Birth announcement: Thomas Gregory!

I had the great privilege of posting about Laura a few times in the past, including a birth announcement for her last baby, and I’m delighted to share that she’s had another baby! Another handsome boy, given the fantastic name … Thomas Gregory!

Laura writes,

I wanted to share with you and your readers that we welcomed Thomas Gregory on August 27. He joins Paul, Clare, Mark, Katharine, James, Andrew and Gabriel.

Some pregnancies I have agonized over the name but this time I decidedly quickly to use Thomas a name I’ve loved for a long time. The alliteration with our last name has held us off in the past but you, along with others I’ve mentioned it to, said that they didn’t find the flow problematic. My husband has definitely had more sway with the last two babies’ names so he was more than willing for me to take the lead. He has always loved the name too but just hesitated about the flow.

Thomas of course fits in with the other boys New Testament names. St. Thomas the Apostle always reminds me of the Holy Eucharist because of the tradition of repeating his prayer “My Lord and My God” after the consecration.

His middle name, Gregory, was the name of my mom’s older brother who was killed in the Korean War. I was close to my grandmother when she was alive and still feel quite close to her so passing along the name of her only son is meaningful to me and of course to my mom and her sisters as well. Also my due date was September 3 which is the feast of St. Gregory so that also made it feel like the right time to use the name.”

Is Thomas Gregory such a wonderful, strong combo?! I love the meaning behind each name! (And he was due on the feast of St. Gregory! So cool!)

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

thomas_gregory

Thomas Gregory

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren writes,

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

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

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

Names we are considering for a girl:

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

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

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

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

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

Names we are considering for a boy:

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

Family names we can’t use:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. Click here to read reviews and endorsements (and if you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated! 🙂).

Baby name consultation: Looking for slightly more traditional than they’ve already used, but still uncommon

Hillary and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a girl! This little lady joins big siblings (who are “ecstatic,” according to Hillary — so cute!):

Gideon Charles (“Gideon was born while [hubby] and I were living and working in Ethiopia as missionaries. Gideon is a popular name in Ethiopia. His middle name, Charles, was [hubby’s] father’s middle name who died just before we married.”)

Chiri Patricia (“Chiri (pronounced Cheery) was named after the town we lived in in Ethiopia. Her middle name, Patricia, is named after my paternal grandmother Patricia who was a wonderfully generous and beautiful person.”)

Jasper Harrison (“Jasper was named after a friend of [hubby’s] in Kenya who was a camel rancher, who died just before Jasper was born. Harrison was my maternal grandfather’s name, and in addition we lived in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at the time, so wanted to honor our town as we did for Chiri.”)

Aren’t these cool names?? I love them all! Not only do I love them just for themselves, but also all the meaning behind each one, such a great job!

Hillary writes,

For our little girl, we may be interested in a slightly more traditional, but still not too common, name. We have taken to calling her ‘Josie” short for Josephine, as we have a special love for St. Joseph, to whom we prayed a novena when we returned from Africa and Jeff was job hunting. St. Joseph has cared for our family in many ways. I am not crazy about another JJ name, however, as [their last name begins with J and Dad and Jasper’s names both begin with J], Josie J___ might be too much!

Jeff really likes Polly (Polly is a paternal aunt of mine) but I worry it will bring parrots to mind.

My middle name is Jane, and there are many generations of women before me on my father’s side with the middle name Jane, so that is a good possibility. Jane J___ is fraught with alliteration concerns, however! [Not only do they both begin with J, but Jane sounds quite similar to their last name.]

Some other names we have talked about: Grace, Susanna, Heidi, Marian, Polly; we also like the names Fern and Daisy

Other names with significant relatives in our family: Meredith, Ann, Dorothy, Joyce, Sandra, Elizabeth, Jennifer

I loved working on this! So many wonderful names! My first thought when reading Hillary’s email was to tackle the issue of Josie. I love that they’re already calling the baby Josie, and I love that it’s because of their love for St. Joseph and his care for their family! I had two idea of ways to work with this, if they were open to keeping St. Joseph in the baby’s name in some form (given name or nickname):

  • Since they’re already calling the baby Josie, I wondered if I could find names that Josie could possibly be a nickname for that don’t start with J. I know that doesn’t solve the Josie J___ dilemma, but it might help soften it. I searched for girl names that include “jo” somewhere in them on babynamewizard.com’s Name Finder, and was intrigued by Marjory/Marjorie and Marjolaine/Marjolein. I liked that Marjory/Marjorie is more of a “more traditional, but still not too common” kind of name, as Hillary mentioned they might prefer this time. It’s a variant of Margaret via Margaret’s medieval variant Margery, which was actually a style match for Marian from their list when I did research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard! (You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the BNW as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity.) Marjolaine/Marjolein are variants of “marjoram” (the herb), kind of a cool way to work in a flower-type/nature name without being too obvious. With Marjorie/Marjory/Marjolaine/Marjolein, they might like to pair it with an S-heavy middle name, to make sense of Josie as a nickname — Sandra from their list of family names might do perfectly!
  • If they didn’t like the idea of Josie being a non-conventional nickname for a different name as mentioned above, maybe they’d prefer to consider Josephine as a given name with a different nickname? Posie/Pos(e)y has traditional usage as a Josephine nickname, which is so sweet, and I’ve often thought Sophie could work as well, since all its letters are contained within Josephine.
  • Then I thought that Hillary and her hubs might like Posie/Pos(e)y as a given name on its own! It’s similar to Polly (in that Polly was a nickname in origin — a nickname for Mary) and rhymes with the Josie they’ve already been using; it’s a nickname for Josephine so the connection to St. Joseph is solid; and it doesn’t begin with J! Posie J___ is absolutely darling.

