Birth announcement: Matthias Daniel!

I did a private consultation for Maria and her husband earlier this year, and she’s let me know her baby boy has arrived! He’s been given the ah-mazing name … Matthias Daniel!

Maria writes,

Our sweet baby has arrived! Thank you for helping us with the name and your encouragement on Matthias! We love his name and love him! 😊 Matthias joins big brothers, Kolbe, Andrew, Isaac, and Benjamin, and big sister, Therese.”

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and their older children, and happy birthday Baby Matthias!!

Matthias Daniel ❤️


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Parents need fresh name ideas for boy no. 6

Mary and her husband are expecting their seventh baby — their sixth boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

  • John Paul
  • Simon Joseph
  • Magdalen Therese nn Maggie
  • Mark Francis
  • Damian Bernard
  • Leo Abraham

Such great naaaames!! I love them all!!

Mary writes,

So here we are, needing a name for our 6th boy and I’m feeling tapped out. Part of the problem is that the more kids you have the more rules you have: I don’t really want another M name, or another that ends in the -an sound and it needs to feel like it matches with our other kids’ names. Our last name is also a bit of a problem — any final T or D especially gets swallowed up by beginning D of our surname. This takes some otherwise great names like Clement or Benedict out of consideration. Finally there’s my feeling that names we considered for previous kids are now reject names and I don’t want my baby to have a reject name. I recognize that this is pretty silly and that’s why I’m not going to share these names with you — I want a fresh perspective with no baggage!

Other names we don’t want to use for various reasons:

  • Thomas
  • Sebastian
  • Lawrence
  • Jerome
  • Augustine
  • Gregory

The current, extremely short list is:

  • Cosmas. Simon especially is really gunning for this and I do like it a lot but I wonder if it’s too weird outside of Catholic circles. 
  • Matthias. But it’s an M name and we already have 3 of those. Also [Hubby] seems pretty ambivalent.”

I think Mary’s definitely come to the right place, because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about boy names! Haha! I really love the names Mary and her hubby have given their older boys — John Paul, Simon, Mark, Damian, and Leo are all really fantastic and really convey the faith well. (Magdalen too — one of my favorites! Such a beautiful name for a girl with so many brothers!) I’m excited to try to find some ideas for their sixth boy!

Before I get to my official suggestions below, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on the names that they’re considering and their name rules, in case they’re helpful:

  • Cosmas: I really love that Mary and her husband are willing to consider such a cool name! Its faith connections are impeccable, but her question about whether or not it’s “too weird outside of Catholic circles” is a valid one. It’s hard for me to tell, since I’m so deep in Catholicky Catholic names all the time, so I sometimes have a hard time looking in as from the outside. On the one hand, I immediately think of Sts. Cosmas and Damian (which in itself presents something for them to think about as well — do they like Damian having a brother named Cosmas, or is that a negative?) — Cosmas feels familiar to me because Cosmas and Damian is a familiar reference point for me. On the other hand, Cosmas wasn’t in the top 1000 names bestowed in 2019 (the last year that the Social Security Administration shared name stats), so I dug deeper to see how many baby boys were given the name in the U.S., and it doesn’t show up in the data at all in 2019 (the SSA reports all names given to five or more babies each year, so its absence on the list lets you know how very few babies were given the name — maybe even zero). I looked back each year until 2010, and it was given to five babies in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and less than five in the other years. So it’s a very very rare name, which is probably the best marker of whether or not it’s too weird outside of Catholic circles. It’s variant Cosmo gets a bit more usage, maybe (probably?) because of the character of Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld — it was given to 49 boys in 2019. But even though Cosmo is a variant of Cosmas, and so can take the same saint as patron, I do think it has the added element of “the cosmos,” which could feel a little astrological maybe? In addition to the Seinfeld reference, which may or may not be a positive.
  • Matthias: Matthias was high on our list through several of our boys, I love it! But the fact that Mary really doesn’t want another M name, combined with the fact that her hubby doesn’t seem all that jazzed about it, tells me it would be best to keep looking.
  • “Reject” names: Mary’s perspective of not wanting to use names that they decided against for their other kids is one that’s new to me since starting the blog, but I’ve found that it’s not unusual at all! It might help to try to reframe their thinking as, “We didn’t reject that name because it was bad, we decided against it for *that* baby because it didn’t seem like the right name for him/her. But it might be the right name for *this* baby.” But if that doesn’t help, then hopefully some of my ideas here are new ones that will be helpful!
  • Their other rules: I like all their other rules! No M names seems right; no ends-in-the-an-sound sounds right; “needs to go with the other kids” sounds right. I did break Mary’s rule of no-ending-in-T-or-D, though, as there was one name that I thought they might like that I didn’t think was overly problematic that its ending sound runs into their last name. And for that matter, I don’t think Clement sounds bad with their last name, nor does Benedict. But then, my maiden name is Towne, so I was Kate Towne my whole growing up, and some people would mishear my name as Kay Towne, which I hated, but it really wasn’t a huge deal — I learned to enunciate the T in Kate, and I loved my name then and still do. So it’s definitely a preference, but if they don’t like it, they don’t like it!

So those are my thoughts on the names Mary and her husband are considering — now on to my new ideas! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so for this family, with a particular eye toward finding names that are early-Church-ish and of course that go with their other kiddos’ names. Based on that, these are my new ideas for them:

(1) Thaddeus

One of the first names that jumped out at me as a name they might like was Jude — a style match for Simon — but with its D ending and the fact that his name would sound like Jew D___, I thought it probably wasn’t a great idea after all. But the other part of St. Jude’s name — Thaddeus — is a match for Magdalen, Matthias, and Benedict (which I used in my research since Mary called it an “otherwise great name”), and it has some great nicknames — Thad, Tad, and Taddy (which I guess don’t fit with Mary’s rule, oops!).

(2) Gabriel

Gabriel is such a fantastic name — it’s biblical and Marian and a great style match for Mary’s other kids’ names. Gabe is one of my very favorite nicknames — friendly and masculine — and I’ve also seen Gil, Gib, and Eli used as nickname for Gabriel.

(3) Tobias

I really wanted to find an alternative for Matthias for them — Matthias seems to me like the exact kind of name they’re looking for, but with it starting with an M, I agree that it’s probably not ideal (though if they decided to go for it, I wouldn’t be disappointed!). I wondered what they’d think of Tobias? It rhymes with Matthias but doesn’t have the problematic M, and just like I consider Matthias to be a particularly Catholic New Testament name (since he was basically chosen at the first Church Council! Haha!), so too do I consider Tobias to be a particularly Catholic Old Testament name, since it comes from the Book of Tobit, which isn’t in Protestant bibles. And Toby is such a darling nickname!

(4) Joachim

One of my very favorite names, which I tried to convince my husband of through all of my boys I think, is Joachim — the name we traditionally assign to Our Lady’s father and, due to that fact, another name that I consider to be particularly Catholicky Catholic. It’s not really well known in America (though it’s got more usage than Cosmas! It was given to 28 baby boys in 2019), but it’s got pretty good usage outside of America — I wrote more about that here. Joe is an easy nickname, and they could even think of it as a nod to St. Joseph in this Year of St. Joseph, which is a nice way to work him in without repeating Simon’s middle name. Or if Joe isn’t working for Mary, we would have used Jake as the nickname, which I still love.

(5) Luke/Lucas

Lucas is a style match for Matthias, and while I think that a Matthias-type name is the kind Mary and her hubs are looking for, I didn’t want to forget about Mark, who has a bit different style than his siblings’ names, which is funny since his name is a New Testament name and four of their other six have New Testament names! I wanted to include at least one name in this list that loops Mark in more, and Luke really struck me as being a great option. I would understand if they didn’t want to follow Leo with another L name, so maybe they want to hold on to Luke/Lucas for the future if they were to have another boy, but otherwise I think Leo and Luke are darling together — if this baby and Leo are particularly close in age, it might even be a perfect idea.

(6) Dominic

Dominic is such a natural idea for this family, to me, that I feel like they must have considered it and decided they don’t like it, so this might be a wasted suggestion, but I couldn’t not include it here! I considered whether or not I thought having two sons with D names, especially with their D last name, was too much, and decided that I kind of love it. I’m a big fan of alliteration anyway, so Damian D___ and Dominic D___ are awesome in my opinion! Dom, Dommy, and even Nic/Nicky/Nico are nickname possibilities for Dominic.

