Spotlight on: Faustina (and another announcement!)

These past few weeks have been so exciting for me, being able to share with you all the news of my baby and my book! So many of you immediately asked about names we’re considering for the baby, and some of you even offered to help! You’re all wonderful. ❤ I’d had the same thought myself — about seeking ideas and suggestions, including from all of you — and had reached out to the amazing Abby from Appellation Mountain to see if she had room to do a consultation for me! Abby offers name help at Nameberry as the Name Sage, and weekly on her blog with her Name Help posts, and I’ve long been completely impressed by her name knowledge and her thoughtful suggestions for expectant parents. (She’s also been a wonderful mentor to me as a name writer, and gave me an amazing endorsement for my book!)

I’m thrilled to share that Abby has indeed put together some ideas for me, and will post it on her blog tomorrow! Eek! I’m so excited! I’ll definitely post the link here once she has it up, and I hope you all weigh in with your ideas/thoughts/suggestions! Many of you also asked if we’d be finding out the gender ahead of time — we never have, and aren’t planning to do so with this baby, but even so we only need help with boy names (our girl name has been the same throughout). It’ll be a little tricky since, as you know, my husband feels strongly about not sharing our boys’ names online, so you’ll just have to give me your best and favorite ideas. 🙂 I’ve given Abby some details and clues about our style that we’re okay with her sharing in her post — I know she’ll lay it all out nicely and will give you good direction for your suggestions.

If all that isn’t exciting enough, I’m extra excited that Abby’s posting it on Divine Mercy weekend! The Divine Mercy devotion is such a special one, both because of its power and because of our beloved St. John Paul’s connection to it. And also, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception are the ones who are publishing my book, and they’ve been given the gift and task of spreading devotion to the Divine Mercy — they run the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA, they are *the* publishers of St. Faustina’s diary, and one of their Fathers was the vice-postulator for the cause for canonization of St. Faustina.

So I thought today was the perfect day to post a spotlight on Faustina!

Many of those who I’ve done consultations for have shared that they’ve considered Faustina as a first or middle name for their daughters, and I had the privilege of posting birth announcements for two little girls given Faustina as a first name (here, here), and one with Faustina as a middle. Two of my best friends took Faustina as their Confirmation names, and one gave Faustina to her daughter as her middle name. I love seeing it!

Behind the Name says Faustina is the feminine form of Faustinus, which was the name of several saints, and derives from Faustus meaning “auspicious, lucky” in Latin; Faustus itself is the name of several saints as well. (I think he’s well known enough that I can’t not mention Faust, renamed Doctor Faustus in at least one of the story’s reinterpretations — a literary character who makes a deal with the devil — but I don’t personally think Faustina is [or should be] at all tainted by this association.) Faustine is the French variant of Faustina, which I think is lovely as well. There are actually several Sts. Faustina, and the St. Faustina we’re familiar with (St. Faustina Kowalska) took the name as her religious name (Sr. Maria Faustina) — I’d love to know why! Was it after one of those other Sts. Faustina? Or perhaps because of its meaning?

Faustina strikes me as similar to Christina, with its “stina” ending, and it can take Tina as a nickname as well. I’ve heard it said FAW-stina, rhyming with “paw,” and I’ve heard it said FOW-stina, rhyming with “cow,” so that could be a turn off for those who prefer one straightforward pronunciation, though a minor one I think. I’ve never seen anyone use a nickname for it — other than Tina, perhaps Fia and Fina could work? If you did Maria Faustina, that opens up some more nickname options like Mia, Mina, and even something like Muffy.

I love that Faustina is, like Kolbe, Kateri, Gianna, Jacinta, John Paul, and others, a modern-day Catholicky Catholic name — its certainly got roots, but St. Faustina is a saint of and for our times.

What do you all think of Faustina? Would you use it for a daughter, or have you? Do you know anyone named Faustina, and if so, does she like her name? Does she go by a nickname?

(Find out more about Divine Mercy Sunday here, and here‘s how to say the Divine Mercy Chaplet.) (And don’t forget to check in tomorrow to offer your name ideas for my littlest one! 🙂 )

Advertisements

Baby name consultation: Unmistakably Catholic name needed for baby no. 5

I had the great privilege of posting a consultation for Jaclyn and her husband two years ago, which inspired my Unmistakably Catholic Girl Names and Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names articles, and then posting a birth announcement for her sweet baby girl. I’m delighted that she’s back again for another consultation, this time for a baby boy!

This little guy joins big siblings:

Lillian Charlotte (“sometimes goes by Lily“)
Olivia Kathryn
Henry Sullivan
Gemma Clare

I love all of those names, and though as you’ll read Jaclyn and her hubs have moved more toward distinctively Catholic names, I think the whole group works together so nicely.

