Names of some of Bl. Solanus’ confreres

I posted recently about the names of Bl. Solanus’ siblings, as included in the biography of him I was reading; today I want to share some of the names of his fellow priests and brothers. We don’t hear about religious name changes for men as much as we do for women, so I’m always excited to discover priests and brothers who have taken (or been given) new names! These are some that were included in Bl. Solanus’ life story (last names included if they were in the book):

Fr. Cajetan (this is up there with Joachim as one of my favorite unusual Catholic names)
Fr. Benno Aichinger (I believe this is related to Bernard; there are a couple saints by this name)
Fr. Innocent Ferstler (I think this is such a sweet name for a man; also a papal name)
Fr. Marion Roessler (I know this is not that unusual for men — it’s John Wayne’s given name)
Bishop Frederick Xavier Katz (an F.X. that isn’t what I’d assume!)
Fr. Bonaventure Frey (one of Bl. Solanus’ brothers had Bonaventure as a middle name)
Fr. Damasus Wickland (Damasus is related to Damian, and was the name of a pope!)

I don’t know for sure if they were all religious names — it’s possible some of them were given names — but their weightiness made them seem more likely to be religious names.

I’m also fascinated by Bishop Frederick Xavier Katz! I’ve long held the belief that separating Francis and Xavier is a more recent innovation, simply based on what I’ve seen of older records and newer naming conventions. My own grandfather’s name was David Xavier, and since his dad was Francis and his brother was Francis, I’d come up with the (totally unsubstantiated) theory that his dad must have been Francis Xavier, and had given his first name to his son Francis, and his middle name to his son David. (We have no records to confirm this — my great-grandfather and great-uncle don’t have their middle names listed in the census records I’ve seen). Bl. Solanus’ dad did something similar: his name was Bernard James, and he named one son James and another Bernard (Fr. Solanus).

And absolutely I’d be 100% certain that anyone with the initials F.X. was Francis Xavier! But then, Bishop Frederick Xavier Katz! Wow! Do any of you have any insights about Xavier being paired with names other than Francis?


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!

a Becket, a Kempis, a Cruce

St. Thomas a Becket, Thomas a Kempis (author of The Imitation of Christ), and St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein) all have that “a” in common — have any of you wondered what it means? I admit I’d only had a vague, noncommittal curiosity until today, when I decided to try to find out.

Basically, it means “of” or “from.” Thomas à Kempis , who is also known in German as Thomas von Kempen and in Dutch as Thomas van Kempen — “von” and “van” meaning “from” in their respective languages — is so called because Kempen was his home town. St. “Teresia Benedicta a Cruce” is simply “Teresa Benedict of the Cross” (isn’t Teresia a pretty variant? Behind the Name says T(h)eresia is a German, Dutch, and Swedish variant, and that Tessan is a Swedish diminutive and Trees a Dutch diminutive).

I’m sure the “a” in “a Becket” means the same thing, though the reason is less clear. Check out this rabbit hole I went down:

  • “Thomas Becket was the son of Norman settlers who lived in the city of London. His father was a merchant who traveled among the circles of French-speaking Norman immigrants. The name ‘Becket’ is likely a nickname, possibly meaning beak or nose, which was given to his father.” (source)
  • “Deeply influenced in childhood by a devout mother who died when he was 21, Thomas entered adult life as a city clerk and accountant in the service of the sheriffs. After three years he was introduced by his father to Archbishop Theobald, a former abbot of Bec, of whose household he became a member.” (source)
  • “Bec Abbey, formally the Abbey of Our Lady of Bec (French: Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec), is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure département, in the Bec valley midway between the cities of Rouen and Bernay. It is located in Le Bec Hellouin, Normandy, France, and was the most influential abbey of the 12th-century Anglo-Norman kingdom.” (source)
  • “Like all abbeys, Bec maintained annals of the house but uniquely its first abbots also received individual biographies, brought together by the monk of Bec, Milo Crispin.” (ibid.)
  • “‘Bec’ is the name of the stream running through the abbey, Old Norse bekkr, in English place or river names Beck.” (ibid.)
  • “Becket” is from “Beckett,” which is from “an English surname that could be derived from various sources, including from Middle English beke meaning ‘beak’ or bekke meaning ‘stream, brook'” (source)

Becket could refer to a nickname of St. Thomas’ father because of his nose! Or it could be a reference to Bec Abbey, which was originally named Abbey of Our Lady of Bec! A famous monk of Bec (a Beccan  monk? A Becket monk?) was named Milo! Which has separate Marian connections! So many fun discoveries! (So many exclamation marks!)