(7) Isaac

They could think of Isaac in the bible as patron for a little Isaac, or they could think of one of my favorite Saints, St. Isaac Jogues (I live quite close to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, where St. Isaac’s remains are said to be on the grounds somewhere, never found). I read a book years ago by Susie Lloyd I think — she has two: Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water and Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids — and she gave an example of the kids’ names in Catholic families by describing a boy who introduced himself as “Isaac Jogues Callahan” (or a similar last name) and it made me laugh then and it still does! Isaac Jogues as a first+middle combo would be so cool, and so clearly saintly to anyone who knows about St. Isaac! (But also Isaac just on its own, no pressure!) Ike and Zac are traditional nicknames for Isaac.

(8) Edmund, Campion

Finally, Edmund is a match for both Clement and Benedict (both of which I used as inspiration, since Mary indicated that she would like them but for their last letter), and like them, ends in one of her problematic letters. However, when I say “Edmund,” I rarely hear the D, or barely, so I don’t think Edmund D___ sounds bad! But then I saw that Abby from Appellation Mountain recently spotlighted Campion, and I immediately thought it sounded like a name Mary and her hubs would like, and could still take St. Edmund Campion as patron. I love the nickname Cam! I know St. Edmund is later than the Saints of their older kids’ names, but I wanted to include it here just in case.

And those are my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of John Paul, Simon, Magdalen/Maggie, Mark, Damian, and Leo?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Old Testament, German/Dutch, and/or Irish-y for baby boy no. 2

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!! You know this is one of my favorite days, and you know Irish names are some of my favorites — check out my Irish names and Rose of Tralee tags for more!! I also read this piece that’s appropriate for today: “It’s not Happy St. Patty’s Day, but St. Paddy’s Day. Here’s why” by Amy Croffey — interesting to get an Irish person’s take!

Today’s consultation was meant to post on Monday, but as has been happening more and more to me as my kids get bigger (whoever said, “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems” wasn’t joking! Not that we’re having problems, just life is so much bigger and busier when they’re big and busy!), the day got away from me, and then yesterday Hubby and I took a day trip, so Monday’s post is posting today, which ends up being great because what’s better on St. Paddy’s Day than a baby name consultation?!

Andrea and her husband are having their second baby — their second boy! Their little guy joins big brother:

Jonah John (“My dad, brother, brother in law, and grandfather in law are all named John“)

Which I love for its biblicalness, family ties, and alliteration (I love alliteration). Great job, Mom and Dad!

Andrea writes,

We thought this baby was going to be a girl and already had the name, Margot Ruth picked out. Obviously there is a chance that we could never have a daughter but would like to take this name into consideration. 

Our baby will be half Mexican, so ideally we would like a name that is pronounceable in Spanish but not too Mexican to be able to go with our German/Dutch last name. 

Overall, we like unique/biblical names but not too weird. We like names with meaningful meanings that are somewhat biblical like “peace”, “God’s gift”, etc.

Both of my grandfathers have passed… one this past August and I’m due around his birthday. His name was Isidro. We kind of like “I” names because of this, but not a must.”

 Some names they’re considering include: 

  • Benjamin 
  • Eli  (“we considered naming our first son this“)
  • Liam (“like it but too popular“)
  • Owen (“like it but too popular“)
  • Oliver (“like it but too popular“)
  • Ira (“husband thinks it’s too similar to Jonah. I feel like maybe an “I” name could honor my grandfather, but not a must“)
  • Peter (“uncle that passed away“)
  • Finn 
  • Otto
  • Sebastian
  • Otis
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul as possible middle name
  • Edsko (“family name [first/middle] of several of my husband’s Dutch/German family tree“)
  • German/Dutch names

Names they can’t/won’t use include:

  • James
  • Isaac
  • Michael
  • Elijah
  • Matthew
  • Levi
  • Luke
  • Mark
  • Ruben
  • Milo
  • Jude (“has always been a favorite“)
  • Max
  • Joshua
  • Christian
  • Henry
  • Hans
  • Ezra
  • Theodore

Alrighty! So one of the things I noticed first was Isaac and Luke on the list of names they can’t use — I likely would have suggested them otherwise, so it was great Andrea included her “no” list. As for her “yes” list, I love the names she and her hubby are considering! It was so interesting to me to see three solid styles emerge: biblical (Benjamin, Eli, Ira, Peter, Timothy, Daniel, Paul, and I would include Sebastian here, even though it’s not biblical, since I think it has a similar feel as the biblical names), Irish (Liam, Owen, Oliver, Finn), and German/Dutch (Edsko [wow!], Otto, and I would include Otis here, even though it’s English, since it’s related to Otto). I kept all three of those in mind as I looked for names that I thought this couple might like. First, though, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the names they’re considering, in case they’re helpful:

  • Benjamin: A great name! I’ve always loved the full Benjamin and the fantastic nickname Ben. I also like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but is popular enough among the general population that I think they could easily use non-biblical names going forward without it seeming too jarring, which is also like Jonah I think. However, since Andrea said that the like Owen and Oliver but they’re too popular, I should warn them that Benjamin is as well: according to the Social Security Administration it’s been a top ten name since 2015 and is currently no. 7. (Since popularity is important to Andrea, I included the ranking for all the names I discuss going forward.) (Jonah’s no. 141, which is a really nice sweet spot of familiar but not common.)
  • Eli: Like Jonah and Benjamin, I think Eli is used enough among the general public that it doesn’t come across as heavily biblical as it used to, which is good if they don’t necessarily intend all their sons (if they have more than these two) to have biblical names. Eli’s no. 62.
  • Liam, Owen, Oliver: I’m glad Andrea included these as names they like, even though they’re too popular for what they’re looking for. Liam has been the no. 1 name in America for the last three years, and no. 2 for three years before that! Owen is no. 21 and Oliver is no. 3. A funny thing about Oliver — my husband and I very nearly named our third son Oliver — he was born in 2008, when Oliver was just starting to not be a “weird” name at no. 118. Now it’s no. 3! Amazing ascent!
  • Ira: I was really surprised to see Ira on Andrea’s list, since I have always thought it to be a name exclusively borne by Jewish men! I’d never looked it up, but did so because of it being on her list, and was surprised that the Jewish element wasn’t mentioned in any of the places I looked — do you all think of it as a predominantly Jewish name, or is that just my experience? It was fun to discover it’s an Old Testament name — I didn’t know it was biblical before looking it up — and I like that it begins with an I, as Andrea said she might like to honor her grandfather Isidro with an I name. However, I agree with her hubby, too, that it’s very similar to Jonah in that it’s a two-syllable name ending in A. Maybe it would be good in the middle spot? But my favorite I idea for them is Isidro itself! I could understand Andrea not wanting to use Isidro in the first name spot, as she mentioned not wanting a name that was jarring with their German/Dutch last name, but it would be great as a middle name! A funny thing here is that one of my boys’ best friends is named Isidor, and his mom is from Germany, so I thought that might be perfect here — when I looked it up to check on spelling (Isidore is English and Isidor is a German spelling) its entry said Isidore “has historically been a common name for Jews, who have used it as an Americanized form of names such as Isaac, Israel and Isaiah.” That’s hilarious, given what my impression of Ira had been, and yet Ira’s entry doesn’t mention Jewish usage at all! My son’s friend goes by Isi (said like Izzy), which is just too cute. Ira is no. 875 (interestingly, after having been a top 500 name for most of the twentieth century and a top 200 name until 1934, it dropped out of the top 1000 in 1993 and only came back on in 2016; it’s been hovering in the mid-900s since, until 2019 when it jumped a little to 875); neither Isidro, Isidor, nor Isidore are in the top 1000.
  • Peter: Peter’s a good, solid name, and I like that it’s in honor of Andrea’s late uncle. It seems a bit different in style than the other names they’re considering, though — I think they might be happiest with it as a middle name rather than a first name? Peter is no. 212, which is very appealing.
  • Finn: I love the name Finn — it’s such a sweet name for a little guy, and so handsome for a man. It’s been used quite a bit in recent years, too, both as a given name on its own and as a nickname for names like Finnian and Finley, so it doesn’t feel as Irishy Irish as it used to. That said, this is a good place to mention that Old Testament, Irish, and German/Dutch are three pretty strong styles, and while one can certainly find overlap between them (I tried to do so in some of my ideas below), if Andrea and her hubs choose names for their children that are on the strong end of each of those style’s spectrums, they run the risk of losing the feeling of cohesiveness that most parents I work with would like for their kids’ names. That is, they tend to like their children’s names to sound like they go together. That’s certainly not a requirement! Every once in a while I work with a couple who prefer to have an eclectic mix among their children’s names, and that’s fun too! I just want Andrea and her husband to be aware of it. Finn is no. 172, a great place to be.
  • Otto: It’s so funny, I was so surprised when I first started hearing Oliver being given to babies fifteen years ago, then Owen followed right behind, then Oscar, which I thought was really the outer limits of the O names for American parents. But more recently I’ve been seeing Otto here and there, which is just tremendous! It was out of the top 1000 altogether from 1975 to 2010, and is currently at no. 427.
  • Sebastian: I love the name Sebastian — I love how sophisticated and saintly it is — and it still feels offbeat and unusual to me, even though it’s no. 18. No. 18! I’m always shocked by that!
  • Otis: I didn’t know until I looked it up that Otis is related to Otto! And like Otto, I would have thought that Otis would be beyond the limits of what American parents would consider for their children, and then I saw that actors Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde named their son Otis in April 2014 and in 2015 it came back into the top 1000 after not having been in the top 1000 since 1994. It’s amazing the power celebrities have! Otis has continued to rise since then, though slowly — it’s currently at no. 707.
  • Timothy, Daniel, Paul: These are all wonderful names and perfect in the middle spot! Timothy is no. 188, Daniel is no. 15, and Paul is no. 245.
  • Edsko: This is a fascinating name! I looked it up to learn more about it, but I can’t find it — it’s so fun to have a truly unique name in their family tree! How meaningful for them!
  • Margot Ruth: I just have to say, I LOVE their girl name!! I definitely took Margot into consideration when I was doing my research!

