Birth announcement: Tristan Raphael!

I posted a consultation for Nicole and her husband Brenden back in August for their tie-breaking fifth baby — a boy! — and Nicole has let me know her little guy has arrived! They gave him the tremendous name … Tristan Raphael!

Nicole writes,

He’s here, he’s here!

We kept his name Tristan but went with Raphael as his middle because our family has experienced amazing healing by taking the leap of faith we took by relocating last fall.

Tristan Raphael Flynn arrived on 10/12/20 @ 1:22 pm weighing 7 lb 1.6 oz.”

Nicole had commented on the consultation post, sharing that Tristan was a name she loved, and she’d separately told me of some combos she was thinking of with Tristan, so I’m so thrilled that she and her hubby went with it! And I love Raphael as the middle name: Tristan Raphael is such a handsome combination!

Congratulations to Nicole and Brenden and big sibs Faith, Seth, Veronica, and Kieran, and happy birthday Baby Tristan!!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon (not an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

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 and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Michael Gabriel! (And a nickname question)

I posted a consultation for girl names for Dana and her hubby back in October, but they ended up having a boy! Dana let me know that they’ve named him after his dad — the so angelic … Michael Gabriel!

She writes,

Just wanted to let you know that we gave birth to our baby boy on Wednesday, Jan 22, the national day of prayer for the unborn. We did name him Michael Gabriel, after his father 😀 7 lbs, 3 oz and almost 21″ long. So far the transition from one to two seems to be going well! So we weren’t able to use any of the beautiful suggestions for girl names this time, but hopefully we’ll have many more opportunities!

Michael Gabriel is such a handsome, heavy-hitting combo!! And I, too, love the significance of a baby born on the national day of prayer for the unborn!

Dana had another question, which you all can help with:

One little dilemma I thought I’d ask you about… So my husband goes by Mikey, his dad goes by Mike. My husband really wants to call our son Mikey, too, but I think it is too confusing to have two Mikeys running around, haha! I’d like to call him Gabe, and I think he looks like a Gabe 😉 But my husband isn’t keen on it now. So even though it was easy to name him, we still haven’t decided what to actually call him! Of course we could use Michael or Gabriel, but we both really like nicknames. Another friend suggested, ‘Mick,’ any other ideas? No worries if not- just thought I’d ask!

Of course I have some ideas! 😀 I can certainly see how two Mikeys can be confusing! There is a precedent for it — it’s not for nothing that Seniors and Juniors are sometimes known as “Big Dan” and “Little Dan,” for example, so Big Mikey and Little Mikey could be cute, but if Dana’s not feeling it, maybe:

— I’ve sometimes suggested Miles or Milo as nicknames for Michael, both because of the “Mil” being contained in “Michael,” and because behindthenamesays that, while the origin of Miles is unknown for sure, it’s been associated with the Latin miles, meaning “soldier,” for a long time. I love a “soldier” nickname for Michael — the warrior angel! Additionally, both Miles/Myles and Milo have been used in Ireland as anglicizations of the old Irish name Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — a legit Marian name for a boy! My only hesitation with Miles is that it’s got similar letters to big sister’s name, Mary Elise … but since she always goes by Elise, it’s practically no issue at all, right? (Unless it bothers them, in which case maybe Milo would be better?)

— Maybe Mitch? Behindthename says Mitchell is derived from Michael, and with the first three letters of Michael being “Mich,” Mitch definitely seems doable.

— Maybe a different nickname for Gabriel? I’ve seen Gib and Gil, both of which I love.

— Maybe a mash-up nickname for Michael Gabriel? Like … Mel? Hm. Maybe this idea doesn’t work so well with Michael Gabriel.

— Maybe Junior? Or a name that nods to him being a Junior/the Second? I did a quick search for nicknames for babies that are The Second and saw Twain, Dewey (like for the French “deux”), and Chip (like “chip off the old block”). Or a name for a Third, since both Dana’s husband and his dad are Michael? Like Trip, Tripper, Trey, Tres/Trace.

— Or a nickname unrelated to his name? Like Buddy?