As for the other names they’re considering:

  • Polly is sweet! I can’t imagine the parrot connection being really problematic — I grew up with a Polly, and I don’t remember it ever being an issue with her, and names like Polly (sweet and vintage-y) are definitely back in style (though Polly itself hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the 70’s). I wonder if they’ve considered Molly? Molly and Polly are both originally nicknames for Mary, arising about the same time, and Molly avoids the parrot association altogether.
  • If Jane is the middle name, which is an idea I love, I don’t think the alliteration is that big a deal — so few people know a person’s middle name as they go through life, you know? It’s not like they’d be saying her full name every time. And the middle spot is often where people put names that they want to use, or feel obligated to use, that don’t work as first names or that they don’t care for style-wise but want to fit in there anyway. Another possibility is to use a Jane variant — it won’t be quite as great as having Hillary’s exact middle name and that of her ancestors, but it could be pretty great nonetheless. If the long A of Jane and the surname is particularly problematic, maybe even switching to Joan or Jean would suffice? Otherwise, there are so many great options: Jane is a John variant, so any of the feminine John variants would work, like Gianna and Joanna, Hanne/Hanna, Yana and Siobhan. Another possibility is Ione, as some sites that argue that Ione is a feminine form of John. Nameberry says, “Some livelier foreign versions of Joan include Giovanna, Siobhan, Ione and Juana” and apparently there are several places in literature (like Shakespeare!) where Ione was used interchangeably with Joan — so cool, right?
  • Grace: Lovely, simple and sweet.
  • Susanna: The girl name we’ve hung on to through all our six boys! I love it, such a great name.
  • Heidi: Another that I would classify as simple and sweet, like Polly and Grace.
  • Marian: Marian always strikes me as one of the stronger Mary names, probably because of Maid Marian — I love that association!
  • Fern and Daisy: Fantastic names!
  • Regarding their family names, I assumed Hillary and her hubs would probably pull from them for the middle name, and didn’t consider them as first-name contenders, I hope that’s correct!

Alrighty, so I already mentioned that I always do research in the Baby Name Wizard, and really enjoyed seeing what the results of it were for this family — I love seeing names emerge as matches for parents’ overall style. I also plugged Gideon, Jasper, Polly, Heidi, and Fern into the Name Matchmaker on babynamewizard.com (it only lets you do three names at a time, so I tried to choose the girl names that I thought would give me the best results; I searched Gideon, Jasper, and Polly first; Gideon, Jasper, and Heidi second; and Heidi, Polly, and Fern third), which revealed some additional ideas. Based on all that, these are my suggestions:

(1) Naomi
The style matches for Gideon were really exciting to me, I felt like they nailed what I perceive to be Hillary and her hubs’ style pretty well. Naomi was one of them, and I love that Naomi is, in my mind, exactly the kind of name they’d be looking for with “slightly more traditional, but still not too common.” Although … when I looked it up I discovered it was actually no. 69 in 2017, which I’m so surprised by! But I still love it for this family, and I think it also matches up really well with the feel of Susanna (especially spelled Susannah).

(2) Lydia
If sisters are going to have names that seem different in style, I like for there to be some other thread that links them together. When I saw Lydia as a match for Gideon, Grace, and Susanna, I thought it might be perfect because, like Chiri, it’s a place name — the Lydia in the bible was so named because she was from Lydia.

(3) Eden
This, too, was influenced by Chiri’s name, as well as by the fact that it’s a match for Gideon — Eden is a place name, of course, and I think it goes really well with the other kiddos’ names. It was no. 139 in 2017, so I don’t think it’s too unusual (but not too common either). I also looove the nickname Edie!

(4) Mercy
As I said, I really felt like the style matches for Gideon were such great suggestions for this family, and Mercy was another one! Like Grace it’s a virtue-type name, and I saw quite a bit of it (and other names with the same meaning) during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I did think that it could also work as a nickname for Meredith, if Hillary liked the idea of using her family name Meredith as a first name … Meredith Joyce would even bring in the “cy” to add to the “Mer” of Meredith, making it all very pleasing!

(5) Violet, Rose, Lily, Poppy
None of these except for Poppy are unusual, being nos. 48, 141, and 33 for the first three in 2017 (though Rose’s no. 141 is pretty great!), and Poppy was no. 689 — a top 1000 name! I’m so surprised by that as well! They were all matches for this family’s style: Violet for Gideon, Jasper, and Daisy; Rose for Jane and Daisy, and Rosie for Polly; Lily for Grace; and Poppy for Polly and Daisy! And of course I mentioned Posie/Posey and Marjolaine/Marjolein above, which are floral (ish) as well. So I thought it made sense to offer a, ahem, bouquet of choices for Hillary and her hubs! Haha! And actually, Susanna means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew! I’m not sure how that ties in, but it’s too cool not to mention.

(6) Adelaide
This was one of the results of the search on the Name Matchmaker, and it caught my eye because it’s a place name like Chiri and it’s also a variant of Heidi! At no. 276, it’s a nice option for familiar but not too common.