So those are all my thoughts on the names Andrea and her hubby are currently considering, now on to new ideas! You all know that I always look up the names the parents have already used and those like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I did so here, and I also took a look through the list of German/Dutch names in the back of the book. I also used the Name Matchmaker tool at babynamewizard.com for Ira, since it doesn’t have its own entry in the book. I certainly noted any names that were listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but I was also looking for names that I thought could be both biblical and German, for example, or biblical and Irish, or German-ish and Irish-y, that kind of thing. Based on that, these are my new ideas for this little guy:

(1) Gabriel

I mentioned that I kept a special eye out for names that are listed as similar to more than one of the names on Andrea’s list, but of the names on her list, Jonah’s name is the most important since they’ve already chosen it and bestowed it on one of their children — whatever name they choose for this baby needs to be in consideration of Jonah. Not that they can’t choose a name that’s different in style! Just that, Jonah’s name needs to be consciously considered, since he’s already named. So seeing Gabriel listed as a style match for both Jonah and Sebastian — two names on their list, one of which is their older son’s name — definitely means that Gabriel needs a spot on this list! It’s one of my favorite names, and I really like that it’s Old Testament like Jonah, but it’s also in the New Testament, which provides a nice bridge between names like Jonah and Peter, and it’s a pan-European name, meaning it’s used by almost all of the European cultures, so it can fit with most any heritage, including German and Dutch. Gabriel’s Behind the Name entry doesn’t include Irish in its list of usage, but I always think of Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as being a great example of how it’s got decent traditional usage in Ireland as well. Gabe is a great, friendly nickname, too, and if they don’t like Gabe, I’ve actually seen Eli used as a nickname for it! Gabriel is no. 37.

(2) Abel

I’m always surprised I don’t see Abel get more usage! I see Abraham from time to time, and Abel can take Abraham’s awesome nickname Abe, but Abel itself is so much lighter than Abraham. This family has an Abel, if you’d like to see what Abel’s siblings’ names are at least in one family. Abel is no. 157, which is a great match for Jonah’s 141.

(3) Bram

Speaking of Abraham’s nicknames, as much as I love honest Abe, Bram is the nickname that really has my heart, and I think it might be perfect for this family! Bram is in the German/Dutch list, and it’s also the name of Dracula author Bram Stoker, who was Irish. Biblical, German/Dutch, and Irish-y in one name! Wow! Not only that, but it’s a style match for Margot! So many amazing things about this name! It seems that the Dutch pronunciation is BRAHM, rhymes with “bomb,” which I think is probably close to what the Spanish pronunciation would be as well, right? The English pronunciation is BRAM, rhymes with “gram,” and I suspect the rhymes-with-gram pronunciation is what they’ll mostly hear, so that’s something to consider before choosing this name. Either way, as long as they’re firm and consistent about their chosen pronunciation, it should be fine! Bram is not in the top 1000.

(4) Ethan

Ethan is listed as a match for both Jonah (!) and Eli, and even though it’s a biblical name, I don’t think that fact is well known by American parents in general. Do you agree? Due to that, I think Ethan might be a great choice for Andrea’s second boy, since it shares Jonah’s biblical-ness, but in such a subtle way that they could easily branch out from biblical names going forward without too much of a fuss. Something that was really tickling me when I was working on this was the idea of Ethan Edsko — what an amazing complement to Jonah John! Both with great family meaning, and the alliterative thing is just so fun. I could see how that would really restrict them going forward, though … so this is probably a bad idea, but I do love it! Haha! Ethan is no. 10 after having spent 2002-2015 between nos. 2 and 7.

(5) Elliott (Eliot, Elliot)

Elliott is a match for Oliver, and it’s also a medieval diminutive of Elias, which is a variant of Elijah, which makes Elliott kind of a sneaky Old Testament name! Elliott could be a perfect way to connect to Jonah’s Old Testament-ness while opening up their style for non-biblical names going forward. They could also use Eli as a nickname for it, if they wanted. (I also love Elliott Edsko!) Spelling can be an issue — since there are three spellings, I think it might be hard for people to remember which spelling is the right one for this baby — Eliot has a literary feel, for poet T.S. Eliot; Elliott is the standard, I think — the one from which the others came; and Elliot kind of splits the difference. Elliott’s no. 160, Elliot’s no. 173, and Eliot’s not in the top 1000.

(6) Tobias

Tobias is a match for Margot and Sebastian, which is just perfect, because it’s also an Old Testament name like Jonah, AND it’s in the list of German/Dutch names, so Tobias would be a great connection between all those names! I don’t see a Spanish variant, but I think it’s pronounceable in Spanish, right? Tobias is no. 272.

(7) Mathias

Rhyming with Tobias and also on the German/Dutch list is Mathias, which I love for this family for those reasons, but also because it’s a New Testament name rather than an Old Testament name, which is a nice way to expand their style, and because it’s a style match for Margot! Mathias is the German/Dutch spelling, which is no. 420; the spelling Matthias is the English spelling, and is no. 407.

(8) Oscar

Finally, I mentioned Oscar earlier, and I’d love for Andrea and her hubby to consider it! It’s got German/Dutch usage (the spelling Oskar would really reinforce that), it’s easily pronounceable in Spanish, and writer Oscar Wilde was Irish, so they have a lot of their boxes checked right there! One of my readers who has really embraced her husband’s German heritage recently named her son Oskar, so cute. Oscar is no. 205 and Oskar is not in the top 1000.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for Jonah’s little brother?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)

Baby name consultation: Baby no. 12 (boy) needs a name that works in English and Spanish

Rebecca and her husband are expecting their twelfth baby (eleventh on earth) — their seventh son! This little guy joins big sibs:

Adam Joseph (“We chose Adam because it was very important to my husband that we choose names that can be said or translated to Spanish easily. His parents speak only Spanish. I liked that Adam wasn’t/isn’t a very popular name but wasn’t unheard of either. In Spanish it is Adan (emphasis on 2nd A) and it was appealing to me as well. I really wanted Joseph as a middle name for all my boys — because St. Joseph! Plus I think Joseph is the best boy name ever! We call him by his full name.”)

Nicholas Joseph (“We agreed on his name pretty quickly, keeping Joseph as a middle patron saint name. Nicolas in Spanish sounds awesome too. We call him Nick.”)