Back to the “a” — tell me what you know! I see that “à” is French — are all the a’s really à’s? So all these have a French origin? But German seems a big factor here too — but then German has “von”? Is it Latin, maybe? And is there some more nuanced meaning I’m missing, since a Kempis means “from a certain place,” a Becket might mean the same or “son of the father with the nickname,” and a Cruce means “of” in the sense of possession? I’d love to spend more time researching but I have a deadline I should be working on!

I’m totally loving the “a” construction — I could see “a Cruce” being an amazing name in honor of both St. Edith and Jesus. And of course Katheryn has set an amazing example with giving her son the amazing first name “à Kempis.” I mean. So brilliant. And such a really cool addition to Kolbe, Avila, Siena, and other saintly surnames/place names.

What other saints have an “a” construction in their names? I guess we could do this with any “of” saint, right? St. Catherine a Siena? St. Teresa a Avila? St. Bernard a Clairvaux? Or am I misunderstanding how this works?

I look forward to reading your comments! Happy Thursday!


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!

Birth announcement: Michael Augustine!

I did a private consultation for Abby and her husband earlier in the spring, and Abby’s let me know their little guy has arrived and been given the amazing name … Michael Augustine!

Abby writes,

We welcomed Michael Augustine on 5/28. Your consultation gave us the push we needed to go ahead and give him the name we felt most connected to even if Michael is more common than we wanted. We were seeing St. Michael everywhere and hearing Augustine quotes in homilies and it just felt like the Lord was saying this is his name. We loved your idea of using Milo as a nickname, since my husband wasn’t sold on it as a first name it was nice to have the option of Milo, Michael, or Mikey. However, so far he really seems to be a Michael, that’s what everyone has been calling him and it really does suit him. His 2 year old brother is calling him Mikey occasionally and we are ok with that, and maybe as he grows a nickname will stick. Because our kids wouldn’t be able to visit us in the hospital due to Covid-19 restrictions we told them his name ahead of time which we’ve never done before and they were so excited. It really was special for them to feel like they played a part in naming their baby brother. We are just hoping we haven’t sent a precedent that they get a vote if we are blessed with more children! Thank you for you help.”

I’m thrilled that Abby and her hubby ended up choosing the name they really wanted, despite its popularity! And for any of you in a similar situation, I always love the idea of an unexpected nickname for a more common name if popularity issues are a problem (and vice versa: a more familiar nickname for a more uncommon name can be easier on an everyday basis). I also love hearing that this little guy has been showing himself to be a Michael, sometimes we can plan for nicknames and sometimes we can’t!

It was also so interesting to read about how they shared the baby’s names with their older kids before he was born because of the Covid-19 restrictions, and how they’re hoping they haven’t set a precedent that will cause issues in the future! I like their approach this time.

Congratulations to Abby and her husband and big sibs Henry James, Lillian Teresa, and Noah Benjamin, and happy birthday Baby Michael!!

Michael Augustine with his big brother ❤️


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!

The pandemic can’t keep me from St. Anne!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that my family and I are away for the week. The last week away that we did was three years ago, when we shared a beach house with my parents and siblings and their kids (there were twenty two of us) — Luke wasn’t even on the way yet, and my next boy up was three, and there were lots of family members to help out. Being away for a week on our own hasn’t been attempted at all since my nearly-sixteen-year-old was the same age Luke is now (22 months) and we cut our week short because he wasn’t sleeping and then threw up and I was eight months pregnant with our second and DONE WITH VACATIONS AND TRIPS AWAY.

Since then, other than going away with my extended family for a week (which we’ve only done twice), we haven’t gone away for longer than four days, and even then it was only when most of the kids were old enough to sleep well and enjoy themselves.

I was laughing remembering all this because Luke is at that same age when my oldest caused us to cut our vacation short and oh boy, I am so totally remembering why I insisted we go home early and why our vacations since then have been nearly nonexistent. What a terror! (The cutest ever and we all love him more than life itself but still: a terror.)

I was also laughing that my plans for this year’s St. Anne’s pilgrimage had to be adjusted because of Luke. That kid.

If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you’ll know that, not long after I started the blog, I was wondering about a patron saint for it and I felt like St. Anne was waving from heaven asking for the job (or, more likely, letting me know she’d already taken it). She’s been our patroness since almost the very beginning, and I’ve often felt her care for all of us as we enjoy naming our own babies or looking forward to when we can, and helping to name those of others, poking around the nooks and crannies of our faith for the perfect monikers that will help both the babies and their parents keep their eyes on heaven.