(7) Felicity
My last idea for this family is Felicity, which, like Adelaide, was another of the results on the Name Matchmaker. It’s no. 347 and very much like Adelaide in terms of being familiar but not too common. I also like that its meaning is “happiness,” which is a great meaning for a baby whose siblings are “ecstatic” about her arrival! I also like that Chiri is pronounced like Cheery, which gives it a really happy, sunny feel to me, so that could be a subtle tie-in between the two girls’ names. I also recently did a post on “meaning” nicknames, and one of the ones I’d seen suggested elsewhere was Bliss for Felicity, because of Felicity’s meaning — sisters Chiri and Felicity nicknamed Bliss might be taking the happy connection too far, but on the other hand … it could be perfect! If they like the idea of Felicity, but would prefer more nickname options, I did a spotlight of the name here. One of the ideas is Lily, which is a nice connection to the floral names I suggested above; another is Liddy, which is like Lydia.

And those are my ideas for Hillary and her hubs’ new baby girl! ! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Gideon, Chiri, and Jasper?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

Baby name consultation: Longed-for first baby, a girl!

Lauren and her husband are expecting their first baby — a girl!

Lauren writes,

We are are open to names of any ethnic origin, with partiality to Irish, Italian and Lebanese names (our heritage).

We are looking for a name with good nickname potential. It was a long journey (4+ years) to get to this pregnancy, so we want this name to be special, significant and point to God’s glory for giving us this gift. We are having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves. We are not open to gender neutral names (e.g. Ryan, Blake, etc).

Top names we have so far:
1. Eliana – Translated from Hebrew means “God heard us”
2. Elizabeth – After St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Lauren’s patron saint and one who has interceded for us many times
3. Azelie (Zelie) – After St. Zelie, which kind of just “jumped out” when Lauren was reading about the life of St. Therese

Potential middle names:
1. Rose – [derived from Lauren’s maiden name]
2. Grace – Sweet reminder of God’s grace
3. Catherine – hubby’s beloved maternal grandmother
4. Elizabeth – See above

Names we will not want to use:
Marissa, Karen, Loretta, Annemarie, Maria, Kimberly, Sandra, Beth, Stella, Kelly, Brittany

I totally get their desire to have a special name, full of significance and pointing to God’s glory! I love reading hopeful stories like Lauren’s. ❤ I was also really interested that Lauren said they’re “having a hard time balancing our desire for a unique name with our more conservative, traditional selves.” I appreciate their desire to break out of the box a little, and totally understand having a hard time doing so!

One of the ways I like to try to deal with that tension — one I often see with couples, usually with one parent liking more unique names and the other preferring more conservative options (ahem 😉 ) — is by either bestowing a more unique given name with a more familiar nickname, or a bestowing a more conservative first name with an unexpected nickname. The names Lauren and her hubs have on their list already lend themselves to this idea nicely, especially with Elizabeth as the anchor name. Consider:

  • Given name Elizabeth with the nickname Zelie: We’ve actually discussed this idea on the blog a couple of times! With Ellie being an obvious and traditional nickname for Elizabeth, it’s not a stretch at all to put Elizabeth’s Z in front of it. I love that this option allows them to have Lauren’s patron saint AND St. Zelie, all in their baby’s first name!
  • Given name Elizabeth paired with a middle name that makes sense of Eliana as a nickname: Elizabeth Anna, for example, could lead to Eliana as a nickname. With St. Anne being one of the patrons of childless couples, expectant mothers, and women in labor, her name (or a variant, like Anna, which helps move them away from the Annemarie on their “no” list) might provide the perfect meaning to their little girl’s name.

Otherwise, I love Eliana, Elizabeth, and Azelie/Zelie — all lovely, meaningful options! I love their list of possible middle names too — how cool that Rose can nod to Lauren’s maiden name! Additionally, with St. Therese being so connected to roses, they could consider Rose a nod to St. Zelie through her daughter; Rose is also a Marian name. Grace is beautiful, and Catherine is a wonderful name as well, and so like Elizabeth in style — Elizabeth, Catherine/Katherine, and Margaret are considered the “classic English trio” — all of them weighty, substantial, feminine, strong, and saintly.

When coming up with new ideas for Lauren and her hubs, I took a few things into account: names with meanings that nod to their long journey to this baby and their gratitude to God; their partiality to Irish, Italian, and Lebanese names; good nickname potential, especially with the idea I mentioned above of a unique first name with an unexpected nickname, or vice versa; and matches with their style (Elizabeth, Eliana, Zelie) as revealed by the Baby Name Wizard, which lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on all that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Mattea
Mattea is gorgeous and unusual — it’s never made it into the top 1000 in the U.S. according to the Social Security data — but it’s Italian and not unheard of (25 baby girls were named Mattea in 2016, and actress Mira Sorvino named her daughter Mattea in 2004). Additionally, Matthew (and therefore Mattea) means “gift of God,” which is a great meaning for them. Matty’s an easy nickname (I’ve seen it for Martha too, which is adorable), and fits right in with the very familiar Maddy/Addy names that are so popular right now. Mattea Rose, Mattea Grace, and Mattea Catherine have a beautiful flow, and Mattea Elizabeth isn’t terrible either (in general I don’t prefer a first name ending in a vowel followed by a middle name starting with a vowel, but it’s certainly not the end of the world, and Lauren and her hubs may like it!).

(2) Hannah
I know I mentioned Anna above, as a nod to St. Anne (I chose Anna in that example in order to lead to Eliana as a nickname), but there were some other Ann names that I thought were good suggestions. The first is Hannah — one of the many Ann variants — and the story of Hannah in the bible has long resonated with mamas who struggled to conceive. Hannah/Ann means “grace,” so they’d have the “sweet reminder of God’s grace” that led them to add Grace to their middle name list included in Hannah, and like with Mattea, Hannah has a lovely flow with Rose and Catherine, and not a terrible flow with Elizabeth (in fact, thinking about it now, perhaps Elizabeth Hannah would be an even better idea than Elizabeth Anna to lead to nickname Eliana? Being that Eli was part of Hannah’s story, I extra-like the idea of Eliana being a nickname for Elizabeth Hannah.)