Madeline Marie Lucia (“Ever since I was in high school I wanted a daughter named Madeline. I totally dismissed my husband’s need for a name that can be said in Spanish! I really wanted Madeline! I figured her grandparents would find a name for her and that would be a special thing between them. They call her Madalena. Which I love too! Her middle names are for Our Lady and for Lucia, one of the children of Fatima [OLFatima is one of my favorites!]. We call her Maddy.”)

+ “baby in heaven (gender unknown). We named this baby Cesar.”

Isabella Marie Lucia (“I was hesitant to name her Isabella even though this was one of my favorite names since forever because she was born in the middle of all the Twilight hype and the name became crazy popular. But ultimately I didn’t care because I wanted this name before all that hype anyways! I figured since we named the boys with the same middle name, we should name the girls with the same middle name too Emoji. I really wanted her nn to be Izzy, but as much as I pushed for it, people call her Bella/Bells and now so do I. My adult niece calls her Bella-rina [which I adore!].”)

Marco Emilio Rafael (“Marco was one name my husband came up with … I liked that it was different, but not totally unheard of … His middle names are for his 2 grandmothers. We didn’t know the gender before he was born and had planned to name this baby after them either way. My MIL is Emilia and my mom is Rafaela … We figured Emilia and Rafaela could be easily switched to masculine names, so we went with it! … We call him Marco usually, I call him Mark sometimes.”)

Elias Joseph (“On the morning before he was born, we still didn’t have a name that we agreed on … during breakfast, I opened up the SSA list of names, scrolled past 500, and started reading names to my husband. As soon as I said Elias, I fell in love! And I love it in Spanish too [Eh-lee-as] Emoji. Luckily my husband agreed and our baby had a name! We decided to go with our classic Joseph for a middle name, it sounded so nice together! We call him Eli or Li-Li [Lie-Lie].”)

Josiah Thomas James (“This poor little guy went for 2 weeks without a name because we couldn’t agree on a name [and we knew we were having a boy too!]. He was our first home-birth so we had the “luxury” of not having to pick a name before we leave the hospitalEmoji. I was insisting on a name that is not popular and my husband and I couldn’t agree on any name. I don’t remember where we came up with Josiah but I loved it immediately. Again, luckily my husband did too and this guy had a name! His middle names are Thomas for his godfather and James after my godfather who passed away shortly after Josiah was born — both very strong, faithful Catholic men who will be amazing examples for our son! We call him Joe or Joe-Joe.”)

Theresa Maria Faustina (“At the beginning of this pregnancy, we were blessed to have spent our 10th anniversary in Poland & Rome with our very holy and close priest-friend and his family! His mom’s name is Teresa and we named her after this amazing woman! Maria is, of course, after Our Lady and Faustina is a nod to our time in Poland, plus how amazing to have a patron saint connected with Divine Mercy!! [We got to renew our wedding vows on the altar in the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow!!! EmojiEmojiEmoji]. We call her Reese or Reesa.”)

Monica Lily Marie (“I have always loved Monica and love that it’s not super popular and am so in love with how it sounds in Spanish. My husband and kids agreed … so we went with Monica. Her middle names are Lily as a nod to St. Joseph. My dad passed away when I was 7 months pregnant on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, so I wanted something to honor his memory. Marie is, of course, after our Lady. We call her Moni [Moh-nee].”)

Andrew Edward (“We started looking for a name that began with an “X” because he is our 10th baby, we thought that would be cool! All we found was Xavier and Xander. But as much as I like Xavier (Ex-Zavier), I couldn’t commit to this name for this little guy! After about 5 days of searching, I kept coming back to Andrew but felt like we couldn’t use it [because it’s my nephew’s name]. I thought it was perfect since he was born during Advent and I had been searching for an Advent name. I had a conversation with my adult niece and we decided that … it was completely fine to use it … Edward is after St. Edward the Confessor. Cool side story about his name: The headmaster at my kids’ school knew we were looking for a name beginning with ‘X’ for this 10th baby and when he heard we named him Andrew, he reminded us about the way St. Andrew was martyred — on the X shaped cross! I was in tears when I heard this and it confirmed for me that this guy was meant to be Andrew! We call him Andrew or Drew-Drew.”)

What a fantastic bunch of names, and all with great stories! For her newest little guy, Rebecca writes,

St. Thomas More was really calling to me during the first half of this pregnancy and I was convinced this should be his name, despite Thomas being Josiah’s middle name. Then suddenly I felt a huge draw towards St. Paul and his conversion story. I love how he had a huge change of heart and was able to totally transform from who he used to be, to the person God intended for him to be. Then Benjamin caught my attention and I love how this is Jacob’s 12th son since this is technically our 12th baby. I am hesitant for Benjamin because I feel as an adult what would he go by? Ben sounds a little bit juvenile (or maybe it just sounds like a sweet, gentle guy??) and Benjamin is such a mouthful to go by your full name all the time. My husband is not totally feeling Pablo as the Spanish name for Paul, even though I loooove Pablo!

I’m thinking:
Paul Thomas
Benjamin Paul

I also love Matthias but I’m not totally convinced. I like that he could go by Matt but then surprise people with his full name not being Matthew. I think in Spanish it would be Mat-ee-as and I like it too.

I am interested in names that sound like the cute little baby of the family but that can also be grown-up and mature sounding. Maybe that’s Benny with full name Benjamin?

My husband likes Samuel — it would have to grow on me, I’m not totally digging this name. I do like how it sounds in Spanish though! Diego has been on our list a few times, both my husband and I like it. Hubs likes Mario but that’s so similar to Marco. I STILL love Benicio! haha!

Names we can’t use (there are more than 50 grandkids on my side of the family!)

  • Joshua*
  • Michael*
  • Vincent*
  • Daniel*
  • David*
  • Nathan*
  • Steven
  • John (my dad’s and FIL’s name, but there are 3 grandkids with John as their 1st name)
  • Anthony
  • Jesse*
  • Cameron
  • Hector*
  • Robert
  • Fernando*
  • Martin*
  • Ricardo
  • Gustavo*
  • Matthew
  • Alan
  • Richard
  • Christopher
  • Jacob
  • Luke
  • Noah

(I starred the ones who are completely out. The others are similar to Andrew’s name, if it’s meant to be, it doesn’t matter to double up, ha!)

I loved reading Rebecca’s thought process regarding names for this baby — first Thomas, then Paul/Pablo, then Benjamin, all so great! Here are my thoughts on those, and the others she mentioned, in case my thoughts are helpful to her and any of you who might also be considering these names:

  • Thomas: Thomas is fantastic name and St. Thomas More is a fantastic saint, so if they chose Thomas as a first name, Rebecca and her hubby can be sure their little guy would have a good, solid name that would always serve him well. However, the fact that it’s already Josiah’s middle name makes me really want to find a name that they haven’t already used (despite the fact that I know they’re not opposed to doing so and have done so before). I do like it as a middle name, and it would be a neat connection between Josiah and this baby, which could be great!
  • Paul: I agree, St. Paul’s story is amazing! Paul does feel a little different in style to me than the other kids’ names — I mean, it does fit, since it’s biblical and classic, but it’s different at the same time. I love it as a middle name for as listed by Rebecca — Benjamin Paul is my favorite! (Benjamin Pablo would be amazing too! I wonder if her hubby would be okay with Pablo if it was in the middle?)
  • Benjamin: Okay, let’s talk about Benjamin. This is what I’ve been waiting to do since I first read Rebecca’s email, haha! I have a lot to say, so I’m going to jump out of bullet points for a second.

First of all, let me put Rebecca’s mind at ease about all her concerns about Benjamin and Ben! I have an adult Benjamin in my life and I have nothing but good things to say about his name! While it is a long name, his dad loves it so much that he almost always calls him by the full Benjamin, but everyone else in life calls him Ben, and I think Ben is just the best nickname — so friendly but solid at the same time. This same Benjamin named his son Benjamin Jr., and he goes by Ben(ny), so that should tell you that at least one Benjamin thinks it’s a great enough name to pass on!

Not only is there my own personal story about the amazingness of the name Benjamin, it’s also amazing that Benjamin is a style match for Rebecca and her husband! You all know that I always start a baby name consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity — I did so here, and discovered that Benjamin is a style match for Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, and Andrew! And Samuel too! Wow!