I’ve been so grateful to St. Anne that as my first blogiversary approached (June 27, 2015) and I was trying to figure out how to properly celebrate it, the idea of thanking St. Anne for her intercession for our little community and all the blessings that I personally have received through Sancta Nomina by taking a pilgrimage with my family to one of her shrines seemed the perfect idea — difficult enough for it to feel like a real gift of thanks, and so appropriate for a Catholic blogger.

Screenshot-07.02.2020
Screenshot of the post about my family’s very first St. Anne pilgrimage. Hilarious to read about how hard traveling was for us back then — and how hard it currently is again!

It was such a success (despite all odds), that we made it an annual tradition — an annual blogiversary pilgrimage to a St. Anne shrine to offer thanks and to pray for you all. That first year we went to the shrine in Isle La Motte, VT; the second year we went to Sturbridge, MA; the third year to Scranton, PA; the fourth to Waterbury, CT; and the FIFTH — last year — was appropriately celebrated in a big way: in Ireland!

I admit my impending sixth blogiversary — last Saturday, June 27, 2020 — was not on my mind at all this past spring because of the all the pandemic stuff, nor was a St. Anne pilgrimage. But when we were planning this week away to my parents’ lake cabin, and I realized that my blogiversary was the day before we left, I thought I’d look to see if there might be a St. Anne church close by-ish that maybe we could drive to one day while we’re here. Because of social distancing and reduced space in our local churches, I wasn’t expecting there to be a Mass we could attend or anything like that — my hopes were very modest, I just wanted to visit a St. Anne church, even just the outside. Simply an effort to thank her.

Are you at all surprised that I discovered a St. Ann (that spelling) church less than an hour from our lake? And that it had a 6pm Mass on Wednesday evenings? And that, while I was sure the 6pm Mass wasn’t currently happening, since churches have only just barely begun opening in my diocese for Sunday Masses, when I inquired I discovered that, indeed, the Wednesday evening Masses have resumed? Of course you’re not surprised, and I wasn’t either. That St. Ann(e).

My plan was for us all to go — part of the gift and the gratitude, in my mind, is to offer something back, a suffering, to be used as God sees fit, through the hands of His grandmother. As much as I’d like it to be different, traveling to go to Mass with the kids qualifies as the kind of suffering I have in mind. (You can read more about my tips and tricks for taking pilgrimages with little ones in this piece I wrote for CatholicMom last year (they just redesigned the site and it’s hard to find the archived articles, so please excuse the state of this link).)

But I ended up having to drive home with Luke that morning to bring him to a doctor’s appointment, and he screamed in the car the whole way back (an hour), and I didn’t feel like I could subject him or the rest of us to a repeat of that again that evening. So my oldest and I went instead and it turned out to be perfect, exactly what I’d hoped for.

This church of St. Ann is in a town called Fort Ann, named after Queen Anne of England (the Wiki entry notes that it’s unknown why the original spelling of Fort Anne was later changed to Fort Ann). It was so cool to see “Ann” used in the names of various businesses and on street signs — and not just “Fort Ann” but “St. Ann” too!

The church itself is a sweet, small country church. It wasn’t overflowing with St. Ann(e) statues and windows, as so many of the other shrines I’ve visited, but what it had was beautiful.

 

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Beautiful entrance
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St. Anne with Our Lady; St. Joseph; a bigger statue of Our Lady. If there weren’t roped-off sections, I would have tried to light a candle for my intentions
stanne1-07.03.2020
I know for sure the picture on the right is St. Anne with Mary — does anyone know the one on the left? It looks like it could be an older lady — is that St. Anne?
stanne2-07.03.2020
This parish has a great devotion to the Divine Mercy — you can see the image here on the right of the altar, and on the front door in the picture above, and they said the Divine Mercy chaplet after Mass. I love the stained glass windows of Our Lady on the left and St. Ann on the right. Also, the quote above Jesus from the Magnificat: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 💙

The Mass was beautiful as well — Father started with the Angelus, then said Mass, then led us in the chaplet of Divine Mercy. My son and I said the rosary together on the way home. Perfect.