I don’t mind Mick — I have an uncle named Michael whose family has called him Mick and Mickey (though he’s Mike to the rest of the world). One thing to be aware of is that Mick has a history of being used as a derogatory term for the Irish, but that same link includes a list of men who have gone by Mick (including Mick Jagger) so it can definitely work! There’s also Mickey Mantle (a pretty great example) (his given name was actually Mickey!) and Mickey Mouse (which may or may not be an appealing example of the name).

What other ideas do all of you have?

Congratulations to Dana and her husband and big sister Elise, and happy birthday Baby Michael!!

Michael Gabriel with his parents and big sister ❤

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Birth announcement: Michael Dominic!

I posted a consultation for Vanessa and her husband two years ago this month, when they were hoping to add to their family via adoption. Vanessa let me know that they were able to bring home a long-hoped-for baby this past summer — a boy! They gave him the saintly, handsome name … Michael Dominic!

Vanessa writes,

This email is a long time coming…I don’t know where the last few months have gone! On July 6, our sweet Michael Dominic came home to us. We are grateful and overjoyed to have a new baby in the house — thanks be to God! So how did we decide on the name?

We ended up throwing out some of our ‘rules’ as his name seemed to ‘just happen.’ Rule #1 — a name that cannot nickname easily — Michael almost immediately becomes Mike at some point in life to most Michael’s but we’ll just call him Michael within the family and hope we can keep it going. As he gets older, I guess he’ll decide! We loved the link to St. Michael the Archangel and we pray that prayer daily. It turns out St. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of the sick and we learned that AFTER we decided on his name. This seemed appropriate & affirmed the name to us because Michael was born with a significant kidney issue that will need to be followed and could potentially lead to a kidney transplant. For now, Michael is doing well and we’re grateful for that but any prayers your readers could spare would be greatly appreciated!

Also, Michael was a name that originally we’d only considered as a middle name, if at all. But for some reason for THIS child, Michael was the first name that came into my mind when I got the first call from our social worker. When I told my husband about the call, he immediately said, “Maybe this baby should be Michael David” (his name is David!). After a few days of thinking about that name, he suggested Michael Dominic — since we love the rosary and St. Dominic was entrusted with the rosary by Our Lady… it seemed to just fit. Plus as my husband said, “I think he should have his own name.”

I also thought Michael flowed well with Nicholas, John, Mark and Mary. I especially love that the last three children begin with M! Not sure why, but it fits for me!!

So it stuck. Once we thought about it a few days (and this seems to happen to us with each child), we couldn’t get excited about any other name. And we only had 10 days from that first call until the day he came home! Our other children were absolutely thrilled to have a new baby. We waited to tell them until the night before and they nearly didn’t go to sleep! We all drove together to pick him up and it was a beautiful and memorable day.

On another note, our 4 other children loved the name Dominic and even called him Dominic for the first week or two. It was funny because many of our friends and neighbors were confused about what his name was! When they’d speak to our children, they’d refer to him as Dominic! We didn’t correct the children and we knew they’d eventually get it right — of course they did! I wonder if you or any of your readers have had any situations like that!

I loved every detail of this story! Doesn’t Vanessa’s joy just flow out of her email? I love the combo Michael Dominic and all the significance it has for Vanessa and her hubs!

I’m interested, too, in Vanessa’s question: whether or not any of you have had the experience of your other children calling the baby by a different name than the intended call name? The only experience we had that was sort of similar is when we intended the baby to be called exclusively by a nickname, but the older boys called him by his first name for a while after birth. I’d love to hear about your experiences with this!

Please also keep Michael in your prayers, in regards to his kidney issue.

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and big siblings Nicholas, John, Mark, and Mary, and happy birthday Baby Michael!!