(3) Annabel, Annabelle, Annabella
I was definitely on an Anna kick, and when I was looking up names with good meanings, one meaning I was using was “beloved,” and when I saw Annabel I thought it was a great idea! It’s not technically an Anna name — it’s said to have arisen in the middle ages in Scotland as a variant of Amabel, which is a feminine variant of Amabilis — the name of a male saint, and also part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (usually translated as Mother Most Amiable, where amiable derives from the Latin for “to love”). But they can surely claim St. Anne as patron for an Annabel, as well as Our Lady. Annabel Rose, Annabel Grace (okay to use Grace here, since Annabel’s not technically an Ann name), Annabel Catherine, and Annabel Elizabeth all work well. Also, Annabel doesn’t really read as a Scottish name, so I don’t think they’d need to worry about that in terms of it not being Irish (unless “general British Isles area” speaks enough to their Irish ancestry … I know I’m playing with fire by suggesting such a thing!).

Annabelle is also a gorgeous variant — the extra “le” on the end lends it an extra feminine and French feel; Annabella makes it Italian and opens up the wonderful nickname Bella. Actually, all the Annabel variants could probably take Bella as a nickname, and of course Anna/Annie as well, and even Abby.

(4) Cara, Caramia, Carina
While looking up names having to do with “beloved,” the Cara names caught my eye. Cara means “beloved” in Italian, AND it means “friend” in Irish, also sometimes listed as “beloved.” So fun to find a name with a great meaning in two languages! Caramia is a not-uncommon Italian name meaning “my beloved,” and Carina is a Latin elaboration of Cara (retaining the “beloved” meaning), as well as, separately, a variant of the Swedish form of Katherine, so it could work for Grandma Catherine too! I thought all three were beautiful ideas for Lauren and her hubs to consider.

(5) Any of the feminine John names
Like so many of the names listed here, John has a great one too: “God is gracious.” There are a whole bunch of feminine variants that can work, including:

  • Jean, Joan, Jane (listed in order from least currently popular to most — I’ve seen a few Janes recently and I’ve been loving it. St. Joan of Arc is also amazing.)
  • Joanna, Johanna (the former is also biblical, the latter has more of a German/Scandi feel)
  • Gianna (one of my favorite ideas for Lauren and her hubs — it’s Italian, and it has the additional awesome connection to St. Gianna)

I also liked that Joanna/Johanna and Gianna have “anna” in them — they’re not Ann names, but the fact that they contain “anna” in them makes me think they can nod to St. Anne too. (In case any of you are wondering why I’m so much all about St. Anne, I just love her! She’s the patroness of my blog, and I’ve sought her intercession many times myself, both for loved ones who hoped to conceive and for my own hopes for another baby.)

(6) Majella, Maiella
Speaking of good intercessors, St. Gerard Majella is a patron of pregnant women, the unborn, and childbirth. Though not officially patron of those hoping to conceive (that I could find, anyway), he nevertheless has quite a few conceptions attributed to his intercession! I’ve been collecting the stories on my blog — here’s one. Many mothers have turned to him for help during their pregnancies and labor+delivery as well, and I thought he’d be a great patron for Lauren’s baby. Majella is actually a fairly traditional girl’s name, and behindthename.com even lists it as Irish! Of course it isn’t — St. Gerard was Italian — but how cool to find an Italian name that must have good enough usage in Ireland to be considered Irish by at least some! Majella is actually an anglicized version of his Italian last name, which was Maiella — a gorgeous name, and one that pulls in the “ella” of both Elizabeth and Eliana. Ella and Ellie would be easy nicknames for either Majella or Maiella.

(7) Dorothy, Dorothea
My last idea is Dorothy or Dorothea. They’re the exact same name as Theodore, just with the elements reversed, and they mean “gift of God.” Dorothy has an old feel, and also a bit of a starlet feel I think, because of Judy Garland’s Dorothy. There’s a family I follow on Instagram — @thebucketlistfamily — they have a trillion followers and they named their daughter Dorothy. So I’m sure it’s starting to come back — in fact, the SSA data shows that it was mostly out of the top 1000 from 2005–2010, and in the last eight years it’s risen from no. 933 to 652. Choosing a traditional name that hasn’t been used much recently can be another good way to marry their desire for a unique name with their more conservative natures.

Dorothea has a bit of a different feel from Dorothy — maybe a little more elegant? (Although Dorothy strikes me as pretty elegant!) The “A” ending fits with the current popular names, though it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1970.

Both Dorothy and Dorothea can take the adorable Dory/Dorie as a nickname, as well as Dora; Dot/Dotty and Dolly are also traditional. Thea can be a nickname for Dorothea, which as a given name on its own dropped out of the top 1000 in 1965, then jumped back on in 2014 at no. 775, jumped to no. 460 in 2015, and was no. 290 in 2016 — that’s a crazy ascent! A little Thea would be very fashionable. (Theodora is another option, but I thought the Doro- ones would appeal to Lauren and her hubs more.)

I did look up Lebanese names, and while several of the ones I found had lovely meanings, the one that I thought would cross over the best — Sereena — is said to mean “princess, beautiful as a princess” (probably related to Sarah), which is a great meaning for a girl, but I didn’t think it fit in with the kinds of meanings Lauren and her hubs are looking for.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for this baby girl?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect Mother’s Day gift, as well as for baby showers and just because. If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 ❤

Baby name consultation: Baby My Love’s new baby!