There are also several holy Benjamins, including St. Benjamín Julián, Bl. Benjamín Fernández de Legaria Goñi, and Bl. Benjamín Ortega Aranguren — there are others, but I loved seeing the Spanish variants for Rebecca and her hubs!

So I wholeheartedly agree that Benjamin is the *best* name for their son!! I love that this baby is their twelfth baby, and that Benjamin was the twelfth son of Jacob. What a great connection! I really have no job here, since they already have the perfect name!

(If they’re still not convinced about Benjamin, I’ve also seen Ben as a nickname for Bernard, and its variant Bernardino reminded me of how Rebecca likes Benicio.)

  • Matthias: Despite the fact that I’m convinced Benjamin is the best name for this family, I also love Matthias for exactly the reasons Rebecca mentioned.
  • Samuel: Samuel is a great name! Sam and Sammy are great.
  • Diego: Love it.
  • Mario: I agree that it’s similar to Marco — I didn’t think so at first, just looking at them printed, but then I said them out loud — oh boy! Very similar indeed!

I also took note of other names Rebecca said she liked/considered in the past, and I noticed Xavier — while that X initial would be great for a tenth baby, the initials XI would be perfect for an eleventh! I wonder what she would think of Xavier Isaac or Xavier Ignatius/Ignacio or Xavier Isidore?

As for the list of names that they can’t use, I was bummed out by Daniel (“Danny Boy” seemed such a sweet name for the baby of the family), David (similar to Benjamin, I was thinking how King David was the youngest of his brothers), and Luke (it’s a style match for their taste), but never fear, I was able to come up with a bunch of other ideas!

(1) Gabriel

I wasn’t surprised to see Gabriel show up as a style match for a bunch of their names, since I often see Gabriel on parents’ lists that also include Benjamin and Samuel. And it works in Spanish too, right? Rebecca’s husband represents St. Michael in his name, and Marco has St. Raphael — it would be great to round out the angelic trio with a Gabriel!

(2) Jonathan

Jonathan is a big style match for this family as well! There are a few nickname options — Jon and Jack, and if they did something like Jonathan Paul or Jonathan Pablo, then they could do JP initials (like St. John Paul!). I know this might seem like splitting hairs, but John and Jonathan are not the same name, so the fact that John is on their “no” list shouldn’t technically prevent them from considering Jonathan! (Unless their family thinks it’s too close to John, which I would understand.)

(3) C(h)ristian

Christian is one of my favorite names, and I enjoyed seeing that it’s a style match for this family. Cristian is the Spanish spelling, so handsome! I’m hoping that since Matthias isn’t too close to Matthew on their “no” list, C(h)ristian isn’t too close to Christopher on their “no” list.

(4) Tadeo or Tobias

Tobias is actually the name that’s the style match for them — it’s a match for Elias and Josiah, and I do love it … but maybe too close to both Elias and Josiah? I wanted to include it anyway, just in case. Thaddeus is a style match for Benedict, and I love the Spanish version Tadeo, what a cool name!

(5) Sebastian

Sebastian is long like Nicholas, Isabella, Benedict, and Benjamin, and St. Sebastian tends to be a favorite with boys — what boy doesn’t love a gruesome story about being shot to death with arrows?? Haha! Seb, Bash, Baz, Bastian, and even Ian are all nicknames I’ve seen.

(6) Damien or Damian

Damien’s a match for Cesar — I included their little one in heaven’s name in my research because it was yet another data point for showing their style, and I kind of love including a name on this list that is specifically tied to that baby — what a sweet connection! I mentioned above that I really liked the idea of Danny Boy for their “cute little baby of the family,” and when I saw Damien, I thought it might be perfect because I had it on my own list and had Denny as a nickname for it … change the spelling to Damian and Danny could easily work! In fact, Damián is the Spanish variant!

(7) Caleb

Speaking of “cute little baby of the family” names, Caleb has always struck me as having a snuggly feel. It’s certainly manly and strong, like the biblical character, but I think I get that cozy, cute feel from the fact that I saw Cub/Cubby as a nickname for it once and thought that would be so sweet for a little boy! Cal is also a possibility, which is so wholesome and boyish. Caleb goes right along with Rebecca’s Old Testament boys Adam, Elias, and Josiah, but I admit I don’t know how it does in Spanish.

(8) Stephen

My last idea for is Stephen — a style match for Mark (standing in for Marco for this example), Theresa, and Paul. I know a Stephen Paul and a Paul Stephen! While St. Stephen the Martyr is the first one I think of, and top of mind at this time anyway because of his feast day being the day after Christmas, I looked through the feast days starting with Rebecca’s due date and working backward, looking for anything that jumped out at me, and I saw that St. Stephen of Murat is on Feb. 8. Could be cool if her baby was born that day! (And only right now, as I’m putting this post together, do I realize that Steven is on the “no” list. Gah! I’m leaving this here in case it’s helpful to any of you.)

(For reference, other feast days that I noted were St. Matthias of Jerusalem on Jan. 30, St. Thomas Aquinas on Jan. 28, Conversion of Paul the Apostle on January 25 [!!], and St. Sebastian on Jan. 20.)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Adam, Nicholas, Madeline, Isabella, Marco, Elias, Josiah, Theresa, Monica, and Andrew?


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

Birth announcement: Judah Abraham!

Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope to post again tomorrow, but just in case I’m not able to, I want to be sure you know to check back in on Friday to see my Black Friday deals!

I posted a consultation for Monica and her husband last year when they were between babies, and I’m so happy to share that they’ve just welcomed a baby boy and given him the tremendous name … Judah Abraham!

Monica writes,

I wanted to let you know that we just had our first boy! Judah Abraham was born earlier this week.

Judah had been in the mix, but not as a front-runner until this baby came into existence and we couldn’t settle on one of our other front runners.

We also officially found out about this baby on the feast of the Annunciation, and he was due in Advent, so I wanted a name with a Joyful Mystery/Advent connection. Judah fit the bill and suited our taste — less common but not totally unheard of, strong sound, multiple great faith connections. Although the biblical character of Judah himself is not the strongest patron, we like that the name represents the faithful line of Judah, Jesus himself, and then also Judas Maccabaeus and St. Jude. We have chosen Judas Maccabaeus as his primary patron. Ironically, he was born early and missed Advent altogether, but we liked the name anyway. :-).

We waffled a LOT on his middle name. It wasn’t settled until after his birth. We … considered several other names, mostly either “strong” sounding options like Alexander or Blaise, or other Hebrew names like Daniel or Isaac, because my husband likes the way they flow with Judah.

Abraham wasn’t on our radar for a middle name at all. It had been thrown onto our list as a curveball first name option that we didn’t consider very seriously, but that was the only time it had come up. (My list is over 100 combinations long, so it was never a serious contender.) After Judah was born we were revisiting options, and my husband threw out Abraham. We liked it and it was a fresh, bold option, so we just went for it! Abraham is both of our favorite patriarch, a strong father in faith, and we think it’s a pretty strong combo. It fits both the “strong” and the “biblical/Hebrew” sounding criteria.

Thanks for your consultation! A couple options from it were on my radar.  I liked Roman, but couldn’t sell my husband on it. Judah was due near the feast of St. Nicholas, and if he was born then I was pushing for Nikolai as a middle name. 🙂 “

Such a fantastic name story for this little guy!! I really love all the reasoning behind Judah, and I always love hearing about a last minute name decision, like what happened here with Abraham — so fun to come up with a new “fresh, bold option,” as Monica put it!

Congratulations to Monica and her husband and big sisters Magdalene (Maggie) and Genevieve (Genny), and happy birthday Baby Judah!!


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

Birth announcement: Magdalen Gianna!

I posted a consultation for Laura and her husband last January, before they were even expecting their hoped-for ninth baby. They found out shortly after that a new little one was on the way, and I’m thrilled to share that the baby has arrived! They welcomed their third daughter and gave her the amazing name … Magdalen Gianna!

Laura writes,

Baby made her safe arrival this afternoon!

So when no name was clicking I went back to calling her baby girl and decided to see what name felt right calling her. 