(Some of these photos are from Michael’s homecoming day! ❤ )


Michael Dominic with his family ❤

Celebrity guest: Quad mom Justina

I don’t remember how I came across Justina, but I think it was on Twitter … I swooned over “Setting the world on fire, Catherine of Siena style” in her Twitter bio as well as her marriage/NFP/pro-life posts, so I already knew she was my kinda girl, and then when I was clicking around as you do when you “meet” someone new online, I checked out her and her husband Matt’s wedding photos and honeymoon photos, which are like from a magazine (both the photos and the subjects — stunning couple!), and then I discovered she was expecting quadruplets (!!!!). Well. I was immediately smitten with this beautiful mama, and followed her on Instagram to keep up with her journey, and when she had the babies I just died over how precious they are.

And their names! So amazing! Of course I had to ask her if she would mind sharing their story, and she graciously agreed, and I’m so delighted to share it with all of you today! So without further ado … ((drumroll)) … read all about the Kopp Quad Squad!



Kate: Quadruplets are a big deal! Would you mind sharing your reaction to finding out you were expecting four babies? Especially after previously losing a baby? Is there anything else about your story you’d like to share?

Justina: Quads ARE a big deal! After losing our first baby, Francis Jude, to an early miscarriage just seven weeks into our marriage, we went through a season of unexplained secondary infertility, most likely due to PCOS. After a few months of working with my doctor, we found ourselves very pregnant! The chances of this were less than 0.3%. I’ve heard estimates as low as 1 in 700,000! At that first ultrasound at 6 weeks, Matt and I were nervous about an ectopic pregnancy because I had been feeling sharp, specific pain. At the beginning of the ultrasound, I thought I saw four gestational sacs, but I didn’t want to say anything and assumed I was wrong. When we saw the first baby’s heartbeat, we both cried with joy because we had never seen that before with our Francis. Then the sonographer chuckled and labeled that baby, Baby A. Next came Baby B. We got so excited about twins! Then, the sonographer found Baby C, and we laughed and made jokes about how I would grow a third arm during the pregnancy to accommodate triplets. The sonographer took a look at the fourth gestational sac, and it was empty. Strangely, we felt peace and I thought about how that little saint would join Francis in heaven. Our doctor stepped in to take a peak, and I noted that we hadn’t gotten a photo of Baby C, and as she went back for that, Baby D appeared in the fourth sac! QUADS! We just LAUGHED! There is nothing else to do by laugh in that situation! Don’t worry, though; two days later, everything hit us and we panicked a bit.

Kate: Did you know the genders ahead of time, or were you surprised (and therefore have to pick eight names)?

Justina: We found out the genders at 16 weeks. We had enough surprises for that pregnancy, so we chose to find out. I refused to brainstorm names for all the possible gender combinations, so we really didn’t talk about names until we knew what we were having.

Kate: I’d love to hear your thoughts on the particular challenges of picking names for four babies!

Justina: Four names was hard, but not as hard as it would have been for us if we were having more girls! I could name boys for days, no problem. That girl name, though… that was the challenge. For the past five years or so, I’ve kept a running list of boy names and girl names that I liked. When it came to naming our daughter, I looked at that list and hated every name I saw! For a while, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to find one we liked!

Kate: Could you list your babies’ names, and tell us how you and your hubby choose them? Were there particular saints you wanted to honor, for example? Are there layers of meaning to each name other than the obvious? (E.g., family names, that kind of thing.) Any other place you looked to for inspiration? (If you named your baby in heaven, I’d love to hear about him or her as well, but I understand if you’d prefer to keep it private.)


Cora Immaculée – We knew we wanted our little girl to have a Marian name, but we didn’t want Mary, Marie, Maria, etc. This little lady had a bright spot on her heart in her early ultrasounds, so that brought name Cora, which means “heart” or “maiden.” Immaculée is a nod to Our Lady. Together, her name means “Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Raphael Gerard – St. Raphael is actually both Matt’s and my confirmation saint! Matt picked him because he’s the patron saint of travelers, and I picked him because he’s the patron saint of physicians (I had my eye on a career in medicine) and because my parents named my miscarried siblings Raphael. The real kicker is that St. Raphael is the patron saint of singles and happy meetings. So, here we are. Happily met with a lot of babies. The name means “God has healed,” a fitting name for a pregnancy after a miscarriage. Gerard was a last minute switch from Blaise. The babies were born on the feast of St. Gerard, the patron saint of expectant mothers. We call him Raph (rhymes with calf).