Don’t miss my earlier post about the new prince’s name!

I’ve posted about Sharon’s beautiful family before, and her beautiful shop, Baby My Love (if we have a baby girl, I would totally want her to be outfitted in Baby My Love every single day), and I’m SO EXCITED to post this consultation for her sweet baby girl who’s due just a couple weeks before my little one!

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Sharon and her husband Zeb have the most incredible taste in names — check out their older kiddos:

Gemma Agnes
Felicity Anne
Nicodemus Joseph
+ Miriam Rose
Maximus Michael Patrick
Quintus Edmund
Francis Fulton
Evangeline Marie

Including their unborn babies that are with Jesus:

+ Nic
+ Joy
+ Carmyn

What I love about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they just go for it! They just choose names that they love! They’ve done an amazing job!

For their sweet Little Miss, they’re feeling stuck! Sharon and I have talked about names a bit the last few months, and she posted on Instagram the other day listing all the names they’re considering and the ones they can’t use (A LOT of names can’t be used!):

On their current list:

Lydia
Pauline
Madeleine
Gabriella nn Bella (Gabriel is Zeb’s middle name)
Charlotte
Olivia
Cassandra

Others they’ve considered/talked about/like:

Mercedes nn Mercy
Genevieve
Camille
Hope

And the names they can’t use (because of having SIXTY nieces and nephews!!):

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As well as (as mentioned by Sharon in other comments):

Tamara
Magdalena
Maggie
Lourdes (Zeb prefers no place names)
Beatrice
Zelie
Siena

Whew!! There were a lot of great suggestions on the Instagram post, and I read through them all and tried not to duplicate suggestions here.

One thing that really struck me about Sharon and Zeb’s taste is that they seem to really love very feminine names, so I definitely took that into account when I was compiling my list. Of course I used my trusty Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names with similar style/feel/popularity—I looked up only their girl names and ideas (Gemma, Felicity, Bernadette [it was almost Felicity’s name], Miriam, Gwendolyn [considered for Miriam], Joy, Evangeline, Eden [considered for Evangeline], Clare, Lydia, Pauline, Madeleine, Gabriella, Bella, Charlotte, Olivia, Cassandra, Mercedes, Mercy, Genevieve, Camille, and Hope), since their boys follow an ends-in-the-“us”-sound theme, which wouldn’t necessarily reflect their taste in girl names. And I stayed away from all forms of Mary and Rose, as they’d prefer to have those be associated with their Miriam Rose.

So based on all that, and trying not to duplicate any of the ideas offered in the comments on Instagram, these are my ideas:

(1) Annabelle, Annabella
Anastasia, Anne Marie, Julianna, Hannah, and Marianna are all on the list of names that can’t be used, but Annabelle was listed as a style match for Evangeline, Madeleine, and Olivia and they’re already considering Bella (as a nickname for Gabriella), so I thought it deserved a mention! Annabel is said to be, in origin, a variant of Amabel, which stems from the Latin for “beloved,” and of course it can be connected to our girl St. Anne. Belle/Bella means “beautiful” in French/Italian, so Annabelle and Annabella can be all kinds of meaningful, and so feminine!

(2) Juliette
The Julia names actually did quite well for this family in my research—Juliet is a match for Felicity, Madeleine, Camille, and Hope; Julia for Lydia; and Juliana for Gabriella. But Julia and Julianna are on their can’t-use list, and I thought the French Juliette was more their style anyway, as the extra “te” adds such a feminine frill. Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee considered Juliette in honor of Servant of God Julia Greeley, and there are loads of other holy Julias and a Ven. Juliette who can serve as patron.

(3) Dahlia
Sharon mentioned to me a while ago that her older girls would love for this baby to have a D name, to go along with the alpha-sister set Evangeline, Felicity, and Gemma, but Dorothy, Deborah, Diane, and Damaris either couldn’t be used or didn’t feel quite right. I thought of that immediately when I saw Dahlia listed as a style match for both Gemma and Felicity! Wow! It’s a flower name, and according to this, dahlias signify “elegance and dignity,” which is so lovely. I’ve seen DAH-lia, DAL-ia, and DAY-lia given as pronunciations (apparently the latter is that used in the UK), all of which have their merits, but I’m loving the first pronunciation because I think Dolly is the cutest nickname! How perfect for a baby sister!

(4) Helena
An H name would work in the alpha set as well, and I chuckled when I saw Sharon start her IG post with “Oh Nelly!” since Nell(y) can be a nickname for Helen(a)! Nella can also be used, which of course calls to mind the Bella they’re already considering.

(5) Calla (given or nickname)
Speaking of flower names, and inspired as much by Bella and Dahlia (and Nella) as by the fact that it’s a style match for Mercy, Calla is one of the loveliest flower names. It’s the name of the Calla lily, and it’s also related to the Greek word for “beauty.” I do love it on its own as a given name, but I’ve also seen it as a nickname for Caroline—Sharon and Zeb already have Charlotte on their list, which is a feminine variant of Charles as is Caroline (which is on their can’t-use list), so maybe they’d like to consider Calla as a nickname for Charlotte?

(6) Verity
My last idea is Verity, which means “truth.” It’s a virtue-esque name like Felicity, Joy, Mercy, and Hope, but I think it’s more unexpected. I love the character of Verity on Poldark, and I love how full of faith significance it is.

I also originally considered suggesting Avila, Junia, and Juniper, but place names are out (so no Avila), and I wasn’t sure enough about the biblical Junia (I thought Juliette was a closer fit) or the plant-y Juniper (Dahlia and Calla seemed better). But I wanted to put them here just in case.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Sharon and Zeb’s little lady?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!