There were eleven people there besides us, which nearly brought the church to full capacity. It was lovely and peaceful, and I offered the pilgrimage in thanksgiving for this wonderful community and for all the blessings that have come through Sancta Nomina, including the ministry of naming and my book and the unending intercession of St. Anne for all of us. I also offered it for:

  • All of you and your intentions; for your children, both living and deceased; for those of you who long to be parents but aren’t yet; for those of you who have children but long for more; for those of you who have children and are struggling to stay afloat
  • For the intentions our Holy Father asked us to pray for earlier in the spring: the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted by it, and eternal salvation for those the Lord has called to Himself
  • For our country and our church

In addition to St. Anne, I want to thank you all for a wonderful six years! It’s been such an unexpected and wonderful gift! Thank you for teaching me more about the names of our faith and sharing your families with me. ❤️❤️❤️


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!

Spotlight on: Quinn

Happy Tuesday everybody! I’ve done a bunch of private consultations recently (which is totally fine and wonderful! There’s absolutely no requirement or pressure to have your consultation posted here for reader feedback!), so I don’t know when my next Monday consultation post will be — I just wanted to let you know, because I can see from my traffic stats (generally, and specifically yesterday) that a lot of people pop in on Mondays to see them!

I’ve been wanting to do a spotlight on Quinn for a while, ever since I posted this baby name consultation back in January, where I stated confidently: “Quinn: not in top 1000 for girls; no. 384 for boys” and reader VEL gently pointed out in the comments: “I’m pretty sure Quinn ranked #84 for girls for 2018:)”. She was right, of course — I have no idea how I got that wrong, since I looked up Quinn for both girls and boys in the SSA data — could I have spelled it wrong? Who knows, but the point remains that I was 100% completely wrong and that Quinn is currently a top 100 name for girls, and it’s got a great faith connection that lots of parents of have been loving: Ven. Edel Quinn.

I’ve written about the Irish Ven. Edel before, including my encounter with an actual real-life Edel in Ireland, in several baby name consultations (including the one mentioned above), and these Sancta Nomina babies who were named after her: Kyteria Quinn and Harper Edel. She’s pretty amazing! And totally my go-to for a holy patron for a Quinn, girl or boy. I don’t know of any other Ven./Bl./St. with the name Quinn, but I’ve also seen Quinn suggested as a nickname for Aquinas for a boy, which is pretty awesome, and there’s also the girl name Aquinnah (like one of Michael J. Fox’s daughters), which can take Quinn as a nickname and St. Thomas Aquinas as a patron. The spelling Quin might feel more natural as a nickname for Aquinas and Quintus, and doing so moves it a bit away from the Irish surname feel, which some parents might prefer.

Here on the blog, I’ve seen Quinn suggested for a fifth baby because of its similarity in sound to “quint,” as a namesake for St. Quentin, and in honor of Our Lady because of its similarity in sound to “queen.” I totally think they work! (Though Quinn has no etymological connection to any of these, being instead from the anglicization of an Irish surname meaning “descendant of Conn,” where Conn means “head” or “chief.” So then maybe using it to mean “queen” is pretty accurate after all!)

As a given name, I first heard it on a little boy years ago, before I was married, and I thought it was so cool. These days, I mostly hear it on girls (even though I claimed in that consultation I mentioned above that it wasn’t nearly as popular for girls as for boys, I really just don’t know where my head was). We have a little friend who’s just a couple months older than Luke named Quinn, and her family calls her Quinnie and so does my 6yo, and it’s the cutest thing ever. I will also say that with at least one of the little Quinns I know, I spent months thinking her name was Gwen before realizing it’s actually Quinn (and I try to be really careful about names!). But I don’t think that’s a big deal at all — both Quinn and Gwen are beautiful!

What do you all think of Quinn? Do you like it better for a boy or a girl? Would you ever consider the name Quinn for your son or daughter, or have you? If not as a given name, maybe Quinn or Quin as a nickname for something else? Do you know any Quinns? Do they like their name?


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!

 

Names to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is celebrated every year on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi, nineteen days after Pentecost. As a result, its date changes every year. It doesn’t feel like a coincidence to me that it falls on the same day as Juneteenth this year, of all years. What a lovely and specific reminder of Jesus’ love when so many are hurting, especially since, as CatholicSaints.info noted, “Love, consecration, and reparation are the characteristic acts of this devotion” to the Sacred Heart. I also read this article at the National Catholic Register today: Did You Know the Sacred Heart Devotion Was Established As a Plague Raged? As Covid-19 numbers are going up again for many parts of the country, knowing of the specific connection of the devotion to the Sacred Heart to the end of the bubonic plague in the city of Marseille is especially comforting:

The story of a Visitation sister, Venerable Anne-Madeleine Remuzat, and her continuation of work begun in the previous century to promote devotion and reparation to the Sacred Heart, together with Bishop Henri de Belsunce’s zealous care for the Catholics of Marseille during a terrible contagion, is inspiring as Catholics worldwide now implore God to end the current pandemic.”