Theodore Ambrose – Theodore is the name of Matt’s late maternal grandfather, and both Theodore and Ambrose are family names on my side. Theodore means “God’s gift,” which is kind of funny because Matt’s name also means “gift of God.” Sts. Theodore and Ambrose are saints that we both admire, too. St. Theodore was a martyr and one of the “soldier saints.” St. Ambrose played a huge part in St. Augustine’s conversion, served the poor, and stood up against heresies of his time. These two saints together represented the unique calling we have as Catholics in this age, to defend our faith bravely and pray for conversion of hearts. We call this little guy Theo.

Benedict Peter – We both came up with this name on our own and brought it to each other one night. When we studied in Rome, we both got to read at papal Masses with Pope Benedict XVI, and I think I *might* be B16’s biggest fan. St. Benedict is also a saint we admire, and we love that the name means “blessed.” Peter was also my dad’s name. He passed away 9.5 years ago, and I wanted to honor him without taking away an opportunity for my younger siblings to use the name as a first name when then have children of their own someday. St. Peter is also the saint that just gets me, as we are both Sanguine/Choleric. We call our sweet boy Ben.

Francis Jude – Our little saint is named after St. Francis and St. Jude. St. Francis is a saint that I grew close to during my semester in Rome, and on our honeymoon we spent a few days in Assisi. We felt such joy and peace during our time there, and it stands out for both of us as such a special time in those early days of our marriage. St. Jude was picked because he is the patron saint of impossible causes, and gosh, did things feel impossible after losing our first baby. Both of these saints are October saints, which is when we lost our sweet babe. Francis can also be Frances, as we do not know the gender of our saint.

Ultimately, we wanted our children to have strong, traditional, and timeless names. We love what we picked for our kiddos. They are all fraternal, so we wanted them to have names that could stand alone if they were not quadruplets, too.

Aren’t these names ah-MAZ-ing??!! And every single detail of the naming is so perfect!!

Be sure also to check out Justina’s blog, Love Multiplied, whose first post (which she purposely put up this past Sunday on the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade 💕) tells more about finding out they were expecting quadruplets, and their meeting with the perinatologist. Such a great witness!

Thank you thank you to Justina for sharing her family’s wonderful story with us!! Check out how big and happy these beautiful babies are!!

Cora Immaculée, Raphael Gerard, Theodore Ambrose, Benedict Peter

(Cora, Raph, Theo, and Ben)


Birth announcement: Gabriel John!

Remember that mama of this past weekend, who I asked you all to pray for because she was in labor? That was our dear reader Laura, who has agonized over so many great boy names since she found out her first ultrasound, which seemed to indicate she was having a girl, was actually wrong. Her wee man has been born and named and I’m beyond delighted to announce: Gabriel John!

Laura writes,

Everything went awesome!  We named him Gabriel John. Up till the last few days I was still throwing around Peter, Gabriel, Henry, Leo and Jude. In he end I knew I wanted to keep our Biblical boy theme. But Peter was still in contention even during my labor. With him coming on a Saturday, the Marian Gabriel seemed like the perfect fit.

As for his middle name all pregnancy I had felt so comforted by the letters of St John and my father-in-law’s name is John. With it being Father’s Day weekend, using John seems even more perfect. While I don’t find the flow perfect, I’m excited to add St John as an intercessor for our family!

Sooo wonderful!! I have such a soft spot for Gabriel and the nickname Gabe, which I’ve seen Laura reference during her deliberations. I’d love to list her older kiddos’ names (Gabriel’s #7!), but I forgot to ask if I could and I don’t want to delay this announcement any longer. So I’ll leave it to Laura to leave them in the comments if she’d like. I will say that Gabriel is her fifth boy, and all her boys have New Testament names.

Updated to add: Laura said I could list the others’ names!


So great, right?!

Congratulations to Laura and her husband and all the big brothers and sisters, and happy birthday Baby Gabriel!!


