names, but don’t necessarily have full first-name agreement on are Ezekiel (Zeke is so cute!), Zechariah (also would be Zeke), Felix, Finian, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Nicholas, and Severin.

We’re open to suggestions, combinations, ideas, and we (obviously) like the “Catholicky-Catholic” (as I think you put it) names.”

And Amy also shared,

A friend told me about your blog, and I spent HOURS reading it, looking for names. I even bought the book you use, and discovered none of our names match any list together at all. I would say after reading that, I’m a fan of the “antique charm” category, and we also like the saint realm, obviously. I really like some Old Testament names, but prefer ones that are also now saints. Brandon made an excel spreadsheet of the names we like, so he’s correct in everything he sent. I think the only thing he didn’t mention was the definitely no category. We don’t want to use any of our siblings names as first names, so for that reason Michael, Stephen, Timothy, and Joseph can’t be first. They’re fine for middle names, though Joseph is the only one of them that really is on the table. We’ve obviously done the 2 middle name thing twice now, but I’m not set on doing it again. It will just depend on the name combination. We also don’t have any nicknames in our bunch, but we aren’t against that, it just hasn’t happened.”

I just love hearing from both Amy and Brandon — I don’t usually get to hear from both parents! I love how much they’ve talked about all this, and seem to be on the same page in terms of which names are contenders.

I loved reading about how they rediscovered their faith after Mason was born — I often see families with less faithy-feeling names in the beginning, and they get more so as they have more kids, and I think it’s really cool to see a couple’s faith journey reflected in their kids’ names. And I love that they found Bl. John Mason! I’d never heard of him, but he’s totally my go-to now for any family that has a Mason! (Which is one of my very favorite of the occupational-surname names, love it!)

So after hearing from Amy that they already went through the Baby Name Wizard I was a little worried about what I could come up with that they don’t already have on their list or have decided they don’t like! I did take a look through the Antique Charm category, and Amy’s right, that seems right up their alley! The Saints category also has some great names (I love that the focus there is on more unusual names, rather than the ones everyone knows), and I thought another category fit pretty well for them too: Exotic Traditionals. I also looked up each name’s entry and looked at names listed there, and found some decent overlap with some of the names on their “definitely like” list (Isaac, Titus, Oliver, Dominic, Tobias) as well as their so-so list (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo, Matthias, Maximilian, Augustine, Emmett, Severin, Thaddeus). So I think I have some decent ideas!

Just a couple thoughts about some of the names they’re currently considering:

Isaac: love it! It’s on my own list, such a great name. Amy and Brandon also like the Z names (Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke) and Isaac fits right with that and can take the nickname Zac.
Titus: I know a little Titus (or not so little—I think he’s 14 now) and I always wonder why I don’t hear his name more!
Oliver: Such a great name and a great saint, and I really like the combo Oliver Thaddeus.
Dominic: Another of my faves!
Tobias: Another name I wish would see more play! I’m a big fan of pan-European names, and Tobias is definitely one.
Ezekiel, Zechariah, Zeke: Zeke is super cute and I’ve also considered it for Zechariah. In case it’s helpful to Amy and Brandon in making their decision, I can see Zechariah fitting in pretty well with a Catholicky Catholic theme, but Ezekiel feels a step away—do you agree?
Matthias: I love this name too, and I think it could fit in great with their family.
Maximilian: Definitely a Catholicky Catholic name!
Augustine: Ditto!
Emmett: This one surprised me! All the others have such saintly connections, and Emmett’s is a bit more difficult to see. It originated as a medieval diminutive of Emma, so any of the Sts. Emma can be patron, but I’m not sure a boy would love that? I do love the name Emmett though, so I’m not trying to sway them from it, and it fits the feel of Mason really well. I like the idea of pairing a name that’s less saintly in feel with a super saintly middle—Emmett Thaddeus, Emmett Joseph, and Emmett James are pretty great I think.
Severin: Wow! I really like the idea of the nickname Sev.
Thaddeus: I love it! I’m also loving that it was Brandon’s grandpa’s name, and if it was paired with Joseph and James, it would be all the dads together! Thaddeus Joseph James is pretty great!
Fulton: I actually love Fulton for them as a first name! I wonder if there’s any chance they’d consider it? Fulton James, Fulton Joseph, Fulton Joseph James are all great!
Felix, Finnian, Nicholas, Leo: All great, all saintly. I’ve been seeing Fox suggested as a nickname for Felix recently, which is cute. Finn is awesome. Nicholas and Leo are both Pope Saint the Greats, which is fun.