Yesterday, Maria from Molin & Co. asked in her Instagram stories for ideas of boy names to honor the Sacred Heart, and I was sitting in the car at the orthodontist waiting for my boys to be done with their appointments, so I was able to jump right on that! I gave her some ideas I thought of right away, but then researched a bit more later and came up with some additional ideas. They break down into four categories (all name meanings come from Behind the Name):

Names that refer to “heart”

Girl
Cora: Cor is “heart” in Latin; this name is often given in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the same reason

Cordula: While Cora doesn’t technically (etymologically) come from the Latin cor, Behind the Name says that Cordula actually does!

Ruby: For the redness of the Sacred Heart; see my spotlight on Ruby

Boy
Caleb: One theory (not the dominant one, unfortunately, but still possible) is that Caleb may come from the Hebrew for “whole, all of” plus “heart”

Hugh, Hugo: They mean “heart, mind, spirit” (because of the “spirit” meaning, I included them in a listing of names for the Holy Spirit)

Thaddeus: One theory is that it means “heart”

Names that mean “holy”

Girl
Ariadne: Means “most holy” in Greek

Glenys: From the Welsh for “pure, clean, holy”

Naomh: Means “holy, saint” in Irish; I spotlighted it here

Sancha/Sence/Sens: These names all mean “holy”

Boy
Jerome: This literally means “holy name” (maybe I should have named the blog “Jeromes”? 😂)

Sancho/Santius/Sanz: See Sancha et al. above; this is the masculine variant (Sancho Panza from Don Quixote is a famous literary bearer of the name, and his daughter was variously referred to as María Sancha, Marisancha, Marica, María, Sancha and Sanchica — all references to Holy Mary)

Names for Jesus

Girl
Christina, Christine, Christiane, Christa, etc. (and their K- spellings): All referring to Christ. Christi is Latin for “of/belonging to Christ” (e.g. Mater Christi: “Mother of Christ”)

Emmanuelle, Emmanuela: Referring to Jesus

Boy
Christopher, Christian, etc.: Referring to Christ

Emmanuel: Ditto

Joshua: The name Jesus comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic Yeshua (Joshua)

Names of saints who had a special devotion to the Sacred Heart

This article on the Saints of the Sacred Heart is great — it gives a little explanation of why each person is included in the list. It includes some lay people as well, but these are the Servants of God (SOGs)/Venerables/Blesseds/Saints it includes:

Bl. Anna Magdalena Rémuzat (the same Anne-Madeleine Remuzat mentioned above)
St. Louis Grignion de Montfort
St. Veronica Giuliani
St. Alphonsus Liguori
Bl. Bernardo de Hoyos
SOG Pierre Picot de Clorivière
Ven. Pio Bruno Lanteri
St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
St. Michael Garicoïts
St. Peter Julian Eymard
St. John Bosco
Bl. Catherine Volpicelli
St. Frances Cabrini
Bl. Benigna Consolata Ferrero
St. Maximilian Kolbe
St. Faustina Kowalska

Others I’ve come across include:

SOG Julia Greeley (I shared more about her earlier this week)
Bl. Solanus Casey (I just posted about his family’s names yesterday)
Bl. Karl, Emperor of Austria, and his wife, SOG Zita, Empress (read this beautiful story for more info)
St. Gertrude (one of the others who shared name ideas in response to Maria’s request noted that St. Gertrude’s devotion to the Sacred Heart pre-dated that of the most famous Sacred Heart saint, Margaret Mary Alacoque; read more here and here)

Others from the stories

Other followers of Maria’s offered some ideas for boys that I thought were inspired! They include:

Amory (because of amor meaning “love”)

Claude (for St. Claude de Columbiere, who spread devotion to the Sacred Heart and was also the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)

Corey, Corman, and Cormoran (because of the cor connection, which make me also think of Cormac)

Gary (for St. Gertrude — the “Gar” in Gary and the “Ger” in Gertrude come from the same Germanic element! Gerard and Gerald share that as well)

Graceson (because of the “grace” connection)

John/Jack (after St. John Eudes, who spread devotion to the Sacred Heart and is represented with the hearts of Jesus and Mary)

Leo (after Pope Leo XIII, who wrote the encyclical Annum Sacrum, on the consecration of the whole world to the Sacred Heart)

Pio (Pius IX established the feast of the Sacred Heart; Pius XII wrote the encyclical Haurietis Aquas “On Devotion to the Sacred Heart”)

Richard (for the Lionheart! So clever!)