Jaclyn writes,

Our first two are named after family members and also just names we loved! But as time has passed, it has become increasingly important to us to choose strong Saint names, and names with an authentically “Catholic feel”. But we still want them to flow with the others. That’s why we came to you for help with Gemma and now this little one (our second boy!) 💙

Names we are considering so far:

The front runners:
-Benedict: we love the Pope Emeritus, and also feel a connection to St. Benedict of Nursia. However, we wonder if it fits in with our other kids well. Maybe it’s a little “strong”/“weighty”sounding? I don’t know what word I’m looking for, lol. Also, it’s a long name but we don’t love Ben or Benny.

-Maximilian: how can you not love St. Maximilian Kolbe? An inspiration! Max is a cute nickname and I think it sounds good with our other kiddos. But Max is also becoming fairly popular (as is Maximus, Maxwell etc) so it doesn’t feel as decidedly Catholic in the current culture.

-Augustin: another wonderful saintly inspiration. His conversion story speaks to me, and I think it’s definitely a “Catholic” name. We love Gus as a nickname and feel that it fits in with the family. Side note, we want it pronounced a-GUS-tin if we use it. I’m thinking this spelling would be better than Augustine then? Thoughts??

-John Paul: another wonderful Pope. Also my father and grandfather are Paul, so that’s a neat association. We aren’t sure about the double name though, or flow with our other kids. We don’t want to shorten it to John (mmmaaayyybe JP?).

Others we have considered: Fulton (I love it but it’s the name of a neighboring town so my husband hates that aspect), Kolbe, Ambrose (cool name, no viable nickname that we’ve come up with, and the full name doesn’t feel right with the family).”

I so enjoyed reading Jaclyn’s email — so many of my own favorites are on her list! I have some thoughts on them, which might be helpful:

  • Benedict definitely fits their desire for an authentically Catholic name! I do know what Jaclyn means about weightiness I think, but at the same time Benedict also has a Brit feel thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch, and I think her crew could totally pass as a group of English children! It’s a vibe I love! I was going to say that Ben(ny) makes Benedict more relatable, but since they don’t care for it then that doesn’t work … I’ve also seen Ned as a nickname for Benedict, which they might like?
  • I love St. Maximilian too! But I also know what Jaclyn means about the nickname Max and the Max- names in general.
  • We considered Augustin — that spelling — for our last three boys, and had decided on it for our youngest son until we changed our minds just a week before he was born! Gus as a nickname was one of its biggest selling points to us, too. I admit that we ended up deciding not to use it because we didn’t feel like we could guarantee the pronunciation we wanted, which is the same Jaclyn and her hubs want. I don’t know about where they live, but a lot of older people near me spend winters in Florida, and the city of St. Augustine there is pronounced au-gus-TEEN, so I hear that pronunciation a lot. Plus, there’s a Protestant school near me called St. Augustine’s that uses the TEEN pronunciation. But whenever I hear the name at church, they use the GUS pronunciation, and there’s also a Catholic school named St. Augustine’s near me that says it the GUS way … BUT no one can ever remember! I’ve heard people say go back and forth between GUS and TEEN in the same conversation! So we decided it was too much of a hassle, especially since TEEN is also the feminine pronunciation and we’re sensitive to any of our boys being mistaken for girls because of their names. So that’s a lot of personal baggage I just dropped on Jaclyn and her hubs! Haha! So to be more objective, if they were to call their Augustin “Gus” all the time, there probably wouldn’t be any problem at all. It’s a great name and a great saint, and I think it definitely fits their criteria, though I do think it’s similarly weighty/strong as Benedict.
  • I actually think John Paul might fit the best with their other kids! I think the fact that it’s two short, traditional, not uncommon names makes it very accessible and easy to work with, while putting them together as a given name adds the super Catholic feel and makes the two names more unusual. I like that they have a family connection too! They’d have to decide if they could live with “John Paul” all the time, or if they wanted to do JP, but I do think that so many people are used to saying John Paul in regards to the Pope/Saint that no one would ever try to shorten it to John.
  • It’s funny and unfortunate that Fulton is a neighboring town for them! I can definitely see that that would be problematic.
  • I like Kolbe for them — it gets around the Max issue while still honoring the amazing saint.
  • We have also had Ambrose on our list through several of our boys! Nicknames were an issue for us too, so I came up with a few that I thought were interesting: I definitely think Sam can work, since there’s the “Am” at the beginning and the “S” within it. I also like the idea of Bram, which is a traditional nickname for Abraham but like with Sam, Ambrose contains all the sounds of Bram. Another is Brody, especially if Ambrose was paired with a “D” middle name. And I’ve seen real-life Ambroses nicknamed Amby and Brose. Of all those, I like Ambrose nicknamed Sam the best for this family.