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: Baby no. 3 needs a “beautifully feminine” or “sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” name

Katie and her husband are expecting their third baby, a little green bean! (=gender unknown) 🌱 This wee one joins big siblings:

Julianna (Julie) Marie (“named after my confirmation saint, Juliana Falconieri, who I may or may not have chosen partly because I LOVED her name. I have felt her intercession throughout my adult life. Her nickname, Julie, also honors a dear family friend, and the spelling of two n’s honors my sister, and paternal grandmother (both named Anne), and Marie honors both the BVM and myself“)

Matthew Aurelius (“named after his dad (Matthew Andrew), and shares the same initials, MAB, as his dad and paternal grandfather (Mark Anthony). Aurelius honors both St. Aurelius and St. Ambrose (whose full name was Aurelius Ambrosius). We also thought about naming him Matthew Ambrose“)

I love these names! Julianna is lovely, and Julie is unexpected these days, but familiar, which is a great combo. Aurelius as Matthew’s middle name is amazing! I’m a huge fan of a more traditional name paired with a more adventurous or unconventional name, such a fun strategy. It’s also very cool that Katie’s son shares initials with his dad and grandfather, while having his own (amazing) name. Nice job!

Katie writes,

While we have one girl name we are leaning towards, we are completely stumped for boy names. I would love suggestions for both though! Without further ado, I’ve shared as much as I can below to help you help us out!

My husband and I are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names, almost to the point of comical I suppose, ha! In the words of my husband, we want “a badass Catholic warrior name!” If it sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight, we would probably love it 🙂 .

  • Some other points to consider: The girl name we are heavily leaning towards is Rosalie Ruth, and would call her Rose/ Rosie (I’ve always wanted a Rose/Rosie, but wanted that to be her nickname), with the first name honoring the BVM, and the second honoring both my mother, Nancy Ruth, and Ruth of the OT. We also love the name Vivian, but maybe it’s a little close to Julianna? I also seem to like most feminine names that are flowers…

  • I would like to honor Mary’s name in every girl name (with an added bonus if our boy names honor her), even if not immediately obvious — I feel particularly drawn to her apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes (my bday is feast day of Lourdes)

  • I love nicknames, and also like pairing first and middle names so that one is more traditional, the other more adventurous/ unconventional.

  • We would like something that is not too terribly common, even if that means the legal name is more common, but the nickname is unconventional

  • While we like strong masculine names for boys and beautifully feminine names for girls, I love the idea of mixing genders for possibly the middle name (ex: if we had a girl on the feast day of St. Joseph, I would totally consider naming her Rosalie Joseph and call her Rosie Jo. So cute, plus we like a little spunk in the nicknames!).

  • It’s a long story, but we believe St. Raphael brought my husband and I together, and I would love a way to honor him somehow. While I LOVE the name Raphael (I like it pronounced RAY-fee-el) it’s a bit of a mouthful and I’m not fond of Ralph or Raffy for nicknames. I like Rafe, but my husband needs convincing and it’s awfully close to rape… We might have to settle on Raphael for a middle name…

  • My husband and I got married on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so if there is any interesting tie in with that/ Carmelites that would be cool

  • Other names we like for boys (either for first or middle): Xavier, Campion (what are some nicknames for this one, because we really like it), Ambrose, Joachim (curious about variations of this name). While I like Maximilian we had a dog named Maxx when were first married, so that could only be a middle name.

  • We like the following names, but cannot use them as they are already used (or claimed) by close cousins: Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, Jackson

  • Saints that we love: St. Therese of Liseux, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Teresa of Avila (but we don’t like the name Therese/ Teresa as first name), St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Edmund Campion, St. Augustine, St. Felicity and Perpetua

I love love how Katie said that she and her hubby “are both drawn to very strong, masculine boy names” and that they want “a badass Catholic warrior name” that “sounds like the sanctified version of a viking, gladiator, medieval knight” — amazing descriptions! It immediately made me think of this post I did a while ago on warrior saints, which has a bunch of cool ideas, some of which I included in my official suggestions below. It doesn’t have a whole lot of unusual or unexpected names though, so I tried to channel that angle in my suggestions moreso.

Some other thoughts on Katie’s bullet points:

  • Rosalie Ruth is such a beautiful combo! I also love the idea of Rosalie Joseph nicked Rosie Jo, that is so very much the kind of thing I love to see!
  • I keep trying to figure out if I agree that Vivian is too similar to Julianna, and I’m leaning toward no, I don’t agree. I think it’s a great option! But I totally get that sometimes a thought gets in your head and it’s hard to get rid of it.
  • Most feminine names that are flowers have a Marian connection, so that could be a great way to work Our Lady in. There are the more familiar ones like Rose (on their list already), Lily, and Violet, and the more offbeat or unexpected ones like Daisy (which is also a traditional nickname for Margaret), Marigold, and Edelweiss. Lots of fun options! This book is a great resource.
  • I, too, have always intended to honor Our Lady in my daughters’ names (but no daughters yet!). I love the idea of it, and there are so many cool ways to do so. For Fatima, besides Fatima itself, or Maria Fatima (not uncommon among Spanish-speaking families), Katie and her hubs could also consider Lucy or Lucia and Jacinta for girls (bonus: Jacinta is a variant of Hyacinth, which is a flower!), and Francisco/Francis for a boy. Or Francesca for a girl and Lucian for a boy. Even the name John Paul connects very closely to Our Lady of Fatima in my opinion, since he credited her with saving his life when he was shot. For Lourdes, I love Lourdes itself! The posts on Lindsay Boever’s children’s names could be helpful here — she has a Lourdes (and same other amazingly named kiddos as well), I love seeing it. A woman in my parish is Mary Lourdes and goes by Mary Lou. Bernadette is certainly an option, which I believe was her nickname — I’ve read that her given name was Marie-Bernarde, so that — or any Marie- combo — could nod to OL of Lourdes if they wanted it to. Their Rose names (Rosalie, Rosie) can also, as Our Lady appeared with golden roses on her feet.
  • I love the name Raphael, and I prefer the pronunciation they like as well! It would be awesome as a middle name, but also, I wonder if they’ve considered the feminine variant Raphaela/Rafaela? They could do Ella as a nickname and avoid the possible “rape” connection. (Though, here’s a good example of a Raphael/Rafe who seems to be doing okay.)
  • I have a suggestion for a Carmelite name for a boy below; for girls, Carmel, Carmen, Carmella are all variants of the same name, and Katie said they love St. Teresa of Avila, who was a Carmelite as well. Since they don’t love the Therese/Teresa names, what about Avila as a first or middle? They’d get one of their favorite saints in there AND OL of Mount Carmel! St. Therese was also a Carmelite, and the Rose names can easily honor her as well as Our Lady under any of her titles.
  • I’m glad Katie included Olivia, Estelle, Pierce, and Jackson as names they like but can’t use — they helped in my research.
  • As for their favorite saints, Tess and Tessa could work to honor the Sts. Therese/Teresas … I’ve often loved the idea of Maria Kolbe for a girl, in honor of St. Maximilian (and his middle name was Maria, which is extra cool) … Campion is my favorite way to honor the awesome St. Edmund … Gus is one of my favorite nicknames ever, and Augustin(e) was a strong contender for our last three boys — August or Augustus could work too. I too love Sts. Felicity and Perpetua … I love Felicity as a first name, and it’s actually a style match for Juliana per the Baby Name Wizard (I explain more about my research in the BNW below; I used Juliana in place of Julianna, as Julianna didn’t have its own entry) … Perpetua’s a fun and unexpected name — would make a cool middle if they weren’t comfortable with it as a first! And it can also honor Our Lady, via her title Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I have a friend who named her daughter Perpetua (full name Perpetua Mercy, how cool!). I’ve been asked about nicknames for both Felicity and Perpetua, and I did a spotlight on Felicity, which includes nickname ideas; and I included nickname ideas for Perpetua here.

Some thoughts on the boy names they like:

  • Xavier: love, one of my favorites
  • Campion: An awesome saintly surname. I love Cam as a nickname for it — Cam is one of my favorite short boy nicknames anyway, so I think Campion nn Cam is perfect! I could see Camp and Cap working as well, or something like Cal if they used a middle name with a prominent L.
  • Ambrose: We’ve had Ambrose on our list for several of our boys, so I’ve thought a lot about this one! Especially nicknames: my favorite ideas are Sam, Bram, and Brody (especially if paired with a middle with a prominent D sound). (The Raphael in the link I provided above also has a brother Ambrose!)
  • Joachim: So basically their list of boy names is exactly mine! I’ve tried to convince my hubs of Joachim for YEARS! He’s just really reluctant to give such an unusual name with pronunciation issues to one of his boys, but in my mind that’s all easily remedied by a great nickname! My favorite is Jake, but Joe/Joey is more obvious — both Jake and Joe(y) are so easy for everyday use! Variants of Joachim are the Spanish Joaquín, which is probably the most familiar of this name family due to actor Joaquín Phoenix; Kelly Ripa also has a son named Joaquín. A Scandinavian version is Joakim, like NBA player Joakim Noah, which unfortunately seems to be a fairly negative and overriding association to most guys I mention the name to. I spotlighted the name a while ago, which provides more info on pronunciations and variants. I also wrote about it in my contribution to The Catholic Hipster Handbook!
  • Maximilian: Maximilian seems right up their “sanctified gladiator” alley, AND I consider it a Marian name, since St. Maximilian was so devoted to Our Lady, so I wonder if a different nickname than Max would make it work as a first name? You all probably know I’ve suggested Miles and Milo several times as nicknames for Maximilian, which would also up the Marian angle, since Miles and Milo have traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the old Irish male name Maolmhuire, which translates as “devotee of the Virgin Mary.”

Okay! Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the names already on their list, on to my list of suggestions. As you all know, these are the result of my research, which includes 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 style/feel/popularity. I generally look for overlap, or other inspiration based on their style matches, especially faith connections. I also search through my own mental files for ideas that I think will fit their taste. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Katie and her husband:

Girl

(1) Clairvaux
I scribbled this idea down for them before I even cracked open the BNW! It’s a cross-gender namesake (St. Bernard of Clairvaux), and it’s a feminine-feeling yet unconventional given name with a familiar and feminine nickname (Claire). I mentioned Lindsay Boever above, mom of Lourdes — she also has a Clairvaux! I also posted a consultation recently for another mom who also has a Clairvaux. Such a pretty, unexpected pick! Also, Claire is a style match for both Pierce and Jackson from their list of names they like but can’t use.

(2) Candace
This is a rare name for me to suggest! I’ve only done so once before! When I saw it listed as a style match for Julianne (I looked up both Juliana and Julianne, as Julianna doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), I thought it was worth a mention because it has Marian ties! It’s a biblical name, mentioned in Acts 8:27; it was the title of the queens of Ethiopia and is said to mean “queen mother” in Cushitic. Queen Mother is the perfect description for Our Lady! Candace has some really fun nickname options too, beyond the obvious Candy/Candi (which may or may not be their taste), like Caddy, Cadie, Cana, Casey, Dacey, and Daisy (the latter two stemming from its fairly traditional pronunciation variant kan-DAY-see) (and how cool that Katie like flower names, and Daisy can be a Candace nickname!). So interesting, right?