Okay! So Amy and Brandon have a fantastic list of names, and if they end up using any of them, I won’t be disappointed! (Not that it matters if I’m disappointed or not!) But I had a few other ideas that might spark some conversation and maybe even hit the right note:

(1) Miles
One of the things I like to do when I see different styles of name in a family is come up with ideas that might help bridge them. Mason is a little bit of an outlier (I LOVED finding out about Bl. John Mason!), so I liked the idea of finding names that might have the same feel and be really saintly too—I probably had that more in mind than any other. Amy said she spent a while looking through the blog, so she probably saw that I often push Miles on parents! I discovered that it has traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which literally means “servant of the Virgin Mary.” Marian names are my favorite, and finding ones that work for boys are thrilling! Miles and Mason (and Emmett and Fulton) definitely have the same feeling to me; its variant Milo (which has also been used in Ireland for Maolmhuire) is a style match for Felix and Leo on their list; and Miles can also connect to the Irishness of Molly and Finnian. I like Miles Joseph, Miles Joseph James, Miles Paul, and Miles Fulton.

(2) Garrett
Garrett is also a style match for Mason, and a reader shared that she knows a family who named a son Garrett in order to honor St. Margaret! Wow! Even better for a boy though, is that Garrett is derived from either Gerald or Gerard—St. Gerard Majella is a great patron! There are a bunch of Sts. Gerald too. Garrett Paul has a nice ring … Garrett James …

(3) Becket
Since we’re talking about surnamey-type names, I wonder what they’d think of Becket? St. Thomas Becket would be patron, and it’s one of those saintly surnames that’s getting good use in Catholic families currently (like Fulton). Becket Joseph, Becket James, and Becket Joseph James are all great.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is also a saintly surname that’s had a lot of first-name use! It’s also heavy on that Z sound they like, and might even provide a way for them to get to Zeke in a different way … something like Xavier Michael, where there’s a Z sound in the first name and a K sound in the middle. (I get a little nutty with creative nicknames! 😂)

(5) Owen
Owen’s a style match for Mason, which is amazing, and it’s also the last name of one of my very favorite saint: St. Nicholas Owen! He built hidey holes to protect priests for persecution and death in England, and was tortured for his silence and he died from his wounds. Such a brave man! Amy and Brandon already have Nicholas on their list—a Nicholas Owen combo would be cool too! I wasn’t loving Thaddeus as a middle name for the first four names I suggested, but I kind of love Owen Thaddeus! Owen James is nice too.

(6) Elias
Elijah was a style match for a bunch of names they like—Titus (the Titus I know has a brother Elijah!), Ezekiel, Tobias—but when I saw its variant Elias listed as a match for Matthias, I thought it seemed a better fit for this family. It’s also a match for Dominic, and funny enough Elliot, which I always think of as feeling similar to Emmett, is a medieval diminutive of Elias. I don’t think I realized how Catholicky Catholic it is, though, until I read an article Catholic writer Simcha Fisher did a year ago on Catholic baby names (she interviewed me for it!) in which her subhead read: “Fulton and Vianney, Felicity and Avila, Giorgio and Elias are all showing up in 21st century baptismal books.” What a great group of names, and so cool to see Elias in there! I like Elias Paul.

(7) Gabriel
Gabriel’s got that same biblical feel as Isaac, Tobias, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Matthias, and Thaddeus, while being a bit lighter; it’s also a style match for Dominic. I think Gabe is one of the best nicknames for a boy—friendly and masculine. Gabriel Joseph is quite handsome.

(8) Joachim
I’m including Joachim because Amy and Brandon have some heavy hitters on their list and they like Catholicky Catholic names. Even still, Joachim is a rare bird! He could go by Joe/Joey, to lighten it up, or Jake, which is my favorite idea for it. It’s an Exotic Traditional, like Ezekiel, Felix, Matthias, Maximilian, Severin, Thaddeus, Titus, and Zechariah. Joachim James has a nice ring, as does Joachim Paul.

(9) Cassian or Cashel
Speaking of Exotic Traditionals, and looping back around to the beginning of the list and names that are similar to Mason, I saw Cassian on the Exotic Traditionals list and thought it might be really cool for this little guy. I’ve seen it used in Catholic families, for St. John Cassian, and it’s said CASH-en—which allows for the awesome nickname Cash! Cash made me think of another Cash- names I’ve suggested to other families: Cashel, like the Rock of Cashel in Ireland, where it’s said St. Patrick converted the King of Munster. Cashel taps into the Irishness of Molly and Finnian, and I think it would come across as sort of surnamey to people, which fits with Mason’s style. I like Cassian James, Cassian Paul, and Cashel James.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Mason, Molly, Kateri, Anthony, and Gianna’s little brother?

Birth announcement: Abraham James!