Gabriel John

Names for the Joyful Mysteries

Yesterday was one of my very favorite feast days and the first of the Joyful Mysteries, which makes today the perfect Tuesday to post names associated with them! And also, Dwija’s little Helen was discharged from the NICU yesterday and is home with her family, happy and thriving. Joy all around!!

Today’s post is a continuation of my Mysteries of the Rosary series, having already done names for the Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, and your comments have been invaluable — keep them coming!

These are the Joyful Mysteries (read more here) (and here’s how to pray the Rosary):

The Annunciation by Gabriel to Mary (yesterday’s feast!)
The Visitation of Mary to Her Cousin Elizabeth
The Nativity of Jesus
The Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

Names associated with the Joyful Mysteries might include:


Angela, Angeline, Angelica, Archangela, Angel — the angel names all point to St. Gabriel

Annunziata — an Italian name referring to the Annunciation

Annunciación — a Spanish name referring to the Annunciation

Christina, Christine, Christiane/a, Kristin, etc. — the Christ- names refer to Jesus in the last three Mysteries

Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elise, Elisa, Eliza, etc. — for St. Elizabeth, Our Lady’s cousin

Emmanuelle, Emmanuella — for Jesus, especially in the Nativity

Felicity, Felicitas — means “happiness,” for the Joyful Mysteries

Fiat — for Our Lady’s agreement to what Gabriel announced (“let it be done”); Amy suggested Fiat recently, and suggested the particular first name-middle name combo Marian Fiat

Gabrielle, Gabriela — for St. Gabriel

Jane, Joan, Jo(h)anna — for St. John the Baptist, who leapt in his mother’s womb for joy at being in the presence of his Unborn Savior

Josephine, Josefa — for good St. Joseph

Joy, Gioia — means “joy” in English and Italian, respectively

Joyce — behindthename says it originally came from a name meaning “lord,” and that its more recent popularity may be related to its similarity to the Middle English word for “to rejoice.” “Lord” or “rejoicing” — it’s all good for a Joyful Mysteries name!

Mary, Maria, Marie, etc. — for Our Lady, of course

Natalie, Natalia — literally refers to Christmas Day

Noel, Noelle — French for “Christmas”

Presentación — a Spanish name referring to the Presentation

Seraphina, Serafina, Seraphine — refers to the angels (specifically the seraphim, but I think the angelic meaning is what most people think of)




Angelo, Angel — see the Angel names above

Annunziato — see Annunziata above

Baptista, Baptiste, Battista, Bautista — alone or in combination with a John name, for St. John the Baptist (these are all listed as masculine by behindthename, but they could easily be used for girls as well, as I don’t think they come across as masculine [or at least not exclusively so] in America)

Christian, Christopher — see the Christ- names above

Emmanuel — see Emmanuelle above

Felix — see Felicity above

Gabriel — of course!

Jesús — it’s not considered reverent to use the name of Jesus in English, but it is in Spanish

John — for St. John the Baptist

Joseph — see Josephine above

Noel — see Noel above

Ryan — means “little king,” which especially calls to mind the Baby Jesus

Seraphim — see Seraphina above

What others can you add to this list? (There are lots more Christmas names, which I’ve posted about a few times — I just included the ones here that seemed particular to what I think of when I’m meditating on the Mystery of the Nativity.)

+ My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. +

Baby name consultant: Little sister for Justin

Kara and her husband are expecting their second baby, a little girl! Their older son is:

Justin Michael

Because, as Kara writes,

Our little boy is Justin Michael, Justin because we both love St. Justin Martyr and Michael because it is my husband’s middle name and I love the angels :)”

I can’t tell you how much I love that St. Justin Martyr was the inspiration here! I think his name definitely needs more use.

Kara had originally emailed me before they knew they were having a girl, and had said,

[My husband] is a cradle catholic and I am a recent convert, so we really want to name our children with saint names or Marian names … So far the names I have picked are Charles (to be called Charlie) Gabriel and Eloise Marie. I tend to like more unorthodox, old fashioned and elegant names, and my husband is very, very traditional.”