One name that I felt really good calling her was Maggie. [Hubby] and I were married at St. Mary Magdalen and that’s also where I came into the church and I have so many wonderful memories of attending the early daily Mass there with my husband when we were engaged 20 years ago. The name Magdalen was a bit out of [his] comfort zone but I so wanted something special, meaningful and a heavy hitting Catholic name for this baby girl. [He] was smitten with Maggie, Mags, and even Magda. 

St. Gianna … was an unbelievable intercessor for me this past year.”

Not only is Magdalen Gianna an amazing name, but it departs from a lot of the preferences Laura has had when naming her babies: she preferred that everyone have their own initial (now Magdalen joins big brother Mark with her M initial); she wasn’t as much a fan of nicknames as her husband (but she’s loving Maggie for Magdalen); she loved one-syllable names (Magdalen is the opposite!). As I told her, it’s so fun for me when parents completely change course and/or go back to the drawing board — I never would have foreseen her using Magdalen, but I think it’s so perfect! And paired with Gianna! And Maggie/Mags/Magda! I’m so delighted by this beautiful, unexpected name that’s definitely “special, meaningful and a heavy hitting Catholic name”!

Congratulations to Laura and her husband and big siblings Paul, Clare, Mark, Katharine, James, Andrew, Gabriel, and Thomas, and happy birthday Baby Magdalen!!

Magdalen Gianna

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

Birth announcement: Titus Joseph!

I’ve had a few namey conversations with Kaylene — owner of Azalea Rose Shop on Etsy (fantastic faithy things!!) and the lady behind Magnify 90 (feminine genius, baby!) — and she’s let me know her baby has arrived — a boy, given the simply wonderful name … Titus Joseph!

She writes,

He was born last night and he was a surprise but the closer we got to deliver the more I felt he was a boy and he was 😍😍😍 I cried such happy tears for my son to get a little brother and me to have a healthy baby chunk! 10 lb 3.1 Oz 21.5 in long

The meaning of Titus is perfect for him, and I love the book of Titus, and I felt like it went with all our other names. My dad’s initials are TJ and our older son’s are JT so it’s fun 💙

Joseph as a middle came to us later in pregnancy because of growing devotion to St. Joseph plus the OT connection with Joseph. My husband is amazing at caring for our family so it’s another nod to him being the St. Joseph to our family (my husband can fall asleep like nobody else as well LOL — recall the sleeping St. Joseph!) And my hubby finished out our basement with his construction skills so baby had a space upstairs! And my grandpa’s middle name is Joseph and my dad’s middle is Joe. Strong name for a big strong baby!

I just love that! “Strong name for a big strong baby!” Yes indeed! I love all the layers of meaning as well!

But wait: there’s more! Titus Joseph joins:

Gianna Clare (“my sister’s Confirmation saint — so a clever way to name a baby after her without being obvious and my husband’s legal name is Clarence so we took the Clare — plus I love Franciscan spirituality“)

Jackson Thomas (“two family names, both sides grandpa and great grandpa were either a Jackson or a Thomas — and we’ve taken Thomas the Apostle as his patron for Divine Mercy and “My Lord and My God” connection“)

Zelie Kay (“I had a great gramma Zella, and St. Zelie was a major player in my spiritual maturing, and it’s just so cute! Plus Kay for me — which my Kaylene comes from my grandma Darlene Kay“)

+Beatrice Rita (“We also have a little saint Beatrice Rita whose name just appeared from the Holy Spirit when we lost her last May 😭 Titus and Beatrice couldn’t have coexisted had she been born. Titus is beyond blessed to have his sister intercessor“)

What wonderful names, all! I love the reasons for choosing each one, they’ve done a wonderful job!

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

Titus Joseph with his sisters and brother ❤ (They’re all wearing shirts from Azalea Rose Shop!)


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

Birth announcement: Noah Anthony!

I posted a consultation for Breanna and her husband back in December, and Breanna’s let me know their baby has arrived — a little man given the handsome name … Noah Anthony!

Breanna writes,

For this little boy we decided on Noah Anthony! Noah was not originally on our radar but it did fit the bill of a biblical name and a person that Jesus would have interacted with like Joseph and Mary Magdalene. I like that it’s not likely to have a shortened nickname (I don’t like when people call Joseph “Jo” or “Joey.” ) And finally, I felt Noah was so fitting during this world wide pandemic Noah had to trust in God during an unbelievable time. Right now, we are all being asked to trust in God to help us through this pandemic that none of us expected when we started 2020.

Our Noah’s middle name “Anthony” is daddy’s first name. Although daddy already shared his middle name with our son Joseph, he’s such a good daddy that I think he deserved two namesakes!

I love the significance of the name Noah during this pandemic! How perfect! And I love that Breanna said, regarding her husband’s names being shared by both of his sons, “he’s such a good daddy that I think he deserved two namesakes” — what a wonderful thing to say!

Congratulations to Breanna and her husband and big sibs Magdalyn and Joseph, and happy birthday Baby Noah!!

Noah Anthony with his big sister and brother ❤


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

 

Birth announcement: Thérèse Lourdes!

I got the most beautiful email from Renata a few months ago, while she was still pregnant and didn’t know if the baby was a boy or a girl, in which she shared the following (which she’s given me permission to share):

I never desired to marry or to have children. I had a falling out with the Church in my teenage years, right as I was starting a chapter of my life where I’d need Christ the most: immigration. A long, lost decade went by and it was filled with trials, depression, and purposelessness. But they were all in God’s plan. Eventually, I found myself moving countries a second time. I came to the U.S. for graduate school. After graduation, I stayed to work here for a year. At this time, I experienced a life-changing spiritual rebirth (by the way, Renata means “Reborn” in Latin) and received a great gift: I met my husband. He is an excellent man. He proposed within the year. And this is how I came to marriage and an ardent desire to have children. Looking at my husband, I desired to “have more of him in the world.”

God blessed us with a pregnancy soon after our marriage. Almost immediately, we picked a name for a boy: Matthew Sumner. Matthew would be in honor of St. Matthew, whose Gospel drew me back into God’s fold. In fact, God called me and gave me a mission by Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” This verse was a prominent part of our marriage ceremony. Sumner would be in honor of a relative on my husband’s side of the family, while for me it was meaningful that it the baby be a harvest hand for the Lord: As God summoned Matthew, may Matthew also summon others. We were stuck and nearly devoid of ideas for girl names. We had many options and they were all quite different. Deep down, I wanted a name that meant light, in honor of Matthew 5:14. Liora, Eleonora, Lucia, all these we considered. Somehow none stuck. Eventually, my mother-in-law gave me a book of Saints’ names. We also researched all the women in the Bible together. One weekend, we came across Phoebe and I was taken. Phoebe would be perfect. It means “radiant.” Phoebe was also a harvest hand, perhaps the first deaconess of the Church. And Phoebe is also a celestial body and bird. It is as anchored in the heavens as it is on creation. For the middle name, we settled on Werther, also a family name on my husband’s other side of the family. A strong matriarch bore it as her maiden name. It means “leader of a worthy army.” And so we came to “Radiant leader of a worthy army.” Mind you, we went to the maternity ward not knowing the baby’s gender and still with four different name possibilities for a girl. Even after discovering Phoebe Werther, we just weren’t sure. After a long labor, I delivered a girl. As soon as we laid eyes on her, we knew we’d met Phoebe Werther. When the nurse asked: “What is her name?,” we looked at each other and said in chorus: “Phoebe.” It was the most overwhelming moment of my life. After signing the birth certificate, though, I broke down in tears, feeling remorse that I had not honored my South American heritage and family in any way. And lo-and-behold, the Lord had thought of that too. At that moment, a new nurse entered our room. She was Brazilian. She started speaking to me in Portuguese and congratulated me on the birth of our baby girl. Before she left, she added: “What a nice gift, that you would have a healthy baby girl on Brazilian Independence Day.” Then I truly broke down, and thanked the Lord for being so thoughtful and careful.