So they have a great list! I think they’ve really nailed the names that come across as Catholicky Catholic! For additional ideas, I turned to my trusty Baby Name Wizard to see if any of the style matches for their other kiddos’ names might also fit in that category, and I re-read the article I’d written on unmistakably Catholic boys’ names for inspiration as well. Based on that, I think they might like:

(1) Dominic
Though Dominic can definitely hang with the heavies like Benedict and Augustin(e), I think it can also go really well with Jaclyn’s older kids because of that Brit thing again. The actor Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings) is a great example, for one. It shortens easily to Dom(my), or they could use Nic(k) instead.

(2) Gabriel
I don’t know if they’re okay repeating initials, but I thought that since Gemma and Gabriel have different initial sounds, this might be okay. When I think of Gabriel, I think of Mary via the Annunciation, which is so Catholic of course! Gabe is its traditional nickname, but I also love the idea of Gil. The actor Gabriel Byrne is another British Isles-area example for them (he’s Irish, which I totally know is not British — you all know what I mean by “British Isles-area” right? No offense intended!).

(3) Joseph
Joseph is spot-on as a match for their other kids, and St. Joseph is just amazing. I know it’s not as exclusively Catholic as some names, but at the same time, it is, you know?

(4) Jude
I know some people tend to think of the Beatles or Jude Law in regards to the name Jude, but St. Jude is so popular that anyone familiar with Catholicism will think of him right away when they hear his name! I know a lot of Catholic families who have chosen Jude for their sons specifically because of its obviously Catholic connection.

(5) Leo
Leo is such a sweet name that’s also sophisticated at the same time, and the fact that there’s Pope St. Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church makes it perfect for a family that wants a truly Catholic name!

(6) Luke
Like with Gabriel, when I hear the name Luke, I think of Mother Mary, since his gospel is the most Marian — it contains her Magnificat, for one thing. It’s similar to Joseph in terms of having other associations that dilute the Catholic significance, but at the same time, it’s such a Catholic name.

(7) Thomas
I know that Joseph, Luke, and Thomas might be surprising on this list, since they’re so … “normal.” But even looking at them listed together like that screams “Catholic!” to me! There are so many great Sts. Thomas! I was thinking that one way they could increase the Catholic feel is to give a middle name that really cements it — like Thomas Aquinas or Thomas More. Wow!

(8) Simon, Simeon
My last idea for this family is Simon or Simeon (they’re variants of the same name). I think Simon on its own is a great Catholic name (not only Simon Peter, but St. Simon Stock as well), and I’m including Simeon mostly because I want to see it used more! Simeon is such a great character, and has that Marian connection as well!

Two others that I considered suggesting, but decided not to for whatever reason, are Blaise and Vincent. They’re such great names though that I thought they deserved at least this small mention, just in case.

And those are my ideas for Jaclyn and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Lillian, Olivia, Henry, and Gemma?

Baby name consultation: French/European-ish name needed for boy no. 2

Thank you all for your excitement about my forthcoming book! I’ve been dying to tell you all, it’s so exciting to finally share the news! I’ll share additional info as it becomes available! 

Carmen and her husband are expecting their second baby — their second boy! This little guy joins big brother:

Vincent Yves Laurent (“we typically call him ‘Vinny’; Vincent was given his names mostly just because we liked them, but we also love Saint Vincent de Paul and we have a close family friend named Vincent who is a priest. We didn’t necessarily name him after these people, but it helped in finding a connection and meaning to the name. In French tradition (hubby’s background is French), boys have two middle names. Yves and Laurent don’t have any particular meaning behind them, we more so liked the pairing of them“)

Such a great name, right? Vincent Yves Laurent is so handsome and sophisticated!

Carmen writes,

[O]ur main priority when choosing a name: it has to have an appropriate ‘flow’ or ‘feeling’ with our [French] last name which naturally draws us to French or at least European-ish names … Another thing that we often get stuck on (and has been proven to be the most difficult part of choosing a name) is finding a name that can easily be shortened or nicknamed to something we like. I tend to like a name in full but my husband is all about wanting a quick and easy name to say so it’s just inevitable and must be considered (basically everyone in our family has a one-syllable nickname that we use 99% of the time). Lastly for our priorities is that we want something we both pronounce the same. My husband is South African so with his accent, the name Francis sounds more like “Frawn-cis”. This doesn’t come up a ton but it’s worth mentioning.

We have about 5 girl names picked out so of course, baby #2 is a BOY! Vincent was the only boy name we agreed on when we were pregnant with him so we are started at ground zero again this time.

I have kept an ever evolving list of names in my journal or phone since I was about 12 years old. Names and name pairings have always been interesting and important to me. I am a Catholic Convert as of about 4 years ago so my perspective on names has indeed changed over the years and I now appreciate different meanings and saints to be inspired by.