I included this bit for further info regarding their taste in names (Charles Gabriel, love!). After they found out they were having a girl Kara wrote again,

Just got the ultrasound results and it’s a girl! My husband and I both agree on Regina and Eloise but we are still unsure. Not sure what kind of middle name would go with Regina, and our last name ends in an a so the middle name needs to be substantial (lol). I also love Avonlea, Ava for short, but my husband is wavering. He really dislikes anything totally out of the ordinary. He likes Alexandra and Alexis but I don’t like either one … We would both really like a Marian component and possibly a saint as well.”

Okay, so first off, I love Eloise Marie, just lovely. It’s fairly uncommon but familiar, and has sweet nickname potential in Ellie.

Their new idea of Regina is a great one! Like Eloise it’s pretty uncommon these days (even more so than Eloise), and very Marian, which is always my favorite! I think Regina Marie is a fine first name-middle name combo. Regina Caeli is another idea they might like — it means Queen of Heaven in Latin, and I’ve seen that full combo used as a first name/middle name set, as well as just Caeli as a first name — you can pronounce it KAY-lee or CHAY-lee as you like. Some other middle name ideas I had to go with Regina were Therese, Rose, and Bernadette — I like Regina Rose, Regina Therese, and Regina Bernadette very much — lots of faith significance in each one. The full Regina is lovely, but if they wanted a nickname, I know Gina is traditional and obvious, but I’ve also thought Ree, Ria, Rina, and the tomboyish Reggie could also work.

Also, this mom recently named her daughter Sylvie Regina, which Kara and her hubs also might like — it sounds like the name of the Marian hymn “Salve Regina,” and Sylvie is the French variant of Sylvia, which Eloise makes me think of. I love Sylvie!

Avonlea! What a fun name! And the nickname Ava is beautiful. I wonder what Kara and her hubs would think of the name Avila? It’s so similar in sound to Avonlea, and it’s also a place name, and can also take the nickname Ava, but it’s super saintly as it refers to St. Teresa of Avila. I’m also thinking of a mom I know who named her daughter Ava Maria, because it sounds like Ave Maria, so that’s an idea too.

As for Kara’s hubs’ favorites, Alexandra and Alexis are both sweet and feminine, and I have some ideas below that might suit his taste while still being a name Kara likes.

Okay! So here are my other ideas for this Little Miss:

(1) Genevieve or Evangeline
I’m including these two together because I think of them as being so similar — both with a heavy V presence; both long and sophisticated; both can take the super adorable nicknames Evie or Vivi. St. Genevieve is the patron of Paris, and was influenced by their idea of Eloise; Evangeline refers to the Gospel writers (the Evangelists) and was influenced by Avonlea (it was listed as a style match in the Baby Name Wizard, which, as you all know, lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity). I love them both for Kara and her hubs, and I don’t know which one I would suggest more than the other! The fact that they both have those V’s in them reminded me of Avonlea, and the nicknames Evie and Vivi are similar in sound to Ava.

(2) Victoria nicknamed Cora
Victoria was listed as a style match for Alexandra, and as soon as I saw it I thought it might be just the name to bridge Kara’s name taste and her husband’s. It peaked in the 90’s, like Alexandra and Alexis, but like them it’s so sophisticated and feminine that I think of it as timeless. It means “victory,” which I associate with Jesus, and for an extra faith-y connection, Charlotte @ To Harriet Louise recently said she liked the nickname Cora for Victoria, which I thought was so amazing, and we’re talked a bit about Cora being used recently in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (here, including in the comments; cor means “heart” in Latin).