Rory (for the red of the heart — Rory means “red king,” which adds an extra layer of significance in regards to the Sacred Heart!)

Zacharias (“someone the Lord thought of and favored”)

Can you think of any other names you’d add to this list of names to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Have you named any of your children in honor of His Heart, or do you know anyone who has? Have a great weekend!


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!

Irish family names from a certain era

I’ve been reading a biography of Bl. Solanus Casey to my older boys, and loved some of the namey things I discovered — I know you will too!

Father:
Bernard James (Barney) (born 1840, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan); sister Ellen and brother Terrence

Mother:
Ellen Elizabeth (née Murphy) (born 1844, Camlough, Co. Armagh); mother Brigid (née Shields), sister Mary Ann and brothers Patrick, Owen, and Maurice

Barney and Ellen came to this country, separately, around the time of the potato famine (in fact, Ellen’s father died during it), which was from 1845-1850. They met here.

Children (Fr. Solanus and siblings) (middle names weren’t included in the book — I found them via a google search):

1. Ellen Bridget (referred to as Ellie at least once in the book)
2. James Michael (Jim)
3. Mary Ann (died at age 12 of “black diphtheria”*)
4. Maurice Emmett (would become Fr. Maurice Joachim! Sometimes called “Fr. Maurice J” ❤ )
5. John Terrance/Terrence
6. Bernard Francis (Barney, referred to as Barney Jr. in the book, born 1870) (would become Fr. Francis Solanus Casey, OFM Cap. [Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin — the OFMs are the Franciscans; the Capuchins are a branch of Franciscans], after St. Francis Solano)
7. Patrick Henry (Pat)
8. Thomas Joseph (Tom)
9. Martha Elizabeth (died at age 3 of black diphtheria, just a few days after Mary Ann) 10. Augustine Peter (Gus)
11. Leo McHale
12. Edward Francis (Ed, would become Msgr. Edward Casey)
13. Owen Bonaventure
14. Margaret Theresa Cecilia
15. Grace Agatha
16. Mary Genevieve (Genevieve)

These are pretty amazing names (you know how heart eyes I was over discovering Maurice’s religious name was Fr. Maurice Joachim! Augustine Peter and Owen Bonaventure particularly jumped out at me as somewhat surprising, given what I know of Irish naming at that time), but one of the things I was amazed by was how much overlap there was with both sides of my Irish ancestry (my paternal grandmother’s line and my maternal grandfather’s line). Check this out:

My paternal grandmother’s line (came here from Ireland mid-nineteenth century, specific place unknown but we think they sailed from Waterford):

James and Mary–> Patrick and Anne–> Patrick Francis and Mary Cecelia (nee Ward)–> Leo Ward and Mary Agnes (nee Sweeny) (her mother was Bridget Casey! Same last name as Bl. Solanus!) –> Mary Loretta (my grandmother, born 1920)

My maternal grandfather’s line (he and his siblings were all born in Ireland — Cobh [then called Queenstown], Co. Cork):

Francis (Frank) and Anne (Annie) (nee Lawless)–>
1. Francis (Frank)
2. Mary (my mom always refers to her as Aunt Mae)
3. Ellen (my mom always refers to her as Aunt Eileen)
4. William (Will)
5. John
6. Michael
7. David Xavier (my grandfather, born 1904 and worked his way to American on a ship in 1920)
8. Maurice (said mo-REECE, though I know MO-ris [like Morris] is a common Irish pronunciation, and the way I said it when I read Bl. Solanus’ brother’s name, because I think it sounds better with Joachim)

All three families (Bl. Solanus’ family, and my grandparents’ two families) can be roughly placed in the same time period (latter half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century), and all three were Irish (Fr. Solanus’ parents were both from Ireland; my paternal grandmother’s family came here from Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century; my maternal grandfather and his siblings were all born in Ireland, and came over here after WWI). Names in common include:

Ellen
James
Mary
Patrick
Francis
Maurice
Patrick
Leo
Anne
John
Brigid/Bridget

I know they’re not crazy-out-there names, but I was kind of amazed by how much overlap there was! Especially with names like Maurice and Leo — I don’t think they’re names that people typically think of as having a lot of usage in Irish families? But if these three families are decent representatives of the naming patterns at that time (especially since they were from all over Ireland and not concentrated in one area), Maurice and Leo aren’t unusual at all!