So far, our shortlist includes:

— Felix (I know it’s already short, but we can’t think of a shorter one-syllable nickname to use?)
— Emmanuel (“Emmy” or “Manny”)
— Sebastian (“Bash” or “Seby”)
— Maxwell (or some “Max” name, but hubby doesn’t love the “Max” nickname)
— Blaise (but we don’t like that it means “stutter” or “deformed”)
— Caspian (which we have sort of nixed because our #1 girl name starts with a “C” and I want each of our kiddos to have their own letter … is that dumb?! Maybe if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl …)
— Maybe Augustine
— And maybe Leo

Our shortlist for middle names is basically a list of names we love for various reasons but wouldn’t use as a first due to the restrictions that we have (he will also have two of them!):

— Francis
— Pierre
— Valor
— Aslan
— Royal
— Pascal
— Etienne

For what it’s worth, if we were to ever have a girl, our top two names are Chloe Madonna and Elyse Noelle. The only names that are totally off the list because they are already in the family are Jean-Paul, Robert, and Rémi.

I feel like this is quite the challenge as we have a lot of parameters to work around! But we would love to hear your insight and anything that comes to mind for our family.”

I love working on consultations with lots of rules, so this was fun to tackle! I think my biggest challenge was finding names that Carmen and her husband would say the same. Based on what she said about how he says Francis, and not being very familiar with the South African accent, I tried to stay away from names that I was sure were said differently between those who speak American English and British English. I wasn’t sure how much of a role Carmen’s hubby’s French background plays in their pronunciation criteria, and I’m not nearly as much of an expert in different accents and languages as I’d like to be, so some of the names that made my final list of suggestions below might not be okay pronunciation-wise. There were others that I would have liked to suggest but that I was sure would be a problem — like Alexander, which is a pan-European + saintly name like most of those on their list but when I try to say it with a British accent it sounds like al-ex-ZAHN-der, rather than the way I hear it usually said in America (al-ex-ZAN-der).

As for the names on their short list, some thoughts:

  • Felix could perhaps nick to Flix? It reminds me of Philip, which has Flip as a fairly traditional (though not super common) nickname. Or Fee? Flick? I’ve seen Flick and Flicka used for the fem variant Felicity …
  • Emmanuel nicked Emmy feels too feminine to me, but maybe that doesn’t bother Carmen and her hubs? Manny I love and have considered myself!
  • I love Sebastian, and the nickname Bash cracks me up, it’s so great! And Seb/Sebbie are nicknames my dad loooooves, so much so that he suggests Sebastian with those nicknames to everyone he knows who’s pregnant! Haha!
  • I’m interested that Maxwell is the Max name on their list — given their pan-European sensibility (as evidenced by most of the names on their list), I would have expected Maximilian! Others are Maxim and Maximus. If Carmen’s hubby doesn’t care for Max, would Mac have a different enough feel to him? That would be an easy compromise. I’ve also thought Miles and Milo are good nickname possibilities for Maximilian.
  • Blaise is a great name! I’ve written a bit about how “name meanings” differ from “name definitions,” and how I don’t think you should at all worry about the latter — you can read my thoughts on this here  and here.
  • Caspian is so awesome, but I totally understand Carmen’s hesitation. I think her “if it was boy #5 and we still didn’t have a girl” criteria is a good one, since it’s important to her that her kids have their own initial. Of course, if she changes her mind and decides Caspian is the name for them no matter what, then I fully support that too! Some creative ways of working with the no-repeating-initials rule include making Caspian one of the two middle names, but calling their son Caspian as his everyday call name. They could use his first name initial for labeling, but still be able to call him Caspian. (I love Chloe Madonna btw!! Love love love that they’re planning on Madonna as a middle name! I wish more parents would do so! Elyse Noelle is also gorgeous!)
  • I love Augustine too — Gus is one of my favorite nicknames, and I regularly see Augie too.
  • I love Leo. There are lots of Leos in my family, and the older generations go by Lee, so even though Leo is short, they can still have an easy nickname.

I love their middle names too! So fun to see Valor, Aslan (!), and Royal on their list! They remind me of this family‘s taste.

You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. One of its downfalls is that it doesn’t contain some of the more unusual names — Caspian doesn’t have its own entry, for example, nor does Augustine — so there are some other resources I use too, like Nymbler.com and the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com. They’re all based on U.S. name statistics, but I was looking for names that I think travel well (what I usually call pan-European, which encompasses countries with a heavy European influence; I realize this is a narrow definition, but helpful for this consultation I think), as well as super saintly names, both of which transcend American naming stats. All that to say, I think I came up with some ideas that Carmen and her hubs might like:

(1) Dominic
Vincent and Augustine have, to me, what I call a “heavy monastery feel.” I can practically smell the incense! Which is a feeling I *love* in a name — I’m a huge fan! Dominic has that same feel, and I don’t think it would have pronunciation issues between Carmen and her husband. Dom/Dommy is probably the most natural nickname; there’s also Nick and Nico, with Nico having a more international feel.

(2) Nathaniel
The biblical names tend to be in that “travels well” category, even if they take different forms in different languages. I think Nathaniel is a do-able one for this family — either in that form or its variant spelling Nathanael. Nate and Nat are both cute, easy nicknames that grow well.