(3) K/Catherine
Originally I had Catherine on my list, for St. Catherine of Siena — Catherine is the French spelling of the name, which Eloise made me think of — but then I was thinking about Kara’s name, and her husband’s like of Alexandra, and it all made me think of how I’ve seen St. Katherine of Alexandria spelled with a K most often (though sometimes with a C), and that made me think — maybe Katherine Alexandr(i)a as a full name would appeal to them both? It could be seen as a subtle nod to Kara –sharing of initials and some other letters — and I think Kate is one of the greatest nicknames ever — spunky and sweet at once. (And I’m not just saying that because Katherine/Kate is my name! 😀 )

(4) Christiana
Another name that was a style match for Alexandra/Alexis was Christina, which does have a bit of a dated feel I think (though also timeless), but I’ve always loved the Christ- names, being that they’re Jesus names, so I thought maybe an updated version would suit Kara and her hubs. Christiana’s my favorite of them — I love its international feel, and the fact that it’s not as common as the other (also lovely, but well used) variants like Christina, Christine, Kristin, etc.

And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What would you suggest for Justin Michael’s little sister?

Names “foreign to Christian sentiment”

I had a different post in mind for today — I was actually almost done writing it — when I read today’s Baby Name of the Day over at Appellation Mountain: Lucifer. I had some thoughts that I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow to share, so here we are!

I thought Abby did a great job with the post, providing lots of info about the name Lucifer’s place in history, religion, and current pop culture. Lucifer does have a beautiful meaning, and my 11yo was actually asking me recently about it, the fact that its meaning of “light bearer” or similar is full of faith significance, so why can’t we use it? I explained to him that the Church teaches that babies must not be given names which are “foreign to Christian sentiment.” No matter what Lucifer means, it is the deepest depth of all names that are “foreign to Christian sentiment.” There’s just no getting around that one.

My son and I went on to talk more about such things, and I told him that I thought the list of names that are “foreign to Christian sentiment” was one of those things that changes with time and culture — like Adolf (who’s in the news today for other reasons, oh my). At one time it would have been totally fine to use for Catholic babies — it’s a saint’s name, and before WWII had a decent amount of use so a lot of us probably have Adolfs in our family trees, but now I would definitely consider it to be “foreign to Christian sentiment.” Do you agree? I don’t feel that way about its variants though — Adalwolf, Adolphus, Adolfo are all far enough removed from Hitler in my mind that I wouldn’t think twice if I heard of a baby named those names. For my time and culture (21st century English-speaking northeast America), I don’t think Adalwolf, Adolphus, and Adolfo are “foreign to Christian sentiment.” But is Hitler known as Adolfo amongst those who speak Italian? Do Italians have the same reaction of fear and horror when they hear Adolfo as I do when I hear Adolf? If so, perhaps Adolfo is a name “foreign to Christian sentiment” to them in their time and culture. And maybe one day it will all change again, when some amazing Adolf comes along — perhaps a great saint — and the passage of time and the brilliance of the new Adolf will dim our recollections of Hitler’s evil.

Interestingly, the thought that “perhaps … the passage of time and the brilliance of the new Adolf will dim our recollections of Hitler’s evil” is, I think, definitely something to be feared happening to the name Lucifer. It’s got a great meaning; it’s got a current appearance/sound with the Luc- beginning and its similar rhythm to Christopher (which, interestingly, has a similar meaning: “Christ bearer”); it’s sort of exotic because it’s unusual and edgy because of its associations, which are the kind of characteristics that are catnip to certain modern-day parents. Like the parent from this comment from last year who wanted to name his daughter Lilith *because of* the dark associations. If one of the 14 boys who were named Lucifer last year were to become a saint, I could see the name quickly becoming a possibility, even among parents of faith. Would that be a good thing? Names matter, and saying the name of the devil repeatedly and without worry seems very worrisome indeed. I would imagine a holy person who was given that name at birth would change his name, and then he’d be St. So-and-So. (And then people like me would research the heck out of all names associated with him so as to have lots of options for naming a baby after him, including his birth name. Oh dear.)

Anyway. I’ve said a million times and written that for me, “The intention behind the bestowing of the name can be as important — or more so — than the name’s actual origin or meaning or other specifics.” I hold really firm and fast to that notion — except in this case. In this case, intention is altogether completely trumped by the “other specifics.” I say again, and Abby agreed: Lucifer is not an okay name for a baby.