Another thing I loved seeing was how the family names got passed down (grandparents and aunts and uncles showed up in the names of the grandchildren and nieces and nephews) and *how* they got passed down (both first and middle names were made use of, and maiden names were given to sons).

What are your reactions to reading this? Are you are fascinated by this overlap as I am, or do you think I’m making a lot of not much?

I have more info to share (this book is a treasure trove of beautiful names of our faith!), but it will have to wait for another post!

* The description of “black diphtheria” was eerily similar to what I’ve heard of the respiratory symptoms of Covid-19:

“A highly contagious disease seen often in this era, diphtheria was common in the United States and Western Europe. The upper respiratory system was typically affected, with a thick membrane forming up and down the air passages. Victims — usually children — ran high fevers, had sore throats, and sometimes died when the deadly membrane literally shut down their ability to breathe.”


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!

Beloved children of God

Did you all see the amazing thing BabyNames.com did? I saw it on CNN.com! Here’s a screenshot:

babynamesdotcom-06.15.2020

“Each one of these names was somebody’s baby.” I love that. I’ve written before about how knowing a person’s name pulls them out of the masses into clear focus. Motherhood has really helped deepen the impact for me of remembering that all other people were other mothers’ babies, and of course we are all — every single one of us — beloved children of God.

Here are some other names to remember and to whom to pray for intercession, as shared in this post from Avera Maria Santo:

My dear brothers and sisters, we really need you now… 💔💔💔

To my dear friends,
My fellow African Americans now in Heaven with Jesus,
Pray for all of us who remain,
Pray for us who remain in the midst of those who may hate us,
Pray for us that we may love as you did, even in the midst of great hatred.

Pierre Toussaint,
Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange,
Henriette DeLille,
Julia Greeley,
Fr. Augustus Tolton,
And my dear friend Thea Bowman,
Please, pray for us!

💔💙💛”

Venerable Pierre Toussaint was born into slavery; “He is credited by many with being the father of Catholic Charities in New York. Pierre was instrumental in raising funds for the first Catholic orphanage and began the city’s first school for black children. He also helped to provide funds for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a religious community of black nuns founded in Baltimore and played a vital role in providing resources to erect Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Lower Manhattan. During a Yellow Fever epidemic when many of the city’s political leaders fled the city in search of healthier rural climates, Pierre Toussaint cared for the sick and the dying. He was a successful entrepreneur, who did not hesitate to share the fruits of his labor with others.”

Servant of God Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange came to America in the 18th century as a refugee from Haiti; “Despite discouragement, racism and a lack of funds, Mother Lange continued to educate children and meet the total needs of the Black Catholic community.”

Venerable Henriette DeLille was the daughter of  biracial couple; she founded the order of the Sisters of the Holy Family “for the purpose of nursing the sick, caring for the poor, and instructing the ignorant … [she] devoted herself untiringly for many years, without reserve, to the religious instruction of the people of New Orleans, principally of slaves … The last line of her obituary reads, ‘… for the love of Jesus Christ she had become the humble and devout servant of the slaves.'”

Servant of God Julia Greeley was born into slavery; she was known as “Denver’s Angel of Charity” and “a one-person St. Vincent de Paul Society” for the help she gave to poor families in her neighborhood, and “The Jesuits who ran the parish considered her the most enthusiastic promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus they had ever seen.”

Venerable Augustus Tolton was born into slavery; he “became the first Black American priest in the United States of America … He gave service by helping the poor and sick, feeding the hungry and winning souls for God. His endless, tireless and devoted work led many to the Faith … [he was] lovingly known as ‘Good Father Gus.'”

Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowman was “exposed to the richness of her African-American culture and spirituality” at an early age; she was a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and “became a highly acclaimed evangelizer, teacher, writer, and singer sharing the joy of the Gospel and her rich cultural heritage throughout the nation … She explained what it meant to be African-American and Catholic. She enlightened the bishops on African-American history and spirituality. Sister Thea urged the bishops to continue to evangelize the African-American community, to promote inclusivity and full participation of African-Americans within Church leadership, and to understand the necessity and value of Catholic schools in the African-American community.”