(3) Adrienne
Adriana is a style match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna), as is Adrian for a boy (which is also one of the male warrior names included in the post I linked to above), and Adrienne is a match for Julianne. I thought Adriana was too close to Julianna, and I didn’t really think Adrian for a boy is their style (maybe I’m wrong?), but Adrienne seemed like a great idea for them! Such a pretty name with loads of saintly connections!

(4) Beatrice/Beatrix
Raphael was an outlier of sorts on their list style-wise (not a bad thing!), so I was interested to see what names were style matches for both boys and girls. Beatrice was included, and when I saw Beatrix also listed as a match for Maximilian, I really wanted to include both! Bea is the cutest nickname, as is Trixie. And they’re Marian! Beatrix is the root name, and it’s Latin for “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is a pretty obvious nod to Our Lady anyway, but her title Cause of Our Joy also ties in pretty well.

(5) Genevieve, Evangeline, Evelyn, Veronica
These were mostly inspired by their love of — and hesitation about — Vivian. I often seen Genevieve and Evangeline included in lists of names that also have Vivian/Vivienne — I think of them as three facets of the same idea (strong V sound; long and elegant). Additionally, Genevieve was listed as a style match for both Raphael and Vivian, and Evangeline is a match for Maximilian. I was also interested to see Evelyn and Veronica listed as matches for Vivian, which also felt similar to this “strong V, very feminine” feel. I thought it was not unlikely that one of these might hit all the same notes for Katie and her hubs that Vivian does, without the possible over-similarity to Julianna. They can all take the nickname Vivi, which is so sweet, and all but Veronica can also have Evie as a nickname. (And maybe even Veronica too, if they wanted!)

Boy

(1) George
I have more ideas for boys than for girls for Katie and her hubs, which seemed appropriate since Katie said they’re having a harder time with boy names. George wasn’t a match for them in any of my research, but when I saw it in that post I linked to above of warrior saints, I thought it might be a great option. Anyone who knows about St. George would immediately get a “badass Catholic warrior” and “medieval knight” vibe I think.

(2) Gideon
I mentioned above that I was really interested in the style matches for Raphael, and when I saw Gideon listed as one, I was excited to include it here! Gideon was pretty badass in the bible — here is a lengthy discussion of him in a Catholic resource, but I love the more succinct entry from behindthename.com (a non-religious source): “Gideon is a hero and judge of the Old Testament. He led the vastly outnumbered Israelites against the Midianites, defeated them, and killed their two kings.” Definitely a warrior! I know Gideon might come across as a Protestant name due to the Gideon Bibles, which is why I included the Catholic link; I also know a Catholic boy named Gideon. But what’s a good nickname for Gideon? My favorite idea is Gil, which I think is just perfect! It would need a middle name with a strong L to make it work I think — something like Gideon Louis would be a great combo I think. I wrote more about Gil as a nickname here.

(3) Roman
Roman was another style match for Raphael, and also Maximilian, and I love it for what I think of as explicitly Catholic connections (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Pope, etc. as well as the very Latin Aurelius), but it can also have a very soldier-y feel. This family has a Roman, as does Cate Blanchett.

(4) Tobias
Yet another Raphael match that I love for this family, and a very cool way to nod to St. Raphael without using his actual name! Raphael plays a key role in the book of Tobit, and Tobias (or Tobiah — Tobias is the Greek variant of Tobiah) is Tobit’s son; Raphael helps Tobias and Sarah’s marriage not end in death, among other amazing things, which you all probably already knew. And Toby is an adorable nickname!

(5) Elias, Elijah, Elliott
Speaking of Greek variants of biblical names, Elias — which is the Greek form of Elijah — is a match for Xavier, and it jumped out at me right away because Elijah is considered by the Carmelites to be their founder, so I consider Elijah and Elias to be legit nods to Our Lady of Mount Carmel! I like both variants, as well as Elliott, which is a medieval diminutive of Elias. Eli is a great nickname for all of those.

(6) Sebastian
Not only is Sebastian a style match for Maximilian and Xavier, but since St. Sebastian is always depicted with arrows sticking out of him, he totally has a warrior feel to me. (I actually only just learned that the arrows didn’t kill him! He recovered, only to be killed for good a different way.) It’s got some great nicknames too — Bash is my recent favorite, but I’ve long loved Seb and Sebby; I’ve also seen Baz and even Ian! Also Bastian, which is very Neverending Story.

(7) Nathaniel, Bartholomew
My last idea for Katie and her hubs is Nathaniel or Bartholomew. Nathaniel is a match for Juliana (standing in for Julianna) and Olivia, which I thought was pretty cool. I love its length and biblical-ness, and Nat and Nate are great nicknames. But Bartholomew — another name for Nathaniel in the bible — has, I think, more of the “medieval knight” feel than Nathaniel, so I thought I should include it too. I read A Dictionary of English Surnames last winter, and was so struck by how many English surnames were derived from Bartholomew! Some of the surnames would make and/or are already used as pretty cool first names or, in this case, nicknames for Bartholomew, like Bates, Batten, and Bartlett. Or maybe they’d like the more common Bart? St. Bartholomew/Nathaniel was a martyr, which doesn’t get much more badass.

And those are all my ideas for Katie and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Julianna Marie and Matthew Aurelius?