(3) Theodore
I’m not sure about Theodore — generally I’d think it’s a great name for this family, but I think the French pronunciation is with a T, rather than Th? If Carmen wasn’t worried about her and her hubby saying names the same, I wouldn’t worry about it — I like both the English and French pronunciations, and I like both Theo and Teo. But I could see this being a deal breaker for Carmen.

(4) Xavier
Xavier is a style match for Emmanuel, Sebastian, and Blaise. I love seeing names that are style matches for several names on a parent’s list! Like with Theodore, I know the French pronunciation is somewhat different from the English, but since there are two acceptable English pronunciations, with the k-SAY-vyer one (or ig-ZAY-vyer) being similar to the French, you can really pick your pronunciation anyway. Xave is an easy and sweet nickname.

(5) Bennett
I loved seeing Bennett as a style match for both Blaise and Elyse and Bennet for Caspian, how cool! It’s a form of Benedict, and if they wanted a form of Benedict that’s similar to the French form while being easy for English speakers to pronounce, I think Bennett does a good job. Ben and Benny are great nicknames.

(6) Lucas
I find the Luke names to be some of the most well-traveled, and Lucas is the variant that’s the most pan-European I think. Luc and Luke are easy nicknames, and both Lucas and Luc/Luke go really well with Vincent/Vinny I think.

(7) Julian
Julian was the biggest match of all for this family! It’s a style match for Vincent, Sebastian, and Elyse, and Julius — which I consider to be similar enough to reveal a real connection of the Juli- names to their taste — was a match for August, which I used in place of Augustine when looking up their names in the BNW. I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which I love with Vinny.

(8) Elias or Elliott
This name is 100% inspired by Carmen’s name! Carmen is a variant of Carmel, as in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Carmelites see the prophet Elijah as their founder. It’s quite moving, actually, that they see Elijah’s vision of the cloud in 1 Kings as a symbol of the Virgin Mother who would bear the Messiah — he had a devotion to Our Lady before she even existed! (I discuss this more in my book 😉 ) Elias is the Greek variant of his name and has a more international feel I think (though Elijah itself would be lovely as well). Eli would make a perfect nickname, and according to behindthename.com, Élie is the French variant of Elijah/Elias, which I’m hoping is similar enough to Eli that it all makes sense. Or maybe the Elias variant Elliott, which was actually a style match for Maxwell and Elyse, would make more sense? I love Elliott. Of course, Elias and Elliott have not only the same initial as Elyse, but they’re way too close in sound to Elyse as well, so they’d have to choose between them …

(9) Fulton
Fulton is a style match for Caspian according to the Name Matchmaker; it’s a new entry in the list of names that feel super saintly, being that Fulton Sheen was so recent; and I’m hoping that since it’s a surname name with no real history of usage (i.e., no different histories of usage), that Carmen and her husband wouldn’t have any pronunciation differences. I did a nickname post for it not too long ago, which — between my ideas and those you all left in the comments — provided some really good options I think. Fult is the quickest and easiest; Finn and Flynn are also possibilities; for Carmen’s little guy, I love the idea of something like Fulton Xavier SecondMiddle nicknamed Fox. How cute!

(10) Tristan
My last idea is Tristan. It’s an offbeat choice I think, but since it was listed as a style match for Vincent and Sebastian, I thought it was worth a mention. I like that it’s a French name, and while there aren’t any Sts. Tristan as far as I know, I would argue that it can be used in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. Tris is a natural nickname, and rhyming with the more familiar Chris (like Christopher) is helpful I think. I also had a reader tell me that she had considered Tristan Peter for a son with the nickname Trip, which I thought was great. Tristan Pierre SecondMiddle or Tristan Pascal SecondMiddle for this little guy?

And those are all my ideas for Carmen and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for Vincent’s little brother?

BIG NEWS!!

You guys! I am SO EXCITED to share with you a very special announcement:

I’m having a book published! A book of Marian names! Ahhhh!!

I’ve been researching and compiling Marian names for nearly ten years — with a good amount of help from all of you via our conversations on the blog! — and I’m so thrilled that Marian Press (publisher of Fr. Calloway’s and Fr. Gaitley’s books, among others) has agreed to publish it!

🎉🎉🎉🎉💃💃💃

It’s entitled Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady — yes indeed, names for boys too! It will be available for purchase in May (month of Our Lady!), and I’ll have more details for you in the coming weeks. It has turned out amazingly well under the guidance of the team at Marian Press, if I do say so myself. 😊

Writing a book is one of the dreams of my life, and you have to know that writing one that honors Our Lady, and has to do with names, is a greater gift than I could ever have imagined.

This is such a big week, with the announcement of our baby-on-the-way followed by the announcement of my book! God is so good. ❤️

My March CatholicMom column is up, and a question I need help with!