Back to the naming community, Abby at Appellation Mountain, in her usual thoughtful way, has stated a commitment to highlighting more non-Western names. She also shared the article What’s up with black names, anyway? from Salon. Pam at Nameberry shared a few other namey articles, including:

A brief history of black names, from Perlie to Latasha from The Conversation

A depressing study of how people respond to stereotypically black and white names from Vox (see also this article I shared a while ago about the experiences of a white man named Jamaal)

Are Black Names ‘Weird,’ or Are You Just Racist? at the Daily Beast

And this fascinating piece by Laura Wattenberg: Implicit Bias in Names: An Unintentional Case Study.

I keep thinking about that old saying, “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” So many of us are full of grief and anger; many of our brothers and sisters are terrified, either for themselves or their children (or both). I previously shared this Prayer for Racial Justice, and this 19-day novena (currently ongoing — it ends this Friday, which is both the feast of the Sacred Heart and Juneteenth) as an act of reparation to God for the sin of racism in all of its forms — they are powerful prayers. Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Michael the Archangel, and the holy men and women mentioned here: please pray for us.


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!

Birth announcement: Arthur Paul!

The consultation I did for Julia (longtime readers will recognize her handle: ethelfritha) and her husband almost four years ago was so fun to work on and one that I frequently refer to in my consultations for other families, and the subsequent birth announcement was so satisfying. Catholic geek names are so fun! I’m thrilled to share that Julia’s let me know she’s had another baby — a handsome little boy she and her hubby gave the fantastic name … Arthur Paul!

Julia writes,

We recently had our 4th geek baby and I thought you might be interested in his name: Arthur Paul.

Unlike all our other babies (Petra Jeanne, Corwin Matthias, and Theo Peregrin), this one was Arthur basically from the minute we found out he was a boy. And yes–he is absolutely named after King Arthur! 😁😁

It took us a long time to come up with a middle name. We even tossed around pretty extra names like “Arthur Ulysses” and “Arthur Aurelius.” But we kept coming back to Paul, a name which was on my husband’s radar because of the new Dune movie coming out (the main character is named Paul). When Arthur was born we took one look and said “he’s an Arthur Paul.” And what a great patron saint, too!

One extra fun saintly thing is that he was born at 5:45 PM on the vigil of St. Joan of Arc — our family patroness! She is always watching out for us!

Ahhh I love this!! The “pretty extra names” part made me laugh! I love how peaceful and happy these parents were with their first name choice from the beginning, and how perfect the middle name fell into place once he was born. Fantastic job!

Congratulations to Julia and her husband and big sibs Petra, Corwin, and Theo, and happy birthday Baby Arthur!!

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Arthur Paul


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!

Birth announcement: Magdalene Anne!

I did a private consultation for Natalie and her husband back in December, and I’m excited that Natalie’s let me know the baby has arrived and been given the gorgeous name … Magdalene Anne!

She writes,

I wanted to update you with our newest baby, a girl! Magdalene Anne was born 13 days late! At 9 pounds 3 ounces, she’s our biggest baby. It was a very smooth, easy labor until delivery. Being a big baby, it was hard enough, but then she got stuck, shoulder dystocia, and it was awful. Scary, painful, all around awful. After she arrived, I hemorrhaged as well, more awful, and while we’re both fine now, it’s been a lot of recovering for both of us. She’s a great addition to our family though and is much loved by her older brothers and sister.

As for her name, up until her due date, we were sold on Clara from your suggestions. But then I read another one of your posts about Easter names for babies born in the Easter season and I loved that idea. Especially because Magdalene had been on our short list, because of it being a family name, and everyone, including myself, thought she would come on Easter. My husband still wasn’t convinced of the name, until he realized that her initials would be MAE (Anne, after my mom) and he loved the idea of calling her Mae, after one of his aunts. We FINALLY agreed and now we feel as if St. Mary Magdalene has been a powerful intercessor in her somewhat traumatic life thus far and confident that this was the name for her.

As for nicknames, none have “stuck” yet. My husband will try Mae here and there, and I am leading towards Meg, but so far, she’s just Magdalene. Judging how Evie never stuck for Genevieve, Magdalene might not get shortened either!

I love hearing how Natalie and her hubby arrived at the name — first having decided on one name, then considering another but not having it feel quite right until a great nickname option made a particular family connection, and finally feeling like St. Mary Magdalene was interceding for their little one all along. And such a beautiful name! Natalie said that she and the baby are both fine now, but maybe you could say a little prayer for them both anyway — difficult births can be so traumatic!

Congratulations to Natalie and her husband and big sibs Samuel, Jonathan, Elijah, and Genevieve, and happy birthday Baby Magdalene!!

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Magdalene Anne


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!