Three years and two weeks later I was back in that same ward, delivering another baby with the same midwife. This baby was a couple of days late though, and leading up to labor, I was anxious that once again we had no name settled on for a girl. I had called a conference with my husband and mother-in-law two days before. We agreed that we would not leave the living room until we had at least a first name decided. After much discussion and numerous options, we settled on Tessa. Again, I prayed we could give the Lord more harvest hands. Though Teresa was the name that I kept on coming back to, Tessa was the name we all liked. I had misgivings about it being a nickname, but it did fit in with our other names. We like the two-syllable, two-syllable ending in “er,” and one-syllable last name sing-song we have going. The next day, I went into labor. This time, a baby boy emerged. He looked nothing like his sister, who has dark hair and eyes. He looked angelic, just like his father. He had blonde hair and the longest eyelashes fanning over his blue eyes. Once again, immediately, as we took him into our arms, we knew this was our long-awaited Matthew Sumner. Though we were very much decided on the name, we didn’t know if he’d go by Matthew or by Sumner. I love the name Sumner, and dislike the shortened versions of Matthew such as Matt or Mattie. We just couldn’t agree, though. There were no indications that one name would prevail over the other. Later that evening my mother-in-law came into the room to visit. She was elated and said: “Did you see?! He was born at 5:14PM!” My husband and I looked at each other in awe and we knew this would be Matthew for sure. Three months later, my sister-in-law also gave birth to a boy and also chose Sumner for his middle name. The Lord got two pairs of harvest hands!

We carry names forward, so with this third pregnancy, we arrived set with Tessa for a girl and no definite name for a boy. In the two years that have gone by, I have formally returned to the Catholic church. Notably, I have discovered and fallen in love with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. When I was confirmed last Spring, I chose Thérèse for my name. And just then it dawned on me: Thérèse, like Phoebe and Matthew are complex names when written on paper, but have just two syllables. Thérèse and Phoebe end in “e” and are of Greek origin. Teresa means harvest. I’d come full circle. It was so perfect. For a middle name, we decided to honor my roots and chose Lourdes, after my paternal grandmother (whom sadly I did not meet, but feel a strange closeness to and similarity with) whose full given name was Maria de Lourdes. Thérèse Lourdes has a beautiful ring and is similar to Werther and Sumner, but special with its “es” ending. If the baby is a girl, we’ll still call her Tessa, but her name will be Thérèse Lourdes. For a boy, we had always like Thomas as a runner-up to Matthew. We have returned to this name. Another apostle, Thomas gives us one of the most beautiful Gospel passages on our Lord’s generosity and mercy toward our incredulity and fear. Coincidentally, the homily for my Confirmation Mass was about this very passage. So Thomas it is. I wanted to use Excelsior as a variant of my father’s name, Celso, which means sky or heaven, but we feel it is too pompous! Thomas Excelsior has a lovely meaning, but we haven’t settled on it. It was then that I thought back to my journey as a wife and mother and my ardent desire of having more of my husband’s character in the world. We have settled on Thomas Christopher, which not only nods to my husband but also to our Lord as it means “Christ bearer.” It was a cherry on top that it ends in “er” like Werther and Sumner.”

I was so taken with this beautiful story!! Not only is it a story of faith, conversion, and motherhood, but of love for a husband as well — I was so moved by Renata’s characterization of her husband as “an excellent man” and that she “desired to ‘have more of him in the world.'” What a compliment! ❤

I was so very happy to receive an email from Renata earlier this month sharing the wonderful news that her baby had arrived! She gave birth to a sweet baby girl, and indeed, gave her the beautiful, meaningful name … Thérèse Lourdes (nn Tessa)!

She wrote,

I trust this note finds you and yours well, despite the surreal new rhythms we’re all adapting to. To brighten up these somber times, we write with joyful news from our household.

Thérèse Lourdes (Tessa) was born on Sunday, March 22. Tessa is blonde and blue-eyed like her middle brother Matthew and alert-out-of-the-gate like her eldest sister Phoebe. We’re doing well and already falling into our new routines as a family of five.”

I absolutely love the name Thérèse Lourdes and the meaning it has for Renata, and the nickname Tessa is one of my favorites!

Congratulations to Renata and her husband and big siblings Phoebe and Matthew, and happy birthday Baby Tessa!!

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Thérèse Lourdes (Tessa) 👣


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

Baby name consultation: Girl name needed for baby no. 6 (British-y/Irish-y/Celtic-y)

Mary Beth and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little one joins big sibs:

Reese Joseph (“Joseph is a family name that runs through both sides of our family as a middle name. He is named after St. Joseph, protector of the holy family. Reese means ardour or enthusiasm and I think that fits his personality well.”)

Finnian Michael (Finn)We picked Finnian for both the Irish saint namesake as well as the nickname derived from it. We loved the nickname Finn and worked backwards from there, finding a saint that would match that. It was either Finnian or Finbarr so for us the choice was easy. Michael is in honor of the great Archangel as well as honoring my deceased brother.”

John Thomas (sometimes called Jack)John is named specifically for St. John the Apostle (the one whom Jesus loved!) but there are really so many great saints out there with that name that we couldn’t go wrong. It is also the name of a beloved Grandpa (who was named John but often went by Jack). Thomas is for St. Thomas Aquinas – and our John is really such a little philosopher at heart.”

Lucy Rose (“We picked Lucy because it is pretty, and light, distinctly feminine, but also fits better with the shorter names of our first three than say, Philomena or Benedicta. I loved that St. Lucy was such a beautiful model of purity. Rose is a nod to our Our Lady of Guadalupe and to St. Rose of Lima. She is also named after my Grandma Rose Lucy.“)

Gabriel John (also referred to as Gabey, Gabe) (“I have always loved the name Gabriel but never used it on any of our boys previously. I hadn’t even considered it for this child until one day in adoration I asked God what the name of this child was supposed to be (we knew he was a boy) and shortly after I began praying the joyful mysteries. Once I got to the Annunciation the name clicked in and it became number one on my list. After discovering that my husband had no qualms with the name and that it’s meaning is “God is my strength”, we never looked back. Also he was born 4 days after Christmas and I think that Gabriel fits so nicely into the season. His middle name was picked for St. John Vianney and also is my husbands middle name.”)

I loooove all of these!! Of course I couldn’t help but notice that the style of names changed somewhat as their family grew, which Mary Beth addresses:

Our style has become refined over the years in regards to our children’s names. When we started with our oldest, we were young and newly married – and hadn’t thought much about the names that our children would have. Over time we’ve come to see how important the naming of a child is – a name that will stay with them for all eternity!

I love seeing how a couple’s taste in names changes as life goes on — it’s so fun to see where they started and where they are now! Some couples change a lot and some change very little; some start with more conservative taste and become bolder, and some do just the opposite. Working with the population of families that I do, I’ve also seen quite a few couples who’ve had conversion experiences or whose faith has deepened as time goes on, and their babies’ names often reflect that. One of my favorite things is helping find names that loop in the siblings with the outlying names, that provide bridges between the styles while still having great faith connections.

Mary Beth continues,

We love names that are clearly masculine for boys and feminine for girls, especially since Reese’s name has since gained in popularity for girls. We also sneak in family names as much as possible. We require that at least the first name is a saint’s name, biblical name or Marian name.

One interesting twist to our naming process with this child is that we have agreed that my husband get’s to name this child if he is a boy and I will pick the name if she is a girl (we each have veto power however if we really hate the name). Hubby prefers straightforward names, simple names, masculine names (for a boy). I prefer longer names, beautiful names, names with meaning and history.

For this baby (#6) we found out that I was pregnant on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the due date is one day after the Assumption of Mary in August (exactly one year after our family consecrated ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart!), so I feel like Our Lady’s fingerprints are all over this child. We would love to give him or her a Marian name (either first or middle) to honor that. Your book has given me some great ideas as well as solidified some names for me that I had already been considering but did not know of the Marian connection.

Names I like for girls (in a loose order of preference):

Esther: I love the sound of this name, that there’s 2 syllables (one syllable has been done a lot in our family and yet I worry that 3 syllables is a stretch). I also enjoy that this name is well-known enough but not popular today. Esther is one of my favorite bible heroines and the name of a very sweet aunt. Essie as a nickname is precious. Husband thinks it’s ok.

Felicity: I like that it means happiness; also the uncommonness and the sound of the name. While I love the name I’m not sure of a good viable nn for it, since Lucy and “Lissy” sounds too similar. Name is growing on Hubby.

Clementine : I love this name — Marian and family connection! And how cute is Clemmie? I have a bit of an attraction to certain literary names that I grew up reading, especially British ones. For instance, I would love to have a Louisa as a nod to Louisa May Alcott, but it would not jive with Lucy. Hubby gives thumbs up.