What other names can you think of besides Lucifer, Adolf, and Lilith that would be on the “foreign to Christian sentiment” list?


The names of our Guardian Angels

Happy feast of the Guardian Angels!

I’ve read so many lovely things online today about them, like If Jiminy Cricket Had a Halo at the Dominicana Journal and Pope Francis: Respect and listen to your guardian angel on Vatican Radio. Reading about St. Pio and his guardian angel has always fascinated me (“Send me your guardian angel”: Padre Pio, by his assistant Fr. Alessio Parente, is my favorite) — I love telling my boys how St. Pio’s guardian angel was his childhood playmate! (Their eyes get huge!) My boys also received Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s Angels for Kids last Christmas, and Fr. Pascale Parente’s The Angels in Catholic Teaching and Tradition is on my wish list.

Of course, I’m also interested in their names, so I found it somewhat striking that St. Pio (at least in the book I mention above) never referred to his angel by name. He’d call him things like, “My little friend,” but never a name. I came across a while ago something that may explain why:

“217 Popular devotion to the Holy Angels, which is legitimate and good, can, however, also give rise to possible deviations … The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.” — Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines, 2001.

I’m familiar with the idea of asking God, in prayer, to let you know your angel’s name, as mentioned in the post Everything you ever wanted to know about your guardian angel,

(“The following question and answer study of the guardian angels is based on the Summa Theologica I, qq.50-64 (angels in themselves) and qq. 106-114 (angels in relation to creatures). STI, q.113, is particularly enlightening, since it is a question devoted wholly to the guardianship of angels over human beings …

Does my angel have a name? Most certainly, God has named all his angels – or perhaps the higher angels have named the lower ones.

How do I find out my guardian angel’s name? You could try asking. But it is also possible that it will not be revealed to you immediately. I should think that in heaven, we would all know guardian angels’ names.”

But I’d never heard of the practice of assigning a name to one’s angel. It must be widespread enough that the Vatican needed to address it though — are you familiar with this?

Taylor Marshall says,

We cannot name our Guardian Angel because naming another implies authority over the other. I name my children and I name my pets. I have authority over them.

However, my Guardian Angel is OVER me in authority:

Angel of God my Guardian Dear
to whom God’s love commits me here
Ever this day be at my side
To light, to guard, to *RULE,* to guide.

Therefore, I do not have the authority to name my angel. My angel is not my dog, he’s my instructor.

When God gives a new name to someone (Abraham, Israel, Peter), he is signifying His authority over him as that person acts as His vicegerent in His name. Notably, God revealed the names of Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist to their parents before they were born to show His special authority in human redemption.”

He doesn’t give a source for this idea, though, so I’m not sure if it’s simply what he thinks, or if he got it from somewhere. Mark Shea offers,

[When the idea of naming one’s angel came up in conversation] Fr. Pacwa instantly had on the tip of his tongue the teaching of some mediaeval pope who had condemned the practice. I’m not clear on the reasoning, but the basic idea seems to be that angels are not our chums, but super-powerful spirit beings who should be treated with respect and not back-slapping bonhomie. Or so I gather.”

And a more frightening thought is argued:

There’s a deeper concern in naming, or trying to discover the name of, our guardian angels. The difficulty lies in discerning which spirits are responding to your seeking. Be assured that evil spirits are as interested in getting close to you as your guardian angel. They will find and use any way possible to derail your efforts to grow closer to God.

You won’t immediately be dragged down with the devil by naming your Guarding Angel, but you will be opening yourself to suggestions that may eventually lead you away from salvation.”

This last point doesn’t have any source offered either, and I admit I’m conflicted on it … on the one hand, how scary, if it’s true! On the other, if it was a real risk, wouldn’t that have been pointed out in the Vatican document I cite above? Also, if one prays to God to know the name of one’s guardian angel, why should one be afraid that an evil spirit might answer? It seems to me that line of thinking would lead one to question all answers to prayer, and perhaps even to think that one’s private conversations with God aren’t protected by Him. I can’t imagine any of that is right.

What have you all heard about all this? Do you know of any other Church sources regarding it?