My March column posted today over at CatholicMom.com: To Mary Through Three March Saints!

catholicmom_screen_shot-03.21.18

(In case you were wondering what happened to February, it was the first time since starting to write for CatholicMom three years ago that I couldn’t get a piece done in time for my monthly slot, I was just not feeling well enough. So glad to be back at it!)

Also, I read an intriguing post over on the Baby Name Wizard recently, and though some of the comments on that post make some sense (my handle there is traleerose), and I’ve researched it a little to verify those comments and find more certain answers, I haven’t been satisfied with what I’ve found, and I wondered if you know the answer to the question: Why isn’t Jesus used as a given name in English?

I’m sure there are some instances of Jesus as a given name in English, and the SSA data shows that 3065 boys (and 8 girls [?]) were named Jesus in the U.S. in 2016, but their data doesn’t include accent marks, so I’m confident that most, if not all, of those are Jesús, which brings up the most interesting part of this question: Jesus isn’t well used in English, but Jesús is in Spanish.

I tried to find an official (or as close to as possible) Church stance on this, but didn’t come up with anything. The comments left on the BNW post suggest that the Muslim presence in Spain encouraged the use of Jesús as a given name, which I haven’t yet verified, but is interesting to consider. Joshua and Jesus are variants of the same name, and Joshua is well used; the Christ- names are well used, certainly, including Christ itself; Emmanuel has good usage; even Messiah has been bestowed on babies, so I admit I’m a bit baffled as to why Jesus isn’t used in English.

I did have the thought when I bowed my head at the name of Jesus recently that if there were little ones running around named Jesus, I’d be constantly bowing my head out of cultivated habit! I don’t do so when I hear Jesús, though I should — it doesn’t trigger that automatic bow that hearing Jesus does.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the answer is simply that Jesus is considered too holy for common usage by those who speak English (at least here in the U.S.). The name of Mary has a history of being considered too holy for common usage in Ireland, for example — it was a temporary and culture-specific consideration — so perhaps it’s the same with Jesus? Perhaps for today, in English-speaking families, naming a baby Jesus is foreign to Christian sensibility, as the Code of Canon Law puts it?

If any of you have any info about this — any sources you can point me to that explain this — please share them! My ideal would be anything from the Church, but I’d be happy to read anything authoritative on this topic. Thank you for your help!

Birth announcement: Paxton and Porter!

I did a private consultation for Lauren and her husband back in the fall — they were expecting twin boys, and Lauren has let me know that they’ve arrived! They’ve been given the awesome and significant names … Paxton and Porter!

Lauren writes,

Our babies were born on Friday, January 26, via planned cesarean. In the days leading up to delivery we became more anxious about not having settled on names, but eventually decided to wait until they were born and see what felt right. Upon arrival at the hospital, everyone asked what we’d chosen for names and we told them we were still undecided. In desperation, we told the nurses to take a poll amongst themselves and let us know what they liked best.

For so long, we’d shared name possibilities with just a few people, so speaking the names out loud didn’t happen very frequently. Once we started speaking the names aloud to the hospital staff, it became apparent how much of a tongue-tie it would be to go with Paxton and Payton. The names just sounded so similar and I kept getting confused every time I talked about the choices out loud. For me, it was starting to become obvious that Payton just wasn’t going to work.

After the babies were delivered, saying the names out loud continued to be confusing. Baby A turned out to be nearly a pound smaller than Baby B, which pushed me more toward the Paxton/Porter choice. Baby A was always the one that seemed less active in the womb and seemed generally more content even after delivery (that still holds true today). It became apparent that Baby A was to be named Paxton, leaning heavily on my desire to have a “peaceful” child. Since Baby B was so much larger, and also apparently more vocal (plus disliking the complexity of a Paxton/Payton combination), he became Porter. So while my husband was concerned about the “porterhouse” label, it actually held true at the time of delivery and even became a running joke between us.

These days, Paxton is still SUPER chill — he only cries when hungry and sleeps allll the time (the cyst in his brain may be to blame, but we’ll go with it). The gap in size is closing, but Porter still remains obviously larger than his “older” brother, and is certainly more demanding (though he happens to be breastfed while his brother is not … the two issues are related, perhaps?). As a family, we have found the transition from one to three much easier than zero to one, likely because our first was super high-needs and this time we are not combating that with the lack of experience as parents in general.”

I’m sure Lauren won’t mind me sharing that I’d suggested Porter with Bl. Solanus in mind, since he was the porter (doorkeeper) at his monastery, so I’m extra delighted that they named Twin B Porter! And Paxton, with its pax=peace connection, is so meaningful.

Please also pray for both of the boys — they both have medical concerns that are being addressed by doctors, and I know Lauren and her hubs would love be assured of your prayers.

Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Paxton and Porter!!

Paxton and Porter with their family ❤

Baby name consultation: Irish/Celtic name for baby no. 2!