Ruth : A favorite bible heroine but also just like the name and the simplicity goes with our family’s style. The simplicity makes it an easier sell for my husband.

Margaret : My mom’s name who I would love to honor. Not sure about a nickname? I don’t care for Maggie, Gretta, Marge or Molly. I could see using Etta but I don’t know if it’s too far-fetched.

Hope : I don’t have much reason for liking hope (except for the attributable virtue) but I haven’t been able to shake the name ever since hearing of an acquaintance with the name – it’s just so pretty! I read in one of your posts that Hope could be named after Our Lady of Hope – which I love! Hubby approves.

Elisabeth : It is pretty common but so lovely and classic, biblical and British (I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). We would have to do some work to find a nickname for it because my nn is Betty and Lissy sounds too similar to Lucy. I do like Liesel for nn but awfully close again to Lucy.

Mary : Obviously a great name! – and has a triple family connection since it’s my first name, my mother’s middle name and our Blessed Mother’s name. Maybe overused since it’s my first name, although I often go by a nickname. If used it would likely be a middle name or a first name in a case where we call her by her middle name (as in Mary Clementine but called Clementine).

Middle names:

Immaculata
Maristella or Stellamaris
Regina
Henrietta
Marie
Verity
Frances
Therese
(any unused first name/)

Alice [is] also [a] contender … [it] is more Hubby’s preference (I have hesitations on the name since I don’t like the nickname Ali and I didn’t know there was a saint Alice but in the meantime I have found one) … I do find that each other’s preferences will sway the other to some degree so we might not want to cross [it] out.”

I’m not surprised that Mary Beth said that she has an affinity for British names, as her children’s name have a definite Irish/Celtic/British Isles feel to me. I love it! Reese and Finnian are most obvious; John Thomas is a huge name in my Irish family, and even though Jack is so popular now, it always ultimately makes me think of an Irish boy/man. I love St. Lucy, but when I hear Lucy my first thought is always Narnia! And I’ve often suggested Gabriel to families with an Irishy sensibility, citing actor Gabriel Byrne as a great example of Gabriel’s usage in Ireland. So that’s really where my mind went when coming up with ideas for this family.

It’s an interesting twist that Mary Beth’s hubs gets to choose the name for this baby if they have a boy, and MB gets to name a girl! I’ve known other couples who have done similarly, but I’m most surprised by the fact that it sounds like they didn’t do so with their previous children! (That would make an excellent basis for a Fun Friday Question …)

You have to know how excited I am to read, as Mary Beth says, “Our Lady’s fingerprints all over this child”! And I’m so glad that my book was helpful to them! A few of the ideas I had for this baby are in my book, so I’m a little worried that, since MB didn’t have them on her list, she’s already decided against them, but maybe a good argument in favor of them is all that’s needed?

First though, these are my thoughts on the names Mary Beth likes for a girl:

  • Esther: I do love it! And I love her reasons for loving it — the fact that she has a personal connection with the biblical figure and that it’s a family name. I admit it seems to me a little mismatched with her other kids, but the family connection definitely trumps that I think, and I agree that Essie is darling! (Hmm … but maybe too much like Lucy?)
  • Felicity: I love it too, and I think it goes great with the older kids. Nicknames often seem to be problematic for parents considering Felicity! Lucy and Lissy are too similar, I agree, but there are others, like Flick and Flicka, Lily, Fin, Zita, Fee, Felly, and Liddy — these were all discussed in the spotlight I did of Felicity a while ago.
  • Ruth: I love Ruth, and I think of it as similar to Esther, so normally I might think of it as a mismatch for the other kids, BUT the only Ruth I know in real life is native Irish! And of course she goes by Ruthie, which of course they’d have to call her, it’s the sweetest!
  • Margaret: Oh man, I would have a hard time not choosing Margaret if I were Mary Beth! Her mom’s name! And a fantastic match with the older kids! I think Etta is totally fine and not too farfetched at all! Other nicknames for it that she didn’t mention include Margo, Madge, Mae/May, Mamie, Meg, Peggy, and Rita, but my very favorites for this family are Maisie and Daisy! Maisie is a Celtic (Irish&Scottish) diminutive of Margaret, and Daisy is a traditional nickname for it (since the French form of Margaret is also the name of the daisy flower in French: marguerite) — I think both would be amazing with the other kids! I could also see something like Margaret Eve nicknaming to Maeve, which I think would be really cool (I have Daisy, Eve, and Maeve in my book!).
  • Hope: I agree with MB, there’s something about Hope! Yes, it can be for Our Lady of Hope!
  • Elisabeth: I love this spelling! Elizabeth/Elisabeth has SO MANY nicknames! Some of my favorites are Betsy (probably too close to Betty?), Libby, Liddy, Ellie, and Tess, but they’re all so great! Elisabeth can also shorten to Elise, which is so pretty.
  • Mary: Oh yes! I like Mary Beth’s plan to have it be a middle, or a hidden first name.
  • [Alice: I don’t think people tend to nickname Alice? I mean, Alison seems very nicknameable — I feel like most Alisons go by Ali at least sometimes during their lives, but Alice has a more distinguished feel (while also being so sweet), I don’t know, I don’t think I’d ever find myself casually nicknaming an Alice. Maybe Ali’s used more than I thought!]

I looove Mary Beth’s list of middle name ideas!! Immaculata, Maristella/Stellmaris, Regina, and Marie are especially perfect to honor Our Lady with a non-Marian first name, while Henrietta, Verity, Frances, and Therese would be great as a middle name for a Marian first name.

Alrighty, as you all know, I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each name, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As I mentioned before, I also really had my eye out for Irish-y/Celtic-y/British-y type names, not only because I get that vibe from Mary Beth’s kids as a whole, but also because as I mentioned I really try to loop in any siblings with names that are kind of outliers, and her oldest two — especially Reese — are starting to have that feel. And I looked through my book as well! With all that in mind, these are my additional ideas for this baby, if a girl:

(1) Beatrice or Beatrix
I’m not sure which I like better here, Beatrice or Beatrix! I have them in my book — they mean “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is an amazing meaning for a little girl, and a great connection to Our Lady! Bea is a great nickname, and I like Tris and Trixie too! Beatrice is a style match for both Clementine and Alice.

(2) Juliet
Julia is a match for John and Juliet for Felicity and Hope, and of them, I like Juliet quite a bit for this family, but they’re both lovely! I did a spotlight of the Julia names a while ago, complete with patron saints. The Juliette spelling is French and frilly, but the Juliet spelling is more in keeping with the older kids I think.

(3) Annabel(le)
Annabelle is also match for Felicity and Hope, and I immediately thought of Annabel in my book: it arose in Scotland in the middle ages as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable)! I think it’s so lovely, and Annie as a nickname sounds perfect as Lucy’s sister!

(4) Susanna
Speaking of Annie: Anna, Hannah, and Susannah all were results of my research as well, and of them, I thought Susanna might be perfect! It’s also in my book, as it means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, which could make for a nice connection with sister Lucy Rose! Susannah has a heavier Old Testament feel (more along the lines of Esther and Ruth), while Susanna is New Testament and saintly — and in fact, St. Susanna’s feast day is August 11! The same month this baby is due!

(5) Miriam
Lovely Miriam fits right in with Esther and Ruth, and it’s Marian to boot! Mary Beth’s husband likes some Old Testament names too, so I like that Miriam might appeal to both of them. Miri and Mimi are sweet nicknames as well.

(6) Maura or Moira
Speaking of variants of Mary, since we’re (or, at least I’m) talking about Irish-y names, I wonder if Mary Beth might like to consider one of the Irish forms of Mary? It would be a neat way of connecting her first name, her mom’s middle name, and of course Our Lady in a new way in her daughter’s name. I love both Maura and Moira!

(7) Nora
Nora isn’t as obviously faithy as some of my other ideas, but it kept tugging me as a perfect fit for this family! Though it’s got good usage as a given name in its own right, it’s a short form of either Honora or Eleanor, either of which could provide a patron (Bl. Archangela Girlani’s birth name was Eleanor, and there’s a Bl. Eleanora as well; Venerable Honora Nagle would do also). A name like this might be best paired with one of the heavy hitting Marian middles, like Nora Maristella or Nora Clementine.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Reese, Finnian, John, Lucy, and Gabriel?


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