I’m working on today’s consultation post — I should have it up later this morning — but first, I’m so excited to share that Grace at Camp Patton has had her baby!! A handsome little BOY who has been given the fantastic name … Abraham James!

As with Phoebe and with Bosco, I’ve again been surprised with the new Patton baby’s name — and I love being surprised!! Abraham has that nice long length that Sebastian and Theodore have, and his nickname Abe is SO DARLING! Abe Patton. That is such a fun and friendly and perfect name for a little guy. (I’m also kind of tickled that I was *sort of* swirling in the right spot with my suggestions of Isaac and Nathaniel. 😊)

Congratulations to Grace and Simon and big sibs Julia, Bash, Theo, Phoebe, and Bosco, and happy birthday Baby Abe!! Be sure to check out his sweet face on Grace’s blog or her Instagram!

Birth announcement: Anessa Corinne!

You may remember that back in February I posted a mini consultation for a couple who wondered if the name Anessa was okay to use — it was for Josh and Mari, who I’d had the privilege of doing a regular consultation the month before, as well as a private consultation for their previous baby (birth announcement here). I’m delighted to announce that they’ve let me know their little girl has arrived, and has been given the gorgeous name … Anessa Corinne!

Josh writes,

Kate, just wanted to let you know that we welcomed Anessa Corinne yesterday — 7 lbs 14 oz and mom and baby are doing great! Thanks for your help with the name consultation!

Anessa Corinne is such an amazing combo! Anessa is a variant of Agnes, and Corinne can have that beautiful connection to cor (Latin for “heart”) that we’ve talked about before (like Cora). It’s also in keeping with the A.C. theme they’ve established for their girls!

Anessa joins her amazingly named big sibs:

Ariana Camille
Audrey Caroline
Caleb Daniel (Daniel is Josh’s middle name)
Amelia Clare (“Millie”)
Anne-Catherine Gianna (“Gianna” or “Gigi”)
Charles Michael (“Charlie”)

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Anessa!!

image1 (20)

Anessa Corinne

Spotlight on: Niamh and Naomh

One of you wonderful readers requested a spotlight on Niamh — what a fun name to research! You all know how I feel about Irish names after all. 😉😍🍀 Specifically, this mom wants to know:

What I’m curious about is whether you can think of any Catholic roots or meanings to the name Niamh. As we are pretty conservative Catholics, we like our children to have saints’ names and I was somewhat surprised to find that there didn’t seem to be a Saint Niamh — with Ireland’s Catholic history, I’d just assumed there would be.”

Right? “[W]ith Ireland’s Catholic history, I’d just assumed there would be” — it’s so true, and I love love love that Ireland has that history and reputation.

So first, let’s discuss pronunciation: The “mh” in Gaelic is often (always?) a V sound, so Niamh can be said NEE-iv or NEEV (among native Irish this pronunciation will vary based on what part of Ireland they’re from; for us, we can choose which pronunciation we prefer).

Second, though I also couldn’t find any Saints or otherwise holy Niamhs, I think a faith connection can be made to its meaning, which Baby Names of Ireland says means, “radiance, lustre, brightness.” I don’t know about you, but that immediately gives me a mental image of the description of the Transfigured Jesus:

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” (Mt 17:1-2)

It makes sense that the Transfiguration is one of the Luminous Mysteries, because the Luminous Mysteries as a whole also go along with the “radiance, lustre, brightness” meaning of Niamh (other Luminous Mystery names here), and really, the meaning of Niamh makes me think of holiness in general, both as a concept and as an artistic presentation.

Third, speaking of holiness, I wonder if this mom might be interested in a tweak in spelling? The Irish name Naomh is rarer than Niamh, I believe, but said the same (either NEE-iv or NEEV), and there also seems to be the additional possibility of NAYV or NAY-uv (you can hear several examples here). Naomh actually means “holy” or “saint,” so St. Patrick in Irish is Naomh Padraig, the Holy Spirit is Spiorad Naomh, etc. As I’ve written about before, naming a little girl Naomh would then be similar to other not-unheard of names like Toussaint (“all saints”), Sinclair (St. Clair), and Santino (“little saint”; a famous fictional Santino went by Sonny 😉), and can nod to any Saint or holy person the parents so wish, including Our Lady — in fact, in Don Quixote, Sancho Panza (whose first name also means “holy” or “saint”) has a daughter whose name is variously given as María Sancha, Marisancha, Marica, María, Sancha and Sanchica — all clearly referring to Our Lady, as Maria Sancha means “holy Mary.”

Do any of you know any other holy connections to the name Niamh? If you like Niamh, what do you think of Naomh? Do you know anyone with these names? What do they think of them, and do they have any other insights that would be helpful?