(Thank you all so much for your excitement and prayers following my pregnancy announcement on Saturday!! You all are the best!! ❤ ❤ <3)

Megan and her husband are expecting their second little one, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! 🌱 This wee babe joins big brother:

Finnian Daniel

You know how much I love Irish names! Finnian Daniel’s so handsome! (And so sorry to all of my Italian readers for continuing the Irish theme on St. Joseph’s Day!)

Megan writes,

Our son’s name is Finnian Daniel. We wanted to honor our Irish heritage with a first name that is clearly Irish — we’d love to continue using Irish names for our children if we can, and I’m also open to Gaelic/Celtic/Scottish names as well. My husband’s family is German and Welsh, so I guess those names aren’t out of the question, either. Since we both have very common first names, and are one of “many” with the same name, we tend to like uncommon names more. We love longer names that can be shortened to nicknames. Finnian is really the perfect name to us: it’s not in the top 1,000, but easy to say and spell, and of course shortens to the adorable and more commonly known Finn — it’s clearly Irish; there are several amazing Catholic saints who bear the the name; and, in general — we like the sound of it — it is happy and carefree (just like his personality!). We like the idea of continuing to use Catholic saint names for our children, but it is not a requirement (we’ve had trouble finding female saints in particular…).

Finn’s middle name is after his grandfather/father. To us, middle names are an easy way to honor family. If we have another boy, we’ll most likely go with Thomas (my dad’s name) for the middle, or maybe Francis (grandfather) or Brendan (brother) or even Leo (another family name). For a girl, my mother and I share the middle name “Eileen,” so that may be a nice tradition to pass on, but also have Clara (grandmother who I was very close to), or May/Mae (both of grandmother’s middle names). If it’s a girl, I’m more open to a different middle name option than I would be for a boy.

We have many male names that we like, but are just not as in love with them as we were with Finnian! They are Declan, Cullen, Cormac (but really I just like nn Mac), Lachlan, Callum. I also like Henry which is clearly not Irish and way too popular but just to give you an idea on style … we love that Finn sounds like a little old man’s name.

The girl names we are a little all over the place on. One name that we both do really like is an Irish place name, Adair (or Adare) (which I read about first on your blog!) with the nn Ada? Other girl names we tossed around are Ailish, Saiorse (husband loves this one but way too hard to spell IMO), Arlen (I like unisex names for girls a lot), Arwen (think we nixed this one due to sounding too LOTR), and Nuala.

Really no names are off limits! Oh except for flower names.”

I’m sure you’re not surprised that I had loads of fun with this! Megan and her hubs have a really fun style!

It’s interesting to me that Leo is a family name for Megan — I’ve always thought of it as an “Irish” name because there are loads of them in the Irish side of my family, and I wondered if that was just my experience or if it does have exceptionally good usage among families of Irish descent. So I love seeing that it’s in her family tree too!

Some thoughts about the names on their list of considerations:

  • Declan: Great name, very Irish. In the movie Leap Year, which is mostly set in Ireland, the main guy is Declan and they call him Decko (Deco?) at one point, which is really cute. Dex could also be a cute nickname
  • Cullen: Love it
  • Cormac: Ditto, and the nickname Mac is great
  • Lachlan: Great name
  • Callum: I probably prefer this to Cullen, only because I don’t know how prominent the Twilight association would be with Cullen anymore, but they wouldn’t have to worry about that at all with Callum
  • Henry: I’m glad Megan included this on the list — I think it helped me understand their old-man taste! If they did decide to go with Henry, its traditional nickname Hank is definitely an old-man name and sooo cute
  • Adair/Adare is an awesome name, and I’m so pleased Megan found it on the blog! Ada as a nickname is cool too. Maybe also Dara?
  • Ailish I love, and the similar Eilis. Gorgeous! They also made me think of Aislin(g) (said ASH-lin or ASH-ling) and Ainsley. Also, Ailish and Eilis are saintly — I understand that Ailish is generally considered the Irish form of Alice, and Eilis is Elizabeth
  • I love the idea of Saoirse, and a friend of mine had her daughter on July 4 and seriously considered it because of its meaning “freedom,” but it’s SO hard to spell and no one will figure out the pronunciation! Because Megan and her hubs have such Irishy Irish ideas on their list, I thought I’d throw out some of my favorites: Caoimhe, Niamh, Aoife, Eimear, Aine, and Grainne. But all of them (except maybe Niamh? Maybe it’s got a little familiarity? I did a spotlight of it here) have the same problem as Saoirse
  • Arlen’s cool
  • Arwen is 100% LOTR to me, which I don’t think is terrible, but I can see they’d want to move away from that
  • I like Nuala! Another variant of Nuala is Nola, which is like Nora but with a twist, and is easy to spell and say

So when I was coming up with new ideas for Megan and her hubs, I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard (as you all know, I rely heavily on it in my consultations, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity), but I also went off-road as it were by just coming up with ideas that I thought might fit their style, especially based on nicknames and Irishness. Based on all that, these are my ideas for this baby:

Girl

(1) Gwenfair or Mairwen
These names were inspired by their love of Celtic names, the fact that Megan’s husband is Welsh, and the fact that they have a LOTR name on their list (Tolkien’s names have some good connection with Welsh in particular, I believe). These gorgeous names are actually the same name, with the elements reversed: “gwen” (which is of course the “Gwen” in Gwenfair as well as the “wen” in Mairwen) means “fair, white, blessed,” and Mair (which is the “fair” part of Gwenfair, as well as of course the “Mair” in Mairwen) is the Welsh form of Mary. So these are gorgeous, unusual Marian names! I believe the “fair”/“Mair” parts are both said to rhyme with “tire” in Welsh, and the F is like a V, so gwen-vire and mire-wen, but I think they could legitimately say “fair”/“Mair” to rhyme with “care,” which makes it easier to live with in the U.S. I did hesitate that maybe Gwen and Finn are too similar sounding as nicknames? But I think they could be fine too.

(2) Brigid/Bridget nicked Bridie; Briege
When Megan said they like longer names that can be shortened to nicknames, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Irish girl nicknames: Bridie. So cute! I like both Brigid and Bridget for this family as longer forms. These names also made me think of Briege, which is a form of Bridget … it’s not a long name that can be shortened to a nickname, but it’s a pretty cool+unusual Irish name. You all might be familiar with Sr. Briege McKenna.

(3) Greer
One of the names I’d scribbled down for this family before I even cracked open the BNW is Greer, one of my favorites. It’s a Scottish feminine form of Gregory, and while I think it definitely has a unisex feel, it also has a Hollywood starlet feel to me, a la 40’s actress Greer Garson. Funny enough, her given name was Eileen, so Greer Eileen really goes together imo!

(4) Tierney
Another I’d written down for them before starting my research was Tierney, so I was delighted to see both Tierney and Greer as style matches for Adair according to the BNW! I was actually inspired to suggest both of them to Megan by sisters I knew growing up named Gr33r and T!erney (alt characters used for privacy). Like Greer, Tierney has a unisex feel, and I love its rhythm. I know neither Greer nor Tierney lend themselves to natural nicknames, but they seemed too good a match for this family to not suggest them!

(5) Rhiannon, Rowan
There were a few inspirations behind these names: Rhian was listed as a style match for Cormac, but I though Rhiannon was a better idea, since then they’d have a longer name that they could shorten to the unisex-feeling Rhian, or also Rhia. Rowan is a match for Cullen and Adair as a girl’s name, and Finn as a boy’s name, so it seemed a great idea for Megan and her hubs!

Boy

(1) Malachy
The Irish author Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) had a brother named Malachy, so I’ve always thought of it as an Irish old-man name. It’s the name of an Irish saint, and Mac is an easy nickname for it, which is what made me think of it for this family, since Megan said what she likes about Cormac is actually the nickname Mac. And Malachy’s definitely uncommon!

(2) Jameson
I thought Jameson felt similar to Finnian — definitely Irish, not unfamiliar, and a longer name that can be shortened. I can definitely hear “Jamie” being said in an Irish brogue, and Finn and Jamie sound like amazing Irish brothers.

(3) Cameron
Cameron might be too popular for them (no. 57 in 2016 compared to Finnian not even being in the top 1000 [though Finn was no. 175]), but it’s Scottish and Cam is one of my favorite nicknames.

(4) Ronan, Rohan
While Rowan started as a boy name and has become more unisex, Ronan — which is a match for Finnian, Declan, and Cormac — is firmly masculine, as far as I know. And Ronan (and Arwen) made me think of Rohan, like the Riders of Rohan from Lord of the Rings — I think it’s maybe not as well known as a LOTR name as Arwen is? And Rohan is actually an Irish surname.

(5) Timothy or Thaddeus nicked Tadhg
I don’t think Megan and her hubs will love the familiar feel of Timothy (though it’s dropped in popularity, being no. 153 in 2016), though it does have an Irish feel — it’s one of those names that seems to be favored by Irish/Irish-American families of the past, and so it has a green sheen even though it’s biblical. Conversely, Thaddeus has the uncommonness I think they prefer (it was no. 641 in 2016), and though it does have traditional usage in Ireland, it doesn’t have an Irish feel like Timothy. But the reason I’m including them on my list of suggestions is because both have been used as the Anglo version of the super Irish name Tadhg. In fact, I have a devotion to one of the Irish martyrs, a Dominican priest named Bl. Thaddeus Moriarty, and he’s sometimes listed as Bl. Tadhg Moriarty. I think Tadhg is one of the coolest Irish boy names —
it’s said like the first syllable of “tiger” — but like with Saoirse, its spelling is a challenge and no one will know how to say it. That’s why I suggested Timothy or Thaddeus as the given name, and Tadhg as the nickname — of the two, I think Timothy is a better match as a brother for Finnian.

And those are all my ideas for Megan and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Finnian